Jewish Atheists

For Atheists of Jewish origin and others interested in Jewish history and culture.

Members: 82
Latest Activity: Jul 16, 2016

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Started by Freethinker31. Last reply by Freethinker31 Sep 19, 2014. 4 Replies

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Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 1:05am
By the way, I just checked my page on this website, and a line on that page described this group as "Atheists coming from Judaism." Well, having grown up in Humanistic Judaism I'm both (religion) Atheist and (ethnic/culture) Jewish, so that description is inaccurate. Anybody want to correct that description of this group? If that's an accurate description of this group, then suddenly I feel unwelcome. Maybe I too hastily joined the wrong group and I need to switch from Jewish Atheists to Humanistic Jews after all? Now I see why maybe there are two groups on this website, Jewish Atheists and Humanistic Jews.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on October 26, 2009 at 12:47am
I know a few of the people in Machar, but I know little of the split in DC.

You are correct about O'Hair and angry ex-Christians.

One might also bring up the question of anti-Semitism among atheists.
Comment by Eric on October 26, 2009 at 12:40am
Hello Everyone!

I just joined Atheist Nexus tonight, I did an internet search on gay atheists and found a group for gay atheists on this website. I thought I was joining that group, directly, but then realized I had joined a general website for atheists and still hadn't joined that group, so I joined that group after joining this website, again!

Now that I've joined, I'm looking around further, and to my surprise I see a group for Jewish Atheists. So I've joined this group too, and hello to all! :-)

I grew up in the Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, MI where Humanistic Judaism was founded. At present I'm not a member of that temple or any other. I will always identify with Humanistic Judaism but have no desire to be part of any group where I don't have direct access without a notetaker or an ASL interpreter. (I recently joined a group for Gay Atheists in MI, it's still a small group, so I'll see how it goes when I first meet them at their next meeting next month). In general though pretty much any group that requires that for me is by my definition too high maintenance.

When I first went to college, I joined American Atheists for about 10 years, but I finally came to realize that AA was really only for atheists from Christian backgrounds. The final straw came when Madalyn O'Hair told AA members that if they weren't from a Christian background, to get the hell out of AA. This appeared in a booklet from AA authored by Madalyn that I had ordered, it described what she thought the ideal atheist was like. When I saw that, I was really shocked, I thought I had been really punched in the face. This was in my 10th year as a member, I hadn't seen that particular sentiment from Madalyn before. Atheists who had other backgrounds or concerns that differed from hers, get out!

I finally realized that I was really looking for an atheistic view of Judaism from outside Judaism, and had been frustrated for a long time that articles coming out of AA seemed to look only from an angry ex-Christian point of view and nothing that really spoke directly on Judaism from an atheist point of view. Madalyn felt angry, but I never felt that same level of anger because she was really rebelling against her Christian upbringing, while I grew up in Humanistic Judaism and never felt any identical feeling of rebelling against Humanistic Judaism. I never saw that anger for what it was for a long time because I only saw the word 'atheist' and I guess it took me a while, perhaps not even until I read that booklet, to see deeper than that, that it was more about her being lied to during the Christian phase of her life. I was never lied to by my family or my rabbi.

In the real world I don't really have any friends who are atheist, and perhaps this website or the above Meetup group will help to change that. My friends are largely secular, or Christian mostly in name. When I connect with others it's because of other things I like about them. I do have two friends who are evangelical Christians, I've been very careful to keep my real beliefs out of the way because in other ways I really like them. They both know that I'm Jewish, and I leave it at that, never explaining that I'm an ethnic/cultural Jew only, that I'm an atheist. Maybe that comes easier to me given that I spent part of my life in the closet as a gay man, and at work I continue to keep my sexuality in the closet because I feel that I have enough issues to worry about as a deaf person. The day when I'll be able to be open about all parts of myself, including the atheist part, probably won't happen until I'm fully retired and no longer have to worry about maintaining my ability to be gainfully employed.

I see that there is another group called Humanist Jews in addition to this group, with four members. What's that all about? There was once a Humanistic Judaism congregation in DC that was destroyed because half the group placed humanistic values first before Judaism and the other placed Judaism before humanistic values (I'm in the former camp; the latter actually sounds more like Reform). I hope this isn't something similar happening on this website!

Anyway, it''s nice to meet everybody here! :-)

(Funny I should introduce myself in this group first, when it was the gay atheist group that was the reason for me in joining this website in the first place!)

Comment by Loren ɟɟןoʍ on July 17, 2009 at 2:17am
Hi everyone. I've been on AN for a while and now so pleased to find this group on AN. A bit about me. I was a reform Jew brought up in a reform home but with close ties to the shul due to my mom being very involved traditionally and being a 'lay' reader. I took part to a large degree too, even taking Saturday morning services from the age of 12 - I think I just saw it as a challenge! I liked reading and being there but never felt a connection or meaning in what I was reading in any way. I chose not to have a Batmitvah believing at the age of 13 for it to be hypocritical. From age 6 to 11 I was at a school that was rife with anti-semitism. From age 11 to completing High School I was sent to an Orthodox Jewish School that ostracised reform Jews. It all become more and more meaningless to me from the compulsory shul services at school to studying the Torah in English and Hebrew and Jewish Studies(that was actually dropped from the syllabus and I still wonder about that till today, why, finally...!). I became more atheistic ever since I left school till today 24 years later and so happy I chose that path sooner rather than later. I happen to live in a part of my city that you can term the Torah Belt and it's not fun. None of my partners have been Jewish and fortunately I was able to convert my partner to atheism. I have religious Jewish neighbours and I feel as much a fish out of water being there as those atheists feel living in the Bible Belt in the US I suppose. I would also love to share your stories and how you became nontheists. I've read Dawkins, Sam Harris, Chris Hitchens's books which have expanded my mind to all proportions of clear and rational thinking just putting the cherry on the top of my stance.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on June 9, 2009 at 6:21pm
Active atheists, being in the main ex-Christians, can be just as presumptuous as real Christians.
Comment by Rose Schwartz on June 9, 2009 at 6:12pm
Hi Jewmanists!! I don't think I coined the term, but I think its hilarious.

I find it important to express my Jew-ishness for two reasons:
1. I feel very connected to the culture and hereditary.
2. I'm tired of Christians trying to convert me as an atheist on the assumption that I left Jeebus or was ever a Christian.

My family was always reform and that, in itself, made it difficult to consider myself atheist. It was really just a word jump for me.

Anyway, nice to meet you all. :)
Comment by Ralph Dumain on April 19, 2009 at 11:59pm
Note this blog entry on "A New Group in the Works".

The topic is the lopsided nature of much atheist discourse based on the tacit assumption that Christianity is the only model of religion.
Comment by Ted E Bear on March 11, 2009 at 4:39pm
i guess i would count as a "secular Jew". i grew up with some of the watered down traditions, but decided that i could find no rational argument that their was a god.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on March 8, 2009 at 1:58pm
In addition to atheists coming from "Judaism", one should also consider secular Jews who were never religious (Jews constituting an ethnic group, not necessarily a religion). The group should be open to all interested in the topic of Jews and atheism, and not limited to Jews alone.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on March 6, 2009 at 5:51pm
Here's another graphic for your consideration:


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