On the Move

June 2015 E-Newsletter

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March 4-6, 2016
Our movement is growing. Heartiest congratulations and mazel tov to the five new Israeli Humanist Rabbis.

Welcome to "On the Move."  Feel free  to share this E-Newsletter with friends and family.  Just click the FORWARD EMAIL link below.


SHJ board member Sheila Malcolm was recently interviewed by The Humanist Hour, a monthly one-hour talk show produced by the American Humanist Association (AHA).  The interview took place at the AHA conference in Boulder, Colorado.  In the interview, Sheila explains the beginnings of Humanistic Judaism, the liturgy, and the basis for cultural Jewish celebrations such as bar/bat mitzvah and intermarriage.


Sheila's portion of the hour-long podcast begins at the 0:29 minute mark.  Click here to listen to this excellent interview.


Recently, more than 50 teens, young adults and chaperones came together in Michigan for SHJ's annual youth Conclave.  The theme for this year's session was "Identities."  Together, participants explored the many identities that we assume and that are assigned to us. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be Jewish? What does it mean to be a humanist? How do we define ourselves? And how do others define us? These questions and others were examined in both formal workshops and informal discussions as well as through shared group experiences.

The weekend experience included Shabbat programming with Rabbi Miriam Jerris.  Students participated in the development of the Shabbat service by engaging in small group exercises.  Click here to access the documents used so you can develop meaningful Shabbat experiences of your own!


Photo credit: Aleya Schwartz

Community service projects were an integral part of the weekend as well, with students making fleece blankets for Project Linus, and serving at a food pantry in nearby Flint, Michigan.  Through these projects, participants were able to connect with the local community, and understand the importance of giving back.


Photo credit: Aleya Schwartz


Conclave coordinator, Rabbi Jodi Kornfeld, highlighted the details of a project referred to as the "Identity Wall".  The project allowed participants to reflect on roles they play in their communities, congregations, schools, and so on.  Kornfeld stated that this "on-going project consisted of different colored post-it notes on which a person could write 'I am...' filling in the descriptor.  These were available the entire weekend, and could be filled out at any time.  By the end of the Conclave, two wall spaces were filled (see photo).  Many of the participants took pictures of the wall, a sure indication that it resonated with them."  Responses included notes that read "I am a musician"; "I am a story teller"; "I am an environmentalist"; "I am a believer" and "I am a Humanist" among many others.

Conclave participant Libby Otto shared her thoughts about the experience.  "My friends and family have asked me what's so great about [Conclave] and I tell them the same thing every time.  The bonds that I have made with other teens who believe the same things I do...are unbreakable."


Photo credit: Aleya Schwartz


Participant Abigail Ulman goes on to say that Conclave "allows Jewish teens to connect over their own non-traditional form of Judaism.  Through Conclave, I have explored Humanistic Judaism more deeply."  Conclave, Abigail says, "is a warm, welcoming, fun, and judgment-free zone. It is a meaningful experience for any participant of any age."


Click here for a YouTube video montage of Conclave 2015!

Contact the Society for Humanistic Judaism 


Larry Lawrence, President 

Rabbi Miriam Jerris  

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