The Relevant Reverend, by Rev. Dr. Herbert F. Vetter
Consider the life of the rabbi who concluded, “Civilization is an adventure.” Such teaching can be dangerous, and during the years of Nazism, a strange event occurred in America. The Union of Orthodox Rabbis excommunicated Mordecai Kaplan and condemned and burned a Jewish book—in fact, a book of Jewish prayers. The Reconstructionist Prayer Book was set ablaze in a pompous rite. In spite of this hostility, 21 years later, more than 500 congregations throughout the United States and Canada paused on the Sabbath of June 11, 1966 to observe the 85th birthday of Dr. Kaplan, founder of the Reconstructionist Movement in Judaism. Why was this done? Rabbi Kaplan taught Judaism is an evolving civilization that can exist in harmony with our modern natural, scientific, and democratic way of life.