The Game Isn’t Rigged – A High Holidays Sermon

That means that Judaism beyond God is courageous. Not in the run-into-a-burning-building sense, necessarily, but in an everyday kind of way that looks for us to demonstrate integrity.

Humanistic Judaism is definitely an exercise in swimming against the currents. After all, it’s easy to support part of something, and to do things that are familiar and comfortable for us, even if we maybe don’t fully believe in the cause. Many people we know do this, and it’s understandable: perhaps doing something more is just not that important to the person, or maybe it’s beneficial for them to get along to go along.

But Humanistic Judaism is built on integrity, and integrity can mean taking uncomfortable stands. For many, it would be easier to just blend into another liberal Jewish community setting and do what everyone else does. For others, simply the act of saying what one believes is an act of courage. And Humanistic Jewish communities and leaders are often taken to task for not saying what everyone else says.

And let’s not be mistaken: creating, or even joining a community of fellow Humanistic Jews can be viewed as a survival strategy. But it also takes courage, because our communities are small and joining together to create community is a risk. But it’s a risk we take, because we need others to help strengthen our resolve when the courage is slow in coming.

Joining a Humanistic Jewish community can mean some level of isolation because we’re not anything close to “typical synagogues” in many respects. We don’t simply cede control over what we say to a siddur composed of god-intoxicated texts, some of which are more than two-thousand years old. We are often mistaken for a cult or fringe group: “You’re Jews for Jesus, right?” When visitors or relatives come to events, they want to know why: Why no Shema? Why a different blessing? Why no Mourner’s Kaddish like I’m used to?

By declaring ourselves as Humanistic Jews, we open ourselves up to much more questioning. But we’re here because we know that Humanistic Judaism is valuable, and we want to share our convictions both with one another and with the broader world.