August 2007

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Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine.

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine
Founder of Humanistic Judaism, Killed in Car Crash

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, founder of Humanistic Judaism, was killed on July 21, 2007 when his taxi was hit by another vehicle. Rabbi Wine was vacationing in Essaouira, Morocco at the time. He was 79.

As the founder of Humanistic Judaism, Rabbi Wine laid out the intellectual foundations of this bold Jewish alternative, creating many of its celebrations, rituals, and educational materials. He was a native of Detroit and a graduate of the University of Michigan and Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained as a Reform Rabbi. In 1963, he founded the Birmingham Temple in suburban Detroit.

In 1969, Rabbi Wine established the Society for Humanistic Judaism, the worldwide voice for Humanistic Judaism. In the following decades, Rabbi Wine helped establish several related organizations including the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews -- a worldwide association of national organizations in North America, Israel, Belgium, England, France, Italy, Australia, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, and the countries of the former Soviet Union, and the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in North America -- the rabbinic seminary and academic arm of the Movement, for which he was currently serving as provost and dean in North America. The IISHJ ordained nine Humanist Rabbis in Israel this past year.

Rabbi Wine was instrumental in organizing the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, the Center for New Thinking, the North American Committee for Humanism, the Humanist Institute, and the Conference of Liberal Religion.

In 2003, Rabbi Wine was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association, joining such notables as Stephen Jay Gould, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Margaret Sanger, among others.

"Rabbi Wine was a visionary who created a Jewish home for so many of us who would have been lost to Judaism. He taught us that human dignity is the highest moral value. We will live our lives reflecting that value to honor his memory," said Rabbi Miriam S. Jerris, Community Development Director, Society for Humanistic Judaism and President of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis.

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