Kaplan, Mordecai (1881-1983) rabbi and founder of Reconstructionist Judaism
Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Reconstructionist Movement, was born in Swenziany, Lithuania in 1881. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1889. At the age of twenty-one he received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary where he would serve as dean of the Teachers Institute and a noted professor of homiletics, midrash, and the philosophy of religion. He is most famous for founding Reconstructionist Judaism which maintains that Judaism is more than a religion; it is a civilization. In 1922, he initiated the Bat Mitzvah ritual for Jewish girls. The introduction of this new ritual followed Kaplan’s principle that just as a civilization evolves, so must Judaism if it is to remain relevant to the lives of its people.