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What We Believe

What Humanistic Jews Believe

Humanism through a Jewish lens

Humanistic Judaism is a secular Jewish denomination that celebrates the centrality of human judgment and human power from a uniquely Jewish perspective. As humanists we believe that reason, rather than faith, is the source of truth, and that human intelligence and experience are capable of guiding our lives. As Jews we express these beliefs through the culture and practices that have evolved over centuries of Jewish history.

 

Secular Jewish identity

Humanistic Jews understand Judaism as the civilization, ethical values, and shared fate of the Jewish people. Encompassing many languages and a vast body of literature, art, dance, music, and food, Judaism is much more than a set of religious beliefs and practices. It is the cumulative cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people.

For us, belief in the supernatural just isn't possible. But we cannot abandon our Jewish identities or our bonds with other Jews. — Janice & John

 

Secular Jewish values

As Humanistic Jews we derive our values from the lessons of those cumulative experiences. Not just the events of biblical times but of all history. Humanistic Jews regard classical texts like the Torah and Talmud as valuable sources of learning and inspiration although we do not automatically accept them as authoritative. We also draw ethical principles from centuries of Jewish philosophy and the folk wisdom of our ancestors. And because no one people has a monopoly on truth we embrace worthy lessons from cultures other than our own. We strive to put our values into practice through a commitment to social justice, championing the cause of the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the suffering.

 

Secular Jewish practice

Throughout Jewish history, observing holidays and special events in our lives has been a boundless source of joy, comfort, and strength. Our secular Jewish services bind us to Jews through the ages while meeting our contemporary spiritual needs as atheists, agnostics, or believers in a non-interventional higher power. We preserve those traditional rituals, songs, and practices that are still meaningful to us as humanists. We adapt others so that they speak to us more appropriately. And we create new ones specifically for our present and future generations.

This is what I ask for in a synagogue: to understand all the words I say and to only say words I really believe. — Lisa

 

Secular Jewish community

As Humanistic Jews we affirm that we have the responsibility to shape our own lives. We also teach that we are responsible to one another. We need one another to celebrate our joys, to endure our sorrows, and to become partners together in making the world a better place for all people. And so we form communities, like The City Congregation, to share in these common purposes and goals.