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November 07, 2013 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-07

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

Walled Lake Schools

invites you
to attend our

Community Performances

WL Northern HS Performing Arts Center to host

Celebrating 50 Years

• On Friday, Nov. 15, Rabbi Miriam
Jerris of the Society for Humanistic
Judaism will officiate at the
installation of Rabbi Jeffrey Falick
as rabbi of the Birmingham Temple.
The celebration begins at 7:30 p.m.

• On Saturday, Nov.16, former
Detroiter Rabbi Adam Chalom,

inaugurated in November 1963, with
Wine as its spiritual leader, about 40
members and a board. Harry Velick was
the first president.
As early members examined tradi-
tional Reform liturgy and practices
under Wine's direction, they realized
their beliefs were people-centered, not
God-centered. People have the power
to solve moral and ethical problems,
they felt, without any assistance from
a supernatural deity. Gradually they
distanced themselves from the Reform
movement and developed a new Jewish
identity as humanistic Jews.

Humanistic Judaism
According to the Society for Humanistic
Judaism's website, humanistic Jews
believe that each Jew has the right to
create a meaningful Jewish lifestyle
free from supernatural authority and
imposed tradition; that the goal of life
is personal dignity and self-esteem; that
the secular roots of Jewish life are as
important as the religious ones; and that
the survival of the Jewish people needs a
reconciliation between science, personal
autonomy and Jewish loyalty.
"For many of us who grew up in the
1960s, [the forma-
tion of the temple]
was a turning point,"
said Rabbi Miriam
Jerris, rabbi of the
Society for Humanistic
Judaism, based on the
Birmingham Temple
Rabbi Miriam
campus. "Sherwin
[Wine] wanted us
to act on what we
believed. He would ask, 'Is it good for
the Jews or is it true?' It was always
more important to be true."
Scrapping much of the traditional
Reform liturgy because of its refer-
ences to God, the Birmingham Temple
developed its own collection of read-
ings, Celebrations: A Ceremonial and
Philosophic Guide for Humanists and
Humanistic Jews.
Temple members didn't plan to upset
the Jewish establishment, but a 1964
Detroit Free Press article about the tem-
ple and its "atheist rabbi," and a similar
article in Time magazine in early 1965,

rabbi at Kol Hadash Humanistic
Congregation in Chicago and North
American dean of the International
Institute of Secular Humanistic
Judaism (IISHJ), will ordain Rabbi
Denise Handlarski of Toronto during
a Havdalah celebration at 5:30 p.m.
The program will be followed by a
reception and gala dinner. There is
a $50 charge. For reservations, go
to office@birminghamtemple.org .

blew the lid off their obscurity.
"My friends and relatives would
argue that I couldn't be a Jew if I didn't
believe in God," said Leslie Kutinsky,
80, a Novi attorney who joined the
temple in 1965. "But if you're a decent
human being and a decent Jew, you
don't sneer at someone else's beliefs:'
Kutinsky said he became an athe-
ist at age 8, when his Hebrew school
class at Conservative Adat Shalom
Synagogue learned the story of Joshua.
He was appalled that God would direct
the Israelites to kill every man, woman
and child in Jericho. Later, when he
first heard Sherwin Wine speak, he
was "blown away," he said, and fell in
love with the concept of Humanistic
The temple never did make it to
Birmingham. The congregation moved
to its current site, on 12 Mile Road near
Middlebelt in Farmington Hills, in 1974.
The building was expanded in 1978
and again in 1995, with the addition of
the Ben and Lorraine Pivnick Center
containing offices and classrooms. The
congregation now has 265 members and
a Sunday school with 60 children.

An International Movement
Despite its small size, the Birmingham
Temple launched an international
movement. In 1969, the temple
joined groups in Westport, Conn.,
and Chicago to form the Society for
Humanistic Judaism, which now has
29 member communities in North
America. In 1985, the Society started
the International Institute for Secular
Jewish Humanism (IISJH), which
has trained 45 communal leaders
and is about to ordain its 11th North
American rabbi. Its Israel branch has
ordained 25 rabbis.
Sherwin Wine was a larger-than-life
figure known for his eloquent speaking
and writing. Although he had retired
in 2004, he continued to influence the
temple and the movement. When he
was killed in a car crash in 2007 at age
79, said Kutinsky, "it was like the loss
of a father or a brother."
Wine was succeeded by Rabbi
Tamara Kolton, who had become
the first rabbi ordained by the IISJH

• On Sunday, Nov.17, there will be a
colloquium sponsored by the IISHJ,
starting at 9:30 a.m. Rabbi Sivan Maas,
Israel dean of the IISHJ, will speak on
"Are We One People?" Rabbi Denise
Handlarski will speak on "A Cultural
Judaism for a Multicultural World,"
and Rabbi Adam Chalom will speak on
"Jewish Futures." There is no charge,
but registration is requested at https://


Halloween Pops Concert

October 25, 2013, 7:30 p.m.,
WL Northern HS

•Featuring the Michigan
Philharmonic with music director
and conductor Nan Washburn
• Special performances by Walled
Lake Schools student choirs

For ticket information,
go to wlcstickets.com
or call 248-387-9160.

Rabbi Jeffrey

in 1999. When she
resigned last year, a
national search resulted
in the appointment of
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick,
formerly of Miami. He
began July 1 and will
be officially installed as
part of the temple's 50th
anniversary celebration
weekend Nov. 15-17.

Into The Future
Falick is excited about Humanistic
Judaism and what it can bring to the
"We don't talk about how we don't
believe in God; we talk about what we
do believe in," he said. "We don't live by
rejection of what others believe, but by
positive assertion of what we believe:'
A key part of this belief system, he
says, is "radical tolerance — respect for
individual private beliefs — which is
something that's greatly missing in the
Humanistic Jews value many aspects
of traditional Judaism, Falick said, but
they also feel many aspects of Torah
Judaism are "extremely offensive to a
21st-century sensibility," including the
ancient Israelites' treatment of other
peoples and their treatment of women.
"We don't believe anything is
`eternal:" he said. "We treasure the
Torah as an artifact of history, but not
as a guide for values to live by."
To those who knew Sherwin Wine,
Falick represents the future.
"Sherwin was a real person to
us, a friend, mentor, guide?' said
Miriam Jerris. "But the numbers of
those of us who knew him personally
are decreasing. For people coming
to Humanistic Judaism now, he's a
historical figure. He's our past — and
there is a future?'

For a more complete history of
the Birmingham Temple, see The
Birmingham Temple and the Creation
of Humanistic Judaism, by longtime
temple member Mark H. Cousens,
published by the Society for Humanistic

"A Phantom, A
Witch and A King"

WL Western HS Performing Arts presents

"Shrek -
The Musical"

November 14-17 & 21-24, 2013
7:30 p.m., WL Western HS

For ticket information,
go to wlcstickets.com
or call 248-387-9160.


WL Northern HS Performing Arts presents



"David and Lisa"

November 14-16, 2013 X,
WL Northern HS

For ticket information,
go to wlcstickets.com
or call 248-387-9160.

WL Central HS Performing Arts presents

"You Can't Take it
With You"

December 5-7, 2013
7:30 p.m., WL Central HS

For ticket information,
go to wlcstickets.com
or call 248-387-9160.

WL Central, Northern & Western HS
choirs, bands and orchestras present

Collage Concerts

•December 10, 2013 -
WL Western HS band & orchestra
•December 11-12, 2013 -
WL Northern HS choirs, band
& orchestra
•December 17-18, 2013 -
WL Central HS choirs, band
& orchestra
•December 19, 2013 -
WL Western HS choirs

For ticket information,
go to wlcstickets.com
or call 248-387-9160.

WL Northern HS Performing Arts Center to host

Holiday Pops with the Phil

Presented by the Huron Valley
Council for the Arts

December 13, 2013
WL Northern HS
Featuring the Michigan Philharmonic
with music director and conductor
Nan Washburn.


For ticket information,
go to www.huronvalleyarts.org
or call 248-889-8660.


November 7 • 2013


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