The New Reform
This is the book that American Jews and
particularly American Reform Jews have been waiting for: a clear and
informed call for further reform in the Reform movement.
light of profound demographic, social, and technological developments,
it has become increasingly clear that the Reform movement will need to
make major changes to meet the needs of a quickly evolving American
Jewish population. Younger Americans in particular differ from previous
generations in how they relate to organized religion, often preferring
to network through virtual groups or gather in informal settings of
their own choosing.
Dana Evan Kaplan, an American Reform Jew
and pulpit rabbi, argues that rather than focusing on the importance of
loyalty to community, Reform Judaism must determine how to engage the
individual in a search for existential meaning. It should move us toward
a critical, scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible, that we may
emerge with the perspectives required by a postmodern world. Such a
Reform Judaism can at once help us understand how the ancient world
molded our most cherished religious traditions and guide us in
addressing the increasingly complex social problems of our day.
The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections,
Now Available at www.bn.com and www.amazon.com.
Contemporary American Judaism:
Transformation and Renewal
American Jews radically reconceive the beliefs and practices of an ancient faith.
No longer controlled by a handful of institutional leaders based in remote headquarters and rabbinical seminaries, American Judaism is being transformed by the individual spiritual decisions of tens of thousands of Jews living in all corners of the United States. A pulpit rabbi and American Jew, Kaplan follows this religious individualism from its postwar suburban roots to the hippie revolution of the 1960s and the multiple postmodern identities of today. From Hebrew tattooing to Jewish Buddhist meditation, his book describes the remaking of historical tradition in ways that channel multiple ethnic and national identities. While pessimists worry about the vanishing American Jew, Kaplan focuses on the creative responses to contemporary spiritual trends that have made a Jewish religious renaissance possible. The result is an exciting transformation of what it means to be a religious Jew in twenty-first century America.
"There is no better guide to the remarkable changes in American Jewish religion."—Nathan Glazer, Harvard University
"A tour de force that covers every important development in each of the branches of American Judaism, and Kaplan does it with a deep sensitivity to the issues involved."—Chaim I. Waxman, Rutgers University
"A pioneering and exciting study. Kaplan concentrates on the right themes, asks appropriate questions, and relies on a comprehensive collection of sources and literature. He also brings new approaches and original categories to the study of religious expression in America today. Kaplan should be highly commended for facing boldly and honestly the new realities of American Jewish life."—Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dana Evan Kaplan is the Rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel in Albany, Georgia, and an adjunct associate professor at the Seigal College of Jewish Studies. His books include the Cambridge Companion to American Judaism, American Reform Judaism: An Introduction, Platforms and Prayer Books: Theological and Liturgical Perspectives on Reform Judaism, and Contemporary Debates on Reform Judaism: Conflicting Visions. Many of his publications can be found at www.DanaKaplan.com.
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