New Traditions for the Jewish New Year: The High Holidays as Secular Celebrations

September 13, 2015

“In each era of ancient Jewish history festivals were created which were bound up with the ideas, the emotions, and the conceptions of the Jews of that particular era. It was not necessary to create new holidays. The old festivals were altered and re-created, a new spiritual content was poured into them and they became new institutions.”
–Hayim Schauss, The Jewish Festivals

The Jewish high holidays are traditionally a time to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the coming one. As Jewish humanists, we recognize the value of putting aside time each year to engage in this process, but also demand that holiday rituals be updated to fit our nontheistic beliefs. With this year’s services at the Hub, we are attempting to create a communal experience that reflects the importance of our Jewish cultural roots while also expressing our humanistic philosophy of life. We’re also working to create a secular alternative to the traditional holiday liturgy that represents a beautiful work of art in its own right, and will highlight the holidays’ traditional themes through poetry, debate, meditation, discussion, and song. We have deliberately included several Hebrew selections, given Hebrew’s importance to the Jewish people and its role in the secular liturgy that is found in modern Israeli music and poetry. There’s a little something for everyone, we hope. And at the end of the holidays, we’ll seek your feedback about which rituals you liked (or didn’t!) to incorporate into our plans for next year. We hope you’ll join us for our celebration of the Jewish new year and the circle of life.

Our services will include:

Jewish Cultural Poetry Slam, featuring the works of Yehuda Amichai, Leonard Cohen, Zelda, and Malka Heifetz Tussman.

A “2 Jews, 3 Opinions” Debate on Secular Interpretations of the Unetanah Tokef Prayer

Screening of Animated Short Film on Forgiveness & Repentance

Featured Speakers: Sasha Sagan (Rosh Hashana) & Hanan Harchol (Yom Kippur)

Childcare, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Space is limited, so reserve your tickets now!

Detailed Schedule:

Sunday, September 13, 7:30pm – Rosh Hashanah Services

Monday, September 14, 2pm – Tashlich (meet at the Hub to walk down to the Charles)

Wednesday, September 23, 10am – Yom Kippur Services

Wednesday, September 23, 2pm – Short Film Screening and Discussion with Hanan Harchol

Speaker Bios:

Sasha Sagan has worked as a television producer, documentarian, film editor and writer in New York and London. Her essays on death and ritual through an agnostic lens have appeared in New York Magazine, O the Oprah Magazine and elsewhere. She is the daughter of Ann Druyan and the late Carl Sagan.

Hanan Harchol is a multimedia artist, born in Israel, who moved to the US as a child. Harchol creates paintings, drawings, animations, videos, and multimedia installations that explore the human condition through family narratives. Harchol has gained worldwide attention for his animated series, “Jewish Food For Thought,” representing his personal journey in a complicated relationship with Judaism, by combining thousands of years of Jewish wisdom on topics such as apology, forgiveness, gratitude, love, fear, humility, and others, with artmaking (i.e., animations of his Israeli nuclear physicist father and himself, having arguments).

Event Location: The Humanist Hub
30 John F. Kennedy Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge, MA, 02138

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Fact Sheet
From Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Until Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 8:30 pm
Organized By

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