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Comprised mostly of agnostics and atheists, Humanistic Judaism rejects the idea of a God, replacing theism with a humanistic approach.

Humanist Jews believe that ethics, morality, and concepts of right and wrong are the responsibility of the individual.

Humanistic Judaism defines Judaism as the historical, cultural, and traditional experience of the Jewish people, who celebrate their identity as Jews through participation in Jewish holidays and lifecycle events, such as bar mitzvahs. To the Humanist, a Jew is someone who identifies with the history and culture of the Jewish people, and religion is only one part of that culture. They believe that individual Jews are responsible for shaping their own lives without dependence on a deity. Ethics and morality should serve the needs of people, and are based on the consequences of actions rather than through predetermined rules or commandments.

There is little doubt that there have been secular Jews throughout history but, as a congregation, Humanistic Judaism was founded in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine, who had been trained in Reform Judaism. Rabbi Wine developed a liturgy that melded Jewish culture, history, and identity with humanist philosophy, while omitting prayers and references to a deity.

Other previously Reform congregations joined him, and in 1969 these congregations were organized as the Society for Humanistic Judaism, which still exists. In 1986, the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism was organized and has since become the academic center of Humanistic Judaism. The Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations trains rabbis in North America and Israel.

Through Humanistic Judaism, non-religious Jews are able to share in the rituals and ceremonies of Judaism in a manner that is wholly non-theistic. Services were created for Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat, Yom Kippur, and other Jewish festivals and holidays reinterpreting them to conform to secular humanist philosophy.

Humanistic Jewish rabbis officiate at marriages, including those between Jews and non-Jews, as the movement does not take a position opposing intermarriage, as is the case with Conservative and Orthodox denominations.

Humanistic Jewish doctrines lean toward equality in matters of gender and gender identification, sexual orientation, and Jewish orientation. Jews and non-Jews alike may participate in Humanistic Jewish rituals and leadership positions.

Women may also be ordained as rabbis. In fact, its first rabbi, Tamara Kolton, was a woman.

Humanistic Judaism holds that abortion is an individual right and has participated in lobbying efforts in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions, and in opposition to exempting religious organizations from requirements mandating reproductive services to individuals and employees.

The Society for Humanistic Judaism also supports same-sex marriage.

Some humanistic Jews are also members of the Unitarian-Universalist Association.

The focus of this category is on Humanistic Judaism. Topics related to the movement in general, as well as its associations, affiliate organizations, and corporations are appropriate for this category.

 

 

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