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Judaism Reading List: Humanistic Judaism (Pt. VII)

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              Selected Sources for Additional Reading on Judaism
                         Part VII: Humanistic Judaism
         [Last Change: $Date: 1995/10/19 15:21:43 $ $Revision: 1.2 $]
                     [Last Post: Sun Feb 15 11:07:05 US/Pacific 2004]

     "Humanistic Jews need a literature that clearly and boldly states
     what they think and believe" [Win85] 
   This message is intended to provide readers of soc.culture.jewish with
   a list of references to allow them to learn more about the current
   practices, past practices, beliefs, and history of the Humanistic
   Judaism Movement.
   Humanistic Judaism is less well known than Orthodox, Conservative, and
   Reform. But, on a behavioral level, it claims to represent many more
   American Jews than any of these official ideologies. Rabbi Sherwin
   Wine, the founder of the movement, identifies three kinds of Jews who
   are neither honestly Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. He calls these
   types the involuntary, the ethnic, and the humanistic. Rabbi Wine
   defines the involuntary Jew is the individual of Jewish descent who
   finds no meaning either in his past or in the unique practices of his
   ancestral religion. He defines the ethnic Jew is the person of Jewish
   descent who bears a strong attachment to the Hebrew and Yiddish
   cultures out of which he emerged.
   Rabbi Wine feels that these affiliations are negative. He prefers the
   positive definition of Humanistic Jew:
     The Humanistic Jew is an individual, of either Jewish or non-Jewish
     descent, who believes in the ultimate value of self-respect and in
     the principles of humanism, community, autonomy, and rationality.
     He also finds meaning in the celebration of life as expressed
     through the historic Jewish calendar and seeks to interpret this
     calendar in a naturalistic way. He perceives that the power he
     possesses to determine and control his own life is the result of
     two billion years of evolutionary history. Therefore, his religious
     feeling re-enforces his sense of human dignity.
   On the last page of his book, "Judaism Beyond God," Rabbi Sherwin T.
   Wine says:
     Humanistic Jews want to bring their beliefs and their behavior
     together and to find their integrity. They are eager to affirm:
     * That they are disciples of the Secular Revolution.
     * That the Secular Revolution was good for the Jews.
     * That reason is the best method for the discovery of truth.
     * That morality derives from human needs and is the defense of human
     * That the universe is indifferent to the desires and aspirations of
       human beings.
     * That people must ultimately rely on people.
     * That Jewish history is a testimony to the absence of God and the
       necessity of human self-esteem.
     * That Jewish identity is valuable because it connects them to that
     * That Jewish personality flows from that history -- and not from
       official texts that seek to describe it.
     * That Jewish identity serves individual dignity -- and not the
     * That the Jewish people is an international family that has its
       center in Israel and its roots in the Diaspora.
     * That the humanistic Gentile has a positive role to play in the
       life of the Jewish people."
     Humanistic Jews want to translate these affirmations and
     commitments into an effective life style -- for themselves and for
     those who share their convictions. They need a community of
     believers to worth with and to share with in this pioneering
     venture. They also need a cadre of trained leaders and spokespeople
     to provide scholarship and guidance along the way.
   Humanistic Judaism was organized by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, who founded
   its first congregation, the Birmingham Temple, in Farmington Hills,
   Michigan. In 1969, Rabbi Wine helped to found the [6]Society of
   Humanistic Judaism ([7], whose membership
   comprises more than 30 congregations and chapters, plus over 1300
   families and individual members, as of January 2000. The Society for
   Humanistic Judaism is the US affiliate of the International Federation
   of Secular Humanistic Jews. The educational arm of the Secular
   Humanistic Jewish movement, the International Institute for Secular
   Humanistic Judaism, offers several programs to train rabbis, leaders
   and educators for the movement. The first Secular Humanistic rabbi
   trained at the Institute was ordained in October 1999.
   An overview of the current status of Humanistic Judaism, written by
   Egon Friedler, of the Uruguayan Movement for Secular Humanistic
   Judaism, recently appeared in Midstream (October 1992). Additional
   information on Humanistic Judaism, as well as publications on
   Humanistic Judaism, may be obtained from:
    Society for Humanistic Judaism
    28611 W. Twelve Mile Road
    Farmington Hills MI 48334
    +1 248 478-7610
   The society is internet-accessible; visit [9] (Society for
   Humanistic Judaism). There is also a mailing list for those with an
   interest in exploring and/or furthering the development of Humanistic
   Judaism. The list is hosted at [10], and is
   called hjlist.
   A web page of [11]links and information about Humanistic Judaism is
   available at URL: <>.
   Readers interested in Humanistic Judaism might also want to contact
   the sister organization to SHJ, the [12]Congress of Secular Jewish
   Organizations ( They can be reached through their
   executive director, [13]Roberta Feinstein <[14]>.
   Inquiries may also be sent in writing to:
    Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations
    19657 Villa Drive North
    Southfield, MI 48076
   There is also a mailing list for those with an interest in exploring
   and/or furthering the development of Humanistic Judaism. To subscribe,
   send a blank e-mail to [15], or sign up at the
   web site:
    Where Can I Get The Books
     * Many of these books are available through general bookstores or
       Judaica bookstores. A list of links to these may be found in the
       [17]sources section of the [18]General Reading List (if you are
       reading this at [19], you can simply click on the
       "Sources" button in the header navigation bar).
     * SHJ Press is the publishing arm of the Society for Humanistic
       Judaism movement. They have a web page at
   [Amazon Associate] The S.C.J Reading List has established an affiliate
   relationship with Amazon.Com. ([21] Now you
   can complete your library and support the continued development of the
   Reading Lists at the same time, for many books on the reading list are
   available through Amazon. For those reading this at
   [22], you can click the link to the
   left to browse Amazon's selections. Alternatively, if you enter Amazon
   using the URL
   sh, the reading lists will get credit for your entry. Additionally,
   when you see the Amazon graphic [24][If you were at,
   the graphic would be here] (or "[Buy at Amazon: http:...]") on an
   entry in the reading list, this indicates that the specific book is
   available for purchase at Amazon. Click on the graphic/link to go to
   Amazon and purchase the book.
   Reproduction of this posting for commercial use is subject to
   restriction. See Part 1 (general) for more details.

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