What would Jewish history be like without the Bible? The late Rabbi Sherwin Wine, who founded the Society for Humanistic Judaism, provides such an alternative in his book "A Provocative People: A Secular History of the Jews," published in October 2012.
The secular approach is "less romantic …," he said in his prologue. "In other ways the new stories are more interesting and exciting because they are not merely the repetition of familiar religious doctrine."
After Wine's death in an automobile accident in Morocco in 2007, Rabbi Adam Chalom assumed Wine's role as dean for North America of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, along with the tasks of editing Wine's manuscript and seeing it published. Chalom, the rabbi at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in suburban Chicago, also provides the book's introduction.
Chalom will speak about the book July 13 at the Main Library's Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium, 325 Superior Ave. in Cleveland. His visit is being presented by the Cleveland Public Library in partnership with the Jewish Secular Community of Cleveland.
About 40,000 people have identified themselves as practicing Secular Humanistic Judaism, according to a 2001 study, said Chalom, who holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern studies. The movement has some 40 congregations, mainly in metropolitan areas.
Chalom grew up at Birmingham Temple near Detroit, where Wine had served as rabbi. On his recent author's visits to five cities, Chalom speaks about the importance of Wine's work. "My rabbi, Sherwin Wine wanted his congregation…to know the real history of the Jews, not just the traditional version. And the real history of the Jews is a fascinating story."