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Dr. Mordecai Kaplan to Form Research Institute for Judaism

Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan, the eminent Jewish scholar and founder of the Reconstructionist movement, said today that he was planning to establish a Research Institute for Contemporary Judaism in the hope of stemming “the progressive deterioration of Jewish life in the United States and indeed throughout the world.”

Dr. Kaplan said he had noticed that the announcement of his retirement from the active service of the Jewish Theological Seminary had been misinterpreted by some Jewish newspapers and emphasized that his major interest for a number of years has been the Reconstructionist movement.

“The progressive deterioration of Jewish life in the United States, and indeed throughout the world, has given me no rest,” Dr. Kaplan declared. “The conventional approaches to religion, to education, to Jewish community life and to the survival of the Jewish people as a creative spiritual force in the world, have failed. Nothing less than a completely new approach is needed to reinvigorate Judaism in our time.

“In the years that remain for me, I wish to devote myself to studying how to stem the tide of disintegration, to find out how to improve all aspects of Jewish life. For this reason I am hoping to establish a Research Institute for Contemporary Judaism. The purpose of this Institute is to turn the attention of my colleagues and myself to a series of projects through which we can learn what needs to be done in order that all Jewish religious, Zionist, cultural and social service activities be conducted from the standpoint of Judaism as an evolving and progressive religious civilization in which there must be room for unity in diversity and in which tradition shall have a vote but not the authority of a veto.”

Dr. Kaplan added that participants in the Institute would be rabbis, educators and social workers “who are already active in their respective fields of endeavor,” drawn from “all denominations and from those who have no official affiliation with any of them.”