Friday, July 27, 2007

Sherwin Wine 1928 - 2007

HI folks, this was our family Rabbi (yes I had a Bat Mitzvah). We (me 'n my brother & sister) were raised as members of The Birmingham Temple & at the time most of the people within the "Jewish community" in Michigan were completely against our temple and would go so far as to shun the in a way it makes sense that I am such a punk rocker cuz Rabbi Wine was pretty punk. Here is the OBIT from the NYT yesterday. : (

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, founder of a movement in Judaism that says there is no reason to believe in God but that the religion’s highest ethical traditions and the value of each person should be revered, died on Saturday in Essaouira, Morocco.

He was 79 and lived in Birmingham, Mich.

Rabbi Wine was killed in a car accident while on vacation with his companion, Richard McMains, said Rabbi Miriam Jerris, president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. The association is an affiliate of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, which Rabbi Wine founded in 1969. Mr. McMains was injured in the accident.

Rabbi Wine started the Society for Humanistic Judaism six years after he sent ripples through the American Jewish community by urging eight families who were doubtful of their faith to join him in establishing the Birmingham Temple, in a Detroit suburb.

The congregation, now based in nearby Farmington Hills, eliminated the word “God” from its services. For example, “You shall love the Lord your God,” became, “We revere the best in man.” The congregation also stopped reciting the Shema, the basic Jewish proclamation of faith in the unity of God.

As word of his innovations spread, Rabbi Wine became controversial. He was castigated by other rabbis.

In 1965, he was the subject of articles in The New York Times and Time magazine.

“I find no adequate reason to accept the existence of a supreme person,” Rabbi Wine told Time.

In the interview with The Times, he said the existence of God required “empirical criteria.” As a substitute, Rabbi Wine preached “humanism,” describing it as a religion “because, like all other religions, it enables man to relate himself to his universe.”

He also emphasized ethical imperatives of Judaism.

Although the Society for Humanistic Judaism has 10,000 members in 30 congregations in the United States and Canada, its tenets are held, to varying degrees, by more Jews. According to the American Jewish Identity Survey of 2001 by the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, about half of the 5.3 million Jews in the United States identify themselves as “secular” or “somewhat secular.”

Sherwin Theodore Wine was born on Jan. 25, 1928, in Detroit, the son of immigrants from Poland, Herschel and Teibele Israelski Wengrowski. His father was a cap maker and trouser cutter.

Besides Mr. McMains, a sister, Lorraine Pivnick, of Farmington Hills, survives Rabbi Wine.

The rabbi came from a Conservative Jewish tradition. His parents kept a kosher home. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy at the University of Michigan and was ordained a Reform rabbi after graduating from Hebrew Union College in 1956.

By 1960, Rabbi Wine had founded a Reform congregation in Windsor, Ontario. After three years, he acknowledged his discomfort in addressing a God he was not sure existed and broke from Reform Judaism.

Part of his estrangement was rooted in the Holocaust. In an interview with The San Diego Jewish Journal, Rabbi Wine said, “The message of the Holocaust is that there isn’t any magic power.”


Beetlejuice said...

It seems that most Jews I know are secular,or humanist.My feeling is, why not have faith in a supreme being,we have faith in so many other areas of our lives.people believe in many unproven things such as 'I'll be alive tommorow", or " my husband is faithful'(no pun).

Anonymous said...

I went to Birmingham Temple, too, Amy.