Our Beliefs and Values
Humanistic Jews believe:
- Each Jew has the right to create a meaningful Jewish lifestyle free from supernatural authority and imposed tradition.
- The goal of life is personal dignity and self-esteem.
- The secular roots of Jewish life are as important as the religious ones.
- The survival of the Jewish people needs a reconciliation between science, personal autonomy, and Jewish loyalty.
Freedom from supernatural authority
Theistic religions assert that the ultimate source of wisdom and of the power of the solution to human problems is found outside of people - in a supernatural realm. Humanistic philosophy affirms that knowledge and power come from people and from the nature in which they live.
Dignity and self-esteem
Life is worthwhile when each person sees them self as worthwhile. Self-respect is distinct from happiness. Happiness is less the goal of life than the consequence of having attained it. Self-respect is dependent upon autonomy. The autonomous person feels that s/he is responsible for the basic direction of his/her own life and that no one else has the right to usurp that responsibility. Autonomy does not mean that each person is individually self-sufficient. Healthy dependence is horizontal rather than vertical.
Secular Jewish Roots
Judaism is an ethnic culture. It did not fall from heaven. It was not invented by a divine spokesperson. It was created by the Jewish people. It was molded by Jewish experience. Holidays are responses to human events. Ceremonies are celebrations of human development. Music and literature are the expressions of human needs.
Humanistic Jewish values
Truth: Rely on what we know about human experience and needs. Discover new powerful truths about our history and present, Advance ethical and moral goals.
Integrity: Say what we mean and mean what we say. Welcome all who seek connections with Jewish culture and history.
Dignity: Embrace the joy, power, and responsibility to shape our own lives. Our dignity goes hand in hand with the dignity of all peoples.
Reality: Employ reason, observation, experimentation and creativity to address questions and understand experiences in this world.
Judaism: Recognize that the Jewish people created Jewish culture. To be a Jew is to identify with the Jewish people.
— Rabbi Adam Chalom, Dean of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism
We provide a place where secular Jews can find a comfortable and stimulating home. We appeal to those who respect and love our Jewish heritage and want to affiliate with others with similar viewpoints.
The first Humanistic Judaism community was established in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine and a number of members founded the Birmingham Temple in a suburb of Detroit. In 1969, a North American central organization, the Society for Humanistic Judaism (www.shj.org) was founded to establish and support local affiliates and to provide leadership to the growing movement (which now has 33 communities in the US and Canada). In 1985 the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism was created, to coordinate the various national organizations and to train rabbi and lay leaders for the local communities.
Originally, there were two Humanistic Judaism communities in Colorado: the Colorado Congregation for Humanistic Judaism (CCHJ) established in Denver in 1991 and Beth Ami established in Boulder a couple of years later. In the year 2002, with the urging of Rabbi Wine, these two communities were merged into a single community, Beth Ami-CCHJ.
With the establishment of a Jewish Cultural Family School, as well as the addition of two Professional Leaders/Madrikhot, we are now offering a full array of programs and services.