IN THIS ISSUE: Inclusion and the Soul of a Synagogue; Darwin Day 2018; Passover is Coming; Secular Americans Are Stronger Together; New Entry on Humanistic Judaism; HuJews Last Chance! and more.
February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month
In a recent article for Jewish Currents, "Inclusion and the Soul of a Synagogue," Rabbi Jeremy Kridel of Machar: The Washington Congregation for Humanistic Judaism draws from his own and others' personal experiences to powerfully describe the challenges that persist for individuals with disabilities and their families to access the Jewish community. He explains:

Being able to get in the only the beginning. You have to be able to stay and participate.... 

Imagine the embarrassment that comes from a meltdown in a very public place - for the autistic person, for the person's family, and for those around them. And if a child has a meltdown, attracting disapproving attention from others, what message is conveyed?  Answer: You're not welcome here.

...those leading the charge to innovate and revive Jewish communal life are failing to give the full range of Jewish persons an explicit place in their work.

Rabbi Kridel points to a number of initiatives as positive first steps but identifies the larger issue:

The true opposite of exclusion is not accommodation or special needs: it is inclusion. Inclusion takes many forms. Real inclusion means an approach to community life that assumes that all events and programs should involve persons with disabilities and neurological differences. It means implementing principles of universal design so that inclusion is seamless and everyone benefits from the changes we make. Think about curb cuts, the places on street corners where a ramp has been put it, as an example of universal design: the ramp was put there for wheelchairs, but a delivery-person with a cart or a parent pushing a stroller benefits, too. What we do to benefit one set of needs can benefit everyone. It is a long-term approach to community life....

You can read the full article here.
Darwin Day 2018
Monday, February 12 is International Darwin Day, intended to " inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin."

In short, it's a wonderfully humanistic holiday!

Many SHJ members and several of our SHJ-affiliated communities will be hosting events celebrating Darwin Day. In Connecticut, leaders from the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County, Cary Shaw and John Levin, co-chair the  Southern Connecticut Darwin Day Committee. Their 10th Annual Darwin Day Dinner received great coverage in the Stamford Advocate:

"It's to honor the man and his achievements, but also honoring the power of rational thought and humanity to make life better," Shaw said.
Passover is Coming!  Do You Use a Secular Humanistic Haggadah at Your Seder?
You can find a variety of Passover resources available on the SHJ website including several different Haggadot for order. There's still time to get them for this year's seder! 

Here's what we heard from one person who ordered last year:
"I had recently learned of Humanistic Judaism, after raising my children in another denomination, and felt that the second seder of Passover would be a good opportunity for me to try incorporating Humanistic Judaism into my Jewish practice. So I ordered one copy each of the several Haggadahs offered on the SHJ website and settled on 'The Liberated Haggadah' by Rabbi Peter Schweitzer. I then ordered more of those for my guests and hosted what many of them said was the most meaningful seder they've ever been to! And that includes several prominent volunteers from my Jewish community and some young people involved in our local Hillel."
                    -- Michael B., South Florida
Please click here to order one or more of our Humanistic Haggadot.
Secular Americans are Stronger Together
The Society for Humanistic Judaism is honored to serve as a member organization of the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), whose mission is " to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all."

SCA recently hosted a summit for the leaders of its member organizations, to share ideas and strategies for combating a rise in religious influence on government. Alongside the ongoing lobbying of Congress on the national level, there was a recognition that more organizing on the local level is needed. To that end, SCA announced a partnership with the United Coalition of Reason, which has been working to build local networks. SHJ is excited to see this work grow and to involved our local affiliated congregations in upcoming efforts.

SHJ Executive Director Paul Golin (right) with Rebecca Hale, President of American Humanist Association (left) and Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, at the Secular Coalition for America's leadership summit, February 3, 2018. (Photo: Mark W. Gura) Has a New Entry About Secular Humanistic Judaism
For over a decade, has been a kind of one-stop-shop for Jewish knowledge, offering " thousands of articles, videos and other resources to help you navigate all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life - from food to history to beliefs and practices." The site recently updated its entry about our movement, "What is Secular Humanistic Judaism?"

If you are curious and want a refresher on the basics and origin of the movement, or if you want to share with folks in your life who might, this entry is a good place to start. 
HuJews Conclave 2018 - Last Chance to Register!
SHJ's annual youth conference is a transformative experience open to high school and college students, including both those who grew up in our movement and those who are simply interested in meeting other like-minded young people.

The next HuJews Conclave will convene in Philadelphia, PA, on March 23-25, 2018.
The theme of the weekend is "Legacy: Your Place in Jewish History." It promises to include "historic Philadelphia, service learning, and doughnuts."

CSJO Conference Coming to Chevy Chase, MD
Our friends and allies at the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations (CSJO) are hosting their 48th Annual Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland, from May 25th to the 28th. The theme is "Courage, Conviction and Jewish Resistance."  

"The keynote addresses and workshops on Saturday and Sunday will, as always, be top notch, presented by a mix of internal and external experts. On Saturday, we will all go for a twilight bus tour of the many monuments in Washington, D.C.  As usual, Sunday's workshops culminate in our farewell dinner, which, in turn, is followed by the world-famous talent show where everyone has the opportunity to show off their many (or few!) talents."

Register here for the CSJO Annual Conference.
Thank you for your ongoing interest in and support of the Society for Humanistic Judaism,

The Staff and Board of SHJ
See what's happening on our social media sites