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What Would Kaplan Think?

Rabbi Richard Hirsh, RRC '81, discusses the reconstruction of Reconstructionism. This presentation is available in text and audio versions.

This speech was given at the opening plenum of JRF's 41st convention held in Philadelphia in November of 2006. The overall topic for the plenum was Reconstructionism for the 21st Century: Aspirations, Expectations and Innovations. Rabbis Michael Strassfeld, Les Bronstein, and Toba Spitzer were the other participants on the panel.

Note that the audio version includes a two-minute introduction to the plenum as a whole. Rabbi Hirsh's speech is 12 minutes. 

I sometimes think we have an unofficial slogan: WWKT (“what would Kaplan think?”). We have our Reconstructionist fundamentalists, who may not believe the Torah was given at Sinai, but are pretty well-convinced that Judaism as a Civilization was. And when contemporary Reconstructionism expands to include spiritual practice as a core concern, and appropriates the mythic metaphors of Kabbalah and Hasidism, we sometimes imagine that Kaplan would as much plotz as kvell were he to turn up at a JRF Convention Shabbat service (which in itself would be quite a challenge to Judaism without supernaturalism). And were he offered an aliya, with a choice of Barukh Ata Adonai, B’rukha At Yah or Nevarekh et Ayn HaHayim God knows which one he would choose. (Maybe only God knows which one he would choose!)

Type: Speech

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