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What is Secular Jewishness?

The Sholem Community stresses the historic, cultural, and ethical aspects of our Jewishness. We view our Jewish identity as one that is relevant to contemporary life and committed to justice, peace, and community responsibility.

 

Secular Jewishness has a long and proud history.  We trace our roots to the  Prophets — who opposed priestly rituals and social injustice ... to the rationalism of Baruch Spinoza (left) and to the thinkers of the Jewish Enlightenment — who gave rise to the first secular Jewish organizations which arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those organizations gave birth to the great Jewish social enterprises of our century: Zionism, communal organizations, and the Jewish labor/socialist movements.  Most of the core of Jewish culture in Yiddish, English, and even in modern Hebrew stems from Jewish secularists. So, too, does the overwhelming bulk of Jewish humor, folklore and folk songs.

The ethical value system of Secular Jewishness derives from roots which stress the principles of social and personal justice and the progressive, humanistic concepts in contemporary democratic thought. In concrete terms, we are proud of the roles that Secular Jews have played and continue to play in such progressive causes as the labor, peace, and civil rights movements.