As individuals and families increasingly balance work, social commitments and competing interests both online and offline, traditional activities — including worship in religious institutions — are being left behind. But according to a recent Angus Reid Institute survey, people still want spirituality in their lives: Just 19 percent claim to be non-believers, while 30 percent say they are privately faithful and 30 percent are spiritually uncertain.
SecularSynagogue.com, an online community launching this fall, aims to reach these people and help them integrate spirituality into their lives on a regular basis by bringing spiritual and cultural lessons into homes instead of requiring people to go out to congregations.
Members of the online secular synagogue will have access to a website featuring materials for do-it-yourself Shabbat and High Holidays celebrations, parenting resources, Jewish scavenger hunts and more. A private Facebook group will offer members the opportunity to interact with the community through challenges, opportunities for joint social justice work, interviews with experts and thinkers on a range of topics, video-based Jewish learning and more.
“With SecularSynagogue.com, my aim is to build a modern congregation that recognizes the challenges of our fast-paced world, but also gives people the spiritual guidance they still crave,” says Rabbi Denise Handlarski, who trained in the Secular Humanistic Judaism movement that positions Judaism through the lens of a human-centered understanding of the world.
Membership to the online community is $18 a month or $180 per year.