About Humanistic Judaism

What is Humanistic Judaism?

Humanistic Jews Affirm That…

  • A Jew is someone who identifies with the history, culture and future of the Jewish people.
  • Jewish identity is best preserved in a free, pluralistic environment.
  • Jewish history is a human saga, a testament to the significance of human power and human responsibility.
  • Judaism is the historic culture of the Jewish people.
  • We possess the power and responsibility to shape our own lives independent of supernatural authority.
  • Ethics and morality should serve human needs.
  • The freedom and dignity of the Jewish people must go hand in hand with the freedom and dignity of every human being.

Humanistic Jews Affirm That…

  • 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.
  • The survival of the Jewish people needs a reconciliation between science, personal autonomy, and Jewish loyalty.

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.

Dignity and self-esteem

Life is worthwhile when each person sees themself as worthwhile. Self-respect is distinct from happiness.

Happiness is less the goal of life than the consequence of having attained it. Self-respect is dependent upon autonomy. The autonomous person feels that s/he is responsible for the basic direction of his/her own life and that no one else has the right to usurp that responsibility. Autonomy does not mean that each person is individually self-sufficient. Healthy dependence is horizontal rather than vertical.

Secular Jewish Roots

Judaism is an ethnic culture. It did not fall from heaven. 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 and literature are the expressions of human needs.