Cultural Jews have a passion for their Jewish identity, yet they struggle to express it in ways that are consistent with their beliefs. They are far from alone. In fact, a rapidly increasing number of Jews throughout the world identify themselves as cultural, non-religious Jews.
According to an important study of the Jewish population released by the Graduate Center of The City University of New York (AJIS 2001), nearly one-half of American Jews identify themselves as secular or somewhat secular. One-half of American Jews are completely unaffiliated, and do not even belong to a community center or other Jewish organization. Yet, cultural Jews are vastly underserved by existing programs. We are working to fill this void.
For a true renaissance in Jewish life, cultural, unaffiliated and disaffected Jews need to be engaged with compelling programs that address their needs. The future of Judaism depends on reaching this community and enabling them to celebrate their Jewish identity and pass it on to the next generation.
Cultural Jews understand Judaism as the history, culture, civilization, ethical values and shared experiences of the Jewish people. Their connection to their heritage is found in the languages, literature, art, dance, music, food and celebrations of the Jewish people. It is not religious beliefs that connect them to each other, but the entire civilization of their extended Jewish family.
The Jewish community needs to reach out to cultural, secular and non-religious Jews. We need to welcome cultural Jews with more programs and services, and offer celebrations and education consistent with their beliefs. We need to train and ordain more rabbis and leaders to help secular, cultural and Humanistic Jews celebrate their Jewish identity with honesty and integrity. We need to accept that the broader Jewish community has largely failed to meet the needs of non-religious, cultural, secular and Humanistic Jews. We need your help to bring about this renaissance in Jewish life.