Humanist Jews

A group for secular Jews that wish to retain the cultural and historical significance of what being a "Jew" really means.

Members: 16
Latest Activity: Feb 14

Discussion Forum

What Path brought you to being a Humanist

Started by Humanist Mark. Last reply by Leila Cook Nov 6, 2012. 4 Replies

I know this question will bring a multitude of answers but I'd love to hear them all.In my case it was both a long and short journey. I have a few family members that survived Hitler's Holocaust and…Continue

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Comment by Grinning Cat on February 14, 2020 at 9:12am

Those goals articulated by Jews for a Secular Democracy (among others) are more important than ever, with too many evangelical Christians going along with the tRump misadministration's "anything goes in the name of white nationalism and personal power".

Comment by Grinning Cat on January 18, 2019 at 2:26pm

I just learned about Jews for a Secular Democracy, an initiative of the Society for Humanistic Judaism that will hopefully attract theistic Jews as well.

From their website's main page:

Key Issues We Address

Ending Government-Sanctioned Discrimination

We oppose so-called “religious freedom” laws that allow businesses to discriminate [...] Jews were once excluded from commercial enterprises and we won’t accept it again, no matter who the target.

Requiring Science-Based Government Decisions.

Climate change is real, “conversion therapy” is not. Regulatory agencies like the FDA and EPA should be led by scientists. [...]

Rejecting Policies Guided by Just One Religion’s Version of “Family Values.”

We demand full marriage equality, LGBTQ rights, women’s equality, equal pay, family leave, and reproductive rights based on constitutional and secular principles, not biblical passages—even if it’s our own Bible being cited.

Insisting That Youth Education Include Secular Education.

All schools, even religion-based schools (including yeshivas), must require meaningful instruction in standardized subjects essential to gainful employment and engaged citizenship, such as math, science, history, and English.

Their blog also looks like it has worthwhile reading, including "Why Do Religious Fundamentalists Believe That Their Religious Culture and the Political State Are One and the Same?"

Comment by Grinning Cat on October 6, 2016 at 12:37pm

Wishing everyone here a happy and sweet 5777!

(dipping apple slices in honey)

Comment by Grinning Cat on October 4, 2014 at 9:40pm

The Ne'ilah ("closing of the gates") from the Kehilla for Secular Jews observance of Yom Kippur:

And now, in the close of these days of contemplation, we declare:
Let the year upon which we have entered be for us, for K'lal Yisrael, and the world:

A year of blessing and prosperity,

A year of security and comfort,

A year of health and contentment,

A year of joy and celebration,

A year of virtue and justice,

A year that finds the hearts of parents united with the hearts of their children,

A year of pardon and forgiveness,

A year of life, a year of peace.

SHALOM -- to Peace                 L'CHAIM -- to Life

Comment by Grinning Cat on September 26, 2014 at 12:52pm

A wonderful humanistic Shema that was part of the Rosh Hashanah observance I attended yesterday:


Reader: Sh'ma Yisrael v'kol a-na-shim a-nakh-nu ekhad            
(Hear O Israel and all people -- We are one)

ALL: Loving life with all our heart and all our spirit,        
all our senses and strength,
we take upon ourselves and into ourselves these promises:
to care for the earth and those who live upon it,
to pursue justice and peace, to love kindness and compassion.
We will teach this to our children
Throughout the passage of each day
-- as we dwell in our homes and as we go on our journeys.
From the time we rise until we fall asleep.
And may our actions be faithful to our words
That our children's children
may live to know:
Truth and kindness have embraced.
Peace and justice have kissed and are one.

by Marcia Falk, from A Book of Blessings

Comment by Grinning Cat on September 25, 2014 at 2:15pm

On this Rosh Hashanah... may we do what we can to help create a good and a sweet new year of peace, health, prosperity, and joy!

(image source: Nancy Rosenbaum)

Comment by Grinning Cat on September 23, 2014 at 11:39pm

I too am tired of the common Christian (and ex-Christian) fallacy that Judaism somehow stopped evolving around the time of Jesus.

(I see "embiggen" as consciously nonstandard, from The Simpsons... and "click to embiggen" is certainly around the net a fair bit! I also responded in the Linguaphiles & Sesquipedalians comments.)

Here's Barry Martin Dancis's graphic of the diversity of the "Network of Jewish Currents, Varieties, Branches, and Offshoots". (click to enlarge)

It's worth noting that early Israelites/Jews were polytheistic; they rejected all but one of the false gods around the fifth century BCE. Nontheistic Judaism could be the logical completion of that process!

Comment by Natalie A Sera on September 23, 2014 at 9:04pm

And ps. Cat, when did "embiggen" replace "enlarge"? Is there some subtle nuance I'm missing?

Comment by Natalie A Sera on September 23, 2014 at 9:03pm

Well, I think maybe I've found a home here. I'm an atheist because I don't believe in god, but I could no more stop breathing than I could stop being Jewish.

I have very strong feelings about Jewish ethics and morals, and having been raised Reform, I find it fits me pretty well -- all but the prayer part, because why pray when you aren't praying to anyone, and there will be no answer other than the occasional coincidence.

But what I've gotten tired of arguing about with ex-Christian atheists is that they ONLY know the God of the Tanach, and of their Bible, and they ascribe all the things they find repugnant about the stories of the Tanach to us living Jews today. They have no inkling of our rich literary heritage, and how much effort and time were invested in arguing various points of doctrine and morals and ethics, and that Judaism has changed markedly over the millennia, and you can't judge the Judaism (and its various sects) of today by what you read in ONE 3,000 year (or more) old document. I mean, it's OK to look at the cosmologies of various other primitive people and regard them as ancient mythical stories, but it's not OK for the cosmology of the Jews. And as far as Christian mythology, well, that's the TRUTH from God as spoken by Jesus -- how many Christians know how much their religion has changed as well?

I was on some other groups and tried to explain my concept, but kept getting shouted down by people using parts and pieces of the Tanakh which they didn't understand anyway. They also were very vile and insulting and proud of MOCKING people who believe in other religions. And I finally had enough it (mocking people for ANYTHING is against my belief!!) and left AN completely for a while, because I got to feeling that if this is atheism, then it's not for me. I do not hurt people unless its absolutely necessary to prevent them from harming themselves or others (at least on a personal level -- war and politics is a whole different issue). So I won't let any so-called atheist hurt ME!

Comment by Grinning Cat on September 23, 2014 at 4:46pm

Found in a wiki space for the Philadelphia-area Jewish Children's Folkshul and the Kehilla for Secular Jews: a Venn diagram "Circle of Jewish Affiliations" categorizing a number of secular and/or humanist and/or Jewish groups, some local, some (inter)national:

(click to embiggen)

Circle of Jewish Affiliations (version 9 last edited: Oct 15, 2007) [Venn diagram with Secular, Humanist, Jewish, and intersections] / SECULAR (not Humanist or Jewish): Nat'l. Acad. of Sciences, Amer. Philosophical Soc. / HUMANIST (not Secular or Jewish): Unitarians, Quakers / SECULAR and HUMANIST (not Jewish): Ethical Culture Soc., American Humanist Assoc., Free Thought Society of Greater Philadelphia / JEWISH (not Secular or Humanist): Samaritan, Karaite, Hasidic, Orthodox / JEWISH and mostly inside Humanist (not Secular): Conservative / JEWISH and HUMANIST (not Secular): Reconstructionist, Reform / JEWISH and HUMANIST and touching Secular: UJA, B'nai Brith Lodges / JEWISH, HUMANIST, and SECULAR: Jewish Children's Folkshul, American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Groups, Workmen's Circle, ADL of B'nai B'rith, CSJO, SHJ / (no groups listed under Secular and Jewish but not Humanist)


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