Originally published in The Jewish Advocate.
NEWTON – Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Newton, known as Kahal B’raira, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Its name means “Community of Choice,” which also happens to sum up the core philosophy of Humanistic Judaism, which adherents describe as “nontheistic” Judaism. In the absence of a supernatural authority commanding people how to be Jewish, Humanistic Jews rely on the choices of human beings and focus on pursuing the ethical choices in their lives.
Kahal B’raira does not yet have a rabbi, although recently the congregation took its first steps at professionalizing its operation by creating three part-time positions. And while its administrator, Sunday School principal, and youth director are surely working hard, a glimpse around the room at the dozens of volunteers at the congregation’s open house last Sunday proved that the communal spirit in which the group was founded runs strong.
“They’re one of our oldest affiliates,” said Rabbi Miriam Jerris, Community Development Coordinator for the Society for Humanistic Judaism, the national organization linking Humanistic Jewish congregations, communities and havurot in the United States. “KB came out of the ’60s and relies very strongly on volunteerism and consensus decision making. They have a huge spirit.” Continue reading