Our Beliefs and Values
Humanistic Jews believe:
Each Jew has the right to create a meaningful Jewish lifestyle free from supernatural authority and imposed tradition.
The goal of life is personal dignity and self-esteem.
The secular roots of Jewish life are as important as the religious ones.
Freedom from supernatural authority
Theistic religions assert that the ultimate source of wisdom and of the power of the solution to human problems is found outside of people - in a supernatural realm. Humanistic philosophy affirms that knowledge and power come from people and from the nature in which they live.
Secular Jewish Roots
Judaism is an ethnic culture. It was not invented by a divine spokesperson. It was created by the Jewish people. It was molded by Jewish experience. Holidays are responses to human events. Ceremonies are celebrations of human development. Music, art and literature are the expressions of human needs.
Society for Humanistic Judaism
Humanistic Judaism’s founding congregation The Birmingham Temple videos
Rabbi Adam Chalom, Dean Of International Institute of SHJ, speaking about Jewish history
Humanistic Jewish values
Truth: Rely on what we know about human experience and needs. Discover new powerful truths about our history and present. Advance ethical and moral goals.
Integrity: Say what we mean and mean what we say. Welcome all who seek connections with Jewish culture and history.
Dignity: Embrace the joy, power, and responsibility to shape our own lives. Our dignity goes hand in hand with the dignity of all peoples.
Reality: Employ reason, observation, experimentation and creativity to address questions and understand experiences in this world.
Judaism: Recognize that the Jewish people created Jewish culture. To be a Jew is to identify with the Jewish people.
— Rabbi Adam Chalom, Dean of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism
We provide a place where secular Jews can find a comfortable and stimulating home. We appeal to those who respect and love our Jewish heritage and want to affiliate with others with similar viewpoints.
The first Humanistic Judaism community was established in 1963 when Rabbi Sherwin Wine and several others founded the Birmingham Temple in a suburb of Detroit. In 1969, a North American central organization, the Society for Humanistic Judaism (www.shj.org) was founded to establish and support local affiliates and to provide leadership to the growing movement (which now has 33 communities in the US and Canada). In 1985 the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism was created, to coordinate the various national organizations and to train rabbi and lay leaders for the local communities.
Originally, there were two Humanistic Judaism communities in Colorado: the Colorado Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (CCHJ) was established in Denver in 1991 and Beth Ami was established in Boulder a couple of years later. In the year 2002, with the urging of Rabbi Wine, these two communities were merged into a single community, Beth Ami-CCHJ.
With the establishment of a Jewish Cultural Family School, as well as the addition of two Professional Leaders/Madrikhot, we are now offering a full array of programs and services.
Our Differing Beliefs in God
Excerpted from the Guide to Humanistic Judaism, Summer/Autumn, 1993, Volume 21(3-4):26, published by the Society for 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.
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.
Humanistic Judaism 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.
Humanistic Judaism is incompatible with pantheism. Calling nature God is verbal confusion. Just call it nature.
Humanistic Judaism is compatible with agnosticism. Many, if not most, Humanist Jews would describe themselves as agnostics.
Humanistic Judaism is compatible with atheism. But it is not compatible with aggressive atheism. Aggressive 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.
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.