Authored Books

 

The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections, Jewish Publication Society, November, 2013.

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.

 

In 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 as well as guide us in addressing the increasingly complex social problems of our day.

STUDY GUIDE

“The New Reform Judaism: What Do We Believe and What Should We Be Doing?,” The Jewish Publication Society, 2013.

REVIEWS

Debra Kaufman, “Dana Evan Kaplan on Reform Judaism,” The Review of Rabbinic Judaism, 2017.

Charles Middleburgh, European Judaism, March 2017.

P.J. Schwartz, "The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections," ReformJudaism.org, 2016.

Zev Eleff, “Review Essay: An American Tale,” Tradition, Spring 2015.

Beverly MayJewish Affairs, April 2015.

David J. Zucker, Book Reviews, CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly, Fall 2014.

Gila Wertheimer, "A Challenge to Reform Judaism," Chicago Jewish Star, September 12-18, 2014.

Jeremy Rozansky, "After Autonomy," Commentary, May 1, 2014.

Simone EllinBaltimore Jewish Times, April 24, 2014.

Bryan Schwartzman, "New Book Probes Reform Judaism's Identity Crisis," Jewish Exponent, January 23, 2014.

Barbara M. Bibel, Jewish Book Council, January 17, 2014.

 

Jack Riemer, "Year in Review: Some of the Best Jewish Books," J Weekly, December 19, 2013.

Francisca Goldsmith, Review, Booklist Online, November 15, 2013.

Publishers Weekly, October 14, 2013.

Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal, Columbia University Press, June 2009, paperback 2011.

No longer controlled by a handful of institutional leaders based in remote headquarters and rabbinical seminaries, American Judaism is being transformed by the spiritual decisions of tens of thousands of Jews living all over the United States. A pulpit rabbi and himself an American Jew, Dana Evan 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, Kaplan 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 creative responses to contemporary spiritual trends that have made a Jewish religious renaissance possible. He believes that the reorientation of American Judaism has been a "bottom up" process, resisted by elites who have reluctantly responded to the demands of the "spiritual marketplace." The American Jewish denominational structure is therefore weakening at the same time that religious experimentation is rising, leading to the innovative approaches supplanting existing institutions. The result is an exciting transformation of what it means to be a religious American Jew in the twenty-first century.

REVIEWS

Jeffrey I. Roth, “Two Views of American Judaism: A Review Essay”, CCAR Journal, Fall 2012.

Rachel Gordan, “Creating a Spiritual Postwar American Judaism,” H-Judaic, April 2012.

Discussion, “Tattoos, Cremation, Personal Spirituality: The Jewish World in Transformation,” Religion Dispatches, May 9, 2011.

Noam Pianko, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Spring 2011.

Shmuel Rosner, “Plug-and-Play Judaism,” Azure, Autumn 2010.

Valerie Thaler, Book Review, The American Jewish Archives Journal, 2010.

Lance J. Sussman, “Prospects for American Judaism,” Jewish Review of Books, Spring 2010.

David P. Goldman, “The Hitchhicker’s Guide,” First Things, February 2010.  

Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, “Judaism in Crisis, Judaism in Transition: A Review of Dana Evan Kaplan’s Contemporary American Judaism,” Zeek, December 7, 2009.

David Geffen, “In Good Faith,” The Jerusalem Post Magazine, December 3, 2009.

J.S. Kaminsky, Review, Choice, November 2009.

Simon J. Rabinovitch, The Times Literary Supplement, October 2, 2009.

Adam Kirsch, “Renewed: Assessing the transformations that have shaped contemporary American Judaism,” Tablet, August 25, 2009.

Amy E. Schwartz, “Jews in America,” Wilson Quarterly, Fall 2009.

Atlanta Jewish Times, "Great Reviews," June 25, 2009.

Publishers Weekly, Review-NONFICTION, June 8, 2009.

Lawrence Grossman, “Our God and God of our Children? Jewish Religion in America,” Forward, May 27, 2009.

American Reform Judaism:  An Introduction.  New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2003.  2nd printing, June 2005.

Named “A Significant Jewish Book” by Reform Judaism magazine, winter 2003.

The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States. To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who abstain from more traditional forms of worship. As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish?

STUDY GUIDE

Susan Kittner Huntting, “A Study Guide for American Reform Judaism: An Introduction,” UAHC Significant Jewish Books, Winter 2003.

SYMPOSIUM

 “Judaism and the Future of Religion in American:  A Symposium in Response to Dana Evan Kaplan’s American Reform Judaism,”  Judaism:  A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, Summer/Fall, 2004. 

            Introduction by Murray Baumgarten

            “Trends in Reform and Their Broader Implications” by Lawrence Grossman

            “An Orthodox Perspective” by Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

            “An Insider View:  A Defense of Theological Imprecision” by David Ellenson

            “Reform Judaism and the Judaism of Reform Jews:  A Conservative Perspective” by Jack Wertheimer

            “The Identified Patient:  Placing the Reform Movement in a Broader Family Context” by Richard Hirsh

            “Shout Rather Than Whisper:  A Jewish Renewal Perspective on Reform” by Arthur Waskow

            “Thinking About American Reform Judaism” by Dana Evan Kaplan

REVIEWS

Rachel-Esther bat-Avraham, Book Review, PathofTorah.com, 2012.

Gilbert S. Rosenthal, "A Comprehensive Overview," Midstream, Nov./Dec. 2005.

Bonny V. Fetterman, "Significant Jewish Books," Reform Judaism, Winter 2003.

Jonathan Krasner, Book Reviews, American Jewish Archives Journal, 2003.

Harriet P. Gross, Springfield News-Sun, August 9, 2003.

Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2003.

Yaakov Ariel, Book Review, Contemporary Jewry, 2003.