Project of IISHJ

The Israel Secular Association–Why is it Necessary

Humanistic Judaism, Spring_Summer_Autumn 1978, Vol. VI, Number II

Today, in Israel, the orthodox non-humanistic approach to personal and social life is increasing its influence. The political victory of the convervative coalition, the fatigue of the liberal Left, the spreading propaganda that Traditional religion reenforces (sic) patriotism, the cult of nostalgia which feeds on the fear of the future, the seeming need to resist religious controversy in the face of Arab threat, and the growing power of the Oriental Jew-all contribute to the emergence of a ‘new’ Israel. The secular and humanistic Jews who were the primary force in the establishment of the Jewish State now find themselve ‘strangers’ in their own land. Many of them are emigrating to avoid the stifling cultural environment of the new state sponsored religious chauvinism. However, a small group of determined humanists continue to resist. They have established the Israel Secular Association to struggle for a secular state which promotes humanistic values and universalism among all Israelis-Jew and Arab alike. 

The ISA needs your help and support. They need their cause-which is our cause advertised among American Jews. They need their opinions and attitudes published in the opinion organs of world Jewry. They need contact with sympathetic Jews. They need to know that they do not stand alone. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Sara and Isaac Hasson (who are the leaders of the ISA) in London at the world conference of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. They are courageous and articulate humanists who, at great personal sacrifice, are organizing resistance to ‘creeping orthodoxy’ in Israel. They are fighting to preserve in the Jewish State the ideals of a secular and humanistic Zionism-a Zionism which goes beyond the issue of Jewish identity alone to the issues of human integrity and human survival. 

—Sherwin Wine 

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Note on sources: The Jewish Humanist  was the monthly newsletter of The Birmingham Temple. The periodical Humanistic Judaism was the quarterly journal of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. The Center for New Thinking was Wine’s adult learning program beyond Humanistic Judaism. Selections from Wine’s books are appropriately cited.
All texts, photos, audio and video are © by the Literary Estate of Sherwin Wine, whose custodian is the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism – North American Section. All rights reserved.