We were delighted to see the oped by Jacques Berlinerblau (“Untangling an Oxymoron: The Secular Jew,” September 14).
For more than 110 years, The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring has been committed to a vision of a vibrant progressive, secular, social-action-oriented Jewish community steeped in the cultural heritage of the Jewish people. In this context, the author’s suggested definitions of the term “secular” were perplexing. There has been a clear tradition in American Jewish life regarding secular Judaism. Indeed, the Forward newspaper has been at the forefront of this phenomenon along with our organization for more than 100 years.
Whether Jews call themselves “secular” or “cultural,” there is a proud and defined tradition, steeped in education, history, the arts and activism for social justice, and other points of contact that offers a rich and defined notion of what it means to be a Jew. The Workmen’s Circle is redefining itself for a new generation of Jews who are driven to engage through myriad aspects of our identity. Secular Jews are not defined as “anti-religion” today. Rather, the Workmen’s Circle, its partners and its members are creating identity for Jewish life in the 21st century.
Madelon Braun, President
Ann Toback, Executive Director
Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring
New York, N.Y.