I know this question will bring a multitude of answers but I'd love to hear them all.

In my case it was both a long and short journey. I have a few family members that survived Hitler's Holocaust and had questioned, from a very young age, why God would allow such horrific things to happen to his "chosen" children. Years passed and I finally got around to learning Hebrew and one of the first prayers I learned had us thanking God for murdering the children of our enemies. I was horrified with this prayer and found many that were similar.

My search continued for answers and I found my path on the road to "enlightenment". I had started meditating and was practicing yoga. I found myself fascinated with Buddhism and was seeking to integrate Buddhism into my belief system without compromising my beliefs. I discovered that Buddhism integrates perfectly with Judaism because Buddhism has no Gods, per se. Still I had many questions that had yet to be answered.

Having been a longtime vegan and advocate for animals I have questions God for allowing his children to murder helpless animals for food when there's such and abundance of vegetation that sustains life. The answers that I sought didn't come to me in a roundabout way.

I found a book called Atheist Universe that helped with the journey. Then came the movie, The God Who Wasn't There. While this film specifically addressed Jesus it still contributed to my journey because I began to research the stories of the Original Testament and realized that there were some irregularities. Actually, a lot of them.

Next, I discovered Humanistic Judaism after a short search on atheist judaism. Sherwin Wine, Greg Epstein, and many other Jewish Humanists became my lifeline. The helped me to realize that I'm not alone and it's ok to not believe in a God while retaining my connection to Judaism, which I love.

Finally, I find myself to be a very happy person. No longer do the shackles of religion chain me to a confined existence. I am free to live my live as I see fit. This gives me the opportunity to show people that we Humanists are moral, caring, loving, giving beings that can live in harmony with all.

I still run into obstacles. I was on a discussion forum on Amazon and encountered a Jew that simply couldn't understand the concept of Humanistic Judaism. No matter how hard I tried he had decided that I was "evil". I finally removed myself from that discussion because it is my job in life to make people understand why I've made the choices in life I have. My Mom is more or less understanding. I don't believe that she agrees with me but she's supportive. She's more or less Secular anyway but does occasionally use the God word even though it doesn't really mean anything to her. I think it's because she's been using it all her life. However, when we have discussions she seems to be very understanding of my feelings.

As for the rest of my family, well, it doesn't really matter what they think. My son has always been Secular so it was a revelation when I finally saw the "light". I'm not sure about my X but, of course she's my X so it doesn't really matter. As for any future children, well time will tell. I do plan on adopting in the next year or so and this may be a challenge. Hopefully, I can find one or two boys that aren't too religious. While I would never force my beliefs on another I would hope they would have questions and eventually see what I see.

On that, I think I'll end my story.

Now, let's have yours!

Views: 21

Replies to This Discussion

Josh,

Wow, just read your story and what a story it is!!! There is a great podcast from skepticality, a podcast I subscribe to that I know you will want to hear. They interview a musician named Michael Edelstein, who is a conductor of classical music with the New York Philharmonic. I think you will enjoy it. The podcast number is 67 and I believe you can download just that podcast from their website.

Here's a link to the page with the downloads so that you can grab just that one podcast if you wish. http://www.skepticality.com/p_listentopast.php

Also, I do want to mention that there is a connection between Buddhism and Judaism. A few books have been written on the subject and that's why you made the same connection to Buddhism as so many of us Jews make. I too am an avid meditator and my journey to Humanistic Judaism came during my search for a link between Buddhism and Judaism.

Also, Good Without God by Rabbi Greg Epstein, who is the secular clergy at Harvard University is a must read.

Haiku for Jews by David Bader is an absolute scream and you should be able to find the humor in both Judaism and Zen Buddhism.

There is another great book, which fails my memory, that shows connections between Judaism and Buddhism with symbols and historical reference. When I come across it I'll let you know the title if you wish. Or just do a web search on Judaism and Buddhism and you'll probably find the authors website. I believe his name is Steven Gold.

Anyway, I also see that we live in the same local area so maybe I'll see you at a Machar service one of the days.

Thanks again for sharing your great story!

Mark

I was blessed to be raised in a secular household.  During my teens and 20's I got 'saved' and involved in the Christian church, eventually ending up teaching VBS and preschool Sunday school.  My husband did not attend and it was becoming a source of strife in our family so when we made a move to a different city I just didn't go back.  We had some friends who were Messianic Jews and that started me on the path of studying Torah and Judaism which I found made so much more sense.  That lead me to eventually discovering quotes by Einstein and Spinoza and finally it clicked with me that this was the concept of 'God' that I have held all the time.  At the time I was also looking for ways to be able to convert and found my way to the SHJ whose statement about who could be considered a Jew made much more sense than what I had been hearing from Reform.  I had been studying and reading for a few years and I took my studies to some of the secular Jewish authors.  No one can understand why I would want to adopt a form of Judaism that didn't have a specific doctrine or belief in the supernatural but to me, it makes perfect sense.  For myself, it is all about finding meaning in life.  Bringing light into my home with the Shabbat candles, or helping my children light the menorah or studying Jewish ethics and thought, practicing the concept of tikkun olam- actions over belief- has added a level of meaning and enjoyment in my life.  I know longer work for some eternal reward but just for good.  Some say that is a 'pick and choose' scenario but I say that it is allowing myself the freedom to have a Judaism that is meaningful to me as an individual and a practice that allows my family and I to have traditions that do not involve any particular belief.  Right now I am working on my essay in order to complete my adoption through the SHJ.

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