Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sherwin Wine (January 25, 1928)

Sherwin Wine probably would have liked to be recognized as the head of the secular Jewish Sanhedrin. (In case you aren’t familiar with the Sanhedrin: it was the priestly ruling body in ancient Israel, as well as the historically-conscious name of a body of Jewish leaders installed by Napoleon. So it means an official ruling body of Jews – which obviously no secular Jews would recognize if it tried to come back today.)

Actually Sherwin Wine founded Humanistic Judaism as a movement in 1963. He also organized The Society for Humanistic Judaism in 1969. The Society's mission is “to mobilize people to celebrate Jewish identity and culture consistent with a humanistic philosophy of life.” Based in his congregation, The Birmingham Temple, in Birmingham MI, he was the movement’s leader until his death a few years ago, but there are lots of other parallel atheist or secular Jewish organizers and organizations.

Personally, I'm a non-organizational secluar Jew. I've met people who belong to the Birmingham Temple, and  I find it interesting that he ordained other rabbis of secular Judaism, but in fact, I have more difficulty understanding organized secular Judaism than I have understanding organized religious Judaism. I don't know why you need the temple model to assemble and celebrate culture as opposed to performing religious rituals. My problem.

1 comment:

  1. I love the life cycle ritual and liturgy of secular Humanistic Judaism. It's a bit of the traditions, but not too much.

    Humanistic Judaism appeals to some with a mild religious background. I get warm and fuzzy feeling and recall my ancestors more vividly and emotionally.