Colloquium ’99

Colloquium '99

Beyond Tradition: The Struggle for a New Jewish Identity

Over the last century, many radical movements have sought to create a new kind of Jewish identity to serve the survival and integrity of the Jewish people in modern times. Many of these movements are now caught up in the tension between tradition and innovation. From Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Feminist Judaism to secular alternatives like Yiddishism, Zionism and Cosmopolitanism, each non-traditional alternative informs modern Secular Humanistic Judaism in its own way. Colloquium '99 also marked the first IISHJ ordination of a Secular Humanistic Jewish Rabbi, Rabbi Tamara Kolton.

You can read more about Colloquium '99, including synopses of the major speakers, in the introduction to the printed volume Beyond Tradition: The Struggle for a New Jewish Identity (IISHJ/Milan Press, $19.95) which can be purchased online at or from the IISHJ. Beyond Tradition is also available as an E-book: Kindle, Nook, and more.

Colloquium '99 is also available on DVD from the IISHJ (phone order or publications catalog), which includes introductions before and panel discussions after each presentation.


Video for each Colloquium presentation and the following panel discussion is now available on the IISHJ YouTube channel. Click here to see the complete playlist, or on each title for that specific video.

Ze'ev Chafets, "Letting It Be"

Keynote: "Letting it Be"
Ze'ev Chafetz – Then-columnist for The Jerusalem Report. Commentator on CNN, National Public Radio and other international media. Author of books highly acclaimed by The New York Times and the Jewish press.

"The Radical Vision of Reform Judaism"
Dan Cohn-Sherbok - Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales and a Reform rabbi. Has served congregations in the US and the UK. Author and editor of more than 50 books on Judaism including The Jewish Heritage and Modern Judaism.

"The Transformation of Reform Judaism"
Rabbi Daniel Friedman - Rabbi of Congregation Beth Or, Deerfield, IL. Faculty member of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Prolific author of articles on Humanistic Judaism.

"Kaplan and the Reconstructionist Movement"
Emanuel Goldsmith - A prodigious writer, his work Modern Yiddish Culture: The Story of the Yiddish Language Movement has been hailed as a "milestone in Jewish socio-linguistics." Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Jewish Studies at Queens College, CUNY.

"The Rise of Jewish Renewal"
Rabbi Tirzah Firestone - Rabbi and leader in the Jewish Renewal Movement. Born into a family of Orthodox rabbis, she rejected Judaism and studied Eastern and New Age religions. Her controversial autobiography, With Roots in Heaven: One Woman's Passionate Journey into the Heart of her Faith, tells of her search for universal truths and her return to Judaism.

"Bundists and Yiddishists"
Jack Jacobs - Renowned scholar of Jewish history and culture. Recent Fullbright Research Fellow at the University of Tel Aviv. Author of On Socialists and "the Jewish Question" after Marx. Associate Professor of Government at John Jay College, CUNY.

"Israel and the Zionist Vision"
Shulamit Aloni - Founder and leader of the civil rights movement in Israel. Former Knesset member and controversial minister in the Israeli government. Voice of Secular Humanistic Judaism in the Jewish state.

"Creating a Feminist Judaism"
Marcia Falk - Poet, translator and university professor. Her ground breaking work, The Book of Blessings, reflects "the scholar's mind and the poet's soul." Her revision of Jewish liturgy raises a feminist voice in Jewish celebration.

"The Cosmopolitan Jew"
Joseph Chuman - Founding faculty member of the IISHJ and longtime leader in the Ethical Culture movement. Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Columbia and an Associate Dean of the Humanist Institute. His writings on Humanistic Judaism have been widely published.

"Creating a Secular Judaism"
Yaakov Malkin – Israeli scholar and intellectual, Professor of Rhetoric at Tel Aviv University. Author of many books on Jewish culture. Founder of the Jewish Community Center Movement in Israel. Founder of the College for Pluralistic Judaism in Jerusalem.

"The Humanistic Alternative"
Rabbi Sherwin Wine - Rabbi of the Birmingham Temple and founder of the worldwide movement of Humanistic Judaism. Sought-after lecturer on philosophy, religion and ethics. Celebrated author of innumerable publications and inspirational texts, including Judaism Beyond God. [now deceased]

Rabbi Daniel Friedman describes his evolution from Reform to Humanistic Judaism