Understanding Humanistic Judaism

Understanding Humanistic Judaism


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Guide to Humanistic Judaism


Featuring encyclopedia-like entries on the philosophy and practice of Humanistic Judaism, the Guide can serve as an introduction to Humanistic Judaism and as a convenient source of basic information about it. Includes an essay by Humanistic Judaism’s founder, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine.  


The Guide is included with paid SHJ membership!



Here is Our Light – Humanistic Jewish Holiday and Life-Cycle Liturgy for Inspiration and Reflection 

Celebrating 50 Years of the Society for Humanistic Judaism


Published in 2019 to mark 50 years of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, this book collects some of the best Humanistic Judaism liturgy from leaders, thinkers, and clergy from across the movement and over the past half-century.  The liturgical pieces within can augment existing holiday observances and life-cycle ceremonies, and can serve as the core around which to build new services or ceremonies.  It can be used in communities large and small, and in individual homes.  Most of all, it can help people, by providing the right words at the right times to foster joy and remembrance, relfection and celebration, awe and appreciation.


Available now on Amazon! Click here to order – use AmazonSmile, and the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate a portion of the purchase price when SHJ is designated as the charitable organization of choice.

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Morning Meditations

by Barbara Kopitz


An inspirational book for Humanistic Jews and humanists alike. As part of the literature of a growing worldwide movement, these daily meditations affirm the power and responsibility of individuals to shape their own lives. Grounded in a rational spirituality, this book offers all people a way to live a life of moral and ethical ideals.


Judaism in a Secular Age: An Anthology of Secular Humanistic Jewish Thought

edited by Renee Kogel and Zev Katz


Where can secular and Humanistic Jews turn for serious inspiration? Religious Jews seek to validate their belief in traditional Jewish texts like Torah and Talmud, texts which, though of historic interest, can hardly serve the purpose. Now, for the first time, an anthology designed to meet that need has been assembled.


Basic Ideas of Secular Humanistic Judaism

by Rabbi Eva Goldfinger


A valuable resource for student, parent, and teacher; 100 page spiral bound photocopy of the publication by IISHJ; explains the major ideas of Secular Humanistic Judaism and provides an overview of the structure and history of the Movement.

Humanist Readings in Jewish Folklore

by Bennett Muraskin


A collection of more than 120 Jewish folktales, selected with an eye to those Jews who seek their personal ethics and morals in Jewish culture and literature. The tales reflect the side of Jewish tradition that values freedom of thought, social justice, egalitarianism, and respect for the “other.” Offering an introduction, commentary, and bibliography, this book explores the pre-modern roots of Jewish Humanism.


The Early Modern European Roots of Secular Humanistic Judaism

by David Abramovitz, Zev Katz, Susan Lerner, Karen Levy, Roz Usiskin, and Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine


Providing background information for studying the early modern European roots of Secular Humanistic Judaism, this resource includes an historical survey, selected essays and texts from Yiddish literature in translation, a collection of Humanistic quotations, and an annotated bibliography.

New Yorkish and Other American Yiddish Stories Translated

by Max Rosenfeld


A collection of stories chosen and translated from the Yiddish by Max Rosenfeld. The book serves as a guidepost to a thriving, self-conscious Jewish community life in North America.


What Do Secular Jews Believe?

by Yaakov Malkin


An exploration of the philosophy and practice of Secular Humanistic Judaism in Israel, focusing on Judaism as culture and the role of education in developing and maintaining a pluralistic Judaism.


Free Judaism & Religion in Israel

by Yaakov Malkin


A collection of essays from the pages of Free Judaism, the voice of the Secular Humanistic movement in Israel, which offers an exploration and defense of religious and cultural freedom in the Jewish state.


Judaism Without God? Judaism as Culture and Bible as Literature

by Yaakov Malkin


This volume explores key concepts in the discourse of Judaism as culture. It also includes a history of pluralism in Jewish culture and models for Humanistic Jewish education. Malkin presents Judaism as the culture of the Jewish people, not a religion, and looks at the Bible as literature, with God as a literary figure created by its authors. By learning to read the Bible as literature instead of fact, you will see that it represents the cultural and spiritual life of the eras in which it was created, and you can understand the human condition of its literary heroes. As literature, the Bible influenced the annals of humanity’s spiritual life in its presentation of God as an abstract concept; in the socialist laws of the Sabbath; and in the choice of justice and virtue over God’s commandments.


Epicurus and Apikorsim: The Influence of the Greek Epicurus and Jewish Apikorsim on Judaism

by Yaakov Malkin 


This book explores the teachings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, showing their connection with Jewish apikorsim, or heretics, through the centuries. Jews use the term apikorism (named after Epicurus) to mean freedom to choose your own way of life without obligation to obey religious commandments. Epicurus’ non-religious philosophy spread during the Hellenistic period to all Mediterranean cultures, including Judaism.


On the Human Condition

by Marilyn Rowens


Delightful cartoon booklets that provoke a thought and a smile in Humanists of all ages. 


As I Was Saying …

Beyond the Middle Years


Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe

by Greg M. Epstein


Epstein presents a balanced and positive alternative for those who reject the supernatural as a guide to living meaningful lives. His exploration of Humanism affirms our ability to live ethical lives of personal fulfillment without a belief in God.


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The Unaffiliated Jew

edited by Renee Kogel and Bonnie Cousens


The first Colloquium sponsored by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, Colloquium ’95 gathered intellectuals, writers, artists, professors and community leaders to discuss a crucial issue for Jewish survival – “The Unaffiliated Jew,” which in the United States has consistently been half of the American Jewish population. Who are unaffiliated Jews? What have they not found satisfying about the organized Jewish community? And what can we offer them in terms of reasons to be Jewish and community connections for the 21st Century? 


Jews and the Muslim World: Solving the Puzzle

edited by Rabbi Adam Chalom


To truly understand the current situation in the Middle East, it is crucial to understand the past and present relations between Muslims and Jews. This publication offers penetrating insights into the socio-political tensions between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East and in-depth explorations of how Muslims and Jews have related throughout history. Jews and the Muslim World: Solving the Puzzle, both the original Colloquium conference and the subsequent publication, also addresses modern issues including the effects of Zionism, Muslim anti-Semitism, and even progressive Islam on the tensions between Muslims and Jews, and opens the door to new understandings and new possibilities in a very old relationship.


Reclaiming Jewish History

edited by Bonnie Cousens


Colloquium ’97 brought together scholars and experts in Jewish history from every period of the Jewish experience to explore a crucial question – what is the real story of the Jewish people and their experience? Can we connect with our ancestors as they really were, rather than as we imagined them to be? Through stimulating surveys of their field and serious, even heated, discussions of the implications of their ideas, the panel and participants in Colloquium ’97 discovered much about the truth and legends of Jewish history. 


Judaism for Everyone … Without Dogma

by Bernardo Sorj


Sorj illustrates the balance of Jewish tradition and the state of Judaism today in an informative package that concludes Humanistic Judaism to be the alternative to irrationalism and dogma. He brilliantly chronicles changing Judaism over the millennia – from biblical Judaism to modern thought – and presents tradition and collective memory as raw materials that each generation must reinterpret and in which new meanings are found. Judaism for Everyone … without Dogma is an effort to contribute to the advancement of Judaism that is based on freedom not on fear or blind acceptance of authority. For individuals who value their capacity to decide what is right and wrong, the question is not what Judaism is, but rather how to find their own way to be Jewish.