It is remarkable how much press secular humanist Judaism is getting these days! I was delighted to read the article in the last AJP about Judaism without God (“Can religion, especially Judaism, work if you don’t believe in God?” AJP 4/20/12).
A few years ago I was one of many cultural Jews in Tucson keeping up with traditions in a secular humanist way on my own. Then a bunch of us formed the Secular Humanist Jewish Circle, which is a growing community, now one of 27 such groups (and more on the way) affiliated with the national Society for Humanistic Judaism.
Many Jews are not “looking for God in their lives,” as Rabbi Ain says in the AJP article. Many of us are looking for a sense of community and Jewish identity without God in our lives. Rabbi Miriam Jerris, president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis said, “People who belong to Humanistic Judaism put human concerns at the center; whether or not a god exists is not relevant to how we relate to the world. We relate through observation and scientific inquiry. There is no way to prove the existence of God. Absent proof, we live our lives with what we know.” And what we know is that a life of dignity requires us to do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because a supernatural being said so.
Fortunately, the umbrella known as “Judaism” is large enough to include us Humanistic Jews. Obviously rabbis such as those quoted in the article who see no future for Judaism without God have a vested interest in the success of their beliefs. However, we feel that groups such as the local Secular Humanist Jewish Circle actually bring inactive Jews back to the fold and thereby strengthen Jewish ties in the community.
For more information, see shj.org.