sp904_Best_Friends_Forever_2_1.jpg
The following is an explanation of my post which appears below.

The following is an explanation of my post which appears below.

Sherwin Wine did not believe in Heaven. For that matter he did not believe in Gehena either. So if Wine was right—he is not around in body or soul to see the great mourning that has accompanied his death by his followers and admirers. If Wine was wrong—his soul is now being judged, and he can see all of his co-religionists in their earthly dimension mourn his passing. If Wine was wrong, his soul is still alive, yet he cannot communicate his error to his flock. Wine will go to heaven – Kol yisrael yesh lahem chelek l’olam haba – I am not implying anywhere that he will not go to heaven.

The irony of Sherwin Wine’s fiery death last week does not stop there, and perhaps due to my writing was clearly lost on our readership and for that I apologize.

In synagogues across the world – except for Israel which is a week ahead of us – we read the Ten Commandments and the Shma. The Ten Commandments are part of the basis for Western Civilization. The Shma is part of the foundation for monotheism and Jewish belief. Sherwin Wine disposed of the Shma, and revoked the special nature of the Ten Commandments.

Students of Jewish history cannot escape the realization that belief in the oneness of God, and rejection of worship of many gods, is at the root of Jewish identity and belief. Whether you eat rice on Passover or not, celebrating Passover is evidence of a historic Jewish belief in God. Even the Jews that rejected the authority of the Rabbis, and became separated from the Jewish people – believed in God. The Jews that lived in pre-mishnaic Ethiopia, held fast to their belief in the oneness of God. The Jews that were sent into exile, the Jews that survived the centuries of subjugation and estrangement – held fast to their belief in God, even as their observance undulated.

Many Jews do not believe in God, and I do not judge them. We have free will to believe in whatever we want. We have freedom to do and say and practice as we please. We also have the responsibility to be intellectually honest.

Sherwin Win did not found the “Society for Humanist Jews.” In other words, a group of Jews that deny the existence of God and want to organize themselves around principles of Secular Humanism.

Wine founded the “Society of Humanist Judaism,” which created a new set of religious beliefs in stark and obvious contradiction to Judaism, and labeled it Judaism. In fact he believed it replaced Judaism. He denied nearly every pillar of Jewish religious belief— whether part of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox—and substituted fundamental elements of Judaism for his own version of Secular Humanism. Then using his great charisma and oratory skills attracted many followers and adherents to his new religion.

Many Jews, ignorant of Judaism, latched on to Wine as a spiritual leader. He inspired deep affection, loyalty, and admiration among his adherents. In the 1999 he started to “ordain rabbis.” [The previously published assessment of his rabbinic training has been removed —why bother trying to prove that these humanist rabbis do not have proper training when they are being trained in Sherwin Weinism – and not Judaism?]

Growing up in Detroit, I had a very good view of the entire endeavor. I watched as Wine’s Temple took in Jews and non-Jews with broken families, intermarried families, and families of Jews who had no affiliations, and converted them to his religious convictions. He told them they were part of a New Jewish movement that had transcended the need for the Torah and God, and evolved into a “new and improved” form of Judaism.

I cannot escape the deep irony of what happens when a leader of a secular movement that rejects the very history of the religion they’re trying to represent reaches heaven. Kol Yisrael Yesh Lahem Chelek L’Olam Haba – Everyone is Israel has a part of the world to come.

I have no way of knowing what the contents would be of a actual conversation but just as Wine would have believed that there is no such conversation, I have every right to believe that such a conversation would take place and it would be dripping with irony.

If you have an open mind – consider reading further.

Sherwin Wine was killed on Shabbat while riding in a Taxi in Morocco. He was 79.
Here is an imagined conversation of Sherwin Wine at the Holy Gates.

HEAVEN: Sherwin, Welcome.
SHERWIN: Where am I?
HEAVEN: You are in Heaven. Well, technically at the gates of heaven. We are a pretty dissatisfied with your life Sherwin. You spent your entire career telling people that God doesn’t exist, that God is not needed in Judaism. You founded your own splinter group of Humanist Jews and ordained “rabbis”. You moved the Torah to the library and served pork in the social hall…
SHERWIN: Wait a moment… let me explain…
HEAVEN: You’ll get your chance Sherwin. You changed the Shma to read “We revere the best in man,” instead of “We shall love Hashem our God”. You replaced sacred prayers with bad poems, and replaced Bnai Mitzvah readings with oral reports about flute teachers, Lincoln, and others.
SHERWIN: What can I say? I really believed this was the natural evolution of Judaism from the ghetto to modernity, from superstition to science, from belief in God to belief in personal development.
HEAVEN: When you wrote: “Where is my light? My light is in me. Where is my hope? My hope is in me. Where is my strength? My strength is in me – and in you.” Didn’t you realize that not only is it bad poetry, but it is completely egocentric and selfish?
SHERWIN: I was young then, and besides, we needed something to say because I had thrown all the Reform prayer books in the trash.
HEAVEN: Wait here Sherwin, I’ll be back in a few minutes.
SHERWIN: Where are you going?
HEAVEN: I’m headed down to your funeral to represent God there. I’ll make sure that everyone at the funeral knows that in your final moments you said the real Shma, and that you asked that your group be disbanded and all its property sold and given to Jewish orphans.
SHERWIN: That would ruin everything I have built!
HEAVEN: And your point is?
SHERWIN: If I was so bad, how come I am at the gates of Heaven?
HEAVEN: There was a lot of debate about this up here, and finally God had the final word. God said it would be better to put you in Heaven where you will have to spend your eternity apologizing to all the great tzaddikim and righteous Jews for dissing them for so long, than send you to Gehenna. And besides, it is a great PR move that our publicists said might get us on Oprah!

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

59 Comments

  • way to shit on the guy’s grave

    here’s my version of the conversation:

    god: i love am yisrael

    sherwin: me too

    god: thank you for helping so many of my people connect to their heritage, regardless of the form it took

    sherwin: my pleasure, and sorry for the whole ‘you’re not really relevant thing’

    god: don’t sweat it, i’m bigger than that; what’s important is ethics – a person’s deeds. mitzvahs are a way to achieving ethical perfection, but more and more so today, halacha has become a justification for unethical behavior. you created a way for people who don’t jive with halacha to be ethical jewishly, and for that, you shall have a great portion in the world to come.

    sherwin: blessed are you, our lord, our g-d, king of the universe, who is compassionate and merciful.

    god: you’re welcome sherwin.

    the end.

  • I have to admit, I’m a little more comfortable with ew’s more pluralistic understanding of Heaven. I don’t know very much about humanistic Judaism, but in my opinion, being more concerned about people isn’t necessarily an awful way to live, and certainly doesn’t make him worthy of Gehenna. Or Oprah. Shabbat shalom…

  • Maybe it’s just me, but mocking the death of an otherwise decent man whose theology is radically different from your own doesn’t seem like a terribly ethical, rabbinic or Jewish thing to do.

    Thanks for the positive words, “rabbi”.

  • Boy, I hope Moishe Rosen or Susan Perlman doesn’t go anytime soon. I’d be scared to read that post.

    Was Wine an atheist or agnostic? I guess that matters because agnostic Jews are not uncommon. I have never seen anywhere in the Humanist movement where a disavowal of G-d is a requirement.

  • I have to agree with ew, esther and balaam’s donkey (cool nick, by the way!). Christians concern a lot about beliefs (Jesus, his “father” and the white dove…), Judaism I’ve learned is more about actions…

    ew, great comment!

  • Well, it’s already been said better in the comments preceding mine, but I’ll throw my vote in with the consensus (thus far) that this post was in really, really, really poor taste. Congratulations. And just before Shabat, no less. It’s not enough for you that the guy died an unnatural death?

  • I suspect Mr. Wine would have been laughing both at R. Yonah and EW’s versions since he didn’t believe in either hell or heaven. Or God.

    Wine was as atheistic as they come, Ramon. According to the NY Times obit, he used the Holocaust as evidence that there isn’t a higher power and man is all there is.

    He distilled Judaism to a culture without faith in God. However, to get there, he also had to eliminate the traditions that include God, such as prayers that mention God. This doesn’t quite work if you are trying to preserve your culture where the idea of God is present in most aspects of observance, but he had a Masters in philosophy, was an ordained Reform rabbi, led a movement which he founded to a membership of 40,000, and trained rabbis within this movement, so who am I to debate his positions?

    Shabbat shalom everybody.

  • I have to admit I’m not sure if middle is being serious or satiric when (s)he says “According to the NY Times obit, he used the Holocaust as evidence that there isn’t a higher power and man is all there is.? But I know that Rabbi Yonah and ew, at least, are. Rabbi Wine would have just laughed at your narrow-minded pretentiousness, not to mention your (apparent) ignorance of Jewish History. Your theology of a viciously murderous god is an interesting throwback to the 5th Century B.C. concept of god as using history to punish his people for their transgressions; we now have a god who is willing to murder and torture six million of “his” people, even though among them were the bulk of the most observant and pious.
    Rabbi Wine, who would have put this better and more gracefully, would have pointed out, for example, that the Israelites in Tanakh were not monotheists, that the entire monotehistic gloss was applied during the redaction of the Second Temple Period, that in those halcyon days they had a priest and sacrifice based religion, not the one based on the Oral Law (another invention of the Second Temple times) and its various interpreters. And more.
    But, not having hi immense talent, I will just point out that Rabbi Wine did not “preach” atheism. He would surely have agreed if he were called an “atheist,” but that’s not how he described himself. Rather, he used the term ‘ignostic’ to indicate that the question of the existence of god is demonstrably not relevant to our daily lives. He thought that for narrow-minded and evil people, no afterlife was needed because living with themselves is more than enough hell.

  • When Sherwin gets to Heaven I hope he’ll have a chance to visit the souls of all the babies that didn’t get born because the Orthodox Rabbis didn’t force husbands to give their Mothers Gets.

    I know he will have the pleasure of not having to be in a ghetto of Black Hats who cheat on their taxes, cheat on their wives and cheat in business because that ghetto is in Clifton-Passaic.

    He won’t have to see all the kollel boys who are taking ecstasy pills to stay up all night to “learn” on Shavous or the ones that hang out in Sex aisle of Barnes and Noble during the day instead of being at their “job” which is being funded by student loans that will never get paid back.

    I could go on but hey, it’s right after Tisha B’Av and we’ve all learned our lesson about baseless hatred. After a day of walking around not washing and wearing slippers we all love all kinds of Jews and hold no needless hatred against one of the dead founders of a movement that may have brought a lot of peace and joy into the lives of 40,000 individuals.

    Ofri, the comment on the way he died was to subtly emphasize what a heathen he was. After all, had he not committed the sin of being in the taxi his time may not have been up.

    Rabbi Yo, the Cult is getting to you…time for some deprogramming.

  • TM and Madrikh – both interesting points. I’ve read conflicting interviews and articles about that. At times he came off as agnostic, or “ignostic”. In any case I question if the movement itself calls for it’s members to disavow Hashem. Seems to me they differ with mainstream Judaism on the emphasis Hashem in their daily lives. But know many Jews in Reform and Reconstructionist congregations who question that and the Judeo-Christian concept of G-d.

    Did Wine use the Holocaust as proof there is no G-d, or as an explanation as to why he lost his belief in one?

    Chutzpah – at least the comment about Wine being a heathen because he was in a taxi on Shabbat wasn’t that he was a heathen because he was gay. Rabbi Yonah has his opinion, he wrote a scathing little piece with a touch of irony and humor, it may have been snide and sarcastic and maybe Rabbi Yo should’ve waited until the unveiling. But it wasn’t racist or misogynist or gay bashing or anti-semitic. So it’s got that going for it. 🙂

  • Ya know, Ireally don’t care who Wine or anyone else fucked and I don’t care if someone died eating pork on Yom Kippur or riding in a taxi on Shabbat. I do care that self-righteous Orthodox Jews, especially bal tshuvas or ordained Rabbis, think they have the priviledge to go around judging everyone except themselves.

  • But Chutzpah, can one express one’s opinion? Wine’s movement emphasizes secular Jewish culture and Jewish history rather than belief in God as sources of Jeiwsh identity. Now you don’t have to be Haredi – but surely one can argue that such a position is problematic?

    And as far as your crowing about Haredi criminals and cheats who don’t pay their taxes, and don’t repay their student loans – man that’s chump change compared to, oh I don’t know, secular Jews who commit white collar crimes like insider trading etc. and that ghetto is on the Upper East side! But why go there? We’re talking about some individuals – no one’s perfect… chill Chutzpah!

  • Jesus Fucking Christ Almighty. Ck, what single syllable or utterance by Chutzpah in any way suggested limiting when one can “express one’s opinion?” What she stated was that said opinion was revolting, petty and self-righteous, and she couldn’t have been more correct. That doesn’t have a damn thing with denying everyone’s “right” to his own opinion, except to the extent that right is imbued with the idiotic meaning that all such opinions are equally valid. Moreover, her reference to the sleazy conduct of the Orthodox doesn’t have a damn thing to do with denying the comparable prevalence of such conduct among either secular Jews, or Reform or Conservative. Let me make this real clear: What it does have to do with is pointing out — again, with total accuracy — the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of those deformed and loathsome enough to piss on the grave of a decent man. “Secular” Jews generally don’t give a flying fuck about the conduct of the Orthodox, and — whatever their own multitude of sins — sure as hell don’t engage in this kind of gloating and ugly speculation about their religious failings upon their deaths.

  • NOT CHILLING UNTIL I GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, GET MY KIDS INTO PUBLIC SCHOOL AND FIND AN APPROPRIATE PLAYMATE SO DON”T TELL ME TO CHILL!

    Yes, everyone can feel free to express their opinions.

    The thing about secular Jews is that they don’t claim to rep God. They don’t claim to be on a “higher madrega” than other people, and they sure as shit don’t claim they have the last word on what God wants from mankind.

    “Darling I love you but give me Park Ave.”

  • I find nothing wrong with either Rabbi Yo’s post or Chutzpah’s reaction… I mean, isn’t that the point of Jewlicious? Or intelligent blogging in general? Rabbi Yonah can write this post (a problematic one) and Chutzpah can’t respond (in an emphatic and problematic way) – it’s part of the process. I guess I’m saying… emotional and off the cuff may not always be offensinve. To reiterate my previous comment (#11): So far it hasn’t fallen into the realm of neo-nazis, misogynism, anti-semitism or racism.

    Jewlicious has, for the most part, boasted commenters who understand those lines. I don’t think this discussion has crossed them. And ck – am I off base saying to you that telling Chutzpah to “chill” is a bit like calling the kettle black?

    Again, I ask: Does the Humanist movement demands it’s members to disavow Hashem?

  • “Emotional and off the cuff may not always be offensinve.”

    Although my spelling is absolutely offensive.

  • Ramon, the movement unequivocally does from what I read in this link.

    This message is intended to provide readers of soc.culture.jewish with
    a list of references to allow them to learn more about the current
    practices, past practices, beliefs, and history of the Humanistic
    Judaism Movement.

    Humanistic Judaism is less well known than Orthodox, Conservative, and
    Reform. But, on a behavioral level, it claims to represent many more
    American Jews than any of these official ideologies. Rabbi Sherwin
    Wine, the founder of the movement, identifies three kinds of Jews who
    are neither honestly Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. He calls these
    types the involuntary, the ethnic, and the humanistic. Rabbi Wine
    defines the involuntary Jew is the individual of Jewish descent who
    finds no meaning either in his past or in the unique practices of his
    ancestral religion. He defines the ethnic Jew is the person of Jewish
    descent who bears a strong attachment to the Hebrew and Yiddish
    cultures out of which he emerged.

    Rabbi Wine feels that these affiliations are negative. He prefers the
    positive definition of Humanistic Jew:

    The Humanistic Jew is an individual, of either Jewish or non-Jewish
    descent, who believes in the ultimate value of self-respect and in
    the principles of humanism, community, autonomy, and rationality.
    He also finds meaning in the celebration of life as expressed
    through the historic Jewish calendar and seeks to interpret this
    calendar in a naturalistic way. He perceives that the power he
    possesses to determine and control his own life is the result of
    two billion years of evolutionary history. Therefore, his religious
    feeling re-enforces his sense of human dignity.

    On the last page of his book, “Judaism Beyond God,” Rabbi Sherwin T.
    Wine says:

    Humanistic Jews want to bring their beliefs and their behavior
    together and to find their integrity. They are eager to affirm:

    * That they are disciples of the Secular Revolution.
    * That the Secular Revolution was good for the Jews.
    * That reason is the best method for the discovery of truth.
    * That morality derives from human needs and is the defense of human
    dignity.
    * That the universe is indifferent to the desires and aspirations of
    human beings.
    * That people must ultimately rely on people.
    * That Jewish history is a testimony to the absence of God and the
    necessity of human self-esteem.
    * That Jewish identity is valuable because it connects them to that
    history.
    * That Jewish personality flows from that history — and not from
    official texts that seek to describe it.
    * That Jewish identity serves individual dignity — and not the
    reverse.
    * That the Jewish people is an international family that has its
    center in Israel and its roots in the Diaspora.
    * That the humanistic Gentile has a positive role to play in the
    life of the Jewish people.”

    Humanistic Jews want to translate these affirmations and
    commitments into an effective life style — for themselves and for
    those who share their convictions. They need a community of
    believers to worth with and to share with in this pioneering
    venture. They also need a cadre of trained leaders and spokespeople
    to provide scholarship and guidance along the way.

    Humanistic Judaism was organized by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, who founded
    its first congregation, the Birmingham Temple, in Farmington Hills,
    Michigan. In 1969, Rabbi Wine helped to found the [6]Society of
    Humanistic Judaism ([7]http://www.shj.org/), whose membership
    comprises more than 30 congregations and chapters, plus over 1300
    families and individual members, as of January 2000. The Society for
    Humanistic Judaism is the US affiliate of the International Federation
    of Secular Humanistic Jews. The educational arm of the Secular
    Humanistic Jewish movement, the International Institute for Secular
    Humanistic Judaism, offers several programs to train rabbis, leaders
    and educators for the movement. The first Secular Humanistic rabbi
    trained at the Institute was ordained in October 1999.

  • TM- Ok… ok… give me a minute here… we’re not a simple folk… besides, now my East Coast Jewish friends are weighing in and… STOP THE MADNESS!!

    Have to go… Susan Perlman is knocking at the door… will it never end?

  • Humanistic Judaism is a crock.

    I know the humanistic rabbi in some place in the US [location edited because this is a very specific accusation which we cannot verify. The rabbi in question would also not be able to defend himself without being exposed. I’m sorry Adam, please don’t take it personally.].

    The Rabbi talks a lot about the spirit with in each of us, the powers in nature…. etc. (They don’t believe in God in terms of a God that created the world and is involved with it today).

    The Rabbi told me privately that he personally doesn’t believe in the “spirit with in people” or the “spirit in nature” (which he talks to everyone about and publicly professes to believe in) and that he just says it because as a Rabbi he has to talk about something and that makes people feel good.

    HUMANISTIC JUDAISM IS A LOAD OF CRAP.

    If you don’t want to do lots of observant Jewish things… shabbat, kosher etc, then thats your choice, but DON’T waste your time with a non-Jewish farce.

  • How can I make this site load faster??? Anybody have a similar problem? I could wash my car in the time it takes to post a comment, get back to the home page, etc.

  • Wow, Adam…

    If one wants to work with that example that you’re laying down, then all mainstream Judaism in America is a load of crap.

    Do you honestly think that a rabbi who bullshits a nice party line to the community is something that only happens in the humanistic community?

  • that’s chump change compared to, oh I don’t know, secular Jews who commit white collar crimes like insider trading etc.

    secular jews like who? jack abramoff?

    chutzpah’s difficulty with the perceived holier-than-thouness of orthodoxy shouldn’t become a justification for slandering the secular jewish community.

    what was tisha ba’av — not even a week ago?

    I find nothing wrong with either Rabbi Yo’s post or Chutzpah’s reaction… I mean, isn’t that the point of Jewlicious? Or intelligent blogging in general?

    you call spitting on a man’s grave over a theological difference intelligent blogging? the only thing i learned from this post is that the only value rabbi yonah sees in secular judaism is its stock of potential converts to orthodoxy.

  • I don’t think the Rabbi was “spitting” on a man’s grave. I’m not even sure I would go as far as to say that he’s insulting Sherwin Wine. He’s addressing Wine’s beliefs at the time when they might matter the most.

    I think R. Yonah brings up a strong ideological difference between his own beliefs and what Wine believed and preached. If the Rabbi had written this post a week before Wine’s death, would you take the same kind of offense to what he has written? I doubt it. I think you might challenge his views on Wine.

    Wine lived his life challenging the beliefs of all Jews who believe in God. He only touched a small percentage of Jews but his death and the publicity around it have brought his views to the forefront of many discussions and opens the door for debate and even criticism of these views.

    Isn’t death, especially an accidental death, precisely the time to address Wine’s beliefs? In Jewish tradition which Wine rejected, a death such as this might be construed as coming (for good or bad) from heaven. This naturally leads one to evaluate Wine’s belief systems, even in a critical manner, because he rejected the very idea of God, heaven and hell but if he was wrong this would be the time he/his neshama finds out.

    R. Yonah clearly believes he was wrong, and may be suggesting that by being as wrong as he was, he also led many other Jews astray. That is a valid line of questioning and discussion. It isn’t pissing on anyone’s grave unless you think that a man’s life is so meaningless that his beliefs and actions can’t be discussed – even critically – once he dies. I think Wine would prefer to have his ideas discussed and challenged so that people can figure things out for themselves.

    I also can’t help ignore the truth about Wine which is that he spent his life in criticism not only of observant Jews such as Wine, but really of all Jews who believe in God. His death naturally raises questions that Rabbi Yonah brings up.

  • I have grown increasingly sympathetic to those who challenge Judaism utterly. It just makes more sense to me than the Reform and Conservative Jews who claim belief even as they pick and choose.

    I am surprised this ardently secular movement isn’t much larger than it is. I suspect it is because those who admit to themselves they are not believers in any sense often don’t need a Jewish group to express such convictions.

    I do think it as wise to delete the word “humanistic,” which sounds so specifically liberal. “Cultural” is so much more inclusive: http://culturaljudaism.org/

  • baruch dayan emes — blessed is the one true judge: rabbi yonah.

    the rabbonim say that if the jewish people come together even for avodah zarah that hashem is happy because at least the jewish people are united.

    if you love g-d, you are obligated to love every manifestation that g-d takes, including his manifestation in the form of rabbi wine and humanistic judaism. rabbi yo would have earned my respect by exercising forgiveness on wine and praying that his soul alights to heaven for the positive aspects of his work. instead, he demonstrated the smug self-satisfaction of orthodoxy.

  • Hyman—non-Jewish farce like requiring a 13 year old boy to wear a Borsalino?
    I don’t know when Hashem started loving those who favor Italian millenaries more, but the majority rule here in Plifton holds that He does.

  • TM – but Rabbi Yo didn’t post this until the announcement of Wine’s death. Rabbi Yonah’s intention was to belittle Wine, his bad poetry, and his stance towards G-d. And it wasn’t totally impersonal.

    But…

    “It isn’t pissing on anyone’s grave unless you think that a man’s life is so meaningless that his beliefs and actions can’t be discussed – even critically – once he dies.”

    Wine created a movement based on his personal values. He put himself in a position to be criticized. Rabbi Yonah did that. And in doing so, in memoriam, Rabbi Yonah put himself in a position to be criticized. I think that reiterates your point.

    But… it could be considered bad form. And I don’t believe all Humanist Jews share every personal belief of Wine’s.

    But… look up at the post. Really, how bad is it? Instead of using “Wine” he uses “Sherwin”. And the dialogue isn’t that mean-spirited, nor is it vile or racist. There is a little subtext in there about Jews of all stripes as Jews in G-d’s eyes. Maybe even Corey Pavin. G-d didn’t send Wine to Gehenna, as some non-Jews would have us there automatically. Or even some Jews who think that a Jew with a hint of secularism should be sent there.

    I disagree with Rabbi Yonah’s view of the Humanist Judaism and secularism in general. But not so much on Wine individually, his atheism, if he indeed was until his last breath.

    Okay, enough with the Tevye impersonation. She can marry him.

    ew – I don’t think Rabbi Yonah was trying to teach us anything. He came to express his opinion and open the floor for discussion.

  • What a horrible post. R’ Yonah I’m completely appalled. You can’t even give someone a little respect when they’re dead?

  • Good bye Jewlicious. You’ve lost me forever as a reader – or at least until there is a real appology posted at the begining of that post. At least an explanation.

    Jewlicious is seems has not fallen to that latest of trends in jewish institutions:

    -Orthodox = right. Everyone else is wrong.

    Not only does this post make such terrible jokes about a good woman, but it also forces the author’s neive, narrow minded, sectarian, sinat hinam on all the rest of judaism.

    And don’t try to pretend that you represent all of orthodoxy either “rabbi yonah” since I know pleanty of orthodox rabbis that may disagree with humanistic judaism but see the unity of the Jewish people to be paramount to these distinctions.

    Good bye Jewschool. It’s been nice knowing you. If anyone cares, I’ll be over at Jewschool.

  • Correction:
    **Goodbye Jewlicious. It’s been nice knowing you. If anyone cares, I’ll be over at Jewschool.

  • Uh, did Rabbi Yonah go on vacation.? Where is his explanation of his post which we are all trying to figure out?
    I was deeply troubled by his first appearance on the site and I hope that will be his last.
    I want to go to Jewschool too but who else would put up with my Tom Jones postings?

  • You’ve written a well-considered criticism of Wine’s work and ideology.

    You have yet to justify mocking a dead man.

  • Rav Y — whoa.

    Not saying that I’m not on the same page, and I didn’t realize that he was killed on Shabbat in a taxi (hashgacha pratis – HP runs more than just computers), but whoa…I wouldn’t have gone there like THAT…

    And Jewlicious is hardly this cheder charedim where it’s Orthodoxy uber alles, pluralism includes black hats too…

  • Oh my. Rabbi Yonah is entitled to his opinion. I’m sorry that Sherwin Wine died in such an awful way, so far from home. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It is kind of ironic though that he died while violating the Sabbath. I’m not passing judgment, I’m not poking fun – I am just stating fact.

    A public figure, let alone a controversial one, ought to expect criticism at all times – even after his death. What I don’t understand is how it’s ok when criticizing them, to paint all Orthodox Jews with one broad brush stroke, but criticize one humanist rabbi and it’s the end of the world.

    Why not focus on the substance of Rabbi Yonah’s post? He is critical of Sherwin Wine’s movement. Why is that? Is his criticism of the movement valid? Not valid? Why? I think Rabbi Yonah’s presentation may have been a tad shocking to the system, but it has started some dialog.

    For the record, Rabbi Yonah is one of the most open and welcoming people I know, giving of himself to all kinds of people, Jewish and non-Jewish, with no regard to denomination and belief. I feel almost dirty having to defend a man whose actions need no defense. My apologies…

  • This post has nothing to do with Orthodoxy.
    Why get on Rabbi Yonah because he’s orthodox?

    I’m reform and I feel the exact same way.

    The single most underlying principle of Judaism is morality. That somethings are right and some things are wrong.

    What Jews do discuss, is what is right and what is wrong. Do we have to honor our parents? Are we allowed to eat Big Macs with cheese? Should we get them without cheese?

    But if you take God away, the whole conversation is over. The joke about “2 Jews, 3 opinions” is over. There’s nothing to discuss, no point in doing anything.

    Whether you believe in God or not, Judaism introduced absolute morality with the idea that somethings are right and somethings are wrong.

    How can he even call himself a Rabbi? Rabbi’s are teachers who are supposed to teach how we are supposed to act.

    If there is no God, there is no correct way to act…… and that would make my reform rabbi an egotistical bastard* for thinking he still has the knowledge to command others what to do.

    My rabbi is not an egotistical bastard. He tries to tell people very nicely that there is a correct way to act…. but only they can decide how to act.

  • ck and yonah — your emphasis on the fact that wine died while breaking shabbos (despite the fact that he died motzei shabbat — the cab was taking them to their hotel after dinner), reminds me of ovadia yosef’s comments that the people who died in the dolphinarium attack had it coming because they were breaking shabbos. how appalling!

  • Good grief ew. I never said he had it coming. And if I was mistaken about the Sabbath violation I apologize. I just noted the irony. I also noted that I was sorry about the circumstances of his death. My heart goes out to his family, and his partner, and the cab driver and everyone affected. Why do I have to repeat myself?

    But while I am sorry about this tragedy, I am not going to hide the fact that I disagreed with the man’s principles. Strongly disagreed. The circumstances of his death, dramatic as they were, gave him and his movement a tremendous amount of press coverage. Prior to his death, Sherwin Wine was a not exactly what one would call a major player in the Jewish world. Now that his ideas have gotten a lot of play in the press, I see nothing wrong in offering an alternative perspective lest we allow the tragedy to cloud our judgment.

    Now before you jump on me about pissing on the dude’s grave and being an Orthodox apologist, keep in mind that in a recent post on agunot I essentially likened some rabbinic leaders to limp dicks.

    Chutzpah dear, I’ll see you on Park Avenue. Just remember, one doesn’t have to believe in God to have an inflated sense of self-righteousness.

  • Yep. Rabbi Yonah is as big a bastard as they come. The sooner he disappears from the face of the earth, the sooner we can get back to business as usual. I mean, who needs this iphone toting Rabbi stirring up things by engaging young people on their own terms and engaging in open discussions. I don’t understand why all 30 or 40 of his weekly Shabbat dinner guests show up time and time again. Especially “those people” who never experienced Shabbat before the Rabbi came to town. Do you think he knows that his guests are driving to his house ON Shabbat? Or that some drive after dinner to go out for a night on the town? I bet he secretly invites all of those people to his house so they can meet their end just like Sherwin Wine. God help the 500 poor souls he will influence at Jewlicious 4 next spring.

  • Only kidding about Park Ave. I worked there in 1988 and disliked it enough to go backpacking off to Israel. However, the SELF-ghettoization of the Jews in America today would be an interesting post.

    I’d never heard of Wine before this post, but I have no problem with new forms of Judaism that try to take the best from it and leave out parts that arent’ working for some people (obviously there are a lot of parts that aren’t working for a lot of people).

    Life on this earth is hard enough, if someone comes up with ideas that helps people make it through another day, then good for him! He can call it whatever he wants (the word Judaism isn’t copywrited) and use the word Rabbi without italics. In the end…pork or not, if he helped more people than he hurt then it was a life well-lived.

  • It might be useful if R. Yonah did some decent research first before posting. The rabbinical program in Humanistic Judaism is a 5 year program requiring two Master’s Degrees in Jewish Studies, one from an accredited University and the other from the Movement’s Rabbinical College (4 years) with lots of study of Torah, Talmud, Hebrew, History, Literature, Culture, etc. followed by a year of internship, prior to ordination. It amazes me how many Yeshivah’s give smichas to young men who don’t know anything about Jewish History – I’m related to a slew of them.

    What I found most strange is R. Yonah’s imaginery conversation. Please allow me to assure you that Rabbi Wine would never have responded with such nonsense and wimpiness with which the dialogue credits him. R. Yonah’s projects his own theistically founded responses into Sherwin’s mouth (understandably, since that is his position).

    I think it is very important that there be lots of different ways to be Jewish to enable our brothers and sisters to connect to Am Yisrael in whatever way they may feel comfortable. Coming from a Chasidic family I can only say that if that and Orthodoxy were the ONLY way to be Jewish, I would probably not be Jewish today, nor would 93% of the Jewish population in North America. But even though they represent a minority, they are a very important element of the Jewish people because they represent ONE way that some Jews find comfort and connection and a path down which to direct their lives.

    Dialogue is good. Disagreement is totally acceptable. Vilification and disrespect is never acceptable!!!!!!

  • Point of information: The Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism requirements for rabbinic ordination are more rigorous than most other rabbinic seminaries. If a student works full-time toward the rabbinic ordination, the minimum time that it takes is 5 years, and for most students, the time is takes is longer than that. The student has to have a good knowledge of Hebrew, be able to study rabbinic literature, including Talmud and Tanach in Hebrew, have at least a Masters’ degree in Judaic Studies and pass the rigorous courses taught by distinguished faculty at the Institute. The education provided is quite well-rounded and rigorous. I’m puzzled by why Rabbi Yonah would create a fiction about humanistic Jewish rabbinic ordination. I would think that he would show more honesty than that.

  • Apparently they have increased the amount of study needed to complete their programs in order to be taken more seriously as a legitimate stream of Judaism.

    The school does not according to its own website have an accredited Masters Degree and that has to be done elsewhere. You can do the schools non-accredited program

    One of the classes:
    JH 103) The Torah – An examination of a central book in Jewish life. Issues of authorship, authority, historical context and contemporary meaning are all addressed. CR: 1

    There is no place to learn Aramaic, that is the language the Talmud is mostly written in.

    All graduate seminars are offered at the the Birmingham Temple as week-long (400 level) or two-week long (500 level) summer courses with advance reading.

  • I get you get the same respect in life, Rabbi Yonah, that you’ve given this other person in his death.

  • rather, I *hope* you get.

    Midah keneged midah.

    I’m sure you learned once the proper way to discuss differences of religious belief.

  • Sherwin would love this attention. He had the best sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever know. He took himself much less seriously than everyone thought. His sense of theatre was spectacular. If he had to leave this world, he chose a beautiful place to do it — and right after dinner. Sherwin is smiling at us all, as he knew he would.

  • I hope Alan that you have a chance to study Torah for yourself and see that what I say is valid.

    Linda, I am sure that we agree – Sherwin’s soul lives on, wherever it is. It lives on.

  • The article says more about its author than about rabbi Wine. + 1

    Orthdox cowards and idiots.

    • Y…

      Your comments surely do not speak kindly of you. nor reflect well of Shewrin Wine. Same for so many others like minded here.

      I am not sure what your moniker means, but I suspect more than your name. That is between you and God.

      Have a Blessed Holidays!

  • Wow, sitting here on Christmas eve, for some reason Sherwin Wine’s name came into my head, there is surely some reason, as we say on Passover,” why on this night?”

    I grew up when Wine was starting his ” temple”. I went to Robert Frost Jr High (that in itself is poignant, as Wine surely took the road less traveled), where he started if I am correct.

    I was always dismayed that Sherwin Wine tried to convert many of us, even at 12 or 13, with no strong reigious beliefs at the time, I inherently felt something amiss about a Temple without God and a Torah without meaning.

    I, due to family love, went to a ” bar mitzvah” or 2 and a wedding or so at ” Birmingham Temple”. I found it cultish when some read from the ” non prayer” book. I was silent more than vocal, I always knew that there was something wrong there. Even though, I was probably at the time externally closer to this cult then to actual Judaism. I at that time wanted to live my life and not to answer to anyone but ME, but there was always something inside of me deeper, and I knew it even then!

    As I matured in life and faith, those memories always were there. I have long ago moved from Detroit, but I had never forgotten.

    I am now a strong believer in the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I would not be considered Orthodox, nor reformed, for those who like labels, but I am as far away from Humanism today, as apparently then Sherwin Wine was from a real Rabbi or the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. That is my opinion, only for God to judge, surely not this mortal man.

    I had no hate for Sheriwn Wine then or now, more sadness and dismay, but it was always wrong to me then and now.

    I did not feel Rabbi Yonah was doing anything but expressing his views in literary form here and after reading some of the vile comments from those that support Sherwin Wine, I am even more convinced why I knew there was always something wrong there at the ‘ temple”.

    I spiritually knew that this was not a place that I belonged, spiritually, in fact, it was always a sad feeling.

    After reading the vile comments from some of his followers that use profane hate I understand not only spiritually, but morally and physically why this ” temple teaching” was a sad place.

    If hatred, as expressed by some his followers/friends (I hope it is a vast minority) is the legacy of Sherwin Wine, it is not only sad but tragic.

    To those that spoke vile, why? To those who are without God in their lives, my prayers are with you. To those who have God in their lives, we are truly blessed and these haters need our prayers.

    May Sherwin Wine rest in peace. May his followers find the God of the Bible.

    Hear O’ Israel, The LORD is our GOD, The LORD is one!

  • Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bother commenting on a 3 1/2 year old post (and I’m glad to see that DK did at the time), but I just stumbled upon this and found it so annoying that I’ll make an exception. I agree with the majority of commenters – silly, stupid and childish. A ridiculous oversimplification of the objections to traditional belief – the hallmark of the frum in general, the BT in particular.

    @ck: “Is his criticism of the movement valid? Not valid?”

    No, ck, it is not valid, and that is so painfully obvious that I shouldn’t have to explain it (nor will I).

    @Rabbi Yonah: “I hope Alan that you have a chance to study Torah for yourself and see that what I say is valid.”

    Yes, of course – because anyone who disagrees with you is simply ignorant. There IS no room for disagreement; everyone else is just WRONG. Anyone who threatens the shaky foundation of your belief system, who forces you to confront its inadequacies and your own repressed doubt, becomes the enemy.

    CK, this is the reason that, now that DK has taken Kvetcher offline, I no longer bother with Jewish blogs (apart from Failed Messiah). It’s always the same crap – smug, self-righteous fundamentalists who are cocksure they have a handle on absolute truth.

Leave a Comment