Frequently Asked Questions

These “Frequently Asked Questions” (and answers) for Secular Humanistic Judaism were compiled by Dennis Geller, a graduate of the IISHJ Leadership Program. They address major areas of our personal philosophy and our approach to Jewish life. If you are interested in reading more about our philosophy, visit our Resources pages or explore our Publications.

Frequently Asked Questions About Secular Humanistic Judaism

What is Secular Humanistic Judaism?

  • 1. How can you make up a new kind of Judaism?
  • 2. Do you or do you not believe in God?
  • 3. What role does faith play in your system?
  • 4. Is Secular Humanistic Judaism a religion?
  • 5. Why do people call you non-believers?
  • 6. Why be a Secular Humanistic Jew? Isn’t there too much separateness already?
  • 7. How are you related to the “rest of Judaism”?
  • 8. Most Jews do charitable acts. What makes Secular Humanistic Jews any different?
  • 9. Aren’t you really part of the Reform movement?
  • 10. What do you do about holidays and life cycles?
  • 11. Would I be allowed to wear a kippah (tallis, tefillin) at your service?

God and Faith

  • 12. Can life have profound meaning without God?
  • 13. Do you believe that there is life after death?
  • 14. Is it possible to be spiritual when one is a Secular Humanist?
  • 15. If there is no God then who made this infinitely complex universe?
  • 16. Is Judaism a religion?
  • 17. Can you be Jewish if you don’t believe in God?
  • 18. Belief in God is a support system that is important to many people. Is it right to take it away?

Ethics and Philosophy

  • 19. How can you have ethics without God?
  • 20. If there is no reward and punishment in the afterlife, then won’t people feel free to do anything?
  • 21. Why should I be good if I will not be rewarded or punished?
  • 22. If rules are not absolute, who will decide the exceptions?
  • 23. Is enlightened self-interest a good foundation for ethics?
  • 24. What difference does it make what you believe when it’s action that counts?
  • 25. How can we believe in people after all the terrible things that people do?
  • 26. How can we believe in science after all the terrible things that science has done?
  • 27. Why should I be concerned with welfare of others?
  • 28. Why should the individual be absolute master of his/her life?
  • 29. Is there such a thing as spirituality in your philosophy?
  • 30. How do you feel about feminism?
  • 31. How do you feel about same-sex marriages?
  • 32. What do you believe about abortion?
  • 33. What do you mean by the separation of religion and government?
  • 34. What does it mean to be rational?
  • 35. Why are rational people so cold?

Being Jewish

  • 36. Who is a Jew?
  • 37. How can you be Jewish if you reject ________ (fill in the blank)?
  • 38. Can non-Jews be converted to Secular Humanistic Jewishness?
  • 39. How does someone become a Jew?
  • 40. Can someone who is born a Jew choose to cease being Jewish?
  • 41. Can someone participate in both Christian and Jewish culture simultaneously?