SHJ@50: Movement-Wide Celebration and Summit

Celebrating Culture, Advancing the Movement

At The Birmingham Temple – Farmington Hills, MI
April 26-28, 2019

To mark 50 years of the Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ), let’s come together with current, past, and future leaders from Humanistic Judaism communities throughout the U.S. and Canada for a weekend of joyous festivities, dynamic speakers, and meaningful sharing and learning while we rekindle old friendships, create new ones, and generate the next big ideas.



Greg Epstein

Announcing Keynote Speaker Greg Epstein

“Advancing the Cause of Humanistic Judaism for a 21st Century Audience: Challenges and Opportunities for an Optimistic Secularism”

Greg Epstein is a best-selling author and the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and MIT (full bio below). Listen to him discuss Humanistic Judaism on NPR’s “Fresh Air” here and learn more about his book, “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe” here.

Rachel Laser

Announcing SHJ’s social justice initiative Jews for a Secular Democracy presents its inaugural Constitutional Defender Award to Rachel Laser, President and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, for her outstanding work protecting our freedoms.

Rachel Laser will speak on why maintaining the wall between government and religion is a Jewish and American imperative.

Full Slate of Presenters with Bios Coming Soon!

Presenter Bios

Greg Epstein, Keynote – Humanistic rabbi Greg M. Epstein has served the country’s rapidly growing population of nonreligious people for nearly two decades. Described as a “godfather to the [humanist] movement” by The New York Times Magazine in recognition of his efforts, Epstein was also named “one of the top faith and moral leaders in the United States” by Faithful Internet, a project coordinated by the United Church of Christ with assistance from the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.

Greg currently serves as the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, a position he has held since 2005. He joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Office of Religious Life as Humanist Chaplain at MIT and “Convener” in 2018. Greg has helped establish similar positions at Yale, Stanford, USC, and other academic institutions.

Greg has also served in an advisory capacity for a diverse range of interfaith and humanist institutions, including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s Interfaith Advisory Task Force and the Advisory Board of the Secular Student Alliance. He also supported “The Inclusive America Project,” an initiative of the Aspen Institute co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He has served for nearly a decade on the Harvard Chaplains Executive Committee, with a term as vice president.

Greg is a frequently-quoted expert on humanism, religion and ethics. Greg authored the New York Times bestselling book, “Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe.” His writing has appeared on CNN, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Forbes, Salon, and more. His work has also been widely discussed in the national and international media, including the New York Times, CNN, Boston Globe, and on dozens of radio and television programs. Over the years, he has led and facilitated thousands of humanist and interfaith programs and educational opportunities at Harvard and elsewhere – universities, community and state colleges, urban public and expensive private high schools, at the United States Congress and Senate, megachurches, synagogues and Islamic centers, and interfaith and civic institutions of many other kinds.

Having first discovered humanism through Sherwin Wine and the IISHJ rabbinic program as a recent college graduate in the year 2000, Greg considers himself to have been deeply influenced by Wine, to whom he dedicated his book Good Without God. After over 5 years of intense study, including a year and a half in Israel supported by fellowships from Harvard and the University of Michigan, Greg was ordained as a humanist rabbi in October 2005. He is deeply proud and humbled to be the keynote speaker of this important gathering and especially now that he is a father, he looks forward to helping advance the cause of humanistic Judaism for a new generation.

Additional media about Greg:
Harvard Humanist Society welcomes all beliefs,” CNN, March 24, 2015.
Secular, but Feeling a Call to Divinity School,” NY Times, October 16, 2015.
MIT Now Has a Humanist Chaplain to Help Students With the Ethics of Tech,” The Atlantic, May 16, 2018.


The SHJ@50 Conference runs from 5pm Friday April 26 (with an optional 12:30pm Detroit Institute of Arts tour led by Rabbi Adam Chalom of the IISHJ if you’re in town early) through 12:30pm Sunday April 28. Registration includes Friday evening’s reception and lunch and dinner on Saturday.

The following near-final schedule was posted on February 17 and will continue to receive updates as they become available:



We have reserved room blocks at the following three hotels that are in very close proximity to the Birmingham Temple for the conference weekend:

1. Comfort Inn
30715 W. 12 Mile Rd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
(248) 471-9220 P.

The rate is $69.99 per night plus tax. Includes free breakfast, free wifi. Deadline for reserving a room is April 11, 2019.

Make a reservation either by calling the property direct at (248) 471-9220 or follow this link and refer to the SHJ group.

2. Fairfield Inn and Suites Marriott
27777 Stansbury Blvd.
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
Phone: (248) 442-9800

The rate is $89.00 per night plus tax. Includes free breakfast, free wifi, and swimming pool. Deadline for reserving a room is April 3, 2019.

Make a reservation by calling the hotel directly at (248) 442-9800 and giving them the code “SHJ”.

3. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Farmington Hills
33103 Hamilton Court
Farmington Hills, MI 48334
Phone (248) 516-1280

The rate is $99.00 per night plus tax. Includes free breakfast, free wifi, and swimming pool. Deadline for reserving a room is March 28, 2019.

Make a reservation by calling the hotel directly at (248) 516-1280 and giving them the group name “Society for Humanistic Judaism”.