Humanistic Judaism is a human-centered philosophy that combines rational thinking with a deep connection to the Jewish people, their history and culture. Humanism is the belief that we all have the power and responsibility to shape our own lives in an ethical and moral way, independent of supernatural authority; that we should be accountable for our own decisions and actions, and respect the dignity of others while working toward group goals. We believe that only people can solve human problems.
Humanistic Judaism defines Judaism as the historical and cultural experience of the Jewish people. It offers cultural and secular Jews a nontheistic alternative, a means to express the value of Jewish identity and aspects of Judaism in contemporary Jewish life. We take pride in our identity as Jews and in the history and achievements of the Jewish people. While we respect our ancestors’ beliefs, we view Jewish history as the consequences of human actions and natural occurrences. Humanistic Judaism enables us to combine our attachment to Jewish identity and culture with that human centered approach to life. Humanistic Jewish communities celebrate Jewish holidays and life cycle events (such as weddings and bar and bat mitzvah) with inspirational ceremonies that draw upon but go beyond traditional rituals, literature and liturgy.
The key perspective of our philosophy is expressed in the hymn by the founder of Humanistic Judaism, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine:
Where is my light? My light is in me.
Where is my hope? My hope is in me.
Where is my strength? My strength is in me,
And in you.