Tag Archives: secular humanism

Oranyu: You Can Choose Both

Humanism is the perspective that humans are the starting point for all ethical, moral and intellectual inquiry. Despite a starting point of this type, a dominant assumption about humanism in our contemporary culture(s) seems to suggest that a particular form of humanism is the only version of humanism to be explored – and that is secular humanism.

Indeed, the vast majority of the well-known humanist organizations in Canada and around the world assert an overtly secular humanist identity. In many cases, these organizations strive to forge a secular humanist identity that eliminates any and all traces of organized religion (and much of the culture that goes with it) from the mix. While that may be just the recipe for fulfillment that some people need, for others – it may not be quite right.

And this is where the universal nature of humanism’s starting point – an ethical, moral and intellectual centred on humans – draws a tremendous strength and versatility. It allows for organizations like Oranyu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism to firmly assert that “you can choose both.

Oranyu was founded in 1969 as the Secular Jewish Association by a group of families. Oraynu is based on the cultural and philosophical ideals of the Jewish Enlightenment, known as the Berlin Haskalah movement which began in Berlin in the late 1700s . The underlying principles of the Haskalah movement were to preserve Jewish culture while striving for integration with the dominant or surrounding societies.

In this modern iteration of these principles, Oraynu provides all the services required of a Jewish congregation within a secular humanist perspective.

For Oranyu, “The foundation of ethics is not God. The foundation of ethics is human dignity, human survival and human happiness. Ethical behavior consists of relationships between people. Some people behave well without believing in God and some people who believe in God do not behave ethically. We celebrate our Jewish identity. We use poetry and prose to express that connection – to encourage reflection and meditation. We sing Jewish songs in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. We create our own liturgy which includes blessings for wine, challah, candlelighting, holidays, etc. As well, we sometimes adapt traditional materials to be consistent with humanistic Jewish philosophy.

Here in the second decade of this twenty-first century, we have already experienced the emergence of altogether too many polarizing social, political and ideological events and situations and faced altogether too many over-inflated false dilemmas. Oranyu’s message, whether it is new or simply renewed, that “You can choose both” is perhaps one of the most necessary messages of this decade that any humanist organization might care to extend to the community.

The Oranyu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism is one of the many examples of Canada’s rich humanist heritage.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://www.oraynu.org

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esSENCE Global: The World’s Biggest Atheist Meet in “God’s Own Country”

When was the last time there was a meeting of Secular Humanists in Canada, or indeed all of North America which could proudly affirm 10,000 attendees? Or even 5,000? The Reason Rally website (as of October 5, 2022) appears to still have branding from 2016 and proclaims “The Reason Rally is proud to have hosted the two largest gatherings to celebrate secular identity and speak up for reason in American history.” Despite a bit of mis-place modifier action going-on in that proclamation, we can take it that things were still happening in 2016.

In Canada, the most recent iteration of the Imagine No Religion conference (INR7) was held in Toronto during the summer of 2017. We remember it fondly as HumanistFreedoms.com stands as a product of friendships developed and sustained at that time.

Time has indeed passed and one must only wonder if it isn’t perhaps time for Secular Humanists in North America to look around and take stock. Where is everybody? Where is that solidarity to promote reason and secular values?

Maybe it’s also time to take note of undertakings on other continents.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The first edition of Litmus, the annual meet of esSENSE Global, was held in Thiruvananthapuram, India, in Oct 2018. The next one was held in Kozhikode in 2019. Litmus is noted for all round participation from the secular-atheist community and the general public in the state of Kerala. Expatriate Malayalees also participate in this annual event in large numbers.

According to TheNewsMinute.com, “Around 10,000 people gathered at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at Kadavanthara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on October 2, Sunday, to attend an annual meet named ‘Litmus 22’, pitched as “the world’s biggest atheist meet in ‘god’s own country’”.

‘Let evidence lead’ is the motto of Litmus and stated on the event website that:

No pompous fanfare by parading of caparisoned elephants through packed streets.
No vengeful god with their inherent fury or priests with their greedy interests.
No eardrum shattering high decibel fireworks or loudspeakers.

Instead, this session entails a celebration that promotes the advancement of humanity through enhancing scientific temper and freethinking as per article 51 a(h) of the constitution of India.

esSENSE GLOBAL is a registered organization under the Registrar of Societies, Government of Kerala, India with ‘ESSENSE CLUB GLOBAL’ as the registered name. Via internet, social and printed media the organization is known as esSENSE GLOBAL.

The goal of esSENSE GLOBAL is to promote the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform in the society inspired by the Article 51 A (h) of Constitution of India which insists “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. esSENSE GLOBAL strives to liberate the society of Kerala from religious and secular superstitions, dogmas and intellectual bondage. Unbiased freethinking is the stand we espouse without flinch. esSENSE Global always holds the view that Kerala society requires a real handshake with science and its methodology so as to advance to the next level of human civilization. When we defend science, in fact, we defend our civilization.

esSENSE GLOBAL organizes Seminars, Study classes, Panel discussions, Presentations, Debates, Aid missions throughout the state of Kerala to spread the ideas and values mentioned above. All programs are recorded and published in YouTube and social media.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://essenseglobal.com/about-us/
  2. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/around-10000-people-attend-atheist-meet-kerala-168536

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.