Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions Page

Click each of the links below to jump right to a question that interests you - or read them all! Don't forget that the best way to get to know us is to come to one of our services, events or a Torah study. Everyone is welcome!
  1. What is Renewal Judaism?
  2. Is Beyt Tikkun Orthodox, Reform or what?
  3. What are the services like?
  4. What about feminism versus orthodoxy?
  5. What is Beyt Tikkun's stand on sexual orientation?
  6. What if I don't know the prayers or any Hebrew?
  7. I don't know if I really believe in God.
  8. What if I or my friend/partner isn't Jewish?
  9. I'm not a joiner, I don't want to give up my individuality.
  10. Where is the Synagogue?
  11. What about children?
  12. What if I want to convert to Judaism?

What is Renewal Judaism?

Jewish Renewal is a process by which we reconnect to God through our hearts and our minds, through an openness to a Jewish life that emphasizes joy and celebration of the grandeur of the universe, and through studying the deepest spiritual truths of the Jewish people, recognizing that our understanding is always limited by the historically shaped categories and psychological limitations and distortions that we bring to our encounter with God. For more information on Renewal Judaism, please go to our page on Jewish Renewal.

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Is Beyt Tikkun Orthodox, Reform or what?

Beyt Tikkun does not fall into any particular branch of Judaism. We call ourselves neo-Hasidic because like the Hasidim, we emphasize joyous and ecstatic prayer and personal connection to spiritual life. But we are "neo" both because we don't adhere to patriarchal and authoritarian conceptions of God and because we insist on egalitarianism, equal rights for gays and lesbians, a rejection of all forms of chauvinism (including views of the Jews as somehow better than others), a critique of Israeli policy toward Palestinians, and an openness to create new prayers to express our deepest spiritual longings. Yet we are also traditional: we follow the "matbeya t'fillah," the structure of the prayers as set down in the Mishna. Most of our members ride to synagogue on Shabbat and we turn on lights, have musical accompaniments to some services, and use electricity. On the other hand, we don't use money, and we do encourage our members to spend a full 25 hours of Shabbat in celebration of the universe.

Jewish Renewal energy is flowing through all the various denominations of Jewish life - and it will eventually help to transform all of them. And there are many people in the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox movements of Judaism who are actually embodying aspects of Jewish Renewal and making it happen in their respective movements. So it would be a mistake to think that any one organization is "the" Jewish Renewal movement. Rather, you will find elements of Jewish Renewal consciousness in a wide variety of institutions and movements in Jewish life today, and it is our intention to support and nurture that consciousness.

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What are the services like?

Beyt Tikkun services are joyous and rich, involving song and dance, as well as prayer and meditation. There are VEGETARIAN potluck community meals after each service. Hebrew and English are used throughout the services. Participants are encouraged to have meaningful experiences by connecting to that which is spiritually real for themselves. Services frequently begin with a period of meditation and Jewish study.

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What about feminism versus orthodoxy?

At Beyt Tikkun women have all the same rights and responsibilities as that of men. Women sit with men, count in a minyan, and are full participants. Our translated liturgy is non-sexist. We are fully committed to reclaiming the voice of women in Jewish tradition, to have women in leadership roles, and to learn from the experience of women. We also encourage women who did not have a Bat mitzvah when they were younger to do a Bat Mitzvah ceremony in our community.

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What is Beyt Tikkun's stand on sexual orientation?

We welcome all people without regard to sexual orientation. We are outraged at the homophobia in our society and in the Jewish community, and support efforts to reverse that. We welcome gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-gendered people to our community. But we are also welcoming and affirming to straight people and to traditional families as well as to alternative family forms. We are proud to have several same-sex couples in the family, and we have performed wedding ceremonies for several same-sex couples.

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What if I don't know the prayers or any Hebrew?

This is not a problem, as all the prayers are translated and transliterated (Hebrew words written in English sounds). Sometimes they are read in Hebrew and sometimes in English. Many members of Beyt Tikkun didn't know most of the prayers at first, but learned them gradually by attending services. We encourage our members to learn Hebrew, but most have not yet done so and still participate fully in the services.

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I don't know if I really believe in God.

Most of our members have deep trouble with traditional conceptions of God, or with the very word God (not a Hebrew word). We affirm YHVH as the Force of Healing and Transformation in the world-the Force that makes possible the transformation from That Which Is to That Which Ought to Be. Click here to get an idea of one possible way to think of God in a non-hierarchical, non-judgmental, non-patriarchal way.

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What if I or my friend/partner isn't Jewish?

You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy our services. All are welcome. We have many interfaith, or no faith or in other ways mixed couples in our community. While we urge people to consider deepening their Jewish practice, there is no pressure on any one to go at a pace different from what feels comfortable to them.

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I'm not a joiner, I don't want to give up my individuality.

Many members felt the same way, but found that making a commitment to being part of a community has expanded their experience of what they find spiritually satisfying. Since our emphasis is on creating a connection with the parts of Judaism that are real for each individual, a truly personal spiritual experience is possible and can truly enhance our lives. No one is going to demand that you join the community, and if you join, no one is going to demand that you do anything that goes beyond your current desires. You choose your own pace of involvement. At the same time, we are committed to challenging the ethos of individualism in America that makes people so deeply commitment-phobic, whether that be in terms of a relationship, a community, or a political involvement.

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Where is the Synagogue?

Although we have a goal of finding a permanent home, at the moment we are a community without a building. We keep people informed of the time and place of all events via e-mail, snail mail, our office recording and this website. Please check out the calendar section of the Site for further details or call (510) 644-1200.

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What about children?

Children are always welcome at Beyt Tikkun services.  There is a children's service on the first Friday of each month and and a variety of children's educational activities. Click here for information about our Children's Program.

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