Kehillat Israel Rabbi Reuben Pens New Book

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

Rabbi Steven Reuben has released a new book entitled “A Year with Mordecai Kaplan” that focuses on the words and ideas of Kaplan, a prominent figure in American Judaism.

Reuben is known for growing and leading the Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades for close to 30 years, and now serves as senior rabbi emeritus and is a past president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.

Since retiring in 2014, Reuben has focused his efforts on writing books like “Children of Character: Leading your Children to Ethical Choices in Everyday Life” and “Making Interfaith Marriage Work.”

When Reuben was in Jerusalem for college, he came across the ideology and philosophy of Kaplan and became a fervent student of his new discovery.

“His simple articulation of Judaism as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people and his clear vision of how Judaism could evolve to meet the needs of each succeeding generation enthralled me,” Reuben wrote in the acknowledgements of his book.

Some time later, Reuben was given the opportunity to meet Kaplan and discuss his viewpoints with him in Israel. The Palisadian rabbi credited the words of Kaplan for inspiring him to pursue a rabinic career and to teach Judaism.

Kaplan has written over 10 books on contemporary American Jewish life with titles like “A New Approach to Jewish Life” and “The Religion of Ethical Nationhood: Judaism’s Contribution to World Peace.”

“It has been a tremendous privilege to spend the last couple of years immersed in the thoughts, ideas and writings of Mordecai Kaplan,” Reuben wrote. “I only hope that joining my own insights with that of Kaplan’s pays honor and  tribute to his memory and contributes to the continued evolution of Jewish civilization that he so cherished.”