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Message from the President of CHJ

steve_ulmanHumanistic Judaism is turning 50. Not only has the movement established itself as more than just a passing fad, it has reached an age at which its members have the perspective to reflect and re-evaluate. It’s a good time for each affiliated Congregation to explore its history. Each member of each Congregation has the opportunity to recall how he or she first found Humanistic Judaism and the local Congregation.

We can ask ourselves, “Why did I join? Are the reasons I joined still relevant? Is it worth it?”

In the face of the effort it takes to grow a Jewish identity in a predominantly Christian world, my wife’s parents used to say, “Being Jewish is hard.” If being Jewish is hard, being a Humanistic Jew in a predominantly theistic country is harder. Add the commitment that a co-op such as our Congregation requires, and you might think being a member of CHJ is impossible.

Actually, it’s quite liberating. First, we embrace non-Jewish partners. Everyone in the family can celebrate the family’s Jewish identity fully.  At our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, every proud parent, brother, sister, uncle, cousin, family friend and loving next-door neighbor is encouraged to participate in readings and speeches from and alongside the Torah. Humanistic Judaism is an exercise in inclusiveness.

Second, we leave it to each individual to determine his relationship with a higher power, if any. Members of the other four branches of Judaism devote much time to paying communal homage to a higher power. As Humanistic Jews, we are liberated to focus our full attention on our fellow human beings.

This attention takes the form of social action, which is perfectly aligned with the Jewish values of ‘tzedakah’ and ‘tikkum olam’, shared by all branches of Judaism. When other Jews must pray, however, we can deliver food daily to those who are hungry in our community. We can give regular rides to another member of our Congregation who has been incapacitated by an injury. We can lend a sympathetic ear or a sense of humor to someone in need of companionship. These acts of elevating the dignity of all human beings is our Humanistic Jewish practice, and it feels empowering and liberating for all involved. We can put the pieces of this fractured world back together, one at a time.

Finally, as a co-operative, CHJ frees us to take the Congregation in any direction we see fit. All members produce as well as consume.  We organize and run the events; we write the curriculum for our own education and that of our children; we write the services for our holiday celebrations; we declare affiliations and philosophies.  To decide on the direction these activities take, we must reflect. 

I invite you to join me in reflecting on 50 years of Humanistic Judaism and where we want to take our Congregation in Fairfield County in 5775. 

Steve Ulman
president@humanisticjews.org

What's Happening

Sat Aug 23, 6:00 pm
Havdalah
Compo Beach Westport
Sun Aug 24, 6:00 pm
Havdalah Rain Date
Compo Beach Westport
Sat Aug 30, 10:00 am
Women's Rap
Home of Teri Klein
Sun Sep 07, 9:30 am -11:45 am
Sunday School & Adult Ed Open House
Bedford Middle School 88 North Ave., Westport
Sat Sep 20, 10:00 am
Book Club - Astonish Me
Home of Joann Heimann
Sun Sep 21, 9:30 am
Sunday School and Adult Ed
Bedford Middle School 88 North Ave., Westport
Wed Sep 24, 7:30 pm
Rosh Hashanah Eve
Unitarian Church,10 Lyons Plains Rd., Westport
Thu Sep 25, 1:00 pm
Rosh Hashanah Daytime Program
Unitarian Church,10 Lyons Plains Rd., Westport
Sat Sep 27, 10:00 am
Womens Rap
Home of Sylvia Schiffman
Fri Oct 03, 7:30 pm
Yom Kippur Eve (Kol Nidre)
Unitarian Church,10 Lyons Plains Rd., Westport
Sat Oct 04, 1:00 pm
Yom Kippur Day Program
Unitarian Church,10 Lyons Plains Rd., Westport
Sun Oct 05, 9:30 am -12:00 pm
Sukkot Celebration
Wakeman Town Farm Cross Hwy Westport
Sat Oct 11, 10:00 am
Book Club - The Post Office Girl
Home of Ellie Shafer
Sun Oct 12, 9:30 am
Sunday School and Adult Ed
Bedford Middle School 88 North Ave., Westport
Sat Oct 18, 4:00 pm
Eli Schlesinger's Bar Mitzvah
Pine Orchard Chapel 25 Chapel Drive, Branford
Sun Oct 19, 9:00 am
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
Sherwood Island,Westport
Fri Oct 24, 8:00 am
SHJ Fall Meeting
Birmingham, MI
Sat Oct 25, 10:00 am
Womens Rap
Home TBD
Sun Oct 26, 9:30 am
Sunday School and Adult Ed
Bedford Middle School 88 North Ave., Westport
Sat Nov 01, 12:00 pm -02:00 pm
Retreat
Guesthouse,318 West Main Street,Chester,CT