2012 Board meeting

About Us

The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (CHJ) 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.

History

In 1963, Rabbi Sherwin Wine, originally ordained a Reform rabbi, founded the Birmingham Temple in Birmingham, Michigan, to be humanistic as opposed to theistic . (The temple later relocated to its current location in Farmington Hills, Michigan).

When Jeanne and John Franklin,  who had been members of Birmingham Temple, moved to Westport  Connecticut, they gathered a group of like-minded Jews to start a new congregation that followed Rabbi Wine’s philosophy.   In 1967, CHJ became the first humanistic congregation outside of Michigan to call itself Humanistic.  Other congregations followed and soon there were 25 congregations or communities in the U.S. and more in Canada and throughout the world.

Today Humanistic Judaism is recognized by the United Jewish Communities of North America as one of the five branches of Judaism.   Humanistic Jewish communities in North America are listed here. We are affiliated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism and the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, active worldwide.

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.

Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, P.O. Box 432, Easton, CT
Tel: 203-293-8867

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