Being a reflective atheist
, I often pine for the sense of community that a religion brings. I also quite like traditions and rituals, even if they are not appeasing some god. It's always nice to have another broad group of people you know well, have something in common with, and have usually known for years. You miss out on that as an Atheist (at least I have.)
has the community I crave, the rituals, the sense of connectedness, and deep roots. It's too bad they're sticklers on that God thing. I know they're a people as well, with their own culture separate from the religion, and that's the part I like, I wish I could have.
The Shabbat gatherings I've been to have all been fairly small, welcoming affairs that feel more like parties than religious ceremonies. Sure, you sing a few religious songs, but mostly they seem to be spending time with your community, and reflecting on the good things in your life. Which the world can always use more of.
Jewish weddings IMHO, have a lot of cool traditions, the breaking the glass, the chair dancing afterwards, fasting and reflection, the wedding contract. It seems so much more reflective, civilized, and all around fun. It might, of course, just be that the grass is always greener on the other side...
I've also got this impression of Jewish theology/morality as being stronger, more open to discussion and interpretation than Christianity, etc. Still, unfortunately, not budging on the god issue. But a religion that has long debates over which kind of generosity is the best just strikes me as cool. A religion which summarizes its main book with "Be Kind, all else is commentary" seems to have captured some essential truths about living a good life, and be passing it on to others as well.
If I were going to try to form an atheistic "religion," a place to provide a moral center and a sense of community, I think I'd end up making something pretty close to Judaism. Maybe Ultra-reform Judaism. I don't think they'd go for it. I'm not sure they'd be too keen on converting to the culture but not the faith.