Society for Humanistic Judaism

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The “humanorah” is the primary symbol of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

The Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ), founded in 1969 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine [1][2] embraces a human-centered philosophy that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas.

The Society for Humanistic Judaism is the central body for the Humanistic Jewish Movement in North America and assists in organizing new communities, supporting its member communities, and in providing a voice for Humanistic Jews. The Society gathers and creates educational and programmatic materials, including holiday and life cycle celebrations. It sponsors training programs and conferences for its members. HuJews, the Humanistic Youth Group offers programs for teens and young adults, including an annual conclave. The Society for Humanistic Judaism publishes a monthly e-newsletter and a biannual topical journal and member newsletter.

The Society participates in both the Jewish and the Humanist worlds as a Hillel partner, a participant in the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America and as a member of the Secular Coalition for America.

Miriam Jerris is the rabbi of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.[3]


The “humanorah” is the primary symbol of Humanistic Judaism used by the Society, intended as a non-theistic alternative to other Jewish symbols such as the Star of David or the tablets of the Ten Commandments. It was developed and trademarked by the Society, and has been its logo since the early 1980s.[4]

The name humanorah is a portmanteau of “human” and “menorah,” representing the convergence of Humanistic beliefs with Jewish identity. The symbol itself is a combination of these two elements. A human figure stands with its arms raised, while two other branches cross over the figure's torso to form a total of six arms. Stylized flames emerge from all six.


The Society for Humanistic Judaism has 10,000 members in 30 congregations spread throughout the United States and Canada. These include:

Political alignment[edit]

The Society for Humanistic Judaism has issued a series of statement which aligns them with Liberalism in the United States in a number of core topics defining the "liberalism" vs. "conservativism" divide in American politics, notably on abortion and gay marriage.

A statement issued in 1996 read, "we affirm that a woman has the moral right and should have the continuing legal right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy in accordance with her own ethical standards. Because a decision to terminate a pregnancy carries serious, irreversible consequences, it is one to be made with great care and with keen awareness of the complex psychological, emotional, and ethical implications." [5] They also issued a statement in 2011 condemning the then-recent passage of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” by the U.S. House of Representatives, which they called "a direct attack on a women’s right to choose".[6] In 2012 they issued a resolution opposing conscience clauses that allow religious-affiliated institutions to be exempt from generally applicable requirements mandating reproductive healthcare services to individuals or employees.[7] In 2013 they issued a resolution stating in part, "Therefore, be it resolved that: The Society for Humanistic Judaism wholeheartedly supports the observance of Women's Equality Day on August 26 to commemorate the anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing women to vote; The Society condemns gender discrimination in all its forms, including restriction of rights, limited access to education, violence, and subjugation; and The Society commits itself to maintain vigilance and speak out in the fight to bring gender equality to our generation and to the generations that follow." [8]

In 2004 the Society for Humanistic Judaism issued a resolution supporting "the legal recognition of marriage and divorce between adults of the same sex," and affirming "the value of marriage between any two committed adults with the sense of obligations, responsibilities, and consequences thereof."[9] In 2010 they pledged to speak out against homophobic bullying.[10]

See also[edit]