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Farmington Hills, MI, January 6, 2005 — We have all been stunned by the devastation wreaked by the Asian Tsunami, which has left more than 150,000 people dead and millions of people displaced and homeless in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Burma, and Maldives. As fellow human beings and as Humanistic Jews, our hearts and minds are engaged in seeking ways to support the massive relief efforts necessary. Several organizations have begun special relief efforts in response to this natural disaster. The Society for Humanistic Judaism is urging its congregations and members to support Tsunami relief through donations to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) or the American Jewish World Service (AJWS). The JDC is already the beneficiary of efforts by Humanistic Jewish congregations who support its Crop Walk to sponsor food donations for the needy.
Humanistic congregations embrace a human-centered philosophy that celebrates Jewish culture and identity. Our belief is in the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity,” said Bonnie Cousens, Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. We believe in the importance of mitzvot (good deeds) to achieve that end. The performance of acts of tzedakah (charity), a core value of Judaism, are intrinsic to a full expression of Humanistic Judaism.
The Society for Humanistic Judaism is the national umbrella organization for Humanistic congregations in North America. Humanistic Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Jewish culture that offer a genuine expression of their contemporary way of life. There are currently more than 30 congregations in the United States and Canada affiliated with this growing movement. Forty-nine percent of the United States 5.5 million Jews say that their outlook is secular and forty-eight percent do not belong to a synagogue or other Jewish organization according to the American Jewish Identification Survey undertaken by professional statisticians under the auspices of the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York. The Society helps to organize local congregations and havurot, creates and disseminates celebrational and educational materials, provides national programs, including programs for teens and young adults and a summer camp, and serves the needs of individual members who do not live near an existing Humanistic congregation.
The JDC South Asia Tsunami Relief fund has already provided more than $300,000 worth of medicine to India, which is being distributed by their partners on the ground. AJWS has partnered with 24 non-governmental, community-based organizations in the region on sustainable community development projects. They are focusing on providing direct material relief to the poorest families in affected areas, including providing food, water storage containers, cooking supplies, blankets, temporary shelters, bedding, and school supplies.
Making a contribution is easy: Go to www.jdc.org, click on Tsunami, and complete the line “I would like my contribution to be made in the name of:” with the words “Humanistic Judaism.” Or go to www.ajws.org and click on Tsunami to make your donation.