Humanistic Judaism and Israel

In recent communications with this site, a correspondent acknowledged that whilst they had an interest in cultural judaism, they did not support Israel or Zionism.

Whilst humanist jews will undoubtedly be critical of some of the things that the Israeli government does, they also understand the unique position that Israel holds for all Jewish people and fully support its fundamental right to exist in peace with it’s neighbours as a democratic state with attendent rights of self-defence.

This post by its very nature is succinct and there is much room for further discussion of the subject but the official resolution of the Society for Humanistic Judaism in broad terms sets out a fair and nuanced position on Israel and it’s future as follows:

As Humanistic Jews:

We reaffirm our solidarity and support of the people of Israel and of the right and responsibility of Israel to defend its citizens. The State of Israel is under attack. We reaffirm our support for the continued existence and defense of Israel. The future of the State of Israel must be secured.

We support Israel, the United States, and others in their efforts to combat terrorism. We encourage the United States to take a vigorous stand in bringing Israel, the Palestinians, and other involved parties to the negotiating table. We support a negotiated solution that assures a secure State of Israel and a demilitarized sovereign Palestinian state.

We support the efforts to find a solution that will bring peace with justice to the entire region.

— May 4, 2002

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New Bookstore at Humanistic Judaism UK

We have now added a bookstore here on this site wiith links to a number of titles relevant to Humanistic Judaism.

We shall continue to seek other sources of relevant titles and we will welcome any information which allows us to increase appropriate publications available to users of this site with special regard to educational materials.

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A vision for Humanistic Judaism UK 2

Following the post last week, we set out further ideas as to the future development of Humanistic Judaism UK.

Central to the progress of the organisation is to make education paramount. This will mean that the organisation keeps its own physical or online library of relevant publications and, in particular, develops relevant training courses for existing and future community leaders; and a recognised Humanistic Jewish curriculum for the children of members.

With regard to organisation, whilst Humanistic Judaism Uk will be the central body, it will be a fully democratic body representing its constituent members which will include local communities and other appropriate membership sections such as a student body which will be key in generating future leaders of the organistation.

A further key requirement for the Humanistic Judaism Uk organisation will be to provide central strategic support to communities wishing to set up and grow themselves across the UK. The modern internet world, will without doubt, assist in this role and provide central resoures to communities very simply. It will, of course, be up to local communities to grown in their own way according to local circumstances.

The key is for all constituent parts of the organisation to adhere to the central tenets of Humanistic Judaism without any part being tied to any prescriptive models which they must follow.

Again, please feel free to add your own constructive comments regarding the future of Humanistic Judaism UK or contact us directly.

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A Vision for Humanistic Judaism UK

Whilst Humanistic Judaism UK (HJUK) is at an embryonic stage of it’s development, it seems appropriate to draw up an initial “wish list” or vision of what it can develop into.

No doubt the focus will change over time but is important to ensure that the core ideals of Humanistic Judaism UK drive it forward.

This post can thus be seen as an initial discussion paper to begin to formulate the key objects of the organisation.

Here are some discussion points:

1. The Philosophy of Humanistic Judaism is clear and concise. Please see our about page. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Whilst there is always room for discussion and measured argument, the key tenets of Humanistic Judaism as centrally administered by the Society for Humanistic Judaism are to be supported.

As such, for this and for many other positive reasons, HJUK should be affiliated in some way to the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

2. Geography and Community

Whilst in comparison with the United States, the United Kingdom is a small country, it is still far too large and disparate to successfully grow a Humanistic Jewish community in just one place and make it successful.

Having stated this, the age of the internet makes it far easier for a central organisation such as HJUK to centrally administer and promote Humanistic Judaism in the Uk whilst also providing active support to its constituent member groups and communities as they grow across the UK.

HJUK can utilise the power of modern technology to provide educational materials, marketing support and a central forum for all constituent members based on proper democratic principles and good governance.

Of course, Community is a central tenet of Humanstic Judaism and is key to allowing Humanistic Judaism to grow and flourish in the future. It is widely accepted that the bringing together of like-minded people in a social and supportive environment with education and other facilities is a key glue to civil society, which is currently being actively supported by the coalition government, as part of it’s Big Society.

Interestingly, to date, whilst Humanistic Jewish communities and groups have established themselves across North America and other parts of the World, this has just not happened in the UK, yet.

As a result, many of us will know many Jewish people who one way or another will basically agree with the philosophy of Humanistic Judaism but are affiliated to no Jewish organisation as nothing exists to meet their needs or alternatively there are Jewish people who are nominal or indeed active members of theistic Jewish congregations when their beliefs are in reality humanistic.

Of course, the tenets of Humanistic Judaism are such that anyone who wishes to adopt the practices of Humanistic Judaism can join its Community. This puts Humanistic Judaism at an enormous advantage compared with orthodox congregations, in particular, as Humanistic Judaism can be inclusive and not exclusive.

If Jewish people are to survive as a successful group, with presence in the modern World (UK) as part of the general population rather than as an exclusive sect, a modern Humanistic Jewish community must reach out to anyone with an affiliation to the Jewish people. In particular, this must mean working to attract those Jewish people who have married a non-Jewish partner but wish to remain part of an accepting Jewish community and if required, for their own children to be aware of and be part of the Jewish people from whence their parent and grandparents came.

3. Leadership

The creators of this site are currently drawing upon their administrative skills and interest in Humanistic Judaism to envisage the way in which HJUK may grow as a central organisation but whilst HJUK can provide central support, there will be a need for charismatic and persuasive leaders at a local level to forge Humanistic Jewish groups and communities in relevant towns and cities across the UK.

In time, it is to be hoped that full time and fully trained Rabbis in the Humanistic Judaic faith can form part of the Uk community but as in much of community life, it will be the hard work of local leaders who truly believe that Humanistic Judaism can provide a key means to maintain and grow a thriving Jewish community into the future which will be needed.

It is believed that the Society for Humanistic Judaism can provide experience and support in this continued endeavour.

There is a lot more to raise and further posts on this vision for HJUK will follow. In the meantime, we welcome your comments either below or directly via our contact section.

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Reading more about Humanistic Judaism

Whilst a website such as this can set out the basic tenets of Humanistic Judaism and provide a forum for discussion, it is books and other publications that put the meat on the bones of Humanistic Judaism and let us develop our own understanding of the philosophy and central ideas of the movement.

As a starting point, one can always be directed to the clear and inspirational publications of the founder of modern Humanistic Judaism, Sherwin Wine, but there is also substantive new literature by writers such as Greg Epstein and Bernardo Sorj.

If Amazon cannot assist, please consider the bookshop of the Society for Humanistiic Judaism and also the publications section of the International Institue for Secular Humanistic Judaism.

At Humanistic Judaism UK, we are looking at ways to build up our own book store and library and will keep you informed of developments.

Enjoy your reading.

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Welcome

Humanistic Judaism Uk is a new site to represent Humanistic Judaism in the United Kingdom.

Whilst Humanistic Judaism is an established part of Jewish life in the United States, in particular, there is currently no central body to represent and promote Humanistic Judaism in the UK.

This site represents an opportunity to provide a central forum for Humanistic Jews in the UK and those who wish to explore this form of Judaism further.

It is hoped, therefore, that this site can provide a valuable first step in creating a vibrant Humanistic Jewish organisation and communities in the United Kingdom.

Please join us by subscribing here and be part of an valuable new movement.

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Humanistic Judaism and belief in God

Humanistic Judaism is probably best descibed as a non-theistic religion or movement.

This does not mean that all Humanistic Jews do not believe in a God but that its followers do not believe in a supernatural creator God who responds to worship and prayer and who intervenes directly in the lives of people.

The best definition of how Humanistic Judaism defines differing beliefs in God is set out in the following excerpt from the Guide to Humanistic Judaism, Summer/Autumn, 1993, Volume 21(3-4):26, published by the Society of Humanistic Judaism, 28611 West Twelve Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48334.

Today, theology provides six alternative beliefs with regard to God:

1. Theism: believing in a Supreme Being, a supernatural creator-God who responds to prayer and worship and intervenes actively in the lives of people.

2. Deism: believing in a Supreme Being, a supernatural creator-God who cannot respond to prayer and worship and who does not intervene in the lives of people.

3. Pantheism: believing that God and nature are one and the same, or that God and some part of nature, such as life, are one and the same.

4. Agnosticism: not knowing whether or not a Supreme Being exists.

5. Atheism: believing that a Supreme Being does not exist.

6 Ignosticism: finding the question of God’s existence meaningless because it has no verifiable consequences.

1) Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with theism. There is no evidence that a supernatural conscious being exists who responds to the personal problems of human beings and who deliberately intervenes in the affairs of humanity in response to prayer or to ensure justice. Most liberal God-believers vigorously deny that they believe in such an anthropomorphic God.

2) Humanistic Judiasm can be compatible with deism, if the deist finds no need to worship a creator-God and if the deist attributes no moral authority to that God.

3) Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with pantheism. Calling nature God is verbal confusion. Just call it nature.

4) Humanistic Judaism is compatible with agnosticism. Many, if not most, Humanist Jews would describe themselves as agnostics.

5) Humanistic Judaism is compatible with atheism. But it is not compatible with aggressive atheism. Aggresive atheism assumes that denying the existence of God is of ultimate philosophic and social significance. Humanistic Jews assume that affirming human power, responsibility, and dignity is primary.

6) Humanistic Judaism is compatible with ignosticism. Many Humanistic Jews find the question of God’s existence meaningless and therefore avoid God-language.

Humanistic Jews do recognize the importance of gods and God in human and Jewish history.

We are obliged to the Beth Ami Colorado Congregation for Humanistic Judaism for providing the excerpt.

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Sherwin Wine Video: Is the Torah sacred or just Jewish literature

Sherwin Wine the founder of modern Humanistic Judaism in this video sets out in his own inimitable style a view of the position of the Torah in Humanistic Judaism.

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Humanistic Judaism and belief in God

Humanistic Judaism is probably best descibed as a non-theistic religion or movement.

This does not mean that all Humanistic Jews do not believe in a God but that its followers do not believe in a supernatural creator God who responds to worship and prayer and who intervenes directly in the lives of people.

The best definition of how Humanistic Judaism defines differing beliefs in God is set out in the following excerpt from the Guide to Humanistic Judaism, Summer/Autumn, 1993, Volume 21(3-4):26, published by the Society of Humanistic Judaism, 28611 West Twelve Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48334.

Today, theology provides six alternative beliefs with regard to God:

1. Theism: believing in a Supreme Being, a supernatural creator-God who responds to prayer and worship and intervenes actively in the lives of people.

2. Deism: believing in a Supreme Being, a supernatural creator-God who cannot respond to prayer and worship and who does not intervene in the lives of people.

3. Pantheism: believing that God and nature are one and the same, or that God and some part of nature, such as life, are one and the same.

4. Agnosticism: not knowing whether or not a Supreme Being exists.

5. Atheism: believing that a Supreme Being does not exist.

6 Ignosticism: finding the question of God’s existence meaningless because it has no verifiable consequences.

1) Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with theism. There is no evidence that a supernatural conscious being exists who responds to the personal problems of human beings and who deliberately intervenes in the affairs of humanity in response to prayer or to ensure justice. Most liberal God-believers vigorously deny that they believe in such an anthropomorphic God.

2) Humanistic Judiasm can be compatible with deism, if the deist finds no need to worship a creator-God and if the deist attributes no moral authority to that God.

3) Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with pantheism. Calling nature God is verbal confusion. Just call it nature.

4) Humanistic Judaism is compatible with agnosticism. Many, if not most, Humanist Jews would describe themselves as agnostics.

5) Humanistic Judaism is compatible with atheism. But it is not compatible with aggressive atheism. Aggresive atheism assumes that denying the existence of God is of ultimate philosophic and social significance. Humanistic Jews assume that affirming human power, responsibility, and dignity is primary.

6) Humanistic Judaism is compatible with ignosticism. Many Humanistic Jews find the question of God’s existence meaningless and therefore avoid God-language.

Humanistic Jews do recognize the importance of gods and God in human and Jewish history.

We are obliged to the Beth Ami Colorado Congregation for Humanistic Judaism for providing the excerpt.

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Sherwin Wine Video: Is the Torah sacred or just Jewish literature

Sherwin Wine the founder of modern Humanistic Judaism in this video sets out in his own inimitable style a view of the position of the Torah in Humanistic Judaism.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , | Leave a comment