Q: What does Shirat HaNefesh mean ?
It means Song of the Soul. As in, finding a place for your soul to feel at home. As in, finding a way for our Jewish souls to soar. As in, using gorgeous music to awaken us into our lives.
Q: Which movement does Shirat HaNefesh belong to?
Q: How do I become part of the community?
Just start coming to services. We meet every Saturday morning and occasional Friday nights a month. You’ll make friends and start participating in the flow of congregational life. Check the rest of the website for activities, committees, and events that you might want to get involved with.
Q: Can I come to regular services or High Holidays if I'm not a member?
Yes! Our weekly services are open to everyone; no membership required. Non-members can come to High Holiday services; we suggest a donation of $225 per adult to cover all services. Children and students may attend at no charge. Many of our High Holiday services do not require tickets and are open to the community. See our High Holiday page for details.
Q: Where and when do you meet?
We meet on Shabbat each week, either online or in the Community Room downstairs at North Chevy Chase Christian Church, 8814 Kensington Parkway, Chevy Chase MD (just east of Connecticut Ave, south of 495). Follow signs for Community the Room from the parking lot. PLEASE CHECK THE CALENDAR FOR OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE OF SERVICES. On Saturday morning online services run from 10 to noon; in-person services go from 9:30 to noon, followed by a light kiddush.
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 Holiday 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: What if I don't read Hebrew?
Well, you won’t be alone. We’re happy to help you learn if you wish, but meanwhile there are lots of ways to participate in and enjoy our services — the music, the comments on the service from the prayer leaders, the feeling of community. Plus every word of prayer in our prayerbook is transliterated into English.
Q: If I don't believe in God and I don't like prayers, why bother joining you?
Because there’s more to your Jewish identity than just “being Jewish.” At some level you want to “do Jewish” too. And that’s bigger than prayer. There’s the glorious music of our services. There’s acting to repair the world. And learning Jewish texts and traditions to see what they have to say to us in our time. And having a community to go to Jewish movies and theatre and performances with. Those are all ways of “doing Jewish.” We think doing Jewish is more fun, more powerful, and more engaging when you do it within a community.
Q: Are you open to interfaith families? LGBTQ people? Single parents?
Q: What if I can't afford membership?
Q: I don't know anyone. Is there an easy way to get connected?
Q: Why are music and song so important to your services?
Q: Can I be a non-religious Jew at Shirat HaNefesh?
Yes! We have Book Discussions every two months, Wise Aging groups, and a monthly Movie Night on Zoom. We work together on social action projects and in support of members who may be ill or suffering a loss. We celebrate at Hanukah and have a Zoom seder on Passover. Together, we face the challenges that come our way.
Q: Can my kid have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah without attending Hebrew School?
We will work with your family, at whatever stage your child is at, to develop a familiarity with Judaism and to prepare them for a meaningful and wonderful Bar/Bat Mitzvah. To start the process, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can I sing in the choir?
Kolot Halev (Voices of the Heart) is the choir-in-residence at Shirat HaNefesh, where everyone present sings along with them. But if you’d like to join the choir itself, please contact Hazzan Ramón Tasat via email@example.com.