Being Secular and Jewish

In today’s Jewish world, a whole range of post-denominational identities has popped up. For those that took part in our annual reader survey, you saw just a few: Just Jewish, Unaffiliated, Secular.

Secular Judaism is probably the most misunderstood of the bunch. It’s not “more reform than reform,” nor is it an absence of Judaism in one’s life.

This movement does something that, while some might say is heretical, shows the great flexibility and power of Judaism. Secular Judaism transforms Judaism into something that is not religious at all. It recognizes Judaism’s valid forms of culture and history without the religious aspects.

To that end, Secular Culture and Ideas, a section on has several personal essays on being a secular Jew. They range from lawyer Alan Dershowitz to scholar Ilan Stavans and many in between.

As a telling sign that this area of Judaism still needs further exposure, Katie Halper recalls:

I recently went on a young adult retreat, whose aim was to explore the definition of Judaism. When several people assumed I was Reform I explained I was secular. When they responded, “Oh cool. What synagogue do you go to?” or “Nice. Where do you celebrate Shabbat?” (MORE)

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