Over at H-Judaica, there is a hunt for Aryeh Kaplan’s physics MA or any evidence to document his work in the field. They did turn up that the Memphis raised southerner went under his birth name Leonard M Kaplan to University of Maryland and had two co-authored articles in 1965 and 1966. Between 1965 and his burst into NCSY tracts and Chassidism in translation in 1973, he did many activities that are usually not discussed such as elementary school teacher in Louisville Kentucky, Conservative rabbi, and abstract artist. By 1965, he had already relinquished physics graduate school and was a rabbi in Mason City Iowa, a congregation that only had a late Friday night service. Here is a lost homily of his that was syndicated as part of a clergy column where he sees modern science including the synthesis of life in a test tube as pointing to God’s greatness. True scientists marvel at the secret of life.
•”Lift lift your eyes on high, and see: Who hath created these? He that bringeth on their host by number, He calleth them all by name (Isaiah 40:26)
Rabbi Leonard M. Kaplan
Adas Israel Synagogue
7th N.W. & Adams
From the day that man first appeared on this planet, he has looked on high at the stars and the world around him, and he has stood in awe before the great mystery of creation. He would try to reach up to the stars, and he would climb the highest mountain peaks, but still they would appear far away, blinking steadily in their continued silence, mocking the puny man who would presume to fathom their origin, their nature, and their destiny. But man was not easily discouraged. He continued to climb and probe the mystery of the stars, the riddle of the atom, and even the secret of life itself. Today, mankind finds himself on the threshold of creating life. By duplicating conditions of a primeval earth, scientists have already succeeded in bringing forth the most primitive form of pre – life. This has lead many psuedo-scientists of narrow mental gauge to proclaim that man no longer needs to believe in God, and that science has done away with all mystery and miracle.
But the true thinking scientist knows that the exact opposite is true — that science has enormously increased man’s sense of mystery, and that all of nature is nothing but a huge miracle.
When astronomers explore galaxies billions of light years away, they find that they are made of the same matter as the stuff beneath our feet. Only one kind of matter is found to exi st throughout the entire universe. Yet, this unique material has one exceptional property — it can support life, and under proper conditions, it can even give rise to life. The fact that inert matter carries the potential of life cannot be considered a mere random accident. It can be nothing less than the work of a purposeful Creator. How then can we imagine something as simple as the electron carrying within itself the potential of the human brain, had not humanity been anticipated by the Designer of all creation? Even the Bible does not tell us that God created life, but rather that He said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures.” (Genesis 1:24). God created matter — the dust of the earth — with the potential of al! life. If scientists are successful in creating true life, our belief in God should be all the stronger, for who else but an omniscient- God could have created the elementary particles of matter with all the inherent potentialities of the human spirit? The handwriting of God is clear — not on the wall — but in the very heart of nature.
RABBI LEONARD M. KAPLAN
Here we have a JTA bulitein about Kaplan in his role as rabbi of Ohav Shalom, a Conservative synagogue in Albany where he also serves as as Jewish student adviser at SUNY at Albany. He is working to provide kosher food and is involved in outreach. Notice in the language of the announcement the language of the 1960’s “free university” and “eschews formal leadership.” Aryeh Kaplan’s describes his classes as follows: “Many college students turn to drugs and the Eastern religions searching for a mystic and deeply spiritual experience,” the prospectus said. “Most of these are not at all aware of Judaism’s great mystic and spiritual tradition. Especially relevant to this quest is Hassidism, which stands unique as the world’s only popular mystic movement.” Three years later, he starts publishing his Hasidism as popular mysticism and having everything that Eastern mysticism contains.
Project to Rediscover Jewish Values Launched by Students at State University of N.Y.
ALBANY, N.Y., Jul. 6 (JTA) –
A group of students at the State University of New York at Albany (SUNYA) is planning to launch a “Jewish Rediscovery Project” on the campus next fall. Its motivation is “a common desire to rediscover Jewish values relevant to current problems and to act upon such problems as a Jewish group,” according to a prospectus released here. The youngsters are working with Rabbi Leonard M. Kaplan of Congregation Obav Sholom, the Jewish religious advisor at SUNYA. They estimate the Jewish student population at 2,370 or 19.5 percent of the 12,125 total, and the Jewish faculty at 200 members, 9.2 percent of the total. According to Rabbi Kaplan, Jewish student activists are already largely responsible for the creation of the first full Judaica department in the entire New York State University system, which will open in September under the chairmanship of Prof. Jerome Eckstein. They are also responsible for a Free University of Judaica, offering courses that would not normally come under the Judaica Department; a kosher food plan provided by the University, and a special Passover food plan administered by the University, Rabbi Kaplan reported.
“The Jewish Rediscovery Project” is the tentative name for a series of programs expected to attract large numbers of students who find traditional Jewish organizational hierarchies and programs repellant and irrelevant to their interests and their intellectual and spiritual needs. The series eschews formal leadership structure in favor of what the students call sub-cooperatives without chairman and officers, in which leadership is expected to rise spontaneously according to the project’s needs. The student most responsible for the program, according to Rabbi Kaplan, is Tobi Goldstein a sophomore. The prospectus calls for four sub-cooperatives–a Study Cooperative, an Information Cooperative, an Action Cooperative and a Religion Cooperative. In the latter, students will explore Hassidism as an avenue to mystical experience. “Many college students turn to drugs and the Eastern religions searching for a mystic and deeply spiritual experience,” the prospectus said. “Most of these are not at all aware of Judaism’s great mystic and spiritual tradition. Especially relevant to this quest is Hassidism, which stands unique as the world’s only popular mystic movement.”
To be Continued in the next post here- Lost Aryeh Kaplan Part II