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What We Believe/What We Do

What Humanistic Jews Believe

  • A Jew is someone who identifies with the history, culture, and fate of the Jewish people.
  • Judaism encompasses the civilization created by the Jewish people.  It includes art and music, folk culture, and the treasured masterpieces of our great writers and thinkers, from the Bible to the present.
  • We have the power and responsibility to shape our own lives independent of supernatural authority.
  • Our ethics and morality serve human needs. We participate in tikkun olam (building a better world) for all people.
  • We strive to express our Jewishness in a manner consistent with our beliefs.
  • 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.
  • We warmly welcome into our community all those who share our values and who are connected to the Jewish people, whether by birth, adopted identity or by family relationship.

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 and many more issues have been developed by Oraynu, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and the Congress of Secular Jewish organizations.  Click here for Position Statements page.