Jeffrey L. Falick of Miami, Florida, has enthusiastically agreed to serve as rabbi for the Birmingham Temple in Farmington Hills, MI, the founding congregation for Humanistic Judaism, effective immediately, as the congregation celebrate both its 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the founding of Humanistic Judaism.
While living and working in Florida, Rabbi Falick was a member and rabbinic advisor to Congregation Beth Adam, the Boca Raton Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. In explaining his decision to come to Michigan, Rabbi Falick said, “In every movement in organized Jewish life, there are some institutions that represent the highest expression of its ideals. For Humanistic Jews, that place is the Birmingham Temple.”
Ordained as a Reform rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Rabbi Falick turned to Humanistic Judaism about ten years ago and became active within the movement. He has served on the Board of Directors of the SHJ for several years and currently serves on the SHJ Executive Committee as Secretary. He also is president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. SHJ Rabbi Miriam Jerris, who has worked closely with Rabbi Falick for several years, notes, “He brings his commitment to Humanistic Judaism, his passion for the Humanistic Jewish Movement, and his love for Jewish history and culture to The Birmingham Temple and Metro Detroit. His deep caring and compassion, coupled with his insatiable intellectual curiosity, will make a significant and powerful contribution to and impact on the Temple and the community.”
Last year he experienced an additional movement highlight when he led a group of Humanistic Jews on a tour of Israel. “Zionism and Israel activism have played an important and consistent role in my own Jewish life,” said the rabbi who studied there and has made more than 30 trips to Israel.
Rabbi Falick believes that his recent 13-year, full-time engagement as the Assistant Executive Director and Jewish educator in the pluralistic environment of the Alper JCC in Miami has confirmed his passion for Humanistic Judaism: “The Humanistic Jewish approach is the broadest, most encompassing embrace of our Jewish identities. It brings to us a heightened awareness of the richness and variety of Jewish histories and practices across time and place. It helps us to locate our own place in the Jewish experience.
“This approach yields wonderful bursts of creativity in our celebrations and ceremonies. We have learned how to freely and sometimes radically adapt and reposition Jewish customs because we understand that their value does not lie in their mere preservation. It lies in the benefits they provide to our lives and the strengthening of our ties to each other. Rabbi Sherwin Wine and the Birmingham Temple created this. Any rabbi who serves the congregation must understand this.”
Birmingham Temple President Lawrence Ellenbogen is excited about celebrating the Temple’s 50-year anniversary and on into the future with Rabbi Falick, whose talents are identical to the Temple’s needs. “He is the perfect rabbi for the Temple.”
The Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) is the national umbrella organization for Humanistic congregations in North America. The SHJ offers a nontheistic alternative within Judaism. Embracing a human-centered philosophy of life that combines the celebration of Jewish culture and identity with an adherence to humanistic values and ideas, the Society creates an inclusive, nurturing environment for families with children and empty nesters, pre-schoolers and teens, university students, young adults and seniors, single parents, intercultural families, and the GLBTQ community. Providing a meaningful Jewish alternative for cultural Jews, Humanistic Judaism embraces the belief in the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity. Humanistic Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Jewish culture that offer a genuine expression of their contemporary way of life. For more information about Humanistic Judaism, contact the SHJ, 248-478-7610, or firstname.lastname@example.org .