World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Jewish secularism

Article Id: WHEBN0014211559
Reproduction Date:

Title: Jewish secularism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: David Horowitz, History of the Jews in Bolivia, Disengagement from religion, Secular Jewish culture, Apostasy in Judaism
Collection: Disengagement from Religion, Secular Jewish Culture
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Jewish secularism

Jewish secularism comprises the largest section of the Jewish people who are secular and the body of work produced by secular Jews over the past 250 years. Almost half of all Jews define themselves as secular.[1]

These people build up communities where Jewish holidays are celebrated as historical and nature festivals, and where life-cycle events are marked in a secular manner.

Throughout modern history, Jewish thinkers have challenged traditional Judaism. As early as the nineteenth century, members of the Society for the Culture and Science of the Jews (Verein fur Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden) viewed Judaism as a culture, not a religion. These secularists, building on foundations of the Enlightenment, Haskalah, were keen to integrate humanistic culture and education with a Jewish culture not linked to rabbinical dictates, or the existence of a personal God.


  • Figures 1
  • State of Israel 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Secular Judaism has roots even before the Haskalah. From the time of Baruch Spinoza (1632–77) and his “agnostic morality”, came the belief of the human sense of morality through education and family life, not religious morality.

Secular Jewish art and culture flourished between 1870 and the Second World War with 18,000 titles in Yiddish and thousands more in Hebrew and European languages, along with hundreds of plays and theater productions, movies, and other art forms. Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust rank among the creators of these works for their contribution to western culture.

Many prominent Jews have been secular, such as Sigmund Freud, Marc Chagall, Henri Bergson, Heinrich Heine, Albert Einstein, Theodor Herzl, M. Y. Berdichevsky and Hayim Nahman Bialik. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ahad Ha'am contributed to the secular movement with his ideas on Jewish national identity, religion and religious practice. He saw Jewish religious cultural tradition as integral for the education of secular Jews.

State of Israel

The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 is often seen as secular Judaism’s greatest achievement, with Hebrew as a spoken language rather than a language of prayer, and the majority of the population living secular Jewish lives. Some 2000 secular Israeli schools exist, where children study Jewish history and literature and celebrate the holidays without prayer or religion.

See also


  1. ^ The American Jewish Identification Survey (AJIS 2001) placed the figure at 49% in America.

External links

  • Secular Culture & Ideas
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.