SHJ is delighted to welcome Brandon Elliott to our family. He has taken the Hebrew name, Baruch Shimon. In this post, he shares why adopting Humanistic Judaism is significant for him.
I would like to become a Humanistic Jew because the long history of the Jewish people is one that deeply resonates with me. From the Biblical narratives to the modern day, this has been a history of resisting oppression and surviving persecutions and genocides, while still working to improve the world around them. It is a truly impressive, awe-inspiring history. It is one that I’ve been reflecting on for many years now. Now, at the age of 36, I’m ready to join the Jewish people and have this history become part of my history, for this culture to become my culture.
As a young teenager, my heroes were Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein. Sagan’s books, in particular, introduced me to the wonders of science and the cosmos. Later, as I began diving into philosophy, Baruch Spinoza stood out, providing a more rigorous basis for a natural, spiritual outlook on life. Naturally, the Jewish identity of these thinkers eventually caught my attention. Exploring the culture of Judaism was an eye opening experience for me, and eventually I discovered Humanistic Judaism.
The humanist aspect of Judaism is an important one to me. I identify as a religious humanist and a Spinozan pantheist. The traditional God language of other Jewish denominations is, I feel, not well suited to the religious convictions that I possess. The thoroughly nontheistic, humanist approach of Humanistic Judaism is one that fits very well with my beliefs and practices. I believe that this makes Humanistic Judaism the best choice for my entry into the Jewish people, and so I request adoption by the Society for Humanistic Judaism.