Throughout time, humans have created ceremonies and rituals to help us mark our passage through life, from birth to death. These observances are important to us as individuals and they help to bind families and communities together. Such rituals are frequently associated with religious, theistic belief. But they don’t have to be.
Many Jews feel deeply connected to our Jewishness through the holidays, stories, music, language, foods, history, values, and traditions that have been passed down to us. We experience our Jewishness culturally rather than religiously. We identify as cultural, secular, non-theistic, or Humanistic Jews. Some of us have identified throughout our lives as non-religious Jews. Others come to secular, cultural Judaism as adults. We share the desire to observe Jewish traditions in ways that are consistent with our secular beliefs and we want to express our connection to our Jewishness through language that resonates with our non-theistic values. We find meaning, comfort, inspiration, and connection through observance of lifecycle ceremonies and holidays that speak to us.
Jewish traditions lend themselves to non-theistic interpretations that are rich in beauty and content. Secular lifecycle ceremonies – baby namings, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings and commitment ceremonies, and funerals and memorials – weave together age-old Jewish traditions with modern meaning and secular values.
Secular Judaism embraces same-sex and intercultural couples and their families. Lifecycle ceremonies are enriched by the inclusion of each individual’s heritage.