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June 18, 1993 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-06-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The National Jewish POST and OPINION

Rabbi Wine: No Proof God Exists as 'Person'
Rabbi Freellews Should Shun
Wine Group
Reform Scholar Says Wine

Friday, Janociry 1, 1965



Detroit Rabbi SaysOther Definitions
Too 'Non-Specifie to be Useful

The Post and Opinion has put
a series of questions to Rabbi
Sherwin T. Wine, t h e Detroit
rabbi who stated he does not be-
lieve in the presence of a Divine
Being. Below are the questions
and Rabbi Wine's answers.) •
Q. Would you outline your be-
lief or disbelief in the presence
oi a Divine Being and give the

reasons for it
the phrase
A. IL you mean by.
"Divine Being" a conscious per-
son who made and runs the
world, there exists no empirical
evidence to suggest the existence
such a person. For this rea-
of
son, one can study the nature
of the world in a modern uni-
versity without finding any need
. assume the presence of a Su-
4
.
r se

ha '

Nt

-~ a

n 5

Shouldn't Call Himself 'Rabbi'

(The Post and Opinion sent
lieving
Dr. Solomon B. Freehof the eon-
in T Wines

of our conclusion. ice are m
tents of Rall
responses to iLs questions on his
i-
than willing to change.
ons, disbelief in the presence of a D
regard
to
the
Union
Dr
With
Americ an Hebrew
Congregati
of of vineBeing.
e present
i are
conunent s: ing
intention
Freehot's Follow
we have no b
requesting af filiation.
By D. S. B. FREEHOF
of your
Rabbi Sherwin Wine believes
Q Has
th e Pubtkati°°
views
resulted
is any ostracism
that everything necessary to hu-
column-
lu
within the local Jewish
e general r°rnaum"YI man 1 i f e is discoverable by
Th
empirical methods and reas.n.
ll"?
corn-
Ille nm-jewfsb you
religious
been threat- and that what cannot be disct,v-
and
minty? 111V!
ered by scientific methods
°Iberwkse abused fn reason is not worth holding to.
d
in
d
"ed
°r
beliefs? aine
g
your
A. The announcement of our There is nothing
views has aroused both support bating this point of view which
and hostility in the Jewish corn- has I o n g been advocated and
DR. SOLOMON B. FREEHOP
been discussed and at-
long
munity. The hostility is large- g tacked.
The most famous crai- Cites "Heartless. . ,Pretenses"
in
ly due to a misunderstand
of our philosophy. Since what we cism of it is Immanuel Kant's
- „Critique of Pure Reason,'
So the congregation is always
are saying is rather common
place on any university cam- which indicates that the basic understood to mean an organi-
pus, the excitement is surpris- realities of the tmiverse are be-
In-
zation for religious purposes.
yood the grasp of our logic this
this
a
The word "congregation" is
ing.
faith deed, how do we know tha
cl. On what is your
of human
think particular instrument
-- st..- ■
..........1
- religion based? D you
_____
t.,:.......„
....
..
a

evolved
the question: If God is
r:
a notion, who is listen-
$. te_41.11:1 01
ri.
ing when people pray?
7"11V .2 IVI R 211
,-
2
"Prayer, in the tradi-
tional sense, becomes
$ N Tittl/ 1
irrelevant if no one is
41
'VW 717731 rx nx
.712 rvr rx r*
DP our yin or
.*123” ffitmunsvz on
listening," Mr. Cousens
nnrnx
Dr, /Inns nx ell$172 f"111, .190o 41,1111771 no r xv1:1*
Irrtmo 5prcro
said.
,,D
In - nx
1113 13 N11
crap re "'pi: tTeern,
1112 rnitr71 Int Olt - on nit Ira tr i •trenry
Gradually, services
DV!
Vox lit • -
' ,17213711
.1 1,,,—
Inv
AptePttp
t/lttb
vnl‘ro ix:
began
talking more

.r•ne.
elm
en:
nit mOnt
t,,,,.
re .1211VOW tr1M tr'1,D3r0
about God than to God.
oJIJ
spirt.p
te.lale 12
Rabbi Wine, with
wn:rctrIx x+xzol
— elter,
pp
approval
from the ritual
'7:11/12rx
.3•12 tut
committee, eventually
.rettzr 1*-111:
roixo
removed the Sh'ma
prayer from services. He
sions
replaced the Kaddish
DETROIT, (JTA) —The spiritual that often lasted
with a memorial reading.
leader of a Reform temple in nearby
By June of 1964, all
urgh In who recently declared into the wee hours
B that he t has been of the morning.
theistic language had
ntinn
"Within a
been eliminated from the
ordered ts
very
short
services and the media
from the
period of time,
had gotten wind of the
Temple
the congrega-
oup h
"atheist rabbi" and
group
tion became
win T.
"Godless" congregation.
consumed with
"Secular religion?" What
a definition of
could be more oxymoron-
the Supreme
ic?
Council Terms
Being," said
Reported Time maga-
Views 'Untenable'
Mark Cousens,
zine in January 1965:
DETROIT (UPI)—The Detroit a member who
"Out of respect for the
Council of Orthodox rabbis
is
writing
the
sacred
name, some
said
Friday it
was "aghast at
devout Jews never pro-
completely untenable views" the temple's history.
Rabbi Sherwin
of "There were no
nounce the Hebrew word
T. Wine who
denies the existence of God as sacred cows, no
for God. Rabbi Sherwin
a Supreme Being.
unaskable ques-
Wine, 36, of Birmingham
.
The 22-member council said tions. The
Temple in the Detroit
founders didn't
suburbs, has another
start with certain
reason for not mention-
In 1964, the
assumptions.
ing the deity: He cannot
Birmingham Temple
"Early on, it became
became the target of
prove that God exists."
worldwide curiosity
clear that people agreed
The "rebel rabbi" made
and criticism.
that God was not an old
headlines in Jewish pub-
man with a long beard
lications and local
and a cane," he said.
dailies. A Jewish chroni-
They decided on a defi-
cle published an article
nition of God as an ideal
titled, "Rabbi Confesses:
man — all that a person
I Am an Atheist."
could become. God was
But the rabbi tried to
the notion of the perfect
clarify that Humanistic
human being. From that
Judaism isn't about disbe-

Masons Evict
"lowish" 1 envie
With itteist"Rabbi"

Atheist Rabbi
Stirs Storm

in
God. It's
about
believing
in the
power of
human
beings to
rationally
respond
to tri-
umph
a n d
adversi-
ty.
H u -
manists
e m -
brace rea-
son over faith. They look
toward the
Enlightenment for inspi-
ration and uphold the
scientific method as the
way to validate their
beliefs.
"We're not people with-
out faith. It's just a ques-
tion of where we put our
faith," said Stacie Schiff,
a Humanistic rabbinical
student. "We put it in '
rational places. You've
got to have a certain
amount of trust that
human beings, when
they evaluate things
rationally and live a
value-centered life, can
make good decisions and
take action."
Consonant with their
belief that Jewish wis-
dom extends beyond bib-
lical times, they have
placed the Torah in the
library — alongside
other highly-esteemed
writings.
"For me, the command-
ments of Leviticus are
less important than the
study of Jewish history,"
Rabbi Wine said.
"Humanistic Judaism is
an intense commitment
to Jewish culture, just as
one can have an intense
commitment to Jewish
religion."
After word of the
Humanist temple got
out, the state organiza-
tion of Masons asked the
Birmingham Temple to
leave the Masonic
Temple in BlooMfield
Hills, where the congre-
gation had held services
during part of 1964.
Reconstructionists told

Rabbi Wine to recant or
leave the Jewish fold,
and Detroit's Council of
Orthodox Rabbis publicly
denounced Humanistic
Judaism:
"The ludicrousness of
this situation must only
evoke a deep sense of
pain and chagrin by all
faithful members of the
Jewish faith," read the
Council's statement.
Reaction from rabbis
in the Reform movement
ran the spectrum from
incredulous to aghast. A
petition to "defrock" the
rabbi circulated around
Reform circles and
Hebrew Union College. It
didn't succeed.
"It was naive to
assume that it would,"
Rabbi Wine now reflects.
"What I was saying out
loud was held secretly by
many people within the
Reform movement."
Rabbi Wine wanted to
preach what he believed,
not necessarily what he
had learned growing up
as a Conservative Jew at
Congregation Shaarey
Zedek. In fact, his educa-
tion fueled his doubt
about theology. After
earning a master's
degree in philosophy at
the University of
Michigan, he entered
Hebrew Union College
with a deep respect for
Bertrand Russell, John
Dewey and other
Humanist philosophers.
"What was very impor-
tant to me was their
strong emphasis on the
power human beings
have to respond to prob-
lems, frustrations and
adversity," he said.
Even after HUC
ordained him in 1956,
the rabbi wondered if he
really belonged in the
Reform Movement. His
HUC experience deep-
ened his commitment to
Jewish culture, history,
and identity — but not to
Halachah (Jewish law)
and God.
After seven years, ren-
dering lip service to
liturgy he didn't believe
became intolerable for
him. Rabbi Wine helped
begin the Birmingham

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