The Society for Humanistic Judaism

shjThe City Congregation is an affiliated community of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, a non-theistic Jewish denomination established in 1969 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine. SHJ comprises more than 30 secular Jewish communities in the United States and Canada.

SHJ’s mission is to mobilize people to celebrate Jewish identity and culture in a manner consistent with a humanistic philosophy of life. It assists in organizing and supporting congregations throughout North America. SHJ publishes a quarterly topical journal, Humanistic Judaism, available to its members and by subscription.


HuJews, founded in 2007, is the teen and young adult division of SHJ. It provides secular Jewish resources for college students and hosts an annual Teen and College Conclave.

Sister congregations

The City Congregation has sister congregation relationships with Kol Hadash in the Chicago area and Kol Haverim in Ithaca, New York.

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine (1928-2007)sherwin3

Sherwin Wine, the founder of Humanistic Judaism, was a rabbi at a Reform congregation in Detroit before serving as an Army chaplain in Korea in 1957 and 1958. In 1963 he left the Reform movement and established The Birmingham Temple in Michigan as the first secular humanistic Jewish congregation, developing a philosophy and liturgy that emphasized Jewish culture without reference to a deity. He organized the Society for Humanistic Judaism as a national movement in 1969 and was instrumental in building a network of related organizations including the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, and the Humanist Institute.

In 2003, The American Humanist Association named Rabbi Wine Humanist of the Year, an award previously given to such notables as Stephen Jay Gould, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Margaret Sanger.

Rabbi Wine is the author of several books, including Judaism Beyond God, Staying Sane in a Crazy World and A Provocative People: A Secular History of the Jews. He was killed in an automobile accident in Morocco in 2007.

Read Rabbi Peter Schweitzer’s eulogy to Rabbi Sherwin Wine. Read Rabbi Wine’s obituary in The Los Angeles Times.


International Institute of Secular Humanistic Judaism

The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism is the intellectual and educational arm of the Humanistic Judaism movement. It was established in 1985 to train rabbis, leaders, teachers, and spokespersons for the movement. The Institute’s biennial Colloquium program brings together scholars, writers, and artists to investigate issues of Jewish identity and Jewish survival in the contemporary world. IISHJ’s publishing arm produces scholarly and popular books on secular humanistic Judaism.


Tmura is the Israeli branch of IISHJ.


Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations

The Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations is an umbrella group of independent organizations that promote a secular expression of Jewish heritage with particular emphasis on the culture and ethics of the Jewish people.


Association of Humanistic Rabbis

The Association of Humanistic Rabbis is a professional association that provides rabbis in the Humanistic movement with fellowship, collegial support, and educational resources.


The International Federation for Secular & Humanistic Judaism

The International Federation for Secular & Humanistic Judaism promotes Humanistic Judaism in more than a dozen countries worldwide.

The City Congregation is registered with, which provides resources and support for people in interfaith relationships.


Jewish Outreach Institute

The Jewish Outreach Institute The Jewish Outreach Institute is a national, trans-denominational organization reaching out to unaffiliated and intermarried families, and helping the organized Jewish community better welcome them in.

Big Tent Judaism

JOI’s Big Tent Judaism is a coalition of institutions working to create a more inclusive Jewish community.