Philosophy

What Humanistic Jews Believe

  • A Jew is someone who identifies with the history, values, and future of the Jewish people.
  • Our Jewish identity should be preserved.
  • A pluralistic Jewish community will ensure the survival of the Jewish people.
  • Judaism is the historic culture of the Jewish people.
  • Jewish culture is a creation of the Jewish people, molded by our experiences through the ages.
  • We have the power and responsibility to shape our own lives independent of supernatural authority.
  • Ethics and morality should serve human needs.
  • We stand in solidarity with the State of Israel and with Jewish communities in Toronto and around the world.
  • The freedom and dignity of the Jewish people must go hand in hand with the freedom and dignity of every human being.

Are you a Humanistic Jew? Check out our FAQ page for more.

What do Humanistic Jews Do?

Communities
Humanistic Jewish communities are an expression of the need for cultural solidarity and mutual support. A Humanistic Jewish congregation provides group identity, adult education, youth education, a setting for public celebrations of holidays and life-cycle ceremonies, and a community voice for the Humanistic Jewish point of view.

Holidays and Ceremonies
The Jewish people is an extended family whose shared history, memories, and destiny are commemorated in beautiful holiday celebrations. Humanistic Jews find meaning in the celebration of life through the historic Hebrew calendar.
The birth of a child, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, marriage and even death allow the family and community to reinforce their unity and to articulate the values that make life worthwhile.

Education
Humanistic Jews want to understand the beliefs and behaviour of their ancestors without feeling compelled to agree with the beliefs of the past. They want their children to develop their own convictions honestly – on the basis of knowledge, not indoctrination. They seek to explore the entire range of Jewish experience, past and present, and to choose what is reasonable and useful.

Ethical Training
Skills for survival and happiness are not instinctive. They are acquired. Self-reliance, cooperation, generosity and rationality are daily exercises. They are just as important as academic skills.

Commitment to Social Justice
Oraynu Congregation is a group of people who believe that Judaism is more than Jewish holiday celebrations, education and culture. One of the main purposes of Judaism is to bring aid and comfort to those less fortunate than oneself. We also have an obligation to speak up on issues that affect our well-being as humans in society. Position statements on Israel, intermarriage, same-sex marriage, reproductive rights and stem-cell research have been developed by The Society for Humanistic Judaism and/or the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews.

In Sept. 2007, Oraynu issued a press release stating its firm opposition to government funding of all faith-based schools. In January 2014, a press release was issued stating our opposition to the proposed Quebec Charter of Secular Values. In April 2015, Oraynu finalized its statement on dying with dignity.

Position Statements

Statement on “Who is a Jew”

Social Justice Position Statements: Describe our position on a variety of issues. Click links below for:
Statement on Same-Sex Marriage
Statement In Support of Equality for Diverse Sexualities & Gender Identities
Statement on Intermarriage
Statement on Reproductive Rights
Statement on Stem Cell Research
Statement on Circumcision and Jewish Identity
Statement Opposing Government Funding of Faith-Based Schools
Statement Opposing Quebec’s Charter of Secular Values
NEW! Statement on Dying with Dignity

For more statements/resolutions issued by the Society for Humanistic Judaism, click here.