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January 15, 1988 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-15

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Without God

Continued from Page 26

congregation's creed: it says
in Hebrew, adam, "man" or
To solidify the organiza-
tional framework, an In-
stitute for Secular
Humanistic Judaism has
been set up in Jerusalem to
train future leaders, in-
cluding rabbis, for groups like
the Birmingham Temple.
Another difference between
Humanistic Jews and old-
guard secularists is that
religion is no longer a dirty
word. In fact, says Rabbi
Wine, Secular-Humanistic
Jews define their belief as a
religion. "Humanistic
Judaism is a secular religion,
if you define religion as an
organized philosophy of life."
Secular-Humanistic Jews
are non-theistic, he continues,
and eschew prayer and wor-
ship. "We define Jews essen-
tially as an ethnic group."
Belonging to the Jewish peo-
ple is a matter of identifica-
tion with the group rather
than its rituals, he explains.
This attitude explains Rabbi
Wine's approach to
Of the Birmingham Tem-
ple's 450 member families,
about eight percent are inter-
married, he says. "People
have the right to marry
whom they choose. We are in-
terested in keeping within
the Jewish community those
who wish to intermarry in an
open society.
In response to intermar-
riage, "one strategy is to say
to people: 'Intermarriage is
horrible and sinful and if we
catch you doing it, you're
through, and certainly your
partner is not welcome here.'
"Our feeling is that we
welcome into the Jewish peo-
ple anybody who wishes to
identify with the history,
culture, the community and
the fate of the Jewish people.
From their behavior we sur-
mise their loyalty."
Is the Humanistic-Jewish
option a way to preserve Jews
for Judaism, or is it, like a
house without walls, an easy
way out, allowing those with
marginal Jewish identities to
avoid hard choices and con-
demn their children to fur-
ther confusion and
"I don't think our problem
is peculiar," Rabbi Wine says.
"That is: if you're secular you
have a greater chance for
assimilation. Believing in
God is shared by millions of
other Americans. If one wants
to have a temple in which one
talks to God in English . . . "
he breaks off, laughing.
"What the Reform movement
discovered is that having a
theistic ideology is not a bar-
Continued on Page 50

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