Secular Jewish culture
Secular Jewish culture embraces several related phenomena; above all, it is the culture of secular communities of Jewish people, but it can also include the cultural contributions of individuals who identify as secular Jews, or even those of religious Jews working in cultural areas not generally considered to be connected to religion.
Judaism guides its adherents in both practice and belief, and has been called not only a religion, but also a "way of life," which has made the job of drawing a clear distinction between Judaism and Jewish culture rather difficult. Furthermore, not all individuals or all cultural phenomena can be easily classified as either "secular" or "religious"
In many times and places, such as in the ancient Hellenic world, in Europe before and after the Enlightenment, and in contemporary United States and Israel, cultural phenomena have developed that are in some sense characteristically Jewish without being at all specifically religious. Some factors in this come from within Judaism, others from the interaction of Jews with others around them, others from the inner social and cultural dynamics of the community, as opposed to religion itself.
Medieval Jewish communities in Eastern Europe developed distinct cultural traits over the centuries, but beginning with the Enlightenment (and its echo within Judaism in the Haskalah movement), many Yiddish-speaking Jews in Eastern Europe saw themselves as forming an ethnic or national group whose identity did not depend on religion. Constanin Măciucă writes of "a differentiated but not isolated Jewish spirit" permeating the culture of Yiddish-speaking Jews. This was only intensified as the rise of Romanticism increased the sense of national identity across Europe generally. Thus, for example, Bund members — that is, members of the General Jewish Labor Union in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — were generally non-religious, and one of the historical leaders of the Bund was the child of converts to Christianity, though not a practising or believing Christian himself.
Defining secular culture among those who practice Judaism is difficult, however, because the entire culture is entwined with religious traditions. (This is particularly true of Orthodox Judaism.) Gary Tobin, head of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, said of traditional Jewish culture, "The dichotomy between religion and culture doesnt really exist. Every religious attribute is filled with culture; every cultural act filled with religiosity. Synagogues themselves are great centers of Jewish culture. After all, what is life really about? Food, relationships, enrichment... So is Jewish life. So many of our traditions inherently contain aspects of culture. Look at the Passover seder—its essentially great theater. Jewish education and religiosity bereft of culture is not as interesting." 
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Politics and Morals
Even in religious Judaism there is much room for a range of political or moral views; this is only more so for secular Jews. However, even Jewish secular culture is often strongly influenced by moral beliefs deriving from Jewish scripture and tradition. In recent centuries, Jews in Europe and the Americas have traditionally tended towards the political left, and played key roles in the birth of the labor movement as well as socialism. While Diaspora Jews have also been represented in the conservative side of the political spectrum, even politically conservative Jews have tended to support pluralism more consistently than many other elements of the political right. Some scholars  attribute this to the fact that Jews are not expected to proselytize, and as a result do not expect a single world-state, which differs from the beliefs of many religions, such as the Roman Catholic and Islamic traditions. This lack of a universalizing religion is combined with the fact that most Jews live as minorities in their countries, and that no central Jewish religious authority has existed for over 2,000 years. (See list of Jews in politics, which illustrates the diversity of Jewish political thought and of the roles Jews have played in politics.)
Some professions have traditionally been considered particularly "Jewish," partially as a result of historical cirumstances. These include:
In most of Europe up until the late 18th century, and in some places to an even later date, Jews were prohibited by Roman Catholic governments (and others) from owning land. On the other hand, the Church, because of a number of Bible verses forbidding usury, declared that charging any interest was against the divine law, and this prevented any mercantile use of capital by pious Christians. As the canon law did not apply to Jews, they were not liable to the ecclesiastical punishments which were placed upon usurers by the popes. Christian rulers gradually saw the advantage of having a class of men like the Jews who could supply capital for their use without being liable to excommunication, and the money trade of western Europe by this means fell into the hands of the Jews. However, in almost every instance where large amounts were acquired by Jews through banking transactions the property thus acquired fell either during their life or upon their death into the hands of the king. This happened to Aaron of Lincoln in England, Ezmel de Ablitas in Navarre, Heliot de Vesoul in Provence, Benveniste de Porta in Aragon, etc. It was for this reason indeed that the kings supported the Jews, and even objected to their becoming Christians, because in that case they could not have forced from them money won by usury. Thus both in England and in France the kings demanded to be compensated for every Jew converted. The result was the stereotypical Jewish role as bankers and merchants.
Science and Academia
Also, the strong Jewish tradition of religious scholarship often left Jews well prepared for secular scholarship, although in some times and places this was countered by Jews being banned from studying at universities, or admitted only in limited numbers. Even into recent times Jews were little represented in the land-holding classes, but far better represented in academia, the learned professions, finance and commerce. The strong representation of Jews in science and academia is represented in the fact that at least 167 Jews and persons of half-Jewish ancestry have been awarded the Nobel Prize, accounting for 22% of all individual recipients worldwide between 1901 and 2004.
Literary and Artistic Culture
In some places where there have been relatively high concentrations of Jews, distinct secular Jewish subcultures have arisen. For example, ethnic Jews formed an enormous proportion of the literary and artistic life of Vienna, Austria at the end of the 19th century, or of New York City 50 years later (and Los Angeles in the mid-late 20th century), and for the most part these were not particularly religious people. In general, however, Jewish artistic culture in various periods reflected the culture in which they lived. See Jews in the Visual Arts, Jews in Literature and Journalism.
The level this has reached at times can be gleaned from a 1925 New York Times" article on Yiddish theater. "...Yiddish theater... is now a stable American institution and no longer dependent on immigration from Eastern Europe. People who can neither speak nor write Yiddish attend Yiddish stage performances and pay Broadway prices on Second Avenue." This article also mentions other aspects of a New York Jewish cultural life "in full flower" at that time, among them the fact that the extensive New York Yiddish-language press of the time included seven daily newspapers. [Melamed, 1925]
Jewish authors have both created a unique Jewish literature and contributed to the national literatures of many of the countries in which they live. Though not strictly secular, the Yiddish works of authors like Shalom Aleichem (whose collected works amounted to 28 volumes) and Isaac Bashevis Singer (winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize), form their own canon, focusing on the Jewish experience in both Eastern Europe, and in America. In the United States, Jewish writers like Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and many others are considered among the greatest American authors, and incorporate a distinctly secular Jewish view into many of their works. Other famous Jewish authors that made contributions to world literature include Heinrich Heine, German poet, Isaac Babel, Russian author, and Franz Kafka, of Prague.
See main article Yiddish theatre.
The Ukrainian Jew Abraham Goldfaden founded the first professional Yiddish-language theatre troupe in Iaşi, Romania in 1876. The next year, his troupe achieved enormous success in Bucharest. Within a decade, Goldfaden and others brought Yiddish theater to Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany, New York City, and other cities with significan Ashkenazaic populations. Between 1890 and 1940, over a dozen Yiddish theatre groups existed in New York City alone, performing original plays, musicals, and Yiddish translations of theatrical works and opera. Perhaps the most famous of Yiddish-language plays is The Dybbuk (1919) by S. Ansky.
Jewish musical contributions also tend to reflect the cultures of the countries in which Jews live. Some music, however, was unique to particular Jewish communities, such as klezmer in Eastern Europe. See also Music of Israel.
The hora is the name of a circle dance in Israel and other countries. (This same name applies to the circle dance that is the national dance of Romania.) In Yemen, where Jews were banned from dancing publicly, forms of dance evolved that are based on stationary hopping and posturing, such as can be done in a confined space.
- See main article: Jewish cuisine
Jewish cooking combines the food of many cultures in which Jews have travelled, including Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Spanish, German and Eastern European styles of cooking, all influenced by the need for food to be kosher. Thus, "Jewish" foods like hummus, stuffed cabbage, and blintzes all come from various other cultures. The amalgam of these foods, plus uniquely Jewish contributions like bagels, tzimmis, cholent, and matzah balls, make up Jewish cuisine.
- The section on banking is drawn largely from the article "Usury" in the public domain Jewish Encyclopedia (1901–1906). The citation of Théodore Reinach is theirs.
- Măciucă, Constantin, preface to Bercovici, Israil, O sută de ani de teatru evriesc în România ("One hundred years of Yiddish/Jewish theater in Romania"), 2nd Romanian-language edition, revised and augmented by Constantin Măciucă. Editura Integral (an imprint of Editurile Universala), Bucharest (1998). ISBN 9739827225. See the article on the author for further information.
- Melamed, S.M., "The Yiddish Stage", New York Times, Sep 27, 1925 (X2)