History of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism

The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ) was established in Jerusalem in 1985 and currently has two centers of activity, one in Jerusalem and the other in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Rabbi Sherwin Wine and Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem were the founding co-chairs of the IISHJ.

IISHJ – North America began offering its Leadership Program in 1986 as a joint program serving the communities of the Cultural and Secular Jewish Organization and the Society for Humanistic Judaism. It began a rabbinic program in 1992, and its first rabbinic ordination in North America took place in 1999; subsequent ordinations have happened biennially as students complete their programs. Its Colloquium program began in 1997, drawing together scholars and activists to explore the pressing issues of the secular Jewish world. The current IISHJ Dean for North America is Rabbi Adam Chalom.

Tmura-IISHJ, the Israeli sister organization to IISHJ-North America, began in 2004 and held its first ordination in 2006; they have likewise continued biennially. Tmura-IISHJ has also sponsored a rabbinic association for its graduates and has recently initiated Secular Humanistic Jewish communities in several locations in Israel. The current Dean of Tmura-IISHJ is Rabbi Sivan Malkin Maas.