Mordecai Kaplan Diaries Digitized and Online

The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary is pleased to make available the digitized diaries of Mordecai Kaplan. These diaries, written between 1913 and 1972, are a window into the thoughts of this towering figure over the course of most of the twentieth century. Kaplan’s diary reflects, often in intimate detail, on his work, the people he met, the political situation of his day, theology, and Judaism. These personal records are crucial to many areas of study of twentieth-century Judaism, particularly in America.

For example, in his early entries he often speaks about people who came to see him at JTS. Among them were new immigrants, who spoke poor English, often coming with family members who spoke better English, expressing their desire to study at JTS after working in the sweatshops of New York City’s Lower East Side. He also discusses his meetings with Jewish leaders concerning the future of "Judaism with an open mind." His reflections during the Holocaust, on Zionism and the birth of the state of Israel, and on the development and challenges of the Reconstructionist Movement, are all major primary source material that is now open to students, scholars, and the general public.

To access the diaries, go here.

Reminder: JTS is just down the block at 122nd and Broadway, and contains the largest collection of Hebrew and Jewish-related manuscripts in the country!   CU affiliates (faculty, students, and staff) are able to check out books from JTS’s general collections.  (Note that there is a one-time $20 charge to obtain a JTS library card.)

Access hours to JTS’s special collections are below:

Access to the Special Collections is by appointment. We ask that you make an appointment one week in advance to enable us to prepare the materials for you. Please call (212) 678-8077 or email for an appointment to visit during these hours:

Monday–Thursday, Noon–5:00 p.m

2 thoughts on “Mordecai Kaplan Diaries Digitized and Online

  1. Are the diaries indexed in any way by subject? For example I am interested in the sections in which Cohen mentions the philosophers, Hermann Cohen and Ernst Cassirer; and the so called “functional method” of source interpretation.

    Anyway to narow down the materials as I search for these pages?

    Thank you!

    Avi Bernstein

  2. Avi, as far as I know, there is no indexing to the Kaplan diaries, but I have contacted the librarian at JTS to confirm this, and will update if there is more information.


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