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July 04, 2003 - Image 40

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

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


Cover Story

THE POWER OF MAN from page 39

Susan Citrin

Deborah Rose with Rabbi Wine at the retirement

Temple involves a presentation on an
admired figure from Jewish history.
"Why should they be reading some-
thing that they don't understand that is
chosen because it coincides with their
birthday?" Rabbi Wine said. "This
way, they choose someone who inspires
Perhaps the most powerful lesson
stemming from a bar mitzvah presenta-
tion at Birmingham Temple was one
Rabbi Wine remembers as "a story of
courage." Bar mitzvah celebrant
Jackson Klein spoke of his hero,
Holocaust survivor Solly Ganor, on the
Shabbat following Sept. 11, 2001. At
the end of his presentation, Klein
introduced the only out-of-town guest
able to be there in light of the terrorist
attacks — Ganor, who traveled from
Israel. Jackson then invited Ganor to
join him and celebrate with him the
bar mitzvah he was denied when he
was 13.
While Passover is celebrated as a
holiday of freedom, in Humanistic
Judaism, freedom takes on a different
meaning. "Freedom is not a gift, it is
an achievement," Rabbi Wine said.
"You can tell the story with the tradi-
tional Haggadah, with the sea of mira-
cles — or you can tell how we believe
that those who escaped did so because
of themselves. On Yom Kippur, we
don't stand on trial, we celebrate
because we want to live ethical, quality
Once the materials were prepared, it
was time to respond to those in other

7/ 4


Rabbi Silberberg

Rabbi Nevins

Rabbi Cohn-Sherbok

towns who requested help in establish-
ing their own congregations. Today,
more than 40 communities of
Humanistic Jews exist worldwide.
Between 1969 and 1986, Rabbi
Wine founded several offshoots of the
Society for Humanistic Judaism, the
national umbrella for the movement.
These offshoots included a graduate
school, a leadership conference, an
international arm in Jerusalem and a
professional association for Humanist
A rabbinic program established in
1992 has ordained four Humanistic
rabbis with two more to be ordained in
October, including the first Israeli
rabbi in the Humanistic Judaism

Who A Member?

Included among the Birmingham
Temple's 450 unit members — singles
and families — are those who other-
wise would remain unaffiliated or lost
from Judaism. "Many would not have
joined a congregation if they had not
come to us," Rabbi Wine said.
"My kids wouldn't have Judaism
without Birmingham Temple," said
Susan Citrin of Birmingham, a temple
member for 23 years. "It is who we are.
My husband grew up Reform, and I
grew up with nothing.
"When our daughter, Laura, was 10
— and approaching bat mitzvah age
— we started thinking about joining a
synagogue and Birmingham Temple fit

our philosophy."
She and her husband also were
impressed with the unique perspective
on b'nai mitzvah celebrations.
"Rabbi Wine figured out that kids
were more interested in learning about
a hero or heroine that would stay with
them," she said. "My daughter did her
presentation on Nazi hunter Beate
Klarsfeld, who she had the opportunity
to speak with during her research and
learn about her courage and convic-
tions. Beate Klarsfeld became a part of
her life and she still makes donations to
the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation."
When her three children attended
the Sunday school at Birmingham
Temple and Rabbi Wine came into the
classroom, Citrin said, "They always
knew they were in the presence of
someone very special. There is a great
depth about him. He always puts
everything into an interesting perspec-
A recent graduate of the
Birmingham Temple school, Deborah

Rabbi Loss

Rose, 18, of Southfield remembers
being "in awe of Rabbi Wine." She
remembers his organizational skills and
how he taught without written notes.
Rose was born into the congregation
where her parents and grandparents are
longtime members. Her mother,
Jessica, is also a teacher in the
Birmingham Temple school. Even after
graduating from the school, Rose
remains devoted and is spending her
summer working for the Society for
Humanistic Judaism before beginning
fall classes at U-M in Ann Arbor.

What's Next?

The word "retirement" for Rabbi Wine
only applies to leaving his leadership
role at Birmingham Temple. "I am
retiring from the temple but not from
the movement," he said.
He will continue to visit Humanistic
congregations around the world,
remain co-chair of the international
Humanistic federation, lecture and

Who Are Humanistic Jews?

• God: Members of the Humanistic Judaism community all follow the
belief that knowledge, power and solutions come from people, not a
supernatural being.
• Numbers: According to the 2001 American Jewish Identity Survey,
about 1 percent of the adult Jewish population identified themselves as
secular and-or Humanistic Jews, an estimated 41,000 of a total of about
4 million adults.
• Who is a Jew? In Humanistic Judaism, a Jew is someone born to a
Jewish parent or who identifies with the history, culture, struggles, tri-
umphs and future of the Jewish people.
• Assimilation: Resistance to assimilation comes from valuing Jewish
• Zionism: Humanistic Jews actively support the people of Israel, rec-
ognizing the value of a Jewish state. Humanistic congregations have been
established in Israel.
• Funeral: The traditional funeral is replaced by a tribute to the life of
• Kaddish, a prayer for the dead that praises God, is not said.
• Commandments: The commandments relating to living an ethical
life are followed, like those relating to not murdering or stealing; others,
like, "I am thy. God..." are not.
• Kashrut: While not following traditional laws of kashrut, Rabbi
Wine said, "We have a moral obligation to stay healthy for ourselves and
for others."


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