Kaplan’s chapter on Jewish education and learning in the context of Judaism as a Civilization

Dr. Eric Caplan, a co-founder and also vice president of the Kaplan Center, is a scholar of Reconstructionist Judaism and also liberal Jewish life. Below Dr. Caplan explains the context of Kaplan’s 20th Century Vision of Jewish Education, which was created as a chapter of Judaism together a Civilization.

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Kaplan and also Education

Judaism together a Civilization both begins and also ends through comments on Jewish education. In the Preface come the book, Kaplan tells us that his experience as a Jewish educator both sensitized him to the need to “reconstruct” Judaism and helped the to find what the reconstruction necessary to address. Take it a look:

Parents that wish to inculcate in their children habits and also appreciations i beg your pardon are component of Jewish life have the right to no longer do so as a issue of course however have come argue about it through themselves no much less than through their children. And the trouble is through no way confined to parents and children. Recently anyone who display screens an interest in Jewish tasks is challenged and must be ready to explain what the sees in Judaism…. The Sages build better than castle knew as soon as they included in the liturgy a prayer not just for the expertise of the Torah but likewise for the capability to teach it. Never was a prayer so much in require of being answered as that one, because it has actually never to be so tough to teach Judaism as it is now….The an ext I it was observed the spiritual battle that went on in the mental of the students and the laity whom ns was trying come teach, the more clearly I realized the the present situation in Judaism spelled extraordinary maladjustment in the spirituality life of Jews. In my search for a method to check the devastation the the Jewish spiritual heritage, ns rediscovered Judaism….Thanks to the synthesis between Jewish tradition and also modernism i m sorry the strategy to Judaism together a world has make it possible for me to effect, I have actually observed young and old thrill come the beauty, beauty of meaning which the Jewish heritage suddenly assumed because that them, and rejoice in the an innovative possibilities i m sorry they began to discern in Jewish life.

That Kaplan to be both a philosopher and practitioner the Jewish education is readily evident in the “Meaning that Jewish education and learning in America”: the book’s penultimate chapter and also the emphasis of this Vision Project. Kaplan’s viewpoint of Jewish education will come as no surprise to the reader who has actually gone with the ahead 478 pages of the book since it carefully aligns through his general approach to Judaism. In thing 15, for example, Kaplan specifies Jewish civilization as consist of of 6 core elements: land (Israel), language (Hebrew, primarily), folkways (ethical standards, rituals, customs), people sanctions (the ideas that validate the folkways), people arts, social structure (community institutions).

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Who have the right to be surprised, therefore, that in the education and learning chapter Kaplan calls on us to teach Hebrew or to make room for imaginative expression? What renders this thing engaging—indeed, among the many compelling in the book—is the wealth of expertise gleaned native classroom experience and involvement in Jewish communal organizations that he bring to the conversation of just how to interpret his Jewish philosophy right into educational practice. Kaplan tells us, because that example, to usage youth motions as vehicles of ethical education; to maintain children’s inherent sense the gratitude and use this is a pathway to belief in God; and to view the to teach of faith as a expertise that, favor art or science, calls for instructors with particular skills and knowledge.

These remain compelling, together do many other proposal in the chapter, because they respond to challenges and also possibilities in the ar of Jewish education and learning that have actually not changed much in the 85 year since Judaism as a Civilization was very first published. They help us to, in Kaplan’s words, “make the Jewish maintain so efficient in enlarging the psychological scope that the child’s life, in socializing his perspective toward his fellow-men, in inculcating in that an appreciation of life’s worth and also sanctity, the parents will certainly rejoice to have actually such cultivate imparted to their children.”


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