Congregation Principles

Congregation Principles

Who We Are

The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism is a welcoming, supportive community, serving Fairfield County since 1967, for secular Jews and their families to affirm, celebrate, and enrich Jewish identity and values. CHJ believes in personal responsibility to fulfill the Jewish ideals of loving-kindness, justice, and good deeds.

Humanistic Judaism is one of the five branches of Judaism recognized by the United Jewish Communities of North America. We are affiliated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, active worldwide. Rabbi Sherwin Wine, originally ordained a Reform rabbi, founded the Birmingham Temple, the first congregation of Humanistic Judaism in 1963, in Birmingham, Michigan, outside Detroit, Michigan. (The temple later relocated to its current location in Farmington Hills, Michigan). Rabbi Wine died in 2007.

Humanistic Judaism Defined

Humanistic Jews accept that a Jew is a person of Jewish descent or any person who declares himself or herself to be a Jew and who identifies with the history, ethical values, culture, civilization, community and experiences of the Jewish people.

Humanistic Jews believe that each person, whether or not they believe in God, is responsible for leading a moral, ethical life that will add to the greater good of humanity, without reliance on supernatural forces or theological authority. Belief in God is a matter of personal definition, personal conviction and personal practice.

As Humanistic Jews, we seek…

  • To increase the well-being of others (Tzedakah)
  • To perform acts of loving kindness (Gemilut Chassadim)
  • To pursue justice, counter oppression, and make the world a better place (Tikkun Olam)
  • To use my reasoning power to understand the world about me, applying this knowledge to advance ethical and moral goals
  • To treat adversity, not as divine punishment for wrongdoing, but as a challenge to be overcome with all the personal strength and community support I can muster
  • To build a community of Humanistic Jews and like-minded people
  • To reflect personally on my own behavior, its motivations, expression and consequences, and to commit to improving myself, throughout the year, with renewed emphasis at High Holidays
  • To recognize and celebrate the role of the Jewish people and culture in living these values
  • To support Israel in its search for peace
  • To foster understanding of Humanistic Judaism in the broader community so that beliefs such as ours can be expressed without fear of prejudice
  • To live my life, so that at my death, I may live on through my positive impact on others’ lives.
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