Eckstein scholar to present talk on Mordecai Kaplan

Professor Mel Scult, the premier scholar on Mordecai M. Kaplan, the founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, will present the 2011 Albert and Liese Eckstein Scholar-in-Residence lecture, 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, at the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 122 E. Culver St., Phoenix. Scult will explore the radical implications of Kaplan's thought and will discuss the historical relevance of Kaplan's ideas for American Jewry in the 21st century. In addition to being the founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, Kaplan is the author of "Judaism as a Civilization," published in 1934, a detailed criticism of existing Jewish denominations and a call for the "reconstruction" of Jewish life.

Scult is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Harvard University and holds a doctorate in Judaic studies from Brandeis University. He has published several volumes on Kaplan including "Dynamic Judaism: The Essential Writings of Mordecai Kaplan" and "Judaism Faces the Twentieth Century: A Biography of Mordecai Kaplan."

The program, free and open to the public, is made possible by an endowment by the late Albert and Liese Eckstein, with additional contributions from Flo and Paul Eckstein, owners of Jewish News; John and Diane Eckstein; and Friends of Jewish Studies.

'Shabbat Revived' service at Ruach

Ruach Hamidbar-Spirit of the Desert will hold a "Shabbat Revived" service with singer-songwriter Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, at the Jess Schwartz Jewish Community Day School, 12753 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. Raphael has added her own English poetic lyrics to the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service.

She will also present "The Shechinah Oracle" workshop 4:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at a private home. It will include story, song and meditation about the legends of Shechinah, the Feminine Divine.

The workshop is free for members, $18 nonmembers. To attend, e-mail

'The other side of Islam' talk

Deedra Abboud, executive director of the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation, will be the featured speaker at the Arizona Section of National Council of Jewish Women's next meeting, 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 24, at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

In her presentation, "The Other Side of Islam," she will talk about her conversion to Islam, discuss attributes of Islam and current issues and participate in a Q & A session.

The event is free and includes refreshments. Carol Consalvo, 480-860-8887 or

- Leisah Woldoff

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