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  Society for Humanistic Judaism Remembers
Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine
1928-2007

Rabbi Sherwin Wine founded the Humanistic Jewish Movement in 1963.

Rabbi Wine was born in Detroit, Michigan on January 25, 1928. He was a graduate of the University of Michigan (A.B., A.M.) and the Hebrew Union College.

In 1957 and 1958, Rabbi Wine served as a chaplain in Korea, bringing comforts of home to the Jewish soldiers he met. His work had more to do with Jewish culture than Jewish religion. Reflecting on his time in Korea, Wine said "The boys came not to pray but to talk — and for the chicken soup and salami." He continued "I didn't do the traditional thing, as you might expect. I did a kind of intellectually-based series of lectures on subjects of interest and concern to the troops. I think some of them became pretty interested in a chaplain who was caring about some of the not-necessarily-religious matters they were caring about."

In 1963 he left the Reform Movement to found the Birmingham Temple in suburban Detroit, the first congregation of Humanistic Judaism.

In 1969 he helped establish the Society for Humanistic Judaism to serve as the national outreach vehicle for the humanistic movement. In 1986 he helped to create the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, a worldwide association of national organizations in North America, Israel, Belgium, England, France, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Rabbi Wine was Dean and Provost of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, the movement's seminary.

Wine was instrumental in organizing the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, the Center for New Thinking, the North American Committee for Humanism, the Humanist Institute, and the Conference of Liberal Religion.

The American Humanist Association selected him Humanist of the Year for 2003. The Humanist of the Year award was established in 1953 to recognize a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition. As Humanist of the Year, Rabbi Wine joined such notables as Stephen Jay Gould, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Margaret Sanger, among others.

Rabbi Wine is the author of Humanistic Judaism, Judaism Beyond God, Celebration and Staying Sane In A Crazy World. In addition, he was a principal contributor to Judaism in a Secular Age: An Anthology of Secular Humanistic Jewish Thought.

Rabbi Wine was killed in an automobile accident in Morocco on July 21, 2007.
In Memoriam An Interview with Rabbi Wine Memorial Service 1 Readings
Books & Video In the Words of Rabbi Wine Memorial Service 2 SHJ Home Page

 


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