The Jewish Standard tells the amazing story of Felice Kirsh, who is about to celebrate her second bat mitzvah at Temple Sinai of Bergen County. Her first bat mitzvah took place in 1946 at the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ). At the time, bat mitzvahs were quite uncommon – even in Reconstructionist circles.
Among the luminaries on the bimah were Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism and among the most influential thinkers in American Jewish history; Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, Kaplan's disciple and son-in-law who was then the religious leader of SAJ who would go on to become RRC’s first president; and Moshe Nathanson, the cantor and composer of "Hava Nagila."
Kirsh recalled Kaplan in this way:
“I can’t think of any word other than awesome to describe Rabbi Kaplan. I used to look at him and think that he looked like an Old Testament prophet. He was a very handsome man, with white hair and a white Van Dyke beard, and piercing blue eyes. To this day, I can hear his voice in my memory. On Yom Kippur afternoon, he would chant the haftarah, the book of Jonah, and I can hear it.”