Kaplan is a professor of French and comparative literature and
a research associate of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European
Jewry at Brandeis University. He has published articles on Abraham Heschel,
Martin Buber, Thomas Merton, and Howard Thurman, as well as books on
Charles Baudelaire and Jules Michelet. Kaplan recently completed the first
intellectual and cultural biography of Heschel, co-authored with Samuel
Dresner entitled, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Prophetic Witness, to be
published in 1998.
Abstract of paper given at
Judaism and Ecology conference:
Heschel's philosophy of Judaism includes a prophetic urgency to save the world from destruction. Following Mitchell Thomashow's paradigm of "ecological identity," I trace how Heschel re-centers human awareness from the self to God, thus identifying with a divine perspective which leads to a perception of "togetherness of all beings in holy otherness." This state of fellowship is perceived through radical reverence. Nature as such is not sacred but it participates, with human beings, in praising God. A Sabbath consciousness may nurture a combination of love and fear of catastrophe, impelling us actively to protect the planet.