Kol Haverim was launched in the spring of 1999 (as the Finger Lakes Community for Humanistic Judaism) when a local resident invited a leader in the HJ movement to come to Ithaca to give a talk on celebrating Jewish cultural identity. The event attracted a mix of secular Jews, unaffiliated Jews, and those who previously felt on the fringes of Jewish life. About 40 people came to our introductory talk and over 25 people showed up at our first organizational meeting. The weekend was filled will enthusiasm, creativity and energy -- the same characteristics that continue to push us forward as we continue to build a vibrant community with innovative and exciting programs.
We are an interesting mix of people. Some of us were raised in devout homes, some in secular homes, still others with little, if any, knowledge of Judaism. Some of us are not even Jewish, but have partners who are. Time and time again we have heard ourselves described in each other's stories -- familiar accounts of being unaffiliated and unreligious but possessing an indisputable Jewish identity and a desire to connect with other like-minded Jews.
Kol Haverim is affiliated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) , a national association of more than 30 Humanistic Jewish communities and congregations around the country. SHJ provides us with many of the materials we need to build a strong congregation and enables us to feel part of a larger community. Click here to learn more about the movement and our beliefs. Visit SHJ's web site to obtain information about humanistic celebrations of Jewish holidays, and much more.