Alan's Story

(Via The Jewish Atheist)

In March of 1979, after reading a Detroit Free Press article about a local “atheist rabbi” named Sherwin Wine, I visited the Birmingham Temple (Farmington Hills, MI). As soon as I saw the Torah in the library and the Hebrew word adam (”humanity”) in large stylized letters on the front wall of the main room, I knew I had found my spiritual home.

I met the brilliant, charismatic Rabbi Wine, joined the congregation, and for the past 30 years, I have studied, practiced, and written several articles on Secular Humanistic Judaism and, of course, my book on the Torah from a humanistic perspective.

Unlike most people who write about the Bible, I have a PhD in linguistics, which enables me to define and explain the key difference between Torah translation and rabbinical inferences about the text. My motivation for writing the book is a sincere desire to let others know what the Torah really says, so that they can decide for themselves what its place should be in their lives.

I consider the fact that I am not a Biblical scholar to be another asset. It has often been noted that real innovations typically come from outside a field, because the practitioners pursue only the accepted lines of reasoning and inquiry.

That may be the case here. Only an outsider would dare to challenge two millennia of established tradition, taken-for-granted thinking and Torah-centric Judaism.

I bring no awe or reverence to the Torah – only a sincere desire to know what it says, with no interpretation, spin, or clerical filtering whatsoever. This knowledge is what I offer the reader.

I am not a nonconformist by nature. I seek above all the truth. I would love the security that comes from being part of a large group of believers. But if I find what they believe (or profess to believe) to be “ego-dystonic” — not resonant with who I am — if I find it in fact unbelievable, then I can’t go along.

The decision to be a secular humanist was for me a realization of who I always was. As a youngster, I waited for God to show up and do something, as he did in the old stories. But after a period of wait-and-see, and especially after the Holocaust, I gave God his walking papers.

It would be such a better world if people could unburden themselves of gods and their many demands.

No comments: