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We are a community of Jews committed to the healing, repair and transformation of our world, the Jewish community, Israel, and our own inner selves. We are part of an emerging movement of Jewish Renewal that is seeking to return to the deepest sources of Jewish spirituality. We sometimes describe ourselves as neo-Hasidic: "Hasidic" because we believe that serving God is not only a matter of the head but of the heart, "neo" because we are committed to equality of the sexes, welcoming to gays and lesbians, and rejecting every form of chauvinism and affirming the equal value and equal closeness to God of all people on our planet. We are a community that is lively, intellectually serious, spiritually deep, joyous, supportive of each other, and full of good humor, generosity and fun. And this is our vision of how to serve God. As Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught, "Serve God with joy."
We are aware of the serious responsibility we have to heal our planet and save it from ecological destruction and spiritual vacuity. But we are also aware that this larger political task cannot be achieved unless we simultaneously work on creating an environment that is spiritually and emotionally supportive for those who wish to be part of the movement for social transformation. It is this unique insistence on both the inner transformation and outer social change that is characteristic of our synagogue's vision of the unique path we want to follow as Jews. Needless to say, these ideas are not fully embodied in our practice. We are still very imperfect human beings. Many of us are coming to Judaism with no previous knowledge. Others grew up with deep knowledge but got estranged from the spiritual emptiness or moral vacuity we found in various Jewish institutions. But in Beyt Tikkun, following the path articulated by Rabbi Michael Lerner, we are finding a way to reclaim that which is most spiritually and ethically powerful and most beautiful in the Jewish tradition. We are creating a vibrant Jewish community, and we hope that you'll join us.
We want people to feel excited about going to synagogue and to anticipate having a spiritual experience that deepens their understanding and connection to God. So an important part of our focus as a community is to create Shabbat, holiday and high holiday services that are spiritually deep and engaging--as well as to encourage our community to engage in prayer, meditation and Shabbat observance in their own homes.
Although Judaism's powerful injunction concerning "tikkun olam" (the obligation to be involved in healing and transforming the world) is frequently quoted in the Jewish community, it is rarely taken seriously. For us, spirituality is both about inwardness and developing our personal relationship to God and the tradition, and also about healing the planet and developing respect and caring for each other.
Jewish Renewal reclaims Judaism. We are building a Jewish life where people can be involved in a real way. We want participation in rituals and prayers to be deep and meaningful and not oppressive. We also don't believe that you should split spirituality away from social change. A central message from our Torah is that the God of creation is the God of liberation: There is no separation between our spiritual life and our ethical life. We are not living a "spiritually realized life" when we ignore the pain and suffering of others.
...BUT I'M NOT SURE I CAN BELIEVE IN GOD
Many of us learned conceptions of God that are unacceptable to us as adults. We support the letting go of patriarchal and authoritarian images of God that make our encounter with the God of the universe difficult to approach. We propose viewing God as the Power of Healing and Transformation, the Force in the universe that makes it possible to envision a world based on love, justice and equality. We encourage you to stop fighting against the God that you don't believe in to make room for the God that you might believe in.
IS THIS AUTHENTIC JUDAISM?
Renewing Judaism is an authentic process, precisely because it refuses to allow each generation to lose touch with God's healing and transformative energies. The Prophets were the first to renew Judaism by insisting on the primacy of love and justice over ritual practice. The Talmud continued the Renewal tradition by abolishing all of Torah's sacrificial cult and replacing it with a radical new idea not mentioned in Torah: that Jews should pray daily and make their home the center of their religious life and their meal table a symbolic replacement for the altar in the Temple. Jewish Renewal is a process by which we reconnect to God by transforming rituals and practices that for us lack meaning and depth. Our Jewish Renewal synagogue is a place where we encourage each other to explore the spiritual realm and to work on our own understanding and our own relationship with God. There is great spiritual, ethical, philosophical, psychological, and political wisdom built into the Jewish tradition.
OPEN AND WELCOMING TO ALL
Our growing community welcomes people from all areas of society, regardless of sexual orientation, socioeconomic backgrounds, country of origin, as well as converts and interfaith couples. We welcome singles and are mindful that throughout Jewish history the community helped single people looking for a partner to connect to each other while respecting those who are not interested in making that type of connection. Of course, we also have many heterosexual families, some with children, some in their twenties or thirties or fifties, but some also in their sixties or seventies--so you will find people in your own age range and cultural style, no matter what it is.
POLITICS OF MEANING Our synagogue is part of the politics of meaning movement. We are a community of people who challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism in American society. We strive to maximize love, caring, as well as ethical, spiritual, and ecological sensitivity. Our community is committed to the vision articulated in Rabbi Lerner's books Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation (HarperCollins, 1995), The Politics of Meaning (Addison Wesley, 1996) and Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul (Hampton Roads, 2000). If you want a fuller explanation of where we are coming from, please read those books.
We are strongly committed to Israel and to the physical security of its people. We believe that Jewish national self determination is an inviolable right. Yet we believe, both as a matter of ethics and a matter of rational self-interest and survival, that Jewish national sovereignty cannot be secure if it is won at the expense of the Palestinian people. Therefore, we support the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state and we support the forces of peace in Israel whom are moving in this direction.
Additionally, we are critical of policies that restrict the rights of Reform, Conservative, Renewal, and Reconstructionist Judaism within Israel and are against the current policies which invalidate the legitimacy of religious ceremonies and rituals performed by rabbis from these strands of Judaism. For more detailed information about Beyt Tikkun, please read our Founding Perspective.