God-Optional Judaism: Alternatives for Cultural Jews Who Love Their History, Heritage, and Community

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Citadel Press, 2001 - Religion - 226 pages
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Here is a handbook for Jews looking for creative and meaningful new ways to express their beliefs. Many Jews feel that their Judaism is best expressed through community deeds, a love of nature, a celebration of Jewish history and culture, and an ongoing evolution of Jewish identity rather than prayers and God-centered rituals.

God-Optional Judaism provides alternative, often nontheistic ways to celebrate every Jewish holiday and all of the rites of passage in life, including baby-naming ceremonies, bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, and the Sabbath. For cultural Jews, emphasis is put on the historical roots of a holiday (or occasion) and its moral or spiritual meaning to the Jewish people as well as to the rest of humanity. For instance, many Jews who celebrate Passover want to acknowledge not only the end of Jewish bondage in Egypt thousands of years ago, but also the end of the world slave trade in modern times and the persistence of slavery in some parts of the world today.

God-Optional Judaism discusses the historical evolution of Jewish religion and culture and takes up the question of what it means to be a "cultural Jew", citing anecdotes and using quotes from Jewish people across the country. But primarily it is a how-to book that provides specific ways to practice cultural Judaism with ceremonies, rituals, blessings, and songs. The book also provides resource information about how to find or found your own alternative Sunday school or congregation in your community.

 

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Contents

Part One What Kind of Jew Am
3
Jewish History
11
Alternatives to the Big Three
39
The Elements of the Jewish Holidays
53
Fall Holidays
60
Hanukkah
82
Spring Holidays
96
Summer Holidays
118
Baby Naming
143
BarBat Mitzvah
152
Weddings
165
Funerals
180
Part Four Now What?
193
Holiday Resources
213
Selected Bibliography
219
Copyright

Shabbes
130

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About the author (2001)

Seid is a certified leader in the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations and was the director of the Jewish Cultural Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many years.

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