Jewish Life in U.S. Seen As Being Only “skin Deep”; Lacks Spirituality

Asserting that Jewish life in America was “only skin deep,” Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan, founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, declared last night that all three forms of Jewish religious ideology in the United States had failed to establish an intrinsic connection between Jewish life and spirituality. He said Jewish life was “social rather than spiritual.”

Dr. Kaplan told 400 delegates to the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly of America that “one half of Jewish identity” in the United States was “the product of Gentile exclusiveness, and the other half is the product of Jewish association.”

He listed the “rehabilitation of Israel as the spiritual homeland of the Jewish people” as the first point in a series of “religious imperatives” which American Jews must follow so that Jewish life would “recover its spiritual character.” He also urged organic Jewish communities, better knowledge of Hebrew, and revitalization of Jewish Sabbath and festivals.

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