A letter from a reader about Expanding CJL's horizons

July 22, 2007:

In the fall of 1956, Rabbi Irving Levey came to my room in Lockhart to meet the person who signed the freshman religious registration (yes, we had them then) as a "Jewish agnostic." Who could foretell that junior year I'd be sitting next to him on the Murray-Dodge sanctuary's bimah as president of Hillel?

Over the years in Buffalo, our family belonged sequentially to traditional, Conservative, and Reform synagogues and, finally, to a non-affiliated Havurah congregation. When Toni and I retired to Florida in 2005 we hit pay dirt – Sarasota's 300-member Congregation of Humanistic Judaism. It is affiliated with the Society of Humanistic Judaism founded in Detroit in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine to provide "a nontheistic alternative that embraces a human-centered philosophy combining the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas." There are 30 such congregations nationwide and more overseas, including Israel. Who knew? Thank you, Google.

Being Jewish has always meant different things to different adherents. I've always felt it involved an ethnic "tribal" attachment more than any theistic belief, let alone faith. I felt that way as a teenager, and I still feel that way as a golden-ager. Hopefully, Princeton's Center for Jewish Life will expand its horizon to include this youngest branch of our ancient religion, attracting more students who seek immersion in Jewish culture and socialization without theological overtones.

Mazel tov to CJL and to Princeton Hillel on its 60th anniversary.

Sarasota, Fla.

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