About Humanistic Judaism

celebratory candles at KB

Humanistic Judaism was created by Jews who wanted their Jewish identity to be consistent with how they lived and what they believed.

Humanistic Judaism embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas.

Humanistic Judaism offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. Established by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine in 1963 in Detroit, Michigan, to provide a home for humanistic, secular, and cultural Jews, Humanistic Judaism is a worldwide movement.

Humanistic Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Jewish culture that offer a genuine expression of their contemporary way of life.

--From the Society for Humanistic Judaism Web site

Core Principles of Humanistic Judaism

  • We affirm our identity as members of the Jewish People. We draw strength from the history, culture, and achievements of our people. We see Jewish history as testimony to the continuing struggle for human dignity and, like the history of other peoples, as a product of human decisions and actions.
  • We demonstrate our bond to the Jewish people through humanistic celebrations of Jewish holidays and life-cycle events. We create and use non-theistic Jewish rituals, services, and celebrations that invoke the ethical core of Jewish history, literature, and culture. Our aim is to foster a positive Jewish identity, intellectual integrity, and ethical behavior among celebrants.
  • We affirm the value of study and discussion of Jewish and universal human issues. We rely on such sources as reason, observation, experimentation, creativity, and artistic expression to address questions about the world and in seeking to understand our experiences.
  • We seek solutions to human conflicts that respect the freedom, dignity, and self-esteem of every human being. We make ethical decisions based on our assessment of the consequences of our actions.
  • We believe human beings have the responsibility for solving human problems. In the enduring Jewish tradition of tikkun olam, we commit ourselves to community service and social justice. We each take responsibility for our own behavior, and all of us take collective responsibility for the state of our world.
     
    Together, we pass these values on to present and future generations through education and by example.
     

--Adopted by the Society for Humanistic Judaism, October 8, 1999