Jewish Atheists

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

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

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Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 6, 2012 at 2:39pm

Leila, you got it right! And I DON'T think the majority of religious Jews think they should rule over others and keep them in line on religion. They DO want to bring us "lost" Jews back into the Orthodox fold, but all you have to do is say "no, thank you". I've had very polite interactions with them. But I also never strayed into their territory without showing respect, just as I do with all cultures' customs. When I was in Japan, I took off my shoes before entering a house, and when I have been in Orthodox company, I don't wear "immodest" clothing. It's no skin off my back not to offend people. If I went to an Arab country (which I never will) I would wear head covering too.

Comment by sammy on November 6, 2012 at 2:24pm

Yea i assumed so,

But the Phrase 'TikkunOlam' reminds me of the "task" those religious people take upon themselves to rule over others and create laws and regulations or control others to keep them into the line of religion, so its a real Tikkun Olam before the Mushiach arrives.....

I guess as an Atheist, its all about being yourself without any restrictions, being there for others just because they are human beings, and not because its a Tikkun. :)

Comment by Leila Cook on November 6, 2012 at 2:16pm

I think she just meant practicing the concept of tikkun olam- repairing the world- and living in a way that does harm to as little as possible.  Not trying to put words in her mouth, but that's how I understood it.

Comment by sammy on November 6, 2012 at 1:42pm

Hey Natalie,

Its amazing how important these groups and sites are to our soul, and i would love "PILPUL"

But what did you mean by "live properly and practice tikkun olam"? Do you believe in Tikunim? pls explain..


Comment by Natalie A Sera on November 6, 2012 at 12:46pm

Haven't visited this group in awhile, but have thoughts! First is I love the fact that I have found a place that I can Jewishly call home. I'm uncomfortable with services and prayers, which is why I don't go to temple, but I LOVE "pilpul" -- discussing and arguing back and forth about the ethics of current problems. For me, ethics and philosophy are the only part of "religion" that really resonate -- I am not much of a holiday person, and the only life cycle event that's left for me is when I die, and I just want to be quietly cremated -- I'm not worried about rolling through the tunnels to Jerusalem to be resurrected! :-)

As far as sliding into a preoccupation with Tanach (I don't like the world Bible, because that means Christian Bible to me), it's just like the Greek, Roman and Norse myths we studied in school. Interesting window into an ancient culture, especially since there are more than stories -- there is oral genealogy written down, laws, poetry, allegory -- all of it providing a reasonably good picture of the culture over a certain time span. The Talmud takes this even further: it's the place where the rabbis argued their cases, and some, but not all, can be applied to modern life as well. Interestingly, my nephew, who was raised by a Christian Atheist mother, and my also-Jewish atheist brother, studied a little bit of the Talmud in a philosophy class and said that if he was any religion, he would be Jewish. Well, OK, he's not Halachically Jewish, but he knows what his father's heritage is, and it pleased me that he got the REAL point of being intellectually and humanistically Jewish.

So, I WOULD love to be a member of a group that discussed Jewish issues and stances on current events, as well as how to live properly and practice tikkun olam, but there is no such group in Reno, and I need to participate more online.

Third thought is, I stopped participating in many of the other groups here because there is a lot of anti-Semitism among those who post. It bothers me when they lump Judaism in with Christianity and Islam and assume they are the same, and portray us in the same idiotic proselytizing and controlling manner. The real world battle at the moment is between Christianity and Islam -- the Jews make up such a tiny fraction of the world population, and as always, just want to be left alone. Even the very religious have no desire to interact with, much less convert or conquer the rest of the world. So I don't like hostile generalizations about the "Abrahamic faiths". Which is why I really stopped coming here, but I don't want to abandon this group, or one other group, which is Atheist Ailurophiles. I'm just sick of people making pronouncements about Judaism when they don't know what the hell they are talking about and are ULTRA sure of themselves.

Anyway, enough rambling -- at least you know I'm here! :-)

Comment by Leila Cook on November 6, 2012 at 11:02am

Thanks Alan.  I esteem Rabbi Wine greatly.  We use his book "Celebrations" in our home for a good many of our holidays.

Comment by Alan Perlman on November 6, 2012 at 10:43am

Leila...My personal welcome to you.  For 12 years I was a member of Rabbi Sherwin Wine's founding humanistic congregation, the Birmingham Temple.  Sherwin was an incredible teacher and leader, and I learned a great deal from him.  It's a way to be Jewish with principle and dignity. 

My only caveat is that humanistic congregations may backslide into a preoccupation with Bible stories that didn't happen, in which case they abandon their commmitment to fact and reason and become indistinguishable from Reform or Reconstructionist Jews.

Comment by Leila Cook on November 6, 2012 at 9:08am

So glad I found this group!  I am just finishing up my adoption to Humanistic Judaism.  We do not have a bricks and mortar community so I am ecstatic to find an active group online.  

Comment by Grinning Cat on November 6, 2012 at 8:30am

Relevant to today's U.S. election:

Romney: "The war that's coming to kill all the Jews – our church believes that." (Tikkun Daily; also on Alternet)

The question that’s being raised now ... is: does Romney himself really believe this? Does he somehow revel in a “war that’s coming in to kill all the Jews,” or see it as inevitable?[...]

... Equally as pertinent to what Romney himself believes is what he thinks his base believes, and to what extent, as president, he’d be worrying about placating them.

Comment by Grinning Cat on November 6, 2012 at 8:21am

On "doing Judaism to avoid feeling guilty": a compelling counterexample is one of my sweeties, who's a third-generation atheist with no family connection to Judaism, and who, many years before we met, became a Humanistic Jew by choice.

She was attracted to Judaism (without theism) because of our strong traditions of (1) investigating, questioning, and trying to think critically about everything, and (2) tikkun olam, that it's up to us to "fix the world" and make things better -- and that includes a strong commitment to civil liberties.

Judith Seid argues in God-Optional Judaism that Judaism isn't a religion (we're actually quite divided, especially within the theists!) or a narrow ethnic group: it's an extended family (which, clearly, people can adopt in to).

Natalie, I too value my heritage. It's not "better" or "worse" than other possibilities. I was lucky enough to be born to and raised by parents who would have agreed with Mordecai Kaplan that "the past should have a vote but not a veto", and who let me arrive at my own belief or nonbelief. As an adult I learned that they were both religious humanists, who valued "God" as a human creation. I'm more comfortable affirming my heritage in a godless way.


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