Shirat HaNefesh: Song of the Soul » Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

Q:  What does Shirat HaNefesh mean?

Shirat HaNefesh means Song of the Soul.  We hope that our emphasis on the beauty of Jewish music and liturgy, and our continuing efforts to relate Jewish tradition to the seekings of our modern Jewish souls make this community a special place to visit in the Washington area.

Q: Who can join Shirat HaNefesh?

We are an independent, pluralistic community that includes Jews by birth, Jews by choice, and Jews from most denominations. Members include traditional and non-traditional families. We also welcome non-Jews who wish to walk a Jewish path by participating in our community.

Q: How much does it cost to join?

An annual membership for a household with one adult is $1,000. For a household with two adults, annual membership is $2,000. The annual membership includes High Holy Day tickets for the family plus full membership rights.

No one will be denied membership because of financial circumstances. If your situation warrants it, please contact David Lebow, our treasurer, at shntreas@gmail.com for individual consideration.

Q: What does an associate membership provide?

Associate memberships are designed only for those whose main affiliation is to another congregation, but who also wish to belong to the Shirat HaNefesh community. The $400 annual associate membership dues give associate members full access to Shirat HaNefesh religious and social activities, excluding High Holy Day services. However, associate members cannot vote at community meetings, and we encourage all associate members who are regularly active in our community to become full members.

Q: Can I get High Holy Day tickets if I don’t want to become a full-time member?

Yes, non-members may obtain High Holy Day tickets. Suggested donations for all services are $225 per adult; children and students may attend at no charge.  Many of our High Holy Day services do not require tickets and are open to the community.  See  our High Holy Days page for details about these services and other important information.

Worship

Q: Where and when are services held?
Friday night and Saturday morning services are held in the Community Room downstairs at North Chevy Chase Christian Church, 8814 Kensington Parkway, Chevy Chase. (just east of Connecticut Ave, south of 495).  Follow signs for Community Room from the parking lot.  PLEASE CHECK THE CALENDAR FOR OUR CURRENT FRIDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE. On Saturday morning we hold weekly Sabbath morning and Torah services 9:30 – 12:00 noon, including Torah discussion, with light kiddush to follow.

Q: What siddur do you use?

We have chosen Eit Ratzon (“A time of willing desire”), edited by Dr. Joseph Rosenstein. Eit Ratzon contains the traditional weekday, Shabbat, and Holy Day Hebrew prayers combined with a complete, new, and egalitarian translation and full transliteration of all Hebrew prayers. There are also contemporary poems and readings, explanations of prayers, and suggestions for meditations that help guide the participant on his or her path. The prayerbook is non-denominational and is designed especially for communities that want to draw from both traditional and contemporary spiritual paths. For more information, visit www.newsiddur.org.

Q: Why are music and song so important to your services?

We believe that there is a thirst in the American Jewish community for a warmth and joy in worship that can be achieved by combining prayer with music, both vocal and instrumental. We believe a powerful spiritual experience is achieved through services that underscore the music in prayer and the sacred in music.  Come to our services to experience this for yourself!

Education

Q: What is intergenerational learning?

We strive to foster a community where adults and students study together and learn from each other as they explore Torah, other Scripture, Jewish ethics, history and social justice issues affecting the Jewish community and the world.

Q: Does Shirat HaNefesh provide Hebrew and Jewish education for children?

Yes. We provide an organized educational curriculum to help children Grades 2-7 to master Hebrew, Jewish customs and history, and prepare for their bar or bat mitzvah. We also offer a continuing education program for post-B’nai Mitzvah students.

Q. When and where are classes held?

We offer a religious school program for grades 2 through 6 on Shabbat mornings, and Hebrew enrichment one afternoon a week at the Moed program held at Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase.

Q: Who teaches your students?

Our education program is directed by Steve Berer, an experienced educator and artist. Students are taught by experienced teachers, with assistance from madrichim (guides) and other members of our congregation. In addition, our Rabbi and Cantor are very personally involved in the education of our students, particularly during B’nei Mitzvah preparation.

Q: How are B’nei Mitzvah taught and who does the teaching?

B’nei Mitzvah students have the benefit of a range of teachers.  Individual tutors work with the students on their Torah portions.  Steve Berer prepares them in terms of Judaics background, learning Shabbat morning prayers, and crafting a dvar Torah.  Students lead portions of the services  during the year before their B’nei Mitzvahs, and also meet with Cantor Ramón Tasat and/or Rabbi Gilah Langner to deepen the meaning of what they have learned and explore mitzvah opportunities.

Q: What about opportunities for adult Torah study, Jewish history, philosophy and ethics?

Shirat HaNefesh encourages regular as well as spontaneous study groups on Jewish history, ethics, politics and other critical issues.  Rabbi Langner leads a “Rabbi’s Table” once a month during which we explore the Torah portion in depth on Shabbat morning.  Please see our calendar and brochure for current adult education offerings.

For more information on our education programs, please write to: education@shirathanefesh.org.

Community Activities and Tikkun Olam

Q: What kinds of activities does Shirat HaNefesh pursue as examples of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and G’milut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness)?

Our Tikkun Olam committee has been active in pursuing social justice since our founding. Activities include: food collection drives for Manna; preparing meals for the homeless; community gardens; Mitzvah Day; and more. Stay tuned for more information!

Q: Where can I find a listing of upcoming activities?

Please visit our calendar for a complete listing of upcoming activities.

Kolot Halev

Q: Does Shirat Ha Nefesh have a choir?

Shirat HaNefesh is proud to host Kolot Halev, “Voices of the Heart,” a Jewish community choir led by Cantor Ramón Tasat, as our choir-in-residence for Shabbat, festivals, and other occasions.  Kolot Halev usually joins us on the second Friday night of each month.  Changes from this routine are noted on the calendar.

Q: Where can I get more information about joining the choir and finding out where and when it meets for practice?

Contact Hazzan Tasat at rtasat@shirathanefesh.org

We hope these FAQs answered your questions. For further information, please feel free to contact us at: info@shirathanefesh.org