The Birmingham Temple was founded in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine (1928-2007) and eight families seeking to establish a new temple in suburban Detroit. Under Rabbi Wine's educational and philosophical guidance, members began to explore new ways to express their Judaism that were more consistent with their beliefs. Their conversations, debates and monumental organizational efforts gave birth to a new understanding of Jewish identity informed by a universal Humanistic value system. They called it Humanistic Judaism and it launched a worldwide movement.
Throughout history, Jews have adapted to changing times. They have refined their ideas and invented new ways to identify as Jews. Humanistic Judaism is a modern fusion of Jewish cultural identity with an adherence to the principles of secular Humanism, which embraces human reason, ethics, social justice and philosophical naturalism as the bases of morality and decision making.
The Birmingham Temple celebrates Jewish culture and identity with Shabbat and holiday services, Jewish education for all ages, meaningful life cycle ceremonies and engagement with Israel and the Jewish world. The Temple offers a warm and welcoming community of people who are committed to exploring the application of Humanistic values in all areas of human experience against the background of a modern and relevant Jewish culture and identity. Consistent with these values, the Temple welcomes anyone who identifies with its principles. There are no barriers to full participation and inclusion by individuals or families of mixed heritage.
To honor its original meeting place, the congregation has continued to bear the name "The Birmingham Temple," though it long ago relocated to nearby Farmington Hills, Michigan. The Temple has grown to several hundred membership units. It also serves as the hub for a worldwide movement, serving as the home of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.
RABBI SHERWIN T. WINE, FOUNDER
Sherwin Wine was born in Detroit, Michigan on January 25, 1928. He studied at the University of Michigan (A.B., A.M.) and attended the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he earned his rabbinical ordination.
In 1963, Rabbi Wine's vision and leadership led to the creation of The Birmingham Temple which, in turn, developed and spread the ideas of a new movement in Jewish life that he called Humanistic Judaism.
In 1969 he helped to establish the Society for Humanistic Judaism as a national outreach vehicle for the new movement. This was followed by the creation of several other important Humanistic Jewish organizations, including an Israeli organization and a seminary, the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, that provides training for rabbis and leaders. He was also instrumental in the founding of many other efforts such as the Humanist Institute.
In 2003, The American Humanist Association selected him Humanist of the Year, an award that was established in 1953 to recognize a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of Humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition. As Humanist of the Year, Rabbi Wine joined such notables as Stephen Jay Gould, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Margaret Sanger, among others.
Rabbi Wine is the author of Humanistic Judaism, Judaism Beyond God, Celebration and Staying Sane In A Crazy World. He was a principal contributor to Judaism in a Secular Age: An Anthology of Secular Humanistic Jewish Thought.