Mordecai Kaplans Judaism as a Civilization and Gerson Cohens The Blessing of Assimilation in Jewish History reflect two different approaches to Jewish culture, which are still dominant today. Analyze both works. Answer the following questions:
1. What is Kaplans understanding of Jewish civilization? What does he see as Jewish civilizations essential elements and most important characteristics?
2. What does Cohen mean by the blessing of assimilation? How does his view of Jewish culture and history differ from that of Kaplan? Be specific.
3. In light of information learned from lectures and the textbook, provide your own critique of both approaches and your own reflections on the nature of Jewish culture.
Use information learned from lecturettes and this weeks readings in your discussion.
A well-written paper will have a concise introduction to the general topic of the paper, a clear thesis statement, and a carefully developed argument with specific examples supporting the thesis statement.
Your paper should be written according to the following guidelines.
a. Your paper should be no longer than three pages (typed, double-spaced) and should concisely, clearly express the results of careful thought and prior drafts. In the paper you turn in, dont waste space with filler material.
Avoid generalities not supported with specific analysis and evidence. Anchor your paper in careful analysis of Kaplan’s and Cohen’s articles, not in broad generalities about Jewish culture. You should cite specific passages from Kaplan and Cohen to support your argument.
Do not, however, include long quotations of passages. You are writing for an audience that has read these texts. Instead, quote only what is absolutely necessary for your analysis.
Make every paragraph, sentence, and word count. In three pages you dont have space to waste.
b. The first paragraph of your paper should include a succinct statement of what you are going to argue to answer the questions posed by this assignment. The following paragraphs should develop your argument to support the thesis that you have stated in your opening paragraph. Your final paragraph should build on your argument to lead the reader into some implications of your thesis and argument for understanding Jewish culture. Again, your argument must be supported by specific evidence from Kaplan and Cohen. You are trying to persuade the reader to agree with your thesis statement.
c. This assignment is not a research paper, but you should (as appropriate for your argument) interact with the readings and class discussions for the course. You are also free (but not required) to pursue outside reading.