About Alan

This is a site for unbelievers, doubters, and anyone else who wants to live without God in a world where most people don’t. It contains atheist/secular humanist thoughts, exchanges, quotes…much more.

My Story 

In March of 1979, after reading a Detroit Free Press article about a local “atheist rabbi” named Sherwin Wine, I visited the Birmingham Temple (Farmington Hills, MI).  As soon as I saw the Torah in the library and the Hebrew word adam (”humanity”) in large stylized letters on the front wall of the main room, I knew I had found my spiritual home.

I met the brilliant, charismatic Rabbi Wine, joined the congregation, and for the past 30 years, I have studied, practiced, and written several articles on Secular Humanistic Judaism and, of course, my book on the Torah from a humanistic perspective. 

Unlike most people who write about the Bible, I have a PhD in linguistics, which enables me to define and explain the key difference between Torah translation and rabbinical inferences about the text.  My motivation for writing the book is a sincere desire to let others know what the Torah really says, so that they can decide for themselves what its place should be in their lives.

I consider the fact that I am not a Biblical scholar to be another asset. It has often been noted that real innovations typically come from outside a field, because the practitioners pursue only the accepted lines of reasoning and inquiry.
That may be the case here.  Only an outsider would dare to challenge two millennia of established tradition, taken-for-granted thinking and Torah-centric Judaism. 

I bring no awe or reverence to the Torah – only a sincere desire to know what it says, with no interpretation, spin, or clerical filtering whatsoever.  This knowledge is what I offer the reader.

I am not a nonconformist by nature. I seek above all the truth. I would love the security that comes from being part of a large group of believers. But if I find what they believe (or profess to believe) to be “ego-dystonic” — not resonant with who I am — if I find it in fact unbelievable, then I can’t go along.

The decision to be a secular humanist was for me a realization of who I always was. As a youngster, I waited for God to show up and do something, as he did in the old stories. But after a period of wait-and-see, and especially after the Holocaust, I gave God his walking papers. He has not responded or even called me since.

It would be such a better world if people could unburden themselves of gods and their many demands.   This blog is dedicated to such a world.

42 Responses to “About Alan”

  1. on 17 Feb 2007 at 5:16 pmStacey

    Love your site. I identify w/you. I am a Jewish atheist, too. I am not sure if I am secular because I am active at my Reform shul. However, I am definitely a humanist. Humanity concerns me much more than the concept of a god.

  2. on 17 Feb 2007 at 9:24 pmAlan


    Thanks so much. :) Please stay tuned — I keep adding new stuff and fine-tune the old.

    Also, please pass the link to anyone who might be interested. My secular humanist views on most religious topics. I’m waiting to see what happens when an Orthodox rabbi or two reads it.

    Please check out the book - a secular-humanistic take on the Torah. I have a problem with the Reform folks who give it undue importance by spinning it. That’s partly what the book is about.

    It’s easy to answer your question: if you feel Jewish but don’t believe in God, you are a secular humanist.

    I’m going to check out your shmata.

    truth and reason…


  3. on 13 Apr 2007 at 4:38 pmTracy

    I just bought your book at Amazon. I read a couple of your articles at and was very intrigued!! I cannot wait to see what you have to say about the Torah. I am Catholic, culturally, but have always had issues with the Bible. I too am more concerned with humanity that life after death. Personally, I think that many of the teachings of my church were to scare people into submission. Perhaps it was with good intentions, but it was still wrong. I have a measly little BA in English, but part of my studies had to do with the translation of the Bible and because I had studied the Bible in grade school on a different level, I began to see the flaws in it. I no longer believe that it is the word of God as I was taught at Catholic school. The jury is out on the whole is there or isn’t there a God for me, but I think that it shouldn’t matter as much to people as it does. If there is, I’m sure he would be very disappointed at the way his name is used to fight. It’s clear to me that even if there is a God, man has used him to obtain his own means.

  4. on 13 Apr 2007 at 9:23 pmAlan


    Thanks for writing…and for your kind words. Bottom line, for me, is that religious true believers live in a different brain-world, their fantasies constantly reinforced by reaffirmation and group behavior. Scary.

    Stay tuned…I’m always putting new stuff up. If you think the site’s worth passing on, please do so.



  5. on 14 Apr 2007 at 9:00 pmJ Sveda

    Hi, I’m tring to form more detailed image of Torah and other books in Old Testament and I can’t stop wondering how Jews think of the texts, especially the merciless genocide described in Numbers, Deuteronomy and Book of Joshua. Can you shed some light on this? I’d be glad if you e-mailed the answer to me.

    Than you for this blog. I’m always fond of reading thougts and opinions of former believers.

  6. on 15 Apr 2007 at 1:59 amAlan

    Hi and thanks for writing!

    Some (Orthodox and Conservative) Jews read the whole thing as if it’s God’s word. I don’t know how they rationalize those awful parts, but I think somehow they do.

    Many Jews just ignore the bad parts of the Bible (Book of Joshua isn’t in the Torah), which is dishonest.

    Humanistic Jews accept it as the tribal writings of a primitive people, and leave it at that. We’ve come a long way.

    I’m not a former believer…I never did believe.

    Stay tuned — I’m always adding new stuff. :)

  7. on 16 Apr 2007 at 6:44 amJ Sveda

    > I’m not a former believer…I never did believe.

    Ah, I was confused by name of the blog. I thought you were a Jew and later became an atheist, because your posts so far are mainlz abou criticising beliefs of Jews and the Torah.

    I also never believed in any god, but I like Buddhism. Some time ago I began reading whole Old Testament. At the beginning, it was just for fun. Now I realized I need to write down my observations, for OT is very thick book and it’s impossible to remeber everything.

  8. on 16 Apr 2007 at 4:08 pmAlan

    Good luck with your reading! It took me weeks to get through the Torah.

    While my reference point and most of my examples are Jewish (because that is my original ethnicity/culture), my religion is kindness (Dalai Lama said that), and my congregation is humanity.



  9. on 25 Jun 2007 at 3:01 pmmike

    I see much sincerity in what all of you have to say, and it saddens me that the follies of humanities and their use and abuse of Scriptures have turned you off of God. That the God of the Bible can be severe at times there is no doubt; nonetheless, the belief that he is plain cruel is simply unfounded and based on a superficial understanding of His actions.
    I like the following site in that it endeavours to set the record straight about Atheism and the Bible.

  10. on 25 Jun 2007 at 7:09 pmAlan


    I appreciate your kind attempts to reach out to me, and I will visit the site you recommend.

    Please let me stipulate in advance that as a linguist, I make a clear distinction between translation and dishonest interpretation of a religious text (the practices which I enumerate in my book), so my integrity will not accept any attempts to invest religious texts with meaning that is not evident in an authoritative, modern translation of the original.

    Of course, God’s reputation (even if I’m wrong about it) is of little interest to me. He’s just another literary character who lightens up a little in the later Biblical writings, no doubt because humans’ moral sense improved.

    With these conditions, I will be happy to look at the site as openly as I can. Afterwards, I will respond to you here, unless you give me an email address.



  11. on 28 Jun 2007 at 9:44 pmFernando

    Shalom Alan,

    While looking for some answers to my confused Jewish and atheist identity, I realized reading your website that I know my self more than I thought. I have a PhD in Virology and I was raised as a secular jew; in addition my mom is 50% jew, 50% non-jew. I have 2 kids and the question that arises is how to transmit them a Jewish identity without contaminating them with the primitive/dangerous idea of god’s exsitence. I immigrated to Montreal, Canada, 5 years ago from Argentina, where the Judaism is lived pretty separated from religion. I was and still am very shocked due to the fact that the local Jewish community is so observant, or at least, claims to be. I expected this part of the world to be more progressive but I have to admit I am sadly disappointed in this regard. Last but not least, I still have trouble explaining my atheist judaism to non Jewish people.

    À la prochaine,


  12. on 30 Jun 2007 at 8:22 pmDiva Jood

    Found your site through the July 1-4 blogswarm against theocracy. Good site, and I will visit again.

    I am not an atheist - but I can say that the god of my understanding has come through a process of recovery and is certainly not the traditional view of god as held by Judaism or Christianity. In most respects, I think that god means Good Orderly Direction - or, when I’m really feeling perverse, Group of Drunks, but that’s a whole nother story.


  13. on 28 Jul 2007 at 5:43 pmSheila Bass

    Alan, I, am a long time member of the Birmingham Temple - and just entered my 7th year as President of our SHJ Group in Laguna Woods, California.
    Sherwin spent a whole weekend with us, just last month!

    I have been searching the web since Sherwin’s death and am thrilled with the wide acknowledgement, his life’s work is receiving.

    Hopefully, his untimely passing and the attention it has been receiving, will bring new, like-minded people, into the Movement.

    Sheila Bass.

  14. on 28 Jul 2007 at 8:56 pmAlan


    Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, it would be wonderful if secular humanism gets more positive attention. I’m disappointed by the Chicago Tribune’s non-coverage (front-page story when Falwell died), but the NY Times did a very nice article.

    Were we at the Temple at the same time (I was 1979-91)?

    thanks again and shalom,


  15. on 08 Aug 2007 at 10:03 pmAnonymous

    ALAN …came across your site you use words I have short understanding of would need to look up dictionary….If as however add the universe created giving a place that the human form survive ….that through brain as heart giving understanding as experience then the essence of creation being reveiled…the brain continues to develop as does our understanding as our ability to balance both, experience understanding being balanced crucial. Our lacking in such holding progress put it another way it be as walking a tightrope from earth to mars …..perhaps that stretching it a bit but point being balance must be *maintained…………… ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ALAN …an Atheist as a Jewish Atheist is but a stage in Spiritual Development….the next stage from such could be called a godly Atheist…or as a Jewish Godly Atheist such meaning you are an Atheist that haven taken the first step up Jacobs Ladder…..ALAN the power of creation such as we get closer without such balance it be dire deadly experience without understanding one could go mad …you do not wish that…understanding without experience you could become a raving lunatic …a mad raving lunitic………it be not that the power of creation holds back being cruel it be if balance not there it being fatal ….ALAN would you give a young child a loaded gun as a toy …of course not …as it be with power of creation…it gives as our capability grows in our ability to receive (understand experience) in a balanced manner …this we all in the process of learning…it be that some do not only learn for themselves it be they are to be teachers .. such it a hard task earning such responsanbility to represent the power of creation …. being as the servant the vehicle, point being Alan…its a long journey times we will feel downhearted….. times of joy… times in tears … present for humanity so many tears ……that some nations now face severe floodings……yet tomorrow could be all holding hands, crying out *ALLAH BE PRAISED *GOD BEING GREAT…….ALAN, I think the point be made that Allah as the Almighty give apology if any victims of disapointment…yet it be crucial it be done right …it be easy to put all in a state of contentment ..but such as that not the purpose that being that every soul through understanding as experience then reaching ultimate goal of creation, Spiritual Enlightenment. ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^

  16. on 08 Aug 2007 at 11:52 pmAlan

    We are both seeking spiritual enlightenment. I wish you luck.



  17. on 08 Nov 2007 at 8:12 pmpaul

    why youre all wet
    On Friday night, at 11:30, I lit a prayer candle and prayed to the spirit world. I asked Easter Lily Fryer, a beloved, baby-nurse to help me. She was a loving black woman who had cared for my babies years ago while I was at work. She succumbed to breast cancer some fifteen years ago. I fervently pleaded with this life-long devout Christian to send me Jesus, the Christ. I reminded her that she had known about Christ all her life as a Christian. I had only recently accepted his spiritual possibility, on faith, and only in recent years — by virtue of the power of his name to dispel unseen evil ones. But that’s another story.

    The following Sunday afternoon was Easter Sunday. As the sunset in baffled light through the maple trees in the late afternoon, a song rang in my head. Leaving my house, through the back door, I felt strangely compelled to sit on my front steps. This is something I never do. At first, I couldn’t place a song that I began to hear. It echoed in my mind. A Christmas tune? A Christmas song in April? It was the Christmas carol “Oh come all ye faithful” repeated over and over in my mind.

    Four or five feet up in the air above the front garden suddenly appeared an undeniable figure of a man in dazzling light. A man’s figure floating in light! I couldn’t shake it. Aware that it might mean something psychically, I frowned into the light, puzzled. A tidal wave of encompassing warmth washed over me. Love, peace, and serenity overwhelmed me. Bliss radiated from this figure of light.

    Later, I recalled my previous special request, and remembered that it was, indeed, Easter Sunday. I recalled my plea to Easter Lily to assist me. I had heard the song about Christ, had seen the figure of light, and had experienced bliss and rapture. I had observed what I realized later was the Christ-light.

    Since then I care little for any didactic about Jesus the man. I hum that song when I need reminding of the miracle sighting that I apparently had.

  18. on 08 Nov 2007 at 9:01 pmAlan

    Thanks for writing and sharing your experience with me. I lovingly and compassionately remind you that it was YOUR experience — a hallucination brought on by (for all I know) YEARS of thinking about, talking about, talking to, and imagining Jesus.

    It was a legitimate experience, but a subjective one. If I had been there with you, I would not have seen Jesus.

    Songs and thoughts often appear in my head too. But I know that beyond the limits of my brain, they are not real.

    When Jesus appears to me, I will be a believer, I promise you. Why can’t I get the personal visits that others get? Doesn’t he care? You’d think he would want to convert a Secular Humanist like me.



  19. on 08 Jan 2008 at 2:30 amAnonymous

    “You’d think he would want to convert a Secular Humanist like me”

    You’d think the secular humanist would want to be converted, and seek the Lord himself. Then again, he may be too busy being, well, “human”.

    “Unlike most people who write about the Bible, I have a PhD in linguistics”

    I has occured to me, that many “intellectuals” so-called are very conceited and opinionated, but I guess it comes with the teritory.

    I stumbled in here over google, and will almost quietly stumble on back out.(you may delete this drable)

  20. on 08 Jan 2008 at 5:19 pmAlan

    Please have the courage to give me your name, so we can have a proper dialogue.

    Such a dialogue would not include name-calling. “Conceited” and “opionated,” as well as “intellectual” enclosed by condescending quotation marks, are really insults to the number of years I have spent reading and thinking about religion and philosophy.

    If God is so powerful, why do I have to seek him? Can’t I get a personal visitation? ;)

    If you come back, take a look at the other comments to this post. There are many good, kind, non-conceited people who are trying to live good lives without religious fantasies.

    Thanks for writing.



  21. on 12 Feb 2008 at 10:14 amsandra

    Iam a Jewish atheist,I know it sounds contradictory and maybe it is,after all ,it all started with Abraham’s God.

    I consider that my Judaism is as mine as my gender or the colour of my eyes,it’s who Iam and what I am.

    I was educated in a Jewish orthodox school and a traditional(not religious) family and today I belong to an orthodox comunity.The thing is, I want the Jewish people to continue to exist and the big challenge is how?

    Why is it so important for me to continue … I consider us as not only a religion but a people.

    4000 years of history and I don’ want to be the link that breaks the chain!The question is :is it worth continuing, what for? the only real answer is just because .

    I don’t think ‘we’ are teaching anything to anybody or we are necessary in any special way other than to ourselves.

    I have three children and Im bringing them up to be knowledgeable of their history and culture with the hope that they will too chose to carry on.

    In discussions with my oldest one regarding God I put together something that I would like you to comment on.

    The God of Abraham

    What “God” did for Abraham and his descendants

    Gave him self conviction - established his convictions and carried them out in a total peaceful way ,without the need to proselytise or back it up with “strengths in numbers”

    He had the guts to be different

    He had an inner determination to succeed and a strong belief in his self worth

    He accepted that there was something bigger than himself and still acted in a determined ,self assured manner without expecting too much outside “help”.His strength came from within.

    He lived inside of a “bigger picture” and was ok with that.

    He had ambition to succeed financially as a source of power and self rule.

    He strived for knowledge and understanding.

    Lived a balanced life:family,work,health and spirit.

    He was an out of the box thinker.

    Was considerate towards others in a needy position.

    …he also made mistakes ,he handled a family situation in a short sighted manner and there is still no solution in sight.


  22. on 12 Feb 2008 at 8:37 pmAlan

    Hi Sandra…

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing your thoughts.

    Judaism is a 4,000-year-old culture — music, food, philosophy, language, literature, history — that SHOULD be continued, because that’s who we are. What, we’re all going to convert to Mormonism?

    But it has to be relevant to who we are. Priestly Judaism was relevant to ancient Jews. Rabbinic Judaism, for later ones.

    Today, Jewishness includes, among many other things, Philip Roth and Woody Allen, and, sadly, Dennis Prager.

    Humanistic Judaism, which eliminates God entirely from our world and our concern, is simply the result of coming out of the Enlightenment. But we still find ways to live rich Jewish lives, celebrating our holidays (reinterpreted) in ways we can live with (no prayer or Imaginary Divine Friends).

    Please see my post on “being Jewish” — in the Judaism archive.

    As for the declarations about what God supposedly gave Abraham and his descendants:

    (1) Abraham didn’t exist, God doesn’t exist, and the whole thing is a story, and we shouldn’t pretend that the unreal/imaginary is real. The Jews have a rich and fascinating history, but it doesn’t involve Abraham - or any of the events in the Torah.

    (2) As for the statements themselves, I recognize them as a blend of wisdom from many cultures, plus more modern psychological insights, plus business cliches (indeed, true out-of-the-box thinking is more often punished).

    (3) However, given that it’s all a story, if, in the God/Abraham story, this were actually recorded — via interactions or actual portrayed events — I would say OK, that’s what the text says (then we’re talking about details of the story).

    However, there is no such interaction between God and Abraham. God is making threats and telling Abe how great he (God) is — and promising land for loyalty. That’s all.

    The statements in general represent desirable qualities. But why give God credit?

    Shalom and thanks again for writing,


  23. on 14 Apr 2008 at 9:40 pmAnonymous

    I just found out about Jewish atheism and about your site. It’s wonderful! I see no contradiction with it at all and can identify closely with being Jewish and being a humanist, an environmentalist, and an animal lover (which doesn’t ti in to the traditional Judaism as much as it should. The whole “animals are for us to use” bit).

    Thank you for your site!

  24. on 15 Apr 2008 at 12:13 amAlan

    Thank you so much for writing! I really hope you’ll come back and stay in touch (didn’t catch your name).

    Secular Humanistic Judaism has been around for 30 years. We have great people and ideas, but poor PR (and no evangelism).

    I’m always putting up new stuff, Jewish and other, and I invite your comments. Too many secular Jews have been wrongly ostracised by traditional Jews. We are Jewish too!



  25. on 10 Oct 2008 at 12:55 amG E

    Very interesting point of view you have. I never would have come up with Jewish Atheism. Then I remember that Jewish is also a race of people.


  26. on 13 Oct 2008 at 4:35 pmAlan

    Hi, GE,

    Thanks for writing. I basically agree with you, except that “race” is a word with many meanings, none of them rigorous enough for science.

    Jews do share a common culture and many genetic characteristics, as a result of intra-marriage, but the same can be said of Italians, Kurds, or any other ethnicity.

    Even among the ancient Jews, there were unbelievers, which is probably why we find so many threats in the Torah about what will happen to them if they disobey God’s many commandments.

    Shalom…and I hope to hear from you again.

  27. on 18 Feb 2009 at 12:46 amrezasantorini

    The story begins at Michigan State University with a mechanical engineering professor named Indrek Wichman.

    Wichman sent an e-mail to the Muslim Student’s Association.

    The e-mail was in response to the students’ protest of the Danish cartoons that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist.

    The group had complained the cartoons were
    ‘hate speech’

    Enter Professor Wichman.

    In his e-mail, he said the following:

    Dear Moslem Association,
    As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU I intend to protest your protest.
    I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians,
    cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests
    (the latest in Turkey ), burnings of Christian churches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt , the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavian girls and women (called ‘whores’ in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland , and the rioting and looting in Paris France . This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many of my colleagues.
    I counsel you dissatisfied, aggressive, brutal,
    and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile ‘protests.’
    If you do not like the values of the West
    - see the 1st Amendment - you are free to leave.

    I hope for God’s sake that most of you choose that option . Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.

    I. S. Wichman
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering

    As you can imagine, the Muslim group at the university didn’t like this too well. They’re demanding that Wichman be reprimanded and the university impose mandatory diversity training for faculty and mandate a seminar on hate and discrimination for all freshmen.
    Now the local chapter of CAIR has jumped into the fray . CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, apparently doesn’t believe that the good professor had the right to express his opinion.

    For its part, the university is standing its ground in support of Professor Wichman, saying the e-mail was private, and they don’t intend to publicly condemn his remarks.

    Send this to your friends, and ask them to do the same.
    Tell them to keep passing it around until the whole country gets it.
    We are in a war. This political correctness is getting old and killing us.

  28. on 29 Oct 2009 at 9:49 amstephen Edou

    i want join your ministirys

  29. on 29 Oct 2009 at 5:24 pmAlan

    Reply to Rezasantorini:

    I am so sorry that I did not respond sooner to your most interesting post. The computer failed to notify me.

    I don’t find many others who share my sense of urgency and threat. Muslims respond to the truth with intimidation. It is THEY who need the courses in tolerance.

    If you get this, please see my latest posts on Islam.

    shalom (something the Muslims don’t want),


  30. on 29 Oct 2009 at 5:25 pmAlan


    If you are a real, sincere person, please repeat your request, and I will tell you what to do. I am actually ordained.



  31. […] Groundhog Day was this month.  It also happens to be the name of a pretty amusing movie starring Bill Murray.  I don’t know that I’ve thought of the movie as anything more than cotton candy for the mind, but I’m going to have to take another look at it after reading the excellent essay from Alan Perlman at Jewish Atheist entitled The Existential Message of “Groundhog Day”. Just as Secular Humanists have begun to adopt Festivus and make it a festival of their own, so should we consider co-opting Groundhog Day as a celebration of the predictability of life as a context in which it is WE who must change. […]

  32. on 05 May 2010 at 11:07 pmJoshua Berg

    I am from Detroit and am a Jewish Atheist. I will visit Birmingham Temple next time I am there. I think some of my relatives are members. I have come into my own as an atheist since moving from Michigan so that is why I am not familiar with him now.

  33. on 06 May 2010 at 1:59 amAlan


    Nice to hear from you. I hope you find kindred spirits at the Birmingham Temple. By “him,” I assume you mean Sherwin - remarkable man. Started with 16 families (and half walked out).

    Feel free to stay in touch. Hope you will.



  34. […] (Via Alan – The Jewish Atheist) […]

  35. on 09 Dec 2010 at 4:11 amcharles

    There’s no such thing as Torah now, the Pharisee Jews MANGLED it all up into Talmud, a racist book.

  36. on 11 Dec 2010 at 5:45 pmAlan

    Please check your facts. The Torah exists. It’s the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

    The Talmud is a huge compendium of instructions on how to apply the Torah’s terachings, plus a whole lot of other stuff about laws, morality, and “interpretation” (i.e., spin) of the Torah.

    The Torah wa not “mangled,” and if the Talmud is “racist” (i.e., if it implies that being Jewish is better than anything else)…well, it’s no different from any other religious tract. They all begin with the premise that ours is the only true path.

    I allow blantant disinformation such as your post because it gives me the opportunity to set matters straight.

    Any other contributions, anyone?



  37. on 08 May 2011 at 3:19 pmRichard and Rachael

    Thanks for a wonderful site. My spouse and I identify ourselves as Humanistic Jews, although until a few years ago, we had never heard of the label (and unfortunately, had never discovered the works of Sherwin Wine until quite late). Having relocated from urban New England to the semi-isolated small town life in West Virginia must have something to do with it. LOL

    We’re happy to have discovered your blog and hope you’ll continue to comment and educate. While there are a few more Humanistic Jewish “lights” on the horizon, they aren’t certainly enough to brighten the hearts of all of the conflicted Jews, struggling at shuls and movements where they don’t feel authentic. Congrats to you and the small cadre of those like you (including Peter Schweitzer, Adam Chalom, Robert Barr etc..)

    Thanks again (toda raba!) and keep posting!

    Richard and Rachael

  38. on 08 May 2011 at 7:26 pmAlan

    Dear Richard and Rachel,

    Thanks so much for your kind note…and welcome to The Jewish Atheist. I shamelessly urge you to email/forward any of my posts you consider worthy.

    Honesty and authenticity are among the highest values of Humanistic Judaism (and humanism generally). Rabbi Wine’s Birmingham Temple was the product of a long search for honesty. How could you do all that praying and begging and still keep your dignity and Jewishness?

    Humanistic Judaism was Sherwin Wine’s answer (no praying or worship), and I consider my 12 years with him as a special piece of good luck. He and a handful of others really created it, from the ground up.

    I am honored that you put me in the same category as Rabbis Barr and Chalom (whose congregation I was a member of for a few years). I also write and speak on Humanistic Judaism. If there’s any difference between me and them, it’s that I think we have to face the fact that much of what Jews celebrate, most certainly the Exodus, did not happen.

    Hope you had a nice Pesach (ancient shepherds’ holiday). There is no record of Jews in Egypt, as slaves or anything else, in fact, no evidence for anything in the Torah.

    I’m a hard-core secularist: if the Passover story didn’t happen, what’s there to celebrate? I wrote a Seder to answer that question. The plate had a bagel, symbolizing the unity of all human beings, a concept that the writer of Deuteronomy would not understand.

    There should be no compromise with the fact that these are just stories, that Hanukkah was a victory for a band of Jewish Taliban, the enemy of the Greek humanism we prize.

    But I see too many avowed humanists going back to those stories, spinning them, making them more important and profound than they are. They’re trying to have it both ways, talking about the same things as conservative Jews, but not having to profess belief in any of it.

    I sent the rabbi of the Birmingham Temple 3 copies of my book (I’ll send you a copy if you’re interested - just give me a snail-mail address). Never even got acknowledgement. Too threatening? Sherwin really liked it - hell, he was the guiding light.

    Thanks again for your kind words. Today’s post is in response.

    I do sympathize with the Jews who are struggling with the requirement that they act as if they believe in stories and fantasies.

    In recent years, I’ve become aware that Judaism is no better than any other group - Jews practice group pressure, ostracism, and outright racism (saying kaddish over marrying a goy); they assume all manner of superiority and exclusivity, as do all religions. That’s what religions have in common: they make people feel SO special.

    You’ll find posts on business and politics, which have nothing to do with being Jewish but arise from my application of humanistic principles in these areas.

    BTW, we just moved from the Northern suburbs of Chicago (LOTS of Jews) to rural New England, where Jews are few and far between. Irritating to see lots of churches, with their sappy mottoes out front, paying no taxes. Otherwise, tranquil and beautiful.

    I look forward to hearing from you again.



  39. on 22 May 2011 at 1:32 pmSommer Gildow

    Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  40. on 23 May 2011 at 6:47 pmAlan

    Hi Sommer,

    The WordPress platform was selected for me by the guy who first built the site. He started with a photo and elongated the sky and sea so that I appear to be loooking out at a vast space.

    The heart of a blog is content. If you have anything interesting to say, you will have visitors.

    all best,


  41. on 22 Jun 2011 at 6:07 pmAlan


    Please see my reply #40.

  42. on 17 Oct 2011 at 4:10 pmwanlinnamma

    The monstrous antagonist chicago website design of the facts in fact is pure often not the press — methodical, contrived and counterfeit, but the fib, untiring, winning, and unrealistic. Reliance in myths allows the cheer of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

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