The statement living in two civilizations harkens (I love that word) back to the time of Mordechai Kaplan (1881 - 1983), the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism. In 1934 Kaplan published his masterwork, Judaism as a Civilization, and raised a question that still challenges American Jews in the 21st Century. In essence he questioned whether it was possible for American Jews to sit by as reluctant bystanders or as bitter critics of American society and culture but as deeply committed Americans and Jews able to embrace the best in both civilizations. Another one of his standards was that people should be not 'men' on the street and 'Jews' at home but both. He called for Jews to develop a creative Judaism that in his words spelled 'nothing less than a maximum of Jewishness'. Times were different and more challenging then (Kaplan came to America at the age of 9) but are things any easier now, now that things are easier? Not at all.
Do we need to live a double life? Can we be the best of both? Many of my friends in the business of being Jewish are worried about these issues of creativity and mediocrity. As for me i am the eternal PollyAnna. I see progress in places where others don't and I see all of you out there - whatever the number - who have the ability of creating a creative force of Judaism for yourselves.
The stories we create around our own Jewish quests are a part of that. The Everyday Spirituality that merges the two gifts we have will help to make that happen. Here's a start for you. Today I received a copy of a new book from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Press entitled "Everyday Spirituality", The book is from a series entitled A Guide to Jewish Practices and the main text is written by Rabbi David Teutsch the Director of the Center for Jewish Ethics at RRC. T here is more commentary than text from a variety of contributors and in particular his dedication is what makes this fitting for all of you.
For Jewish spiritual seekers -
may they find what they seek
and bring their clarity and energy
to transforming our world.
Kaplan would be pleased! We find partnerships in our dual lives. Ways to combine the everyday and make it sacred and bring them together on our paths. The guide is available on the RRC website and if you have trouble finding it let me know and I'll make sure it makes it to your door.
Today is the 36th day of the counting of the Omer. We are doubly blessed by being Jews in freedom in America and although we might be frustrated by both if we bring them together and inside of us we will be richer for it.
Marilyn, proud of both