Secular Humanistic 

Shabbes Reader 


An anthology of inspirational readings, 

songs, and poems 

on Jewish themes for Shabbes 





















Prepared by Bennett Muraskin 

Jewish Cultural School and Society 




Introduction by Rabbi Sherwin Wine 


There are two Jewish traditions. 


The first is a religious one.  It finds supernatural power, prayer and worship important. It believes in divine revelation, eternal laws and sacred rituals. It sees Nature as less interesting than the world beyond. In Jewish history it found political power and became the establishment. 


The second is a secular and humanistic tradition.  It prefers people, human intelligence and human dignity.  It affirms reason, science and human community.  It finds no need to look beyond the wonders of nature.  In Jewish history it never found political power. It survived in the underground of ordinary Jewish life. 


The second tradition is as important as the first. 


The second tradition is our tradition. 


Judaism is far more than many people allow it to be.  Some people view it very narrowly, seeing only its religious side. Others perceive it broadly emphasizing its ethical outreach. 

Judaism is more than theology and moral rules. It is more than parochial faith and universal sentiments. It is the living culture of a living people. 


Judaism is family, love and nurturing.  Judaism is memory, roots and pride. Judaism is music, dance and humor. Everything that Jewish people, throughout the ages, did and yearned to do is Judaism. 


Judaism did not fall from heaven. It was not invented by a divine spokesman.  It was created by the Jewish people. It was molded by Jewish experience. It was flavored by Jewish sadness and Jewish joy. 


Life is an evolution, a continuous flow of transformations. And so is culture. When circumstances change, people change. When people change, their laws and customs change.  A healthy people welcomes change. It understands its history. It knows its own power. It leads the past into the future. 


A secular, a humanistic Jew affirms the power of people.  He or she affirms the power of common sense and human reason. But above all, he or she strives for human dignity. 


Human dignity is Jewish dignity. 


Our past is a guide to our future. It is no sacred temple requiring reverence. It is no sacred book with immutable decrees. It is no sacred song with only one melody. It is a treasury of memories from which we can draw. It is a storehouse of wisdom from which we can borrow. It is a drama of endless creativity which we can imitate. 


We are always the bridge between the past and the future. We are always the continuity between the old and the new. We do not betray the past by rejecting our roots. We do not betray the future by ignoring our needs. We pay tribute to both. We use the past to dream of our future. 

The Significance of Shabbes 


The lengthy week is at an end, 

And with it work and weekday woe, 

Encircled by family and friend, 

We step back from time's endless flow. 

For all who toil deserve to rest, 

And all who sow deserve to reap, 

To benefit from all life's best, 

And to partake in Shabbes peace. 


Though literally Shabbes means rest, traditionally, Shabbes is much more than a day of rest for Jews.  It is a day of spiritual and cultural renewal.  It is a day of experiencing family and the shared heritage of peoplehood.  It is a day for Jewish learning.  It is also an appreciation of freedom, for only a free person has the luxury of choosing not to work. 

Naomi Prawer Kadar, Shabbes(Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring) 


Shabbes reminds us that our bodies belong to us and that physical, intellectual and emotional pleasures are to be enjoyed.  We need roses as well as bread.  We are also reminded that our families and friends have a special place in our lives.  Shabbes is a symbol of both our freedom and our humanity. 

adapted from Judith Seid, We Rejoice in our Heritage: Home Rituals for Secular Jews 


However, too many of us still lack this freedom.  We find ourselves working long hours and weekends. We receive far less vacation time than required to maintain good mental and physical health.  The next selection, written over sixty years ago, shows that we still have a long way to go to achieve the essential precondition for a fulfilling Shabbes. 


The most beautiful of the Jewish holy days is the Sabbath, the holiday with social significance, when for the first time, the idea of the right to rest was proclaimed for the slave and for the worker--a right which is much more important than the world-renowned "right to work" with which so many utopians hoped to solve the problems of society.  Humanity still does not have the right to rest, and will never have it, until the foundations of life are rebuilt in accordance with the principles of social justice.  It should be a source of pride to Jews that the first kernels of that idea were planted in its prophetic literature. 

Chaim Zhitlovsky (1855-1943), philosopher of Jewish secularism and founder of Yiddish cultural schools in the United States 




Secular Humanist Shma 


Hear, Oh Israel, 

The universe is one. 

All humanity is one. 


Shma Yisroel 

Ha-olam echad! 

Ha-enoshiut echad! 


And you shall love your fellow humans  

With all your heart 

And all your soul,  

And all your might! 


These words inscribe on your heart 

And on your doorposts. 

Repeat them and teach them to your children 

By day and by night. 


Teach them to revere all life. 


by Morris Sukenik 



Shma: Communal Declaration of Faith 


Hear, O Israel---The divine abounds everywhere 

And dwells in everything: the many are One. 


Sh’ma, yisrael— 

La’elohut alfey panim, 

M’lo olam sh’khinatah, 

Ribuy paneha ekhad.  


Loving life and its mysterious source with all our heart and all our spirit, 

All our senses and strength, we take upon ourselves and into ourselves these promises: 


To care for the earth and those who live upon it, 

To pursue justice and peace, 

To love kindness and compassion. 


We will teach this to our children throughout the passage of the day--- 

As we dwell in our homes and as we go on our journeys, 

From the time we rise until we fall asleep 

And may our actions be faithful to our words 

That our children’s children may live to know: 


Truth and kindness have embraced, 

Peace and justice have kissed and are one. 


Marcia Falk, The Book of Blessings   




Songs to Greet the Sabbath…and Each Other 

Lomir Shabbes Bagrisn (Let Us Greet the Sabbath) 


Lomir Shabbes bagrisn (2X) 

Lomir, lomir lomir (2X) 

Lomir Shabbes bagrisn 


In additional verses, substitute as appropriate, di mishpokhe (the family) di shul (the school), or alemen (everyone) for "Shabbes." 




Zol Zayn Shabbes (Let Us Have Sabbath) 


Shabbes, shabbes,  

Zol zayn Yidn shabbes, 

Shabbes zol zayn, (2X) 

Shabbes oyf der gantser velt! (2X) 


Yontev, yontev, 

Zol zayn Yidn yontev, 

Yontev zol zayn, (2X) 

Yontev oyf der gantser velt! (2X) 


Sholem, sholem, 

Zol zayn Yidn sholem. 

Sholem zol zayn, (2X) 

Sholem oyf der gantser velt! (2X)  


Translation: Let us have Sabbath…Rejoicing…Peace throughout the world! 


Music on next page is taken from Kumzits! A Festivity of Instant Jewish Songs, edited by Pat Martz, Kopinvant Secular Press 


A Selection of Poems to Greet the Sabbath Queen 



The sun over the treetops is no longer seen, 

Come, let us go forth to greet the Sabbath Queen, 

Behold her arrival, the holy, the blessed, 

And with her angels of peace and of rest 

Come near, come near, and here abide. 

Come near, come near, O, Sabbath Bride! 

Peace to you, O angels of peace. 


We've welcomed the Sabbath with songs and with praise; 

We go slowly homeward, our hearts full of grace. 

The table is set and the candles give light, 

At home every corner is shining and bright. 

Sabbath is peace and rest. 

Sabbath is peaceful and blest. 

Come in peace, you angels of peace! 


Ha’khamah merosh ha’ilanot nistalkah 

Bo’u v’netseh likrat Shabat ha’malkah, 

Hiney hi yoredet, ha’kedoshah, ha’brukhah, 

Ve’imah malakhim tsvah shalom u’menukhah 

Bo’i, bo’i ha’malkah, 

Bo’i, bo’i ha’kalah 

Shalom aleykhem malakhey ha’shalom. 


Ha’khamah merosh ha’ilanot nistalkah, 

Bo’u uenilaveh et shabat ha’malkah. 

Tseytekh l’shalom, ha’kedoshah ha’zakah 

De’i, sheshet yamim el shuveykh nikhakeh. 

Ken l’shabat haba’ah 

Ken l’shabat haba’ah 

Tsetkhem l’shalom malakhey hashalom.    

By Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Russia-Israel 1873-1934 



Oh, come let us welcome sweet Sabbath the Queen! 


The cobbler abandoned his awl and his thread, 

The tailor's brisk needle now sleeps in its bed. 

Father has bathed, washed his hair, and he says: 

Sweet Sabbath is near, 

Sweet Sabbath is here, Oh, come let us welcome sweet 

Sabbath the Queen! 


The storekeeper locked and bolted his store, 

The teamster unbridled his horse at the door, 

The sexton runs hither and thither and says: 

The sun sets in the sky, Sweet Sabbath is nigh,  

Oh come let us welcome sweet Sabbath the Queen! 


The white-bearded cantor has hastened along 

To welcome the Sabbath with blessing and song, 

Dear mother is lighting the candles and prays: 

Day of holiness and rest, 

Forever be blest, 

Oh come let us welcome sweet Sabbath the Queen! 


by ZALMAN SCHNEOUR, Russia-Israel, 1887-1959
Translated from the Hebrew by Harry H. Fein 




I quarreled with kings till the Sabbath, 

I fought with the six kings 

of the six days of the week. 


Sunday they took away my sleep.  

Monday they scattered my salt.  

And on the third day, my God,  

they threw out my bread: whips flashed across my face.  

The fourth day they caught my dove, my flying dove, and 

slaughtered it. 

It was like that till Friday morning 


This is my whole week, 

the dove's flight dying. 


At nightfall Friday 

I lit four candles, and the queen of the Sabbath came to me. 

Her face lit up the whole world, 

and made it all a Sabbath.  

My scattered salt shone in its little bowl, 

and my dove, my flying dove,  

clapped its wings together,  

and licked its throat.  

The Sabbath queen blessed my candles,  

and they burned with a pure, clean flame.  

The light put out the days of the week 

and my quarreling with the six kings. 


The greenness of the mountains 

 is the greenness of the Sabbath. 

 The silver of the lake 

 is the silver of the Sabbath.  

The singing of the wind  

is the singing of the Sabbath. 


And my heart's song is an eternal Sabbath. 

By Kadia Molodowsky (1874-1975


Two Humanist Versions of a Traditional Poem/Song  

Shalom alekhem ohave hashabbat 

Ohave shabbat shalom 

Y'ridat hashemesh meviah lanu shabbat 

Shabbat k'var hagia hayom 


Boakhem l'shalom ohave hasholom 

Ohave bnai adam 

M'yisrael ad artsenu 

Shalom al kol haolam 


Y'vorakh bab'riut hazakuk lab'riut 

M'nukhat shabbat tavi refua 

Shalvat hashabbat tavi lanu briut 

Laguf venefesh trufa 


Ts'etkhem l'hofesh beyom simkha v'oneg 

Bayom sheshovtim meavoda 

Meavodatenu nishbot im yakirenu 

Avot banim im kol hamishpakha 


Welcome, you lovers of the Sabbath 

Sabbath lovers, Shalom! 

The setting of the sun brings us Sabbath, 

Sabbath has already reached us here. 


Your coming be in peace, you lovers of peace, 

Lovers of humankind,  

From Israel to our land,  

Let there be peace all over the world. 


Be blessed with health, whoever is in need of health. 

May Sabbath rest bring cure. 

May Sabbath peace bring us health, 

Body and soul a cure. 


As you go out to freedom on this happy, joyous day, 

On the day that we rest from work, 

From our work we'll rest with our loved ones: 

Parents, children, and all the mishpakha. 

By Morris Sukenik 


A Selection of Ceremonies For Lighting Candles, Drinking Wine And Eating Challeh 

To Say Over Candles: 


The lighting of the Sabbath candles is one of the most familiar customs connected to Shabbes and one that is part of our collective memory. According to tradition, candles are lit on Friday just before sunset, usually by the mother and daughters of the household, though they may be lit by any Jew.  The lighting of the candles signifies the spiritual essence of the Sabbath.  Candlelight flickers, spreading its light and its warmth.  It envelops us in peace, sholem bayis  (family harmony), the light of learning, and the hope for the continuity of the Jewish people.  Personal wishes for health and well-being go out from our hearts to all of our loved ones. 

   Naomi Prawer Kadar, Shabbes (Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1995) 



We light these candles to celebrate our coming together. 

They reflect the light in our lives and the warmth we find in our extended family. 

They generate a feeling of togetherness, and connect us to our Jewish history and heritage. 

May our time together bring us joy and a renewed sense of commitment to our people and all humanity. 

Violet Cherlin, Long Island Havurah for Humanistic Judaism 



We rejoice in our heritage which has given us the tradition of lighting the Shabbes candles. 


Ashreinu bi'yerushateinu she'masrah lonu et hatoreshet l’hadlik ner shel shabbat. 


Mir freyen zikh mit undzer yerusheh vos hot undz gegebn di traditsiye foon ontsindn di Shabbes likht. 

Judith Seid, We Rejoice on Our Heritage: Home Rituals for Secular Jews 



Barukh haor baolam. 

Radiant is the light in the world 

Barukh haor ba’adam. 

Radiant is the light of humanity. 

Barukh haor bashabbat 

Radiant is the light of the Sabbath. 

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine 

ALL SING: This Little Light of Mine 

Additional verses: For peace and justice in the world/Won’t let anyone blow it out. 



To say over Wine/Grape Juice: 


In the warm glow of the candles' shine, 

 we lift the brimming cup of wine. 

As Jews for centuries before, 

 sharing Jewish life and lore. 

In praise of harmony and rest, 

 ideals of justice, freedom's quest. 

A world of brotherhood and peace, 

 where poverty and hate will cease. 

At our Shabbes celebration, 

 we renew our dedication, 

To all that's Jewish/Yiddish,  

in this, our special Kiddish. 

By Naomi Prawer Kadar, Shabbes, (Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1995) 



We rejoice in our heritage which has given us the cup of wine [grape juice] as the symbol of our happiness. We rejoice in our heritage which has given us the Sabbath, a day of rest. It is first among our holidays and a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt. 


Ashreinu bi'yerushateinu she'masrah lanu kos pri hogofen l'mo'adim  

u'l'simkha ki samakhnu b'khageinu.  

Ashreinu bi'yerushateinu she'masrah lanu et ha'shabbat., yom-mnukha, 

reisheet bamo'adeinu zekher litsi'at mitsra’im. 


Mir freyen zikh mit unzer yerushe vos hot undz gegebn di kos foon vayn alts simbol foon undzer gliklich-kayt, 

Mir freyen zikh mit undzer yerusheh vos hot undz gegebn Shabbes, a tog foon minukha. 

Es is di vikhtikste foon undzere yom-toyvim oon dermont undz foon undzer 

oroysgeyn foon mitzrayhim 


Judith Seid, We Rejoice in Our Heritage: Home Rituals for Secular Jews 



Borukh shalom baolam. 

We bless peace in all the world

Borukh shalom baodam. 

We bless peace among all people. 

Borukh shalom bashabbbat. 

We bless the peace and joy of this Shabbat. 

 Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine 


To Say Over Challeh: 


In tasting bread, we remember the hungry.  May there be a day when no human being suffers the pain and desolation of hunger.  May the bounty we enjoy help us to bring to fruition the vision of a besere un a shenere velt, a better and more beautiful world. 

Naomi Prawer Kadar, Shabbes, (Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1995) 



We rejoice in our heritage that teaches us to love our earth that gives us wheat and to honor the farmers who grow it and the workers who make it into bread. 


Ashreinu b'yerushateinu she'morah lanu 

le'ehuv et ha'adama, matsmikhat dagan,  

u'l'khabed et ha'ikar ha'motsi lekhem min 

ha'aretz v'et hapo'el hao'ofeh khalot. 


Mir freyen zich mit undzer yerusheh  

vos hot undz oysgelernt 

az mir zoln lib hobn undzer erd vos git undz veytz, 

oon dermant undz opgebn koved  

di vos akern dos erd oon 

kooltivirn dem veytz, 

oon di arbeter vos bakn undz dos broit 

Judith Seid, We Rejoice in Our Heritage: Home Rituals for Secular Jews 



B'rukhim hakhayim baolam. 

Blessed be the life in the world. 

B'rukhim hakhayim baadama.  

Blessed be the life in the earth. 

B'rukhim hamotsim lekhem minhaorets. 

Blessed are those who bring forth bread from the earth. 

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine 


Song on next page is taken from Kumzits! A Festivity of Instant Jewish Songs, edited by Pat Martz, Kopinvant Secular Press 





Shabes is a time to be together: with our families, with friends, with our community. It is an old tradition to invite guests to the Sabbath meal…to share our food and our special time with a stranger, a traveler or with someone who would be alone on this special evening. 


We have come together this evening to be each other’s Shabes guests…to share our food and friendship. 

Shabes at Sholem, Sholem Community Organization 


Tsedoke or Charity 

There is another old Shabes tradition that we need to think about and, perhaps make part of our tradition too.   Even in times of terrible poverty, our grandmothers and great grandmothers strained to save one or two coins every week—coins they needed badly to buy bread.  To welcome Shabes, they put those coins into a little charity box, a pushke.  The money saved in those boxes was for widows and orphans…for victims of pogroms…for the aged and the sick.  It was a profoundly human custom.  

Shabes at Sholem, Sholem Community Organization   






Heeney mah tov umah naeem, shevet ameem gam yakhad 



Oy, vee gut un vee voyl es is, lebn vee mentchen tsuzamen. 



Oh, what a wonderful world it could be if all people could live together. 


Introduction to Secular/Humanist Hero 


There is a traditional Sabbath blessing that fathers recite in which they pray that their sons emulate Ephraim and Manasseh (the sons of Joseph) and their daughters emulate the Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel). It would be more fitting to express the hope that we, our families and our friends draw inspiration from secular and humanistic heroes. 


What are the qualities of a hero?  Let us read the words of one of our greatest--Hannah Senesh (l92l-1944).  She was a Hungarian Jew who immigrated to Palestine in 1939 and parachuted into Yugoslavia in 1944 as part of a mission to rescue British POWs and organize Jewish resistance to the Nazis in Hungary.  She was captured, tortured and then executed by pro-Nazi Hungarian police: 


"There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth though they long have been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living.  These lights are particularly brilliant when the night is dark.  They light the way of humankind." 


ALL READ, by taking turns, a profile of a SECULAR/HUMANIST HERO: 





At the rising of the sun and at its going down, 

We remember them. 


At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,  

We remember them. 


At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, 

We remember them. 


At the shining of the sun and in the warmth of summer, 

We remember them. 


At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, 

We remember them. 


At the beginning of the year and at its end, 

We remember them. 


As long as we live, 

they too will live; 

for they are a part of us, 

as we remember them. 


When we are weary and in need of strength, 

We remember them. 


When we are lost and sick at heart, 

We remember them. 


When we have joy we crave to share, 

We remember them. 


When we have decisions that are difficult to make, 

We remember them. 


When we have achievements that are based on theirs, 

We remember them. 


As long as we live, they too shall live; 

for they were a part of us, 

as we remember them. 

Sylvia Kamens and Jack Riemer 




Not Without a Trace 

by Ber Green 

 (translated from the Yiddish by Aaron Kramer) 


I shall not disappear without a trace; 

Within your hearts my flame shall find a place. 

I’ll carry this great truth across the earth; 

That we are holy, yes, beyond all worth. 


From land to land I’ll seek my radiant goal. 

Till we reach the heights of our own soul, 

Till every demon shall be overthrown 

And freedom come at last into its own. 


The path I choose leads on from heart to heart 

No, not without a trace shall I depart; 

The treasures of my life are yours to keep 

The harvest of my days is yours to reap. 


For it was your unfathomed life to me, 

Showed what a giant this poor dwarf might be. 

Not everything I reach for can be mine, 

Yet this I know-- at least I’ll have a sign. 


In every miracle of my refrain 

I see your footprints--all your ageless pain 

Is mine now; all your laughter I’ve embraced. 

I know--- my life shall never be erased.  



I know a flower that sprouts and blooms 

It grows without rain or dew. 

It needs no gentle breezes, 

It needs no warming sun. 


It grows in storms, it grows in snow 

When all other flowers perish. 

The storms give it strength and life, 

Colors and sweet fragrance. 


When thunder and lightning crash 

And mighty trees are falling 

This flower then begins to live, 

Begins to grow and blossom. 


This flower is called love for my people 

It blossoms in the storm 

It draws its strength from suffering 

lt nurtures itself with pain. 


Ikh veys a blum, vos shprotst un blit, 

vakst un toy, un regn. 

zee darf kayn frishe vintn nisht 

kayn zun vos haynt antkegn. 


Zee vakst in shturem un in shney 

ven ale blumen shtarbn. 

der shturem git eer zaft un kraft 

gerukh un zeese farbn. 


Un ven es dunert un es blitst 

un shtarke beymer faln  

den hoybt zee ersht tsu lebn on, 

den hoybt zee on tsu shtraln. 


Dee blum heyst leebe tsum folk, 

zee shprots aroys in shturem 

zee tsit khiyune fun eer shmerts 

un nert zirkh mit yisurim. 

Yehoyesh (S.Bloomgarden

Transliteration by Hershl Hartman 







As one with our forebears we affirm that  

righteousness and enlightenment shall be our torch. 


We shall teach these values diligently to our children 

All the days of our lives. 


We shall endeavor to live by these values 

In the comfort of our homes or on cold and windswept roads. 


Whether adversity bows our heads or fulfillment makes our spirits soar. 

Our hands shall mete out justice to all. 

And our eyes shall be open to the light of truth. 


We shall emblazon our paths through life 

With this light, as a beacon for all mankind! 

Eva Goldfinger 




Song of Songs 


Shir Hashirim, or The Song of Songs, is one of the most humanistic books of the Bible. It is clearly the only book with an egalitarian view of sexual relations. In view of the extremely patriarchal cast of Biblical literature, it is indeed remarkable that over half of The Song of Songs is written in a woman's voice. 


Traditionalists interpret The Song of Songs as expressing the love between the Jewish people and God, but any honest reading of the text reveals that it is erotic poetry--and exquisite poetry at that. In this spirit, let us [silently] read.  The first paragraph is for the men, the second for the women. 


 Lo, thou art beautiful my beloved; lo thou art beautiful… 

You have captured my heart with one glance of your eyes... 

How sweet is your much more delightful than wine... 

Sweetness drops from your lips...honey and milk are under your tongue... 

Your limbs are an orchard of pomegranates... 

Lo, thou art beautiful, my friend and also pleasant... 

Rise thee up, my beloved my fair one and come along. 


My beloved is mine and l am his, that roams among the lilies... 

Like the apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my friend among the young men ... 

My friend is fair and distinguished among ten thousand... 

His eyes are like doves by streams of water, bathed in milk… 

His mouth is delicious and all of him is delightful. 

This is my friend and this is my beloved, O daughters of Jerusalem... 

Dodi Li (from the Song of Songs) 


Dodi li va-ani lo, ha-roeh bashonanim (2X) 


Dm  Gm  Dm  Am   Dm  Gm  DmC  Dm 


Mi zot ola min hamidbar, mi zot olah 

M’kuteret mor, mor ulevona, mor ulevona 


Dm------------------DmGm  C – 


Libavtini achoti kalah, libavtini kala (2X) 


Dm  --  C – Dm       G    A  -- 


U-ri tza-fon, u-vo-i teyman (2X) 


Dm   --   C  --  Dm   --  A
Non-Jewish Secular Humanism 


Secular humanism is the basis for modern liberal, democratic and socialist ideas and has had many advocates among non-Jewish people, including John Locke, Voltaire and other French Enlightenment thinkers, Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Engels, W.E.B. Du Bois, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell and C. Wright Mills.  It also finds expression in contemporary music.  The following songs by non-Jewish artists, one by American folk singer Phil Ochs (1940-1976), who was half-Jewish but not raised as a Jew and the other by John Lennon (1940-1980) eloquently express the secular humanistic world view. 

When I’m Gone 


There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone 

And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone 

And you won’t find me singing on this song when I’m gone 

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here. 


D-Bm-/Em-A/D F#m Bm-/Em A D- 


And I won’t be running from the rain… 

And I can’t even suffer from the pain… 

There’s nothing I can lose or I can gain… 

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here. 


Won’t see the golden of the sun… 

And the evenings and the mornings will be one… 

Can’t be singing louder than the guns… 

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here. 


And I won’t be laughing at the lies… 

And I can’t question how or when or why… 

Can’t live proud enough to die… 

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here. 

Phil Ochs 



Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try 

No hell below us, above us only sky 

Imagine all the people living for today 


G C G C / / C D— 


Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do 

Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too 

Imagine all the people living life in peace 


You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one 

I hope one day you’ll join us and the whole world will live as one 


C D G- (2X) / / 

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can 

No need for greed nor hunger nor folk with empty hands 

Imagine all the people sharing all the world 


You may say that I’m a dreamer… 

John Lennon 



Most people think 

Great god will come from the sky 

Take everything  

And make everybody feel high 

But if you know what life is worth 

You will look for it here on earth 

So now you see the light 

You stand up for your rights. 


Bob Marley  


Introduction to the Theme 


At this juncture, there is an opportunity to explore a theme of interest to Jewish secular humanists (Jewish labor struggles, family relationships, intermarriage, the dangers of fanaticism, education, ethical behavior, war and peace, the human spirit, the struggle for a better world, the role of women in Jewish life etc.)  It could be followed by group discussion. 


The material for this portion of the program is taken from a wide variety of sources, including the Bible, Talmud, Jewish folklore, poetry and songs, contemporary music, modern Yiddish literature and the thoughts of leading Jewish secular humanist thinkers.     



Traditional and Modern Wisdom 


Pirkey Avos (Sayings of the Fathers) is the Talmud's best exposition of ethical values. 

Traditionally, it is read during the afternoon Sabbath service between Passover and Rosh Hashanah. As we are not bound by any fixed liturgy, we read it whenever it speaks to our needs. 


Each program features a different saying. 


However, in keeping with the view espoused by Simon Dubnow that the second half of Jewish history will inspire the noblest part of thinking humanity in the same way that the Biblical part of Jewish history inspired believing humanity, we also include a saying from a modern Jewish secular/humanist thinker. 


In this way, we become part of a living and growing heritage. 


Hillel said: In a place where there are no decent people, you strive to be one. 


Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa said:  He whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure. He whose wisdom exceed his deeds, his wisdom will not endure.  


Achad Ha’am said:  When the individual values the community as his own life and strives after its happiness as though it were his individual well-being, he finds satisfaction and no longer feels so keenly the bitterness of his individual existence because he sees the end for which he lives and suffers. 


Achad Ha’am  (1856-1927), born Asher Ginzburg, was the leading exponent of  cultural Zionism and one of the seminal philosophers of secular Judaism.   



[Program 1] 


Hillel said: If I am not for myself, who will be?  But if I am only for myself, what am I?  If not now, when?   


Mossaye Olgin said: We wish to see a Jew who will not be a stranger in the country where he lives, a Jew who will know how to link the progressive forces of the Jewish people to the progressive forces of all people in the struggle for a better, more humane life and who will, at the same time, remain a Jew, an offspring of his people and a fighter for the future of his people. 


Olgin (1878-1939) was a revolutionary in Czarist Russia and the United States.  In the U.S. he became  the editor of the communist Yiddish daily, the Freiheit, and an advocate for Jewish secularism.  He was a leader in the struggle against anti-Semitism and fascism.  One hundred thousand people attended his funeral in New York City.  Although he gave unqualified support to Stalin and heaped abuse on Trotsky and his followers, Olgin’s positive accomplishments far outweigh his flaws.  


[Program 2] 


No entry 


[Program 3] 


Rabbi Joshua said: An evil eye, an evil spirit and hatred for others—these ruin a man’s life in this world. 


A wise man does not speak before a man wiser than himself; he does not interrupt another man; he does not answer in haste; his answers are relevant; he deals with first things first and last things last; he admits what he does not know and he affirms the truth. 


Simon Dubnow said: Judaism is broad enough and varied enough so that any Jew can draw from its source according to his spirit and outlook…No one has the right to claim monopoly of Judaism for himself…Between us and the Orthodox Jew there is only this difference: they recognize a Judaism whose forms are permanent, while we believe in an evolutionary Judaism than takes on new and discards old forms and that keeps adjusting constantly to new cultural conditions. 


Simon Dubnow(1860-1941), the great Russian-Jewish historian, was one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Jewish secularism.  He believed that Jews could survive in the diaspora by achieving ‘national cultural autonomy’ within the framework of a democratic society.  He was murdered by pro-Nazi Latvian police. 


[Program 4] 


He who learns from his neighbor so much as a single chapter, rule or expression is obligated to show him the honor of a teacher. 


This noble sentiment exists alongside another saying that illustrated the ant-humanist side of traditional Jewish learning.  


Rabbi Jacob said: He who studies while travelling on a journey and in the middle of his studies stops to admire the scenery, saying ‘How beautiful is this tree, how pleasant is this field,’ has harmed his own soul. 


Horace Kallen said: If Jewish education of American Jews is to succeed in preserving Jewish living, it needs to be transformed from indoctrination in a Judaism confined to religious schools and ending at the Bar Mitzvah. It needs to be shaped into an inquiry into the values of the entire Jewish cultural heritage…It needs to be fused with the humanities of liberal education.  It needs to convert the record of the Jewish past from inert remembrances into living roots of future growth… 


Horace Kallen(1882-1974), was an American Jewish scholar and activist who developed the concept of cultural pluralism.  He believed that a democratic society required the perpetuation of cultural differences among ethnic groups rather than their disappearance into the ‘melting pot.’  His ideas directly influenced  John Dewey and Louis Brandeis.  On of this students, Saul Goodman, became one of the greatest proponents of secular Jewish education and edited The Faith of Secular Jews (1976), the first anthology of Jewish secular humanistic thought.    

















Sabbath in Merhaviah 

By Jessie Sampter (1883-1938, United States/Palestine)  


“I wish,” he said, “you could be here this Sabbath, 

To see how beautiful it is.” 


I remembered Nehama and her horror of their Sabbath. 

I told him, “Is it true you wash and cook and ride on the Sabbath? 

He’s a “radical,” makes no pretense at what is called “religion.” 

“It’s true, the women cook as much as they find needful; 

There is no formalism.  But the washing is never done on Sabbath. 

No, we rest with all our might. 

Yet if a girl should care to wash her blouse or rinse some handkerchief, 

We make no inquisition. 

As for riding, we sometimes take our wagons out on Sabbaths 

To pay calls at the neighboring settlements, 

With singing, whistling, we trundle down the roads. 

But once there came a tourist, very urgent— 

A Jew---and begged on Sabbath for the hire of a wagon 

To take him to Ein Harod. 

No, Sir, we said, we don’t do business on Sabbath. 

No, Sir, we are not Gentiles.” 


On Friday evening, there is singing, chanting of Hebrew ecstasies about our God 

That would in other lands be called a prayer. 

Here it is not a prayer, here it is re-creation. 

Hands join in circle, feet begin to beat, 

The circle sways, the feet and hands and heads and bodies sing and dance, 

The hora turns now right now left, 

With swaying, praying, playing forms, 

Faster and faster, lighter, lighter, 

Leaping, laughing, clapping, chanting, 

Circle within the circle panting, 

Dancing with passion, dancing with power, 

With love and joy till the midnight hour. 


Long sleep and tender rest 

While the fields rest and beasts singing again, and books and quiet talk, 

And time for courtship and gay visiting, 

And time for thought and speechless thanksgiving, 

The mystic ease of muscles taut and tired.     









Judaism begins with the commandment, “Hear O lsrael!” 

But what does it really mean to hear? 


The person who attends a concert thinking only about business, 

Hears, but does not really hear. 


The person who walks amidst the songs of birds and thinks only of the noisy city streets, 

Hears, but does not really hear. 


The person who listens to the words of family or friends and does not catch the note of urgency: “Notice me, help me, care about me.” 

Hears, but does not really hear. 


The person who listens to the news and thinks only of how it will affect the stock market, 

Hears, but does not really hear. 


The person who stifles the sounds of conscience and says that enough has been done, 

Hears, but does not really hear. 


And so, as the Sabbath begins, may we listen to and hear the music of the world. 


May we hear the music of the world, and the infant’s cry and the lover's sigh. 


May we hear the call for help from the lonely ones among us and the sound of the breaking heart. 


May we hear the words of our friends and also their unspoken pleas and dreams. 


May we hear within ourselves the yearnings that are struggling for expression. 


May we hear each other. 


For only if we do will we have the right to hope that anyone will hear us. 


adapted from Harold Kushner and Jack Riemer, New Prayers for the High Holy Days 



A Shabbes Wish 


Where there are ignorance and superstition, 

Let there be enlightenment and knowledge. 


Where there are prejudice and hatred, 

Let there be acceptance and love. 


Where there are fear and suspicion, 

Let there be confidence and trust. 


Where there are tyranny and oppression, 

Let there be freedom and justice. 


Where there is poverty and disease, 

Let there be prosperity and health. 


Where there is strife and discord, 

Let there be harmony and peace. 

Gates of Prayer 



Closing Reading, Poem and Songs 




What has the Sabbath meant to the Jewish people?  Let us read the words of another of our leading thinkers, Ahad Ha’am (1856-1927):  

A Jew who feels a real tie with the life of his people throughout the generations will find it utterly impossible to think of the existence of his people without the Sabbath. One can say without exaggeration that more than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.  Had it not been for the Sabbath, which weekly restored to the people their “soul” and weekly renewed their spirit, the weekday afflictions would have pulled them downward until they sank to the lowest depths of materialism as well as ethical and intellectual poverty.  Therefore one need not be a Zionist in order to feel all the traditional sacred grandeur that hovers over this “good gift,” and to rise up with might against all who seek to destroy it.    


And Though Delayed (Un Zol Vee Vayt) 


And though delayed may be the day 

when love and peace join hands, 

yet it will come, for it must come--- 

no dream; its our command 


I hear the song of mighty throngs, 

The song of peace in chorus. 

And each voice sings, as each note rings: 

“The sun is rising for us!” 


An end to night, the world grows bright 

With hope, with joy and giving. 

I hear the sound, it’s all around: 

“To courage, strength, and living!” 


Un zol vee vayt 

Nokh zayn dee tsayt 

Fun leebe un fun sholem— 

Dokh kumen vet 

Tsee free, tsee shpet 

Dee tsayt; es iz keyn kholem. 


Ikh her dos leed 

Fun leebe freed: 

Dee mekhtike gezangen. 

Un yeder ton 

Fun leed zogt on 

Dee zun is oyfgegangen. 


Es ekt dee nakht, 

Dee velt dervakht 

Ful hofenung, lust un shtrebn. 

Ikh her in luft 

A shtime ruft: 

Tsu mut, tsu kraft, tsu lebn! 

Avram Reisen (transliteration by Hershl Hartman) 




By Judy Chicago 


And then all that has divided us will merge 

And then compassion will be wedded to power  

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind 

And then both men and women will be gentle 

And then both women and men will be strong 

And then no person will be subject to another’s will 

And then all will be rich and free and varied 

And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many 

And then all will share equally in the earth’s abundance 

And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old 

And then all will nourish the young 

And then all will cherish life’s creatures 

And then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth 

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.    



Lo Yisa Goy 


Lo yisa goy el goy khe-rev 

Lo yil-mi-du od mil-khama  




And every one ‘neath their vine and fig tree,  

Shall live in peace and unafraid   




And into plowshares beat their swords, 

Nations shall learn war no more. 




from Micah 4:3-4 and Isaiah 2:4 

Sholem Chaverim 


Shalom chaverim, shalom chaverim, shalom, shalom 

L’hitraot, l’hitraot, shalom, shalom 


Goodbye, friends---until we meet again. 








Adon Olam David Solid Gould & The Temple Rockers
BMBDS song
Sholem Aleichem Susan Allen
Shalom Aleichem Susan Allen
This will help you find yourself]