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July 04, 2003 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-04

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Synagogue List


Torah Portion


Rabbi Wine,
with students
at the


Retiring Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of Humanistic Judaism,
weathers controversy to leave a worldwide legacy.


Staff Writer

fter a congregational career highlighted by
the founding of a Jewish movement, Rabbi
Sherwin Wine retires from the Birmingham
emple confident its new leaders are well-
prepared to thrive without him.
Culminating a months-long tribute to the rabbi
was a June 27 celebration of the 40-year anniversary
of the movement and the symbolic passing of the
torch at Birmingham Temple to Rabbis Tamara
Kolton and Adam Chalom. More than 600 well-
wishers attended.
With a radical philosophy of Judaism that includes
"not finding any meaning in the concept of God,"
Rabbi Wine has experienced his share of controversy,
condemnation and =ven denouncement by other Jews.


But the ever-positive, forward-thinking leader of
Humanistic Judaism, which affirms the power of
humankind, had the ongoing courage to persevere
and grow his movement. Today, his stream of Judaism
has spread to 12 countries.

A New Movement

The roots of Humanistic Judaism were inside Rabbi
Wine long before the movement was established in
1963. As a child, the native Detroiter was raised in a
Conservative home and attended Congregation
Shaarey Zedek in Detroit.
"Our home was consistently Conservative," he
said. "My father observed Shabbat, and I went to
services because he went — and I loved being with
him, but I didn't love praying."

After graduating from Central High School in
Detroit, he received bachelor's and master's degrees in
philosophy from the University of Michigan in Ann
"I grew up in intensely anti-Semitic times," Rabbi
Wine said. "I was very much aware of my Jewish
Combining a love of philosophy and a strong con-
nection to Judaism, he entered the next step of his life
— the rabbinate.
"I had ceased to be Conservative in my lifestyle
after leaving home," Rabbi Wine said. "The closest
thing to my philosophy was Reform."
He was ordained at.the Reform movement's rab-
binical school, Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, also

THE POWER OF MAN on page 38

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