Nobel Prize Winner Physicist Richard P. Feynman chosen by Society for Humanistic Judaism as the Humanistic Jewish Role Model for 2012-13
During his lifetime, 1918-1988, Feynman (pronounced fine-man) became one of the best-known scientists in the world. Born of Ashkenazi Jewish parents from Russia and Poland, by his youth he described himself as an “avowed atheist”. Early on, his father encouraged him to think about nature and how it works.
His lectures on physics, in book form, are now the standard texts for teaching on the graduate level. His contributions are wide ranging. They include his detailed work on the possibilities of nanotechnology, calculating the minute limits on the miniaturization of computers. He is known for speaking openly, clearly, and with good humor. He was a star witness on the Challenger disaster. He even developed a campaign to visit the far reaches of the Soviet Union (“Tuva or Bust”).
What are the criteria for Humanistic Jewish Role Model?
Roughly, a Jewish person who made valuable contributions to humankind, and would be compatible with Humanistic Judaism.
Who have been the Humanistic Jewish Role Models so far?
Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Betty Friedan, Sherwin Wine, Jonas Salk, Ernestine Rose, Richard Feynman
Are women honored? Yes. Betty Friedan and Ernestine Rose for example.
How are Humanistic Jewish Role Models selected? Suggestions are made from all over the SHJ landscape, and a choice is made by representatives of all the SHJ affiliated communities specifically via our SHJ Membership Committee’s recommendation, followed by full SHJ Board discussion and vote.
How can Richard Feynman be celebrated?
It can be a presentation based on the slide show at http://www.slideshare.net/operacrazy/richard-feynman-humanist-14414654
It can be the showing of the movie “Infinity” (available through Netflix) about the romance between Richard Feynman and Arline Greenbaum whom he married.
It can be a presentation devised by a member of your congregation (books, youtubes, and other materials are abundant and available).
It can be a shorter memorial candle-lighting as part of a previously scheduled program.
From Roger Ebert’s review of the movie “Infinity” 1996 starring Matthew Broderick and Patricia Arquette (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19961004/REVIEWS/610040305)
Richard Feynman, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1965, was one of the most interesting men our century has produced. As a very young man, he did theoretical work at Los Alamos on the project to develop an atomic bomb. In 1960, he gave a speech so famous it is known simply as ``Feynman's Talk,'' in which he described a new science of nanotechnology--the manipulation of very, very small things. Movies about great men tend to concentrate on the time when they were young and in love, rather than when they were middle-aged and doing their most important work. “Infinity'' follows Feynman (Matthew Broderick) from the late 1930s until the mid-1940s, a time during which he met and courted his first wife, Arline Greenbaum (Patricia Arquette). He was born brilliant and was not shy to admit it; on one of his first dates with Arline, he bets a Chinese merchant that he can solve problems in his head faster than the man can use his abacus.
A graduate of MIT, now studying at Princeton, Feynman long has been in love with Arline. Marriage, they thought, could wait--and would have to, because they had no money. Then two things changed all that. Feynman was offered a job in the top-secret research project at Los Alamos, and Arline became seriously ill with tuberculosis. Broderick and Arquette have a sweet, unforced chemistry as the young couple, who try their best to lead normal lives in an abnormal situation (in one scene, they barbecue steaks on a grill on the front lawn of the hospital). For Feynman, almost everything is an experiment; he pounces around her hospital room, testing the limits of the human nose. The love story won me over. I could see that ``Infinity'' was not going to be about Feynman's science but about his heart. It is a small story, and a touching one.
From WikipediaRichard Phillips Feynman (pronounced fine-man); May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. He developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World he was ranked as one of the ten greatest physicists of all time.
He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb and was a member of the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In addition to his work in theoretical physics, Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing, and introducing the concept of nanotechnology. He held the Richard Chace Tolman professorship in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.
Feynman was a keen popularizer of physics through both books and lectures, notably a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called, There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom, and the three volume publication of his undergraduate lectures, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Feynman also became known through his semi-autobiographical books, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, and books written about him, such as Tuva or Bust!.
In March, Seven CHJ teen congregants, the largest contingent in memory, attended the SHJ 2012 HuJews Teen and Young Adult Conclave in Washington D.C.
Steven Baumann, Emma and Kaila Finn, Julian Garrison, Molly Hamilton, Emily Snow, and Abby Ulman joined teens from other SHJ-affiliated congregations across the U.S. and Canada to participate in the three-day, activity-packed event. The group of 70 included young people from Washington D.C. (the host congregation, Machar), Chicago, Massachusetts, and a large delegation from Toronto.
The teens participated in workshops and discussions run by their peers; engaged in a community service project; and attended services marking Shabbat and Havdalah. Also built in to their busy schedule was time for sightseeing on the National Mall and socializing with friends old and new.
The community service project took place at a Washington D.C. transitional living home, a facility for people who are “coming out of homelessness,” Abby Ulman explained. The group tackled a variety of tasks, said Emily Snow and Molly Hamilton, such as clearing broken glass from the playground, painting fences, and mulching the community garden.
It was a rewarding experience, agreed the CHJ teens, and their help was greatly appreciated. “We were asked how many people would be helping that day,” said Steven Baumann, “and they were so happy to hear that it was 70!”
On their tour of the nation’s capital, the teens visited monuments and museums, including the Korean War Memorial, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. The spring-like weather was a plus as they trekked up and down the Mall.
Conclave included programs both serious and light-hearted. One discussion addressed the difference between “tzedekah” and “justice.” In another, the teens discovered that not every congregation conducts Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies in the same way as CHJ. Molly was surprised to learn, for example, that students in the Washington, D.C., and Toronto congregations mark their coming of age in a single group B’nai Mitzvah service.
The evening programs tilted toward humor, including a Purim-inspired skit headlined by Machar’s Rabbi Binyamin Biber and Rabbi Jeffrey Falick from Congregation Beth Adam in Boca Raton. And our own Emma and Kaila Finn took to the stage on open mic night with a display of vocal and comedic talent.
Reflecting on the weekend’s many highlights, the teens agreed when Emily declared that “Conclave was too short.” They expressed gratitude to CHJ for sponsoring their participation, and noted that Abby spoke for all when she said: “We had a wonderful experience, an amazing time, and we look forward to going to next year’s Conclave.”
March 26, 2012
Abby Ulman has been appointed one of two Teen Representatives to the Society for Humanistic Judaism Board of Directors. Their terms run from May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013.
July 25, 2011
As the right of workers to organize comes under attack, not only in the United States, but worldwide, we recognize that, as Humanistic Jews, we have an obligation to support efforts to preserve workers’ economic security and workplace safety, hard-won through the battles of the past century. In this ongoing struggle for workers’ rights, the Society for Humanistic Judaism has issued a statement that reads in part: Therefore be it resolved:
The Core Principles of the Society for Humanistic Judaism state that as Humanistic Jews “we seek solutions to human conflicts that respect the freedom, dignity, and self-esteem of every human being.” Jewish tradition supports fair and appropriate treatment for workers, provides for a day of rest, and exhorts all to “not take advantage of the hired worker.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified by the U. S. A. in 1992 and Canada in 1976) states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of their interests (article 22).” The negation of workers’ ability to preserve safe and just working conditions and fair wages threatens a sound economic structure and future generations. Collective bargaining enables workers to have a meaningful voice in negotiating with their employers to ensure that they receive a fair wage, reasonable working conditions, a safe work environment, and job security. Efforts to deny the rights of workers to collective bargaining curtail workers’ pursuit of economic justice. “The dignity and equality of all people are threatened by the ongoing attacks on workers’ rights,” said Bonnie Cousens, Executive Director of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. “As Humanistic Jews, we cannot allow the clock to be turned back to a time when the rights of workers to safe working conditions, a fair wage, and job security are nullified. Our tradition supports collective bargaining as a fundamental civil right, one that enforces economic justice and promotes citizens’ abilities to influence their own lives.” The Society for Humanistic Judaism is the national umbrella organization for Humanistic Jewish 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. Humanistic Jews believe in the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity, seeking solutions to human conflicts that respect the dignity, freedom, and self-esteem of every person. This growing movement provides a community for many unaffiliated Jews who identify as cultural, secular, “just Jewish” and “not very religious.” 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 serves the needs of individual members who do not live near an existing Humanistic congregation.
Two newly founded communities are now begun and have affiliated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism, as announced by Rabbi Miriam Jerris. They are:
Humanistic Jewish Havurah of Southwest Florida (Naples, FL) – 18 households, representing 16 new SHJ members
Humanist Jewish Chavurah of Columbus (Ohio) – 16 households, representing 9 new SHJ members
Jerris writes: "We welcome them both into our SHJ family. We congratulate and thank Paula Creed, President of HJH of Southwest, Florida and Linda Wolf, HJCC (Ohio) for their dedication to reaching this goal and their commitment to Humanistic Judaism and the Society. We look forward to supporting them and helping them grow."
Farmington Hills, MI
The Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) presented the 2010 Sherwin T. Wine Lifetime Achievement Award to Shari Gelber, of Newton, Massachusetts, Past President of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and member of Kahal B’raira, the Boston Congregation
Shari Gelber has served the Society for Humanistic Judaism in more ways than most of our volunteers, said Bert Steinberg, of San Francisco, California, who established the award. Gelber has repeatedly stepped up to the plate in times of need. She joined the Society for Humanistic Judaism Board of Directors in 1995 and by 1997 she was serving as on the Executive Committee. In 2000, she stepped in as President when the president resigned. She served in that role for more than two years and then became Past President. When the past president died suddenly she again stepped up and returned to the position of Past President. “Shari Gelber has exemplified an unwavering, consistent and long standing commitment to the SHJ and Humanistic Judaism,” said SHJ Executive Director Bonnie Cousens, “leading the SHJ with intelligence, generosity, poise and good humor.” Rabbi Miriam Jerris, in presenting the award to Ms. Gelber, said, “Shari Gelber models ethical volunteerism, encouraging others to fulfill the responsibilities they have accepted.”
Gelber, upon receiving the award, spoke about her motivation to work for Humanistic Judaism, AIt may be a cliché, but I wanted to give back to the movement from which I had gained so much. I wanted to help establish more congregations throughout North America, so more people could have an opportunity to join an HJ congregation. And just as in my local community, the more involved I became with SHJ the more I connected with inspiring people.
The award, established in 2003 in honor of Wine's 75th birthday, represents Steinberg=s heartfelt thank you to his mentor for founding a Judaism that reflected his lifelong philosophy and unfulfilled need. After joining Kol Hadash, the San Francisco Humanistic congregation, he became Bar Mitzvah at the age of 72 under Wine's tutelage. He is a past president of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and still serves as a member on the SHJ Board of Directors.
When the award was first established in his name Wine said, "I feel very honored that it is connected to what is most meaningful in my life, but that it is an award recognizing other people's work."
Recipients of the award are individuals “who have over the years exemplified extraordinary dedication, devotion, adherence to and activity in the Secular Humanistic Judaism Movement and the philosophical doctrines enunciated by the Movement's founder, Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine. A permanent plaque bearing the image of Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine is on display at the SHJ's headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan. A smaller replica is given each year to the recipient, along with a personal gift.
Humanistic Judaism, one of the five branches of Judaism, combines the Jewish values of loving-kindness (Gemilut Chassadim), charity (Tzedaka), and making the world a better place (Tikkun Olam), with the recognition that the responsibility for putting them in practice lies in human hands. It is a nontheistic movement in which cultural Jews and their families can affirm, celebrate, and enrich their Jewish identity and values. The Society is the central body for the Humanistic Jewish movement in North America.
For more information about Humanistic Judaism, contact the Society for Humanistic Judaism, 28611 West 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills, MI 48334, (248) 478-7610, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website shj.org