Thu, April 17, 2014 /       View Shabbat / Jewish Calendar

JewishBoston.com

Humanistic Judaism: What We Do

by basilevine / February 01, 2011

A few years ago, Rabbi Moshe Waldoks walked in on a meeting I was attending. We were a group of like-minded friends debating our beliefs in order to come up with a clear message about our brand of Humanistic Judaism.  He said that we were doing nothing less than coming up with a creed and emphatically took us to task for wasting time on such a non-Jewish activity. Thus I discovered that we were engaged in a practice and not a belief. Perhaps not news to many, but to me it was profound.

Since that time, I have come across many tracts explaining what we do and even some who try to explain what a Humanistic Jew believes.  What follows is simply put, called:

What We Do

Humanistic Judaism draws on traditions and wisdom from Jewish culture and history.

We strive to become the masters of our own lives and to achieve our own dignity.

We pursue the truth about ourselves and the world around us through the light of reason.

We are willing to live with uncertainty where evidence provides no answer.

We accept ultimate responsibility to work for justice in the world and to guarantee freedom and equality for all people.

We study the history, culture, and experience of the Jewish people, finding inspiration for our own struggle to achieve personal dignity and social justice.

We celebrate the major events of Jewish history, the great moments of personal development, and the seasons of nature through the holidays of the Jewish tradition, infusing these celebrations with our own convictions.

We connect with the experiences of beauty, nature, and ethical idealism, which give meaning to our lives and become the foundation of our own nontheistic spirituality.

We open ourselves to wisdom and beauty from other cultures and have adopted universal standards of tolerance, pluralism, democracy, and equality of status for men and women.

We support the separation of government and religion, and the pursuit of peace.

We use the creativity of the Jewish past whenever it addresses our needs and convictions, always understanding that the creativity of the Jewish present may speak with equal or greater authority.

Although I have no attribution for this, I know it was sent to me in another form which I modified and use here.

Post Comments

Older Comments

To the feb 4th Anon,

 

Humanistic Judaism focuses on humanity, not a supernatural power.  Many Humanistic Jews are Athiests & Agnostics, so we don't pray because we don't think there's anyone to pray to.  What we do believe is that the Jewish civilization is beautiful and glorious and worth preserving.  Many of us were raised within different denominations of Judaism, but our lack of belief in a deity, or discomfort with the philosophical underpinnings of the prayers we were expected to recite, led us to a version of Judaism that focuses on community and a celebration of the human spirit, human accomplishments, and the wonder and beauty of nature.  Individuals within Humanistic Judaism may very well have a belief in a supernatural power of some sort, but the liturgy (much of it homegrown) doesn't focus on God.

What about God?  Any conception of God in Humanistic Judaism?  How do you pray?

Well-written and informative.  Keep up the good work!

Great post, very informative.

Thanks for taking the time to write it up.

Tags for this Post

beliefs humanism humanistic judaism practices

Events

Women Working Together Job Search Strategy Group & Individual Career Coaching
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Women Working Together Job Search Strategy Group & Individual Career Coaching

Career Moves -- a division of JVS | Get Your Career Moving
Riverway Cafe
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Riverway Cafe

Riverway Project
Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture
Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Bissel Schlissel Challah Baking Workshop

Vilna Shul, Boston's Center for Jewish Culture
Auschwitz or Sinai: Israel and the Culture of Memory
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Auschwitz or Sinai: Israel and the Culture of Memory

Hebrew College
Beauty & The Beast: The Battle of Identity
Sunday, May 04, 2014

Beauty & The Beast: The Battle of Identity

Eim Chai
Lunch & Learn: Finding Your Leadership Style
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lunch & Learn: Finding Your Leadership Style

Career Moves -- a division of JVS | Get Your Career Moving
Interfaith Conversations
Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Interfaith Conversations

Reform Jewish Outreach Boston