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The Society for Humanistic Judaism

The City Congregation is an affiliated community of the Society forHumanistic 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 magazine, Humanistic Judaism, available to its members and by subscription. SHJ’s social justice initiative “Jews for a Secular Democracy” calls for religion out of government.

A Diverse Jewish Community

The City Congregation was founded in 1991 as the New York City affiliate of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Our members come from many different backgrounds. We hold many different opinions and beliefs. We joined the congregation in search of something cultural, spiritual, intellectual, or social. What we have in common is a commitment to our shared secular values and future.

“Both of us were born and raised in observant Jewish families. For the first time in our over 60 years, we can celebrate Shabbat, and our Jewish heritage, without mouthing words that have no meaning for us. — Devera & Michael

Many Jewish Backgrounds

Some of us grew up unaffiliated, secular, or “just Jewish.” The City Congregation is our first Jewish community and we came to it knowing little or nothing, or maybe even a considerable amount about Judaism. We wanted a connection to our heritage for ourselves or our children.

Some of us had religious upbringings that were either perfunctory or rigorous, but traditional teachings and rituals no longer appeal to us. We may have spent years affiliated elsewhere or “synagogue shopping” without satisfaction. The City Congregation allows us to embrace the Judaism we cherish in a form that doesn’t require us to compromise our beliefs and values.