Basic Ideas Preface
Judaism is the sum total of the knowledge, beliefs, practices, laws, history, literature, music, art, culinary styles and fashion modes… in short, the social and cultural experiences throughout history of the Jewish people and their ancestry.
As Jews, we identify with the history and culture of the Jewish people. We attempt to understand and make Judaism relevant and meaningful in our lives, thereby perpetuating Judaism and contributing to its continuity.
Since history and culture can be understood and interpreted in may ways, there are numerous movements in Judaism, including: Conservative, Chasidic, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform and Secular Humanistic. However, within each movement, pluralism in beliefs, practices and interpretations exists.
Judaism has never been monolithic. From the earliest times our ancestors believed and practised in numerous ways. This pluralism within Judaism and within each movement of Judaism is the guarantee of our future. The more ways there are to identify as, or to practice Judaism, the more likely we are to retain the interest and commitment of the widest variety and number of Jews.
This book briefly outlines the most important and most current ideas, beliefs, practices, symbols, and interpretations of Jewish culture and history within the movement called Secular Humanistic Judaism. This book is intended as an introduction only, without the nuances that a more intensive study would reveal. Its primary use is as a resource for Movement educators to enable them to clearly articulate and integrate Secular Humanistic Jewish ideas and practices into all aspects of teaching, at every developmental level. The anticipated result would be knowledgeable, strongly identified Secular Humanistic Jewish children and youth – the creative builders of tomorrow’s Secular Humanistic Jewish Movement.
Individuality, freedom of expression and rational, critical thinking are primary values of Secular Humanistic Judaism. The information and ideas contained in this book should not be construed as dogma, nor are they necessarily embraced by every member of the Movement. It is meant to inform, arouse interest in further reading, and enable the Movement to advance its ideas and values for adoption and adaptation. It can thus continue to positively impact both Judaism and the world, and contribute towards tikkun olam.