Our mission at Secular Humanist Jewish Circle is to celebrate cultural humanistic, and secular Judaism.
We see ourselves as a caring and stimulating community which although secular and non-theistic, proudly values our Judaism and what we have in common with all other Jews. We welcome everyone who connects with the history and culture of the Jewish people and the principles of Humanistic Judaism.
After attending an inspiring lecture about Humanistic Judaism in February 2009, a group of Tucson locals joined together as a passionate community with the goal of establishing a humanistic Jewish community in Tucson. As more Tucson Jews gained interest, the community gained traction and became known as Secular Humanist Jewish Circle.
Today, we plan and sponsor educational and social events to celebrate the history and tradition of Jewish holidays. We celebrate the High Holidays, Chanukah, Purim, Passover and Sukkot. SHJC meets in libraries, community centers, and members’ homes - the rotation of locations addresses the wide geographic area of our members.
What is Secular Humanistic Judaism:
Humanistic Judaism emphasizes Jewish culture and Jewish history as the source of Jewish identity without prayer and theism.
Humanistic Judaism was established in Detroit, Michigan in 1963 after Rabbi Sherwin Wine started the first Humanist Jewish congregation, the Birmingham Temple. A non-theist alternative in contemporary Jewish life, Humanistic Judaism seeks a connection with Jewish culture, tradition, and history.
At Secular Humanist Jewish Circle, we:
Draw strength from the history, culture, and achievements of our people
See Jewish history as testimony to the continuing struggle for universal human dignity
Create and observe secular interpretations of Jewish rituals, services, and celebrations
Include study, questioning, discussion, and social justice as examples of Jewish values
Believe that action to create social justice is an affirmation of our Jewish identity
Seek solutions to human conflicts that respect the freedom, dignity, and self-esteem of every human being
Believe that human beings have the responsibility for solving human problems
Hold values independent of a supernatural authority
Rely on sources such as reason, observation, experimentation, creativity, and artistic expression to address questions about the world and to seek understanding of our experiences
A collection of photos from SHJC events
Meet our SHJC Board Members
Susan has a Ph.D. in social work and has worked in the Jewish community for most of her personal and professional life. She is married and has three children and six grandchildren. She is one of the founders of the Secular Humanist Jewish Circle and is committed to the mission of providing a Jewish community for everyone who wants to find a home where their ethical and cultural beliefs can flourish and be sustained.
Dee is a Jew by choice and converted about 11 years ago. She doesn't regret it one bit, even though her mom was a bit surprised at the time. Dee is from England and is sure Jews are the same there as they are here - in England they are just a bit quieter! Dee has made a lot of friends in SHJC and has always felt very welcome. She enjoys seeing everyone when we have our get togethers in person or over Zoom.
Kent has been secular since he was 15 years old. That led to debates with the rabbi in his confirmation class. Being Jewish has been an enrichment in his life: a sense of relation to the past; a concern for minorities; appreciation for the values of learning, questioning and caring about human life; a concern for the future of life on Earth.
Pat does so many varied, and often behind-the-scenes, jobs for SHJC. She takes minutes at Board meetings (except when she’s off on an adventuresome bike trip), she helps out with the monthly newsletter for members, she sends notes and cards as needed, she helps moderate our book club discussions, and she helps organize events.
Becky realized in college that she was a non-theist Jew. In 2010 when she learned that a Steering Committee was forming to possibly start a Secular Humanist Jewish congregation here in Tucson, she was thrilled and quickly became part of the group. Becky has been on the Board of Secular Humanist Jewish Circle since it started in 2010 and SHJC continues to be a source of joy in her life.
Hailing from Michigan, Judith has lived in Tucson for 3 years and was very glad when she discovered Secular Humanist Jewish Circle. She has two grandsons and is long retired from her work at University of Michigan Hospital, where she worked with statistical analysis of medical research data.
David Sattinger grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When he was about 9 he had a revelation that Man created God in his own image — Sunday School had it backwards. Nevertheless he had his Bar Mitzvah in the Synagogue on Hill Street, but later started exploring the Quakers in the Friends house across the street. (The Rabbi commented that some of his best Jews were Friends.) It did not occur to him until he joined the SHJC in Tucson that he had in fact been a Secular Humanist Jew all along. Now he says there are some things in this world that are God-given, and some things that are man-made. Math and science are God-given; religion is man made.
Joan is from New York City where she taught early childhood and bilingual (Spanish) classes in disadvantaged neighborhoods for 25 years. She was involved with the Ethical Culture movement (a branch of Humanism) from the age of 9 and has been a lifelong Humanist. After moving to Tucson in 1996, she joined the Humanist Community of Tucson, later serving as its president for 6 years. In 2022, she found the Secular Humanist Jewish Circle and is delighted to be a part of this wonderfully stimulating group.
Rabbi Jack Silver has served as our rabbi since 2017. He resides in Tempe with his wife Sharon. In addition to providing Shabbat and Holiday services in person and via tele-video, he is always happy to assist members with life cycle events and questions about Humanistic Judaism.
Rabbi Jack Silver