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Kaplan Minyan

The Bnai Keshet Kaplan Minyan is named for Reconstructionist Judaism founder Mordecai Kaplan, who sought to create a Jewish framework for discussions of ethics, culture, history, and current events. They are designed for people who enjoy a communal Shabbat and want to enrich their understanding of Jewish peoplehood in an alternative, less traditional setting.

Upcoming Sessions


2021-22 Sessions

April 2: Michelle Cameron - The Uneasy Balance - A Fiction Writer's Take on Assimilation vs. Maintaining Jewish Tradition

It happens every year around Christmas time - when the pull to conform with your neighbors is at odds with the fact that you don't string lights or put up a tree. Or maybe you do. Of course, where you draw the line is a personal, family choice. But many individuals who opted - or were forced - to assimilate means that we've lost complete touch with ancient peoples and especially ancient religions. But not the Jewish people, despite the disappearance of ten of the twelve tribes. We've faced many epochs when we had to make the choice - do we assimilate, or do we hold fast to the customs and traditions of our forefathers? This is a particularly acute problem for writers of Jewish and Israeli topics. The recent rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has meant many of these writers are ostracized on social media and have publishers unwilling to move forward with their work. Under this pressure, do these writers retreat into silence? Do they give up on projects that they have been working on for years? Author Michelle Cameron finds this a topic of special fascination - particularly because her latest novel, Beyond the Ghetto Gates, is set during the European Enlightenment, when Jews were made citizens in France for the first time in millenia - but where conformity was an underlying expectation. When Napoleon tore down the ghetto gates during his Italian Campaign and stripped Jews of their distinctive insignia, Italian Jews faced the same dilemma that we here in America face today. How much assimilation is desireable? And how much endangers our survival as a people? 

Michelle Cameron is the author of works of historical fiction and poetry: Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, 2020), The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira Ashkenaz (Pocket, 2009) and In the Shadow of the Globe (Lit Pot Press, 2003). Beyond the Ghetto Gates is the recipient of the 2020 Silver Medal for Historical Fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY'S), won First Place, Best in Category for the Chanticleer Goethe Awards and was a Finalist in the 2020 Foreword Indies. Michelle lived in Israel for fifteen years (including three weeks in a bomb shelter during the Yom Kippur War) and served as an officer in the Israeli army teaching air force cadets technical English. Michelle is a director of The Writer's Circle, an NJ- based organization that offers creative writing programs to children, teens and adults. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two grown sons of whom she is inordinately proud. Visit her website for more information. 

Past Sessions:

Roni Yavin - Did the Baby Cry? Midwifery and Circumcision in the Talmud.
Ari Finkelstein -
Separating Christians from Jews in Late Antique Syria: the Christianization of the Roman Empire in the 380s and its Impact on Jews and Judiasm
Siddhu Nadkarni - Identity: What is your true identity from a Kabbalistic and Vedantic perspective?
Miriam Herschlag - A Montclairite in Jerusalem: Fieldnotes from my inspiring, infuriating, flawed, beautiful home.
Ariel Goldberg - Just Captions: Ariel Goldberg Shares Research and Writing from book in progress on Trans and Queer Image Cultures
Jenny Baum - Just City, Growing up on the Upper West Side when Housing Was a Human Right

Sat, May 21 2022 20 Iyar 5782