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Remembering Rabbi Sherwin Wine

The founder of Humanistic Judaism, Rabbi Sherwin Wine, 79, died Saturday in a car crash in Morocco. Rabbi Wine, who spent his life forsaking convention as the leader of a sect of Judaism that saw the religion as a culture … Read More

By / July 23, 2007
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The founder of Humanistic Judaism, Rabbi Sherwin Wine, 79, died Saturday in a car crash in Morocco.

Rabbi Wine, who spent his life forsaking convention as the leader of a sect of Judaism that saw the religion as a culture instead of a faith, has died. He was 79. Wine, who founded the first congregation of Humanistic Judaism in suburban Detroit in 1963, was killed Saturday in an automobile accident in Essaouira, Morocco, according to the Web site of the Society for Humanistic Judaism. He and his partner, Richard McMains, were on vacation when another vehicle hit their taxi.

Following a 1965 Time magazine article, Wine’s reform movement gained notoriety. Nonetheless, he was denounced by many Jewish leaders as fomenting another short-lived 60’s craze. The movement's staying power proved otherwise, and Rabbi Wine built Humanistic Judaism from eight Detroit families to a worldwide membership of over 40,000. In 2003, the American Humanist Association selected him Humanist of the Year.

"Rabbi Wine was a visionary who created a Jewish home for so many of us who would have been lost to Judaism," Rabbi Miriam S. Jerris, president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis, said in a statement. "He taught us that human dignity is the highest moral value. We will live our lives reflecting that value to honor his memory."

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