Humanistic Rabbis and Jewish Leaders Ordained

Farmington Hills, Michigan, November 10th, 2017: The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ) celebrated the graduation of three new Leaders and ordained two new rabbis this past Friday at The Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. An honorary ordination of a recently deceased Rabbinic student was also observed.

The newest leaders, known as Madrikhim/ot in Hebrew and Vegvayzer in Yiddish, are Jamie Ireland (San Francisco Bay Area), Mary Raskin (Portland, OR), and Jeffrey Schensnol (Phoenix, AZ).  They joined over 60 other leaders certified since the founding of the IISHJ in 1985. Rabbi Joysa Winter (Philadelphia) and Rabbi Jeremy Kridel (Washington DC) are the newest of the almost 50 Secular Humanistic Jewish Rabbis ordained worldwide to date. These leaders and clergy are tasked with shepherding the movement into the future.

Especially moving was the posthumous ordination of David J. Steiner as honorary rabbi.  The certificate was accepted by his son Itamar who shared how much it would have meant to his father. Steiner was a polymath with skills as varied as cow midwifery and documentary filmmaking. The next evening, his award-winning documentary film, “Saving Barbara Sizemore,” was screened in tribute.

The ordination ceremony took place the Birmingham Temple, the flagship congregation of the over 50-year-old Secular Humanistic Jewish movement, as well as numerous current leaders of the movement from around the U.S. and the world.

Luminaries in the audience included Rabbi Miriam Jerris, Rabbi of the Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ); Richard Logan, President of the SHJ; Paul Golin, Executive Director of the SHJ; Rabbi Adam Chalom, Dean – North America of the IISHJ, Rabbi Sivan Maas, Dean-Israel of Tmura-IISHJ; Jay Cohen, President of the IISHJ; Terry Waslow, Executive Director of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations (CSJO), and Rabbi Jeffrey Falick, Rabbi of the Birmingham Temple.

Secular Humanistic Judaism and the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism

Secular Humanistic Judaism is a cultural Jewish identity lived through a human-focused non-theistic philosophy of life. Secular Humanistic Jews believe that Judaism is the evolving civilization of the Jewish people, created, lived and recreated in response to the needs and beliefs of each generation. In our days, we believe in the power of people to understand their world and to influence it for the better. We celebrate human freedom and responsibility for our choices and actions. And we know that if justice is to exist in our world, we must create it together.

The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism is the intellectual and educational arm of the Secular Humanistic Jewish Movement. The Institute presents and promotes the philosophy of Secular Humanistic Judaism by exploring Jewish cultural identity through academic inquiry and by training Leaders and Rabbis of the movement in North America and in Israel. Information about the Institute and its programs is available at its website,, or by contacting or 847-777-6907.

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