A Secular Synagogue? Judaism Beyond God (Grand Rapids)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Women's City Club, 254 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI, View Map

Presented by Jeffrey Falick, Rabbi, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion


Humanistic Judaism is an intriguing synthesis of the cultural and religious traditions of Judaism combined with a principled commitment to secular Humanistic values. It was first introduced to the world at Greater Detroit’s Birmingham Temple in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine whom Time Magazine dubbed “the atheist rabbi.” Like many other thinkers, Wine understood that Judaism had always been more than a religion. It was also the ever-changing and evolving cultural civilization of the Jews. He and his followers challenged themselves to adapt their Jewish heritage to their secular Humanistic principles. What emerged was the world’s first secular synagogue.

Today Humanistic Judaism is home to several thousand people who celebrate their Jewish heritage while embracing the universal value system of secular Humanism. How does this all work? Is it really possible for a religious culture to adopt a Humanistic world view? What is it about Jewish culture and civilization that makes this synthesis workable? Rabbi Falick will address these questions and more in his presentation.

About the Speaker

Jeffrey L. Falick is the Humanistic rabbi of The Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Originally a member of the liberally theistic Reform Jewish denomination, Rabbi Falick became involved in Humanistic Judaism in 2009 after a lifetime of searching and questioning. His involvement in Humanistic Judaism includes his roles as president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and member of the Executive Committee of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

Rabbi Falick received his B.A. (1984) from the University of Texas at Austin, and his M.A. (1987) and rabbinical ordination (1989) from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Professionally, he has served as executive director at Jewish student centers in Illinois and Miami, followed by over a decade as assistant executive director at the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center in Miami. He is a member of the American Humanist Association and the Center for Inquiry. He maintains a personal blog called The Atheist Rabbi. Further information about Humanistic Judaism and The Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism can be found at the congregation’s website.

He is married to Arthur Liebhaber. His children, Aliza (Jason) Mann and Ilana Falick live in Maryland.

Additional Details

Meetings are open to the Public

After the meeting, join us at Vitale's Restaurant, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

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Cost: FREE / Suggested Donation $5. Ways to Support CFI & Donate Online

Contact: Jennifer Beahan, , 616-698-2342