Jewish Secularists


Thank you for running Steve Lipman’s article “Jewish Secularism’s Moment” (May 20). The topic is important: a challenge to both synagogues and the organized Jewish community to probe more deeply into what is meaningful and sustaining about Jewish life — secular and religious.

I write to correct two items. The Institute for Jewish Spirituality is based in New York City, not Los Angeles. The Institute offers programs for Jewish clergy and others integrating contemplative Jewish practices so that they might become more effective leaders and to deepen their spiritual lives. The “Doubters” project is being run in L.A. because researcher Diane Schuster works there, and the Institute has a significant number of alumni from whose communities we might draw project participants.

The goal of the project is not to determine “how many non-believing Jews are in the United States” but to understand how Jewish secularists may seek to deepen their spiritual life. Non-belief does not preclude the experiences of awe or gratitude, the need for a sense of inner balance and authenticity, or an inner source to sustain efforts on behalf of others. The Institute hopes to understand how best to serve these spiritual needs of Jewish “Doubters” in authentic Jewish terms.

Co-Director of Programs

Institute for Jewish Spirituality