Judaism Unbound Episode 44: A Secular Humanistic Hanukkah - Adam Chalom


Adam Chalom is the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism's Dean for North America and rabbi of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in Lincolnshire, Illinois. He joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about Secular Humanistic Judaism, Hanukkah, and trends in contemporary Jewish life. [1]

Image Credit: Hjrabbi.wordpress.com

Image Credit: Hjrabbi.wordpress.com

(0:01 - 13:02): The episode begins with Chalom giving a basic introduction of Secular Humanistic Judaism. [2] What are its key tenets? What are some of the common myths and misconceptions about it? How does it orient itself towards the idea of God? He also discusses the ways in which Secular Humanistic Judaism relates to a duality that the podcast often explores -- that of tradition and change.

(13:03 - 29:28): Chalom gives his take on the holiday of Hanukkah, along with some ways that Secular Humanistic Jews observe it. [3] He also discusses how his movement's approach to education differs from the approaches of other Jewish movements. [4] Specifically, Chalom looks at elements of Jewish mythology that clash with historical or archaeological evidence, providing a new lens for how Jewish institutions could teach this material.

(29:29 - 42:58): To close the show, the conversation pivots from questions directly focused on the secular humanistic Jewish world to trends in American Judaism more broadly. Chalom discusses a variety of data gathered both from the Pew Study of Jewish Americans and his own analysis. [5] His final thoughts tie together these ideas about the present and future of Judaism with the series's ongoing theme of Hanukkah.

The IISHJ sends its best wishes for a Happy Hanukkah to listeners of this podcast! Image Credit: International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism

The IISHJ sends its best wishes for a Happy Hanukkah to listeners of this podcast! Image Credit: International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism

[1] To learn more about Adam Chalom, visit his bio at this link. You can learn more about the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism and Kol Hadash by visiting their respective websites.    IISHJ     Kol Hadash

[2] Paul Golin, the Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism was a guest on Episode 16 of our podcast, entitled "Intermarriage and the Future." Listen to it at this link.

[3] To learn more about the history of the dreidel game, which Chalom alludes to, read this article, entitled "The Surprising Origin of the Dreidel," from MyJewishLearning.com.

[4] In this segment, Chalom highlights a story involving Rabbi David Wolpe, a conservative rabbi who caused controversy by questioning the Exodus's historicity from the pulpit. Learn more about what happened by reading this article, featured in the Bay Area's J Weekly.

[5] This page, from the website of the Pew Research Center, outlines many of Pew's key findings from the study "A Portrait of Jewish Americans," some of which Chalom alludes to towards the end of this episode.