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Interview with Jamie Ireland of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/11/07

Jamie Ireland is a member of the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations. Here we talk about humanistic, secular Judaism.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?

Jamie Ireland: I grew up in California, we speak English, Secular Humanistic Judaism.

Jacobsen: Following from the last question, how have these factors influenced personal life and views?

Ireland: I know no other way. I always expressed my Judaism in a secular and humanistic way.

Jacobsen: How does a rejection of the supernatural change the way one lives one’s life? How does an understanding of the natural influence views on life and meaning in the light of the aforementioned rejection?

Ireland: That is all I know. It puts the responsibility of my life on me and that there are consequences in the here and now. There is no other life forgiveness at the end of life it is now.

Jacobsen: What are your tasks and responsibilities at the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations?

Ireland: I am on the board of the CSJo but I am also on the board of our local affiliate and I teach Jewish Culture School and guide students through their Bar/Bat mitzvahs, put on holiday events.

Jacobsen: What does an average service look like to you? How does the maintenance of Jewish culture inside a secular lens provide some forms of solace, comfort, and connection to the past?

Ireland: We talk about our history and it depends on what holiday we are celebrating as to how we talk about the connection and to what part of our history we are exploring at the time. We sing and that connects us and we discuss what it was like to be Jewish at other times in history and in different places so we are connected to other Jews that we learn about.

Jacobsen: How is the integration with the larger culture for the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations? What are some of the more popular, and important, secular Jewish events and activities for the community? Any personal favourites?

Ireland: One way we integrate is through our participation with the Interfaith Councils in our area. This helps to work with the broader community on issues that are important to all of us. Our Rosh Hashanah observance and our Passover Seder are our biggest draws. We have potlucks and come together in community.

Jacobsen: What are some joint activities with other faith/non-faith groups in the larger community?

Ireland: Light up the Season. It started as just a tree lighting in a nearby city but has become an event where different faith groups share their winter traditions. It is lovely.

Jacobsen: Who are some recommended speakers, authors, or organizations?

Ireland: Rabbi Judith Seid, Tri-Valley Cultural Jews.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Jamie.

Ireland: Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences with you.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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