More HJ stories
Discovering Humanistic Judaism
There are many stories that celebrate the value of Humanistic Judaism in people’s lives. You’ve seen Mike and Jessica’s story. Now read about other families for whom Humanistic Judaism has made a difference.
David, Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation, IL
Kol Hadash is our Jewish home. In the early 1970s, my parents had been unable to find a congregation that met their needs until they were introduced to a Humanistic congregation. Both of them came from Jewish households that embraced the larger American cultural and secular Judaism. Even the most liberal Reform congregations felt uncomfortable and wrong. Reform liturgy did not reflect their values. Humanistic Judaism became our key to celebrating, discovering, and learning about religion, culture, history, and literature in an authentic and meaningful manner. All of our life cycle events have been enriched through our connection to Humanistic Judaism and our warm and wonderful community, Kol Hadash. My wife and I were married, our kids were named, and bat and bar mitzvahed by Humanistic rabbis. Even the sad times were enriched through the honest philosophy of Humanistic Judaism and the warmth and caring of our congregational family. Going to services is joyful and engaging, not an obligation or chore. We sing in the congregational choir at High Holidays. We have made life-long friends, shared powerful and important landmarks, and grown as individuals and as a family. We cannot imagine our lives without Humanistic Judaism and Kol Hadash.
Karen, Machar, Washington DC Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism
Prior to joining Machar, I often said to my husband, “If I could just separate the religion from the Jewish culture.” Then in 2011, I came across a website about the Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chavurah, which led me to Machar. I was embarrassed it took me so long to find it, but I was thrilled to see a rabbi, tikkun olam, an amazing Jewish Cultural School, and a celebration of Jewish culture consistent with our beliefs – reason and science over superstition, integrity, and Humanistic action. We enjoy being part of a larger community that is diverse, stimulating, and open to all.
Our Jewish identity has been enriched in many ways. Prior to joining Machar, I had started celebrating Shabbat at home every week (not really for my son, but more for me). I felt uncomfortable about reciting the traditional blessings, but soon I discovered SHJ’s and Rabbi Wine’s helpful materials on Jewish celebrations for the Humanistic Jew. Now I can say what I mean! Why hadn’t I thought of this years ago? Inspired, my son and I wrote our own blessings for our empty mezuzahs as a meaningful expression of our Jewish identity.