In 1926 Mordecai Kaplan formulated what he called the “Thirteen Wants” as a way of expressing the fundamentals of his life as a Jew. Perhaps the word ideal is more fitting than the word “wants.” Kaplan certainly had in mind a modern version of Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Faith. I have taken the liberty of reconstructing these “wants” in language perhaps more fitting for the present. Kaplan thought of substituting the word pray and hope in some of the wants. The original “wants” are found in the 1945 Kaplan Siddur on page 562.
Kaplan’s own estimation of the Thirteen Wants some twenty years after he wrote them follows:
Kaplan Diary. December 6, 1949
This morning, as Lena and I were reading our prayers together at home, I concluded them with the reading of the “Thirteen Wants.” I was so impressed as I always am by their relevance and comprehensiveness as well as their aptness in setting forth what a Jew should experience to be a good Jew that I remarked to Lena, “When I am gone, I do not want any eulogies delivered at my funeral. All I would ask is the recital of the Thirteen Wants. Insofar as a person’s wants [ideals ed.] constitute his real self, these Thirteen Wants constitute my selfhood as a Jew.”
1. We pray that Judaism may help us to find meaning and direction in our lives.
2. We hope that our community may be a source of support in times of trouble.
3. We pray that Judaism may help us to use our blessings for just and righteous ends.
4. We are committed to using our leisure to the best advantage- physically, intellectually and spiritually.3. We pray that Judaism may help us to use our blessings for just and righteous ends.
5. We hope that our homes will be a warm safe haven and a stimulating place to live and grow.
6. We pray that our children may flourish morally and spiritually. We want to enable
7. We pray that our synagogues enable us to worship God in sincerity and truth.
8. We want our religious traditions to be understandable and to be made relevant to our present day needs. We want to find new and creative ways to incorporate Jewish ideals into our daily lives.
9. We are committed to strengthening the State of Israel as the center of the Jewish people and as the expression of the Jewish spirit.
10. We hope that Judaism will find new and compelling expressions in philosophy, literature and the arts.
11. We hope that all Jewish organizations will accomplish their goals within the sphere of the ethical and the spiritual.
12. We hope that all Jews will be ready to help each other in time of need and to cooperate in furthering Jewish life.
13. We want Judaism to advance the cause of justice freedom and peace.
‘The Thirteen Wants Reconstructed” will also be found in the forthcoming book by Mel Scult entitled “The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan- A Twentieth Century Heresy,” which will be published in 2013 by Indiana University Press. (C) Mel Scult USA
Mel Scult, Kaplan’s biographer, is professor emeritus from the City University and the editor of selections from Kaplan’s twenty–seven volume diary entitled “Communings of the Spirit.”