Society for Humanistic Judaism Elects Andrea Friedlander President
Farmington Hills, MI, April, 2012 — Andrea Friedlander, a life-long resident of Chicago’s North Shore, was installed on April 19 as the President of the Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ). A graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, Friedlander previously served as Steering Committee Chair of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in the Chicago area, of which she is a founding member.
“The wonderful thing about Humanistic Judaism,” says Friedlander, “is that the ideology makes sense in the modern world and the liturgy is totally relevant to our everyday lives. We say what we believe and we believe what we say.”
Friedlander said that until she was invited to a Humanistic Bar Mitzvah service 28 years ago, she “never knew that there was such a thing as Humanistic Judaism or that a religious service could be so engaging and thought-provoking. [Our family] finally found a form of Judaism that was consistent with our lives 365 days a year and that didn’t require us to recite prayers full of promises, apologies and other concepts in which we didn’t believe. The ideology makes sense in the modern world and the liturgy is totally relevant to our everyday lives. We say what we believe and we believe what we say.”
Friedlander accepted an invitation to join the SHJ Board of Directors four years ago. “I was intrigued by the opportunity to ‘take it to the next level’ and help other Humanistic congregations around the country develop and grow.” She says that her “main goal as President of the Society is to increase the visibility of Humanistic Judaism around the country to let people know that Humanistic Judaism is a real and vibrant alternative.”
“Andrea is a clear-headed, committed, articulate leader for Humanistic Judaism,” said Bonnie Cousens, SHJ Executive Director. “Her forward-thinking ideas will help to increase the visibility of Humanistic Judaism and to reach out to millennials and generation-I.”
The Society for Humanistic Judaism is the central body for Humanistic Jewish congregations in North America. Embracing a human-centered philosophy of life that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas, the Society creates an inclusive, nurturing environment for families with children and empty nesters, pre-schoolers and teens, university students, young adults and seniors, single parents, intermarried families, and the GLBT community. Humanistic Jews believe in the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity, seeking solutions to human conflicts that respect the dignity, freedom, and self-esteem of every person. the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity, seeking solutions to human conflicts that respect the dignity, freedom, and self-esteem of every person.
This growing movement provides a community for many unaffiliated Jews who identify as cultural, secular, “just Jewish,” “not very religious” or Jewish atheists. Forty-nine percent of the United States’ 5.5 million Jews say that their outlook is secular and forty-eight percent do not belong to a synagogue or other Jewish organization, according to the American Jewish Identification Survey undertaken by professional statisticians under the auspices of the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York. The Society helps to organize local congregations and havurot, creates and disseminates celebrational and educational materials, provides national programs, including programs for teens and young adults, and serves the needs of individual members who do not live near an existing Humanistic congregation.
For more information, contact the Society for Humanistic Judaism.