What Does it Mean to be Jewish – Winter 1995 Can Israel make peace with her Arab neighbors? That question has been plaguing the Jewish people and many other nations for forty-seven years, ever since the establishment of the state of Israel. In 1967, the Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdul Nasser tried to mobilize the Arab […]
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Tu bi-Shevat – Winter 1993 Jews and Canaanites were at one time the same people. They lived in the same land. They spoke the same language. They worshiped the same gods. Even when the Jews became attached to the cult of Yahveh and abandoned all the other gods, many elements of the old religion remained. […]
Transforming Judaism- Winter 2004 Forty years ago, in the summer of 1963, eight families and I organized a new congregation in suburban Detroit. The suburb was Birmingham, and so our congregation was named the Birmingham Temple. Ten months later the Temple family collectively abandoned God-language — and Humanistic Judaism was born. Until that moment most […]
Thinking Outside the Box- Winter 2007 Can anyone prove the existence of God? Theologians have been obsessed with this project for the past two thousand years. When gods began, nobody had to prove their existence. People believed that the gods were as real as the land they farmed and the family that nurtured them. Proving […]
Thinking Outside the Box- Winter 2007 Atheism is a dirty word in America. The hatred of atheists was aggravated by the connection of atheism with Marxism. Ironically, Marx made a mistake. Most people who are poor or who are in the working class are very religious. Atheism was a deterrent to Communism. Most atheists are […]
SHJ Conference 2004, summer 2004 Humanistic Judaism has a unique role to play in the Jewish world. That role is more than providing an ideological space or a congregational home for secular and nontheistic Jews. It is more than providing a cultural Judaism for Jews who no longer can accept a conventional religious Judaism. This […]
Rise of Antisemitism, Winter 2003 Antisemitism is alive and well, but it has undergone some interesting transformations. When antisemitism began, it was European. Its historic roots lay in the anti-Judaism of early Christianity and the Middle Ages. Its trigger lay in the traumatic world of early capitalism. In 1873 a major economic depression sent millions […]
Return to Tradition – Summer 1992 Question: Should Humanistic Jewish mourners sit shiva? Responsum: The mourning practices of rabbinic Judaism were built around a belief system that no longer generally prevails in the Jewish community. This system began with an all-powerful judgmental God who was the master of life and death. Death was ambiguous. It […]
Remembering the Holocaust, spring 1991 The Holocaust is not easy to write about. The planned genocide of the Jewish people is a horror so terrible that words cannot fully describe it. The events can be described, but not the revulsion and the sorrow that we feel. They lie beyond vocabulary. The memory of the six […]
Purim, Winter 1992 In rabbinic Judaism, Purim is less major than Sukkot and less minor than Tu Bi-Shevat. Like Hanukka, it enjoys a not too solemn middle status. Purim has a built-in ambivalence. On the one hand, it features masks and plays and Mardi Gras type fun. On the other hand, it insists on reading […]