Secular Culture & Ideas

Secular Culture & Ideas is a web magazine that explores secular Jewish history, cultures, and thought. Since debuting in 2007, Secular Culture & Ideas has regularly published articles, interviews, and essays that consider the many ways secular Jews and cultural Jews connect to their heritage — through Jewish art, history, languages, literature, philosophy, cuisine, folklore, and politics.

The importance of such a resource was made especially clear after the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey and the 2001 American Jewish Identity Survey showed the steadily growing number of non-religious individuals in the United States. Additionally, the studies revealed that nearly half of Jewish Americans see themselves as secular or somewhat secular. Of this group, a large number remain interested in connecting with their Jewish heritage. For this growing readership, Secular Culture & Ideas offers a means of engaging with secular Judaism and cultural Judaism.

To that end, Secular Culture & Ideas adheres to a broad definition of Jewish culture, with content driven by an enthusiasm for secular Jewish life. It takes a view of Judaism put forward in the recent publication by Bernardo Sorj, Judaism for Everyone...without Dogma where he writes,

Contemporary Judaism is a vast cultural field with porous borders, and that is a good thing. Judaism is a successful synthesis of local and global, particular and universal...[and] is a mixture of destiny and choice...about how to be Jewish. ...Most Jews feel that their Jewish identity should express [these] modern values.[1]

And touching on secular Judaism as a unique culture, in his book Not in the Heavens, David Biale notes,

Jewish secularism is a tradition that has its own unique characteristics grounded in part in [Judaism's] premodern sources...Jewish secularism is an alternative to Judaism as a religion that has its own intellectual lineage.[2]

These ideas and others are broached in theme issues published by Secular Culture & Ideas, including "Jewish Languages", "Renaissance of Yiddish", "Sephardic and Mizrahi Secularisms", and "Making Judaism Modern." Secular Culture & Ideas also regularly updates its blog, News & Notes, with information about lectures, art exhibitions, new books, and new media at the vanguard of secular Jewish studies and secular Jewish culture.

Secular Culture & Ideas is supported by the Posen Foundation.

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Our Staff
Jesse Tisch
Managing Editor
Secular Culture & Ideas
Jesse has been a reporter, an editor, and a lifeguard since graduating from college in 2002. He began writing for the Lewiston Sun Journal (where he covered school events and snowshoe races) in 2001, and has helped edit Contemplate and Secular Culture & Ideas since joining the Posen Foundation. Jesse holds a Master's in journalism from New York University. He lives in Manhattan.
Heather Chait
Heather arrived in the tech world in NYC after moving from South Africa to Israel where she was a sports reporter and feature writer for The Jerusalem Post. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cape Town. Heather lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side with her husband and two young sons.