Wine, Sherwin

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WINE, SHERWIN (1928– ), Humanist rabbi. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Wine left his Conservative Jewish upbringing to found the world's first non-deified Jewish movement known as Humanistic Judaism. Self-described as strongly Jewish but with a focus on culture rather than religion, Wine earned degrees from the University of Michigan and Hebrew Union College in an effort to build a career as a counselor to the Jewish people. In 1963, he founded the Birmingham Temple in suburban Detroit, the first Humanistic congregation.

In the Birmingham Temple's library, a Torah stands on a pedestal, one of the "good books" offered there. Humanism focuses on Judaism as a culture and humans as self-reliant.

Wine established the Birmingham Temple with eight families who wanted to belong to a Jewish community without the trappings of formal religion. The Temple membership now numbers about 400 families.

In 1969, he helped establish the Society for Humanistic Judaism as a national outreach vehicle for the movement. In 1986, the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews was formed to connect Humanistic Jews around the world. Wine became the dean of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in North America. The movement started ordaining rabbis in 1992, two of whom succeeded Wine upon his semi-retirement in 1997.

He was involved in organizing the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews, the Center for New Thinking, the North American Committee for Humanism, the Humanist Institute and the Conference of Liberal Religion. He is the author of "Humanistic Judaism," "Judaism beyond God," "Celebration," and "Staying Sane in a Crazy World." Wine also contributed to Judaism in a Secular Age: An Anthology of Secular Humanistic Jewish Thought.

Before founding the Humanistic movement, Wine served two years in Korea as a U.S. Army chaplain and several years as a rabbi at Reform pulpits in Detroit and Windsor. Wine believes the Jewish people survived history by human will. Today, the secular Humanistic movement involves more than 30,000 people across North America, but it has yet to gain acceptance by the rest of the Jewish movements.

[Lynne Schreiber (2nd ed.)]