One Book Mishkan: 13th Annual Selection
The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us, by Bruce Feiler

Watch Kol Shalom, Ma Hadash and this page for 5778’s One Book Mishkan programs.

If the story of Adam & Eve is about romantic love, and not of sin; if one of the most well-known stories of all time is actually about introducing the idea of love into the world; what might this signify about the Bible, in general, or about modern religious practice? Join us for a revelatory journey across four continents and 4,000 years with master storyteller Bruce Feiler as our guide.

Questions? Suggestions? Write See you in the Library!


About the Library

Mishkan Shalom's Library holds a collection of 4,000+ books and multi-media material, lovingly tended by our Library Committee. The committee's goal is to help meet the Judaic educational and informational needs of our congregation's adult and young adult members. In addition to maintaining, enriching and circulating the collection, the committee plans the annual One Book Mishkan program series. The Library is open to the public and all are welcome to check-out books and other materials, using our self-circulation system. The Library is open whenever the building is open. To confirm building hours, contact the office at (215) 508-0226 or

Come and Visit!

We’re so proud of our beautiful library and the depth and vibrancy of our collection. Are you new to our Library? We’re on the third floor across from the Chapel. Everything you need to check-out and return items is just inside the entrance. A guide to our self-circulation system is on the bulletin board and the deposit box for book cards is right below on the circulation table. Returning books? Just put them in the blue plastic return bin under the table and we’ll get them back on the shelves for others to enjoy.

A popular spot for meetings and classes, there are many hours each day when our Library can provide a quiet haven for reading, browsing, working, writing or just contemplating. Come explore…make visiting our Library a regular part of your visits to Mishkan!

Recent Acquisitions, Suggestions & Donations

Ours is a vibrant, living library: We routinely add items to our collection and welcome suggestions for new works.

Click here to see titles, and read brief reviews, for many of our latest additions, and for information regarding donations and new title suggestions.

ONE BOOK MISHKAN: 12th Annual Program Series

The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan, by Mel Scult

This year we explore this powerful work on the founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, whose concern for the spiritual fulfillment of the individual grew as he observed the expanding disconnect to Judaism around him. We’ll use this work to build on our recent discussions about the concept of “Jewish Peoplehood” and questions of Jewish identity in the modern world. How do we adapt Kaplan’s ideas to the diversity in thought and belief in contemporary Judaism? Dr. Mel Scult, noted historian and Kaplan’s leading biographer, mined Kaplan’s 27-volume diary to describe the development of Kaplan’s thought in conversations with a host of great thinkers.

One reader writes:

“Scult's book is a rarity among works tracing the history of religious thought: Thorough and scholarly for those who are more knowledgeable about Kaplan, and yet deeply personal and completely accessible to the novice. For anyone looking to combine intellectual rigor with serious spiritual seeking this book opens doors and hearts much as Kaplan's work did for previous generations.”     -- Marc Margolius

We begin with the book's themes and expand our inquiry into broader questions. We hope you'll read this excellent work and join us throughout the year. All events are open to the public. Invite friends, family and colleagues to join you for these special programs.

About the Author

Mel Scult is Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He published a biography of Mordecai Kaplan, Judaism Faces the Twentieth Century: A Biography of Mordecai M. Kaplan, as well as an analysis of his thought, The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan, among other works. He edited two volumes of selections from Kaplan’s Journal: Communings of the Spirit: The Journals of Mordecai M. Kaplan, Volume 1: 1913-1934 and Volume 2: 1934-1941, just recently published.

He is a member of West End Synagogue, a Reconstructionist congregation, and lives in New York City with his wife, Barbara Gish Scult. He earned bachelor’s degrees from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and New York University, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a doctorate in Judaic Studies from Brandeis University.  

In addition to teaching at the City University of New York, he has also taught at Vassar College, Brandeis University, The Jewish Theological Seminary and The New School. He has lectured widely at universities and Jewish institutions including Stanford University, Mc Gill University, Brandeis University, Georgetown University, Drake University, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati and Jerusalem), The Jewish Theological Seminary, the Spertus Institute in Chicago and The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

He is a co -founder of the Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood and serves as its vice president.

About the Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

The Kaplan Center promotes the thought and writings of Rabbi Kaplan and works to advance the trans-denominational agenda of the Kaplanian approach to Judaism by producing publications and other resources, facilitating conferences and educational events and by spurring creative experimentation in Jewish communities and institutions.

Wrestling with Jewish Peoplehood Conference

Held last spring, this conference led us to choose The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan as our One Book Mishkan selection this year.


A wealth of information and resources, including from our speaker, Dr Scult, can be found on the Kaplan Center website:


Programs in our 5777 Series:

Author Mel Scult Speaks:
“The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai Kaplan and its Meaning for Today”
Sunday, December 11, 2016  3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Dr. Harold Gorvine, Facilitator

Refreshments will be served. Suggested donation $10.00.

Whether or not you've read the book, this promises to be an enriching program! Please plan to be with us as Dr. Mel Scult, noted historian of Reconstructionist Judaism and leading biographer of Rabbi Kaplan, speaks in the opening program of our 12th annual One Book Mishkan series. Professor Scult will provide us with background on Rabbi Kaplan and share his thoughts on how Kaplan’s thought is as meaningful today as ever.

Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism, was one of the most provocative and original thinkers on the Jewish scene. For the first time, Kaplan’s thought is presented in its entirety in “The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan,” our 5777 One Book Mishkan selection.

Dr. Scult comments: “This work goes far beyond the concept of ‘Judaism as a Civilization.’ Kaplan, the prophet of Jewish peoplehood, was also the prophet of Jewish personhood. He sought to democratize, Americanize and individualize the Jewish tradition and through these efforts to strengthen the Jewish people.”

Come, bring your questions and join us following the program for a reception with the author. Copies of Professor Scult’s books will be for sale.

Dr. Harold Gorvine, Facilitator

Harold received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1962. His area of specialization was American history which he taught at both the college and high school levels. He taught for 47 years, 38 of them at Akiba Hebrew Academy where he was recognized as a master teacher.

Donate online: One Book Mishkan: Author Mel Scult Speaks


Saturday Night at the Movies: God on Trial
Saturday, March 25, 2017  7:00 p.m.

Dr. Adam Blistein, Moderator

Refreshments will be served. Suggested Donation $5.00.

Plan to join us for another great Saturday nite at the movies, when our ever-popular movie night returns with this BBC made-for-TV movie.

God on Trial dramatizes a trial conducted by inmates in an Auschwitz barracks in which God is accused of breaking his covenant with the Jewish people. Although there is no firm evidence that such a trial ever happened, Elie Wiesel claimed to have seen something like it in the camp and based his play, The Trial of God, on his experience. (Wiesel's play was set in the Ukraine in the 1600's, after a pogrom.)

We chose this movie to pair with our One Book since it examines a number of traditional Jewish views of God that Kaplan also interrogates.

Dr. Adam Blistein – classics scholar, film buff and long-time Movie Nite producer – leads our post-film discussion. Join us for popcorn, libations, yummy treats, lively discussion and good company!

See the trailer. (Watch for link...coming soon!)

Book Discussion: The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan, by Mel Scult
Sunday, May 7, 2017  3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Dr. Lillian Sigal, Facilitator

Refreshments will be served.

Join us as we conclude our series with a lively discussion of this powerful work on the founder of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement. Kaplan’s concern with the spiritual fulfillment of the individual grew from a Judaism of disconnection he saw around him. How shall we adapt Kaplan’s ideas to new questions of Jewish identity, balancing particularism and universalism, rationalism and mysticism? We'll discuss our own experiences of Reconstructionism in light of Rabbi Kaplan's thinking.

Dr. Scult comments: “This work goes far beyond the concept of ‘Judaism as a Civilization.’ Kaplan, the prophet of Jewish peoplehood, was also the prophet of Jewish personhood. He sought to democratize, Americanize and individualize the Jewish tradition and through these efforts to strengthen the Jewish people.”

Dr. Lillian Sigal, founding chairperson of our Library Committee, has taught Bible and Religion at colleges and universities. She has a particular interest in interfaith relations, shared with her husband, Rabbi and New Testament scholar Phillip Sigal. She served as editor of his work “Judaism: The Evolution of a Faith.”

Prior Year's Program Series

Waveland: One Woman's Story of Freedom Summer, by Simone Zelitch
A Guide for the Perplexed
by Dara Horn

The Golem and the Jinni,
by Helene Wecher

Previous One Book Mishkan titles:

The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth
Betraying Spinoza, by Rebecca Goldstein
Who Wrote the Bible, by Richard Elliott Friedman
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East, by Sandy Tolan
Call It Sleep, by Henry Roth
Sweet and Low: A Family Story, by Rich Cohen
As A Driven Leaf, by Rabbi Milton Steinberg
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, by Nathan Englander
The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker
A Guide for the Perplexed, by Dara Horn
Waveland: One Woman's Story of Freedom Summer, by Simone Zelitch

One Book, One Jewish Community

The Library Committee is so pleased to continue our association with the city-wide OBOJC program. A national model for community building and Jewish literacy, the OBOJC program has touched thousands of individuals throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. Synagogues, agencies and other Jewish communal organizations and institutions explore not only the book itself but also the values and issues raised within.

5777's OBOJC Selection: Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook

Join others throughout the region as we read this year's selection. The city-wide program offers many opportunities to attend book discussions and programs created by OBOJC partners. For event listings, a reader’s guide and other resources and to sign-up to receive regular e-mails, be sure to visit the OBOJC webpage.

OUR MEMOIR COOKBOOK: Writings & Recipes

Indeed, our longtime delightful, delectable community project continues, and is nearing completion! Members and friends of Mishkan Shalom are still warmly welcomed to make submissions. Learn Everything You Need To Know Right Here.

Suggestions, Donations, Questions

The Library Committee welcomes all suggestions for the improvement of our Library and programs, including title suggestions for new acquisitions.

Donations of new or used books must be pre-approved, as our shelves are bursting at the seams! To confirm we can accept your donation, please contact Eileen Levinson.

If you’re a reader, booklover, lover of libraries or want to deepen your knowledge of Jewish subject matter, the Library Committee could be a great fit for you. We'd love to have you join our committee! We also welcome volunteers who can help us maintain the collection. Contact Lillian Sigal, Chair.

We look forward to hearing from you:

See you in the Library!

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