Humanistic Founded in 1963, Humanistic Judaism is a movement within the Jewish faith that valorises the history and culture of the Jewish people, but also embraces the tenets and philosophy of Humanism. The result is a non-theistic form of Judaism.

Humanistic Judaism is not atheistic - it does not deny the existence of god. However, as it sees no evidence for or against a deity, it largely regards the question as meaningless or irrelevant. Consequently, Humanistic Jews have eliminated god from their rituals, festivals and moral deliberations.

Humanistic Judaism has two basic principles. The first is that Judaism is far more than simply a religion – it is the culture of an entire people. The second is the belief that the solution for human problems lies entirely within human beings. They regard Judaism as an expression of the Jewish ethnic culture that was created and shaped by the Jewish people and their history, free from supernatural influence.

Because of their deep respect for the Jewish culture, Humanistic Jews hold the Hebrew language, Jewish history, culture and the ethics and values of Judaism in great esteem and they feature prominently in their lives. They celebrate all of the Jewish holidays and celebrations, simply in a secular fashion, and take a great spiritual joy in doing so. Festivals such as Bar Mitzvahs are seen as opportunities for a celebration of togetherness of the family and the wider Jewish community, and shared Jewish values, rather than as an expression of religious belief. Humanistic Jews also frequently partake in intensive study and discussion of Jewish issues, and involve themselves in broader activist and social justice concerns.

Humanistic Jews value egalitarian principles very highly. They regard both the sexes as equal, accept members of homosexual and bisexual orientation, and include those who do not identify as Jewish in their rituals. They also do not forbid inter-marriage in any way, and Rabbis and other qualified individuals will happily preside over the marriage of a member of the Jewish community and a non-member. They are of the opinion that this is a better way of preserving the Jewish community, rather than driving it apart with an intolerant approach to inter-marriage.

The major group of Humanistic Jews in the UK are the Jewish Humanistic Congregation of London (JHCL). Humanistic Jews do not live in any given area and can be found in all Jewish community areas and elsewhere around the country.


 

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