Below is a list of frequently asked questions. Scroll down or click the links to see the answers to these questions. Please feel free to Contact Us for more information.
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T'chiyah, spelled out in Hebrew as תְחִיָה and pronounced as "ta-khee-yuh," is a Hebrew word for "revival," "rebirth," and "renaissance." (The Hebrew word chai / חי / "life" is found in the middle.) When we were founded as a chavurah (circle of friends) in 1977, our founders picked this name as an homage to the newly-built Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, an expression of our commitment to the city, and a reflection of our refreshing approach to Judaism.
It is a different word than "tekiya," a term for a sustained blast of the shofar (ram's horn) meant to rouse its hearers into awareness and action - but we embrace this sound-alike. :) [back to top]
YES! Unless explicitly stated, you do not have to be a member to attend services/programming. We ask that you do reach out ahead of time so we know to expect you. [back to top]
Am I welcome as a convert / patrilineal Jew / queer person / Person of Color / autistic person / etc. ?
YES. T’chiyah was founded in 1977 with a commitment to egalitarianism in Jewish practice and an acceptance of interfaith, patrilineal and otherwise diverse Jewish identities. Throughout our history we have been the spiritual home of many LGBTQI+ people, with about 1/3 of our current membership identifying as LGBTQI+, including a number of queer/trans families.
Although we are a majority White congregation, we have a growing amount of People of Color in our midst, and have prioritized racial justice through our creation of Detroit Jews for Justice and other initiatives. We have a sizeable cohort of autistic and/or Disabled people, and strive to facilitate a spiritual atmosphere that is accessible and affirming to all. See also Accessibility. Let us know if you would like to speak with a member about their experiences. [back to top]
NO. Unless otherwise stated, non-Jews are absolutely welcome to attend services and programs -- as long as they are respectful and refrain from proselytizing (spreading an other religion). As of 2020, you do not have to be Jewish to be a member of T’chiyah. [back to top]
ABSOLUTELY. We have a growing cohort of families who are raising their children in the congregation, and each month hold L'Dor VaDor, a dedicated kid-centric service each month tailored for toddlers, but open to all. Kiddos are welcome to attend all services or to hang out in our volunteer-supervised childcare corner.
We do not currently have a Hebrew School of our own. A number of families are involved in Dor Hadash, a Detroit-based Jewish family education program. If you are interested in preparation for a child/teen's b'mitzvah, please reach out! [back to top]
NOT NECESSARILY. All Hebrew prayers are provided in English translation, with most of them provided in transliteration (writing how to pronounce Hebrew in English letters) as well.
It’s totally okay - and wonderful! - to show up for services without being able to understand Hebrew, or being only able to pronounce Hebrew without understanding it. Plenty of people, including longtime members, find fulfillment in other aspects of Jewish life besides Hebrew prayer: gathering in Jewish community, connecting and singing along to beautiful melodies, having discussions (in English) about text and tradition, sharing meals, etc.
That said, most of our prayers take place in Hebrew, with interspersed English readings, poetry and commentary. Building familiarity with Hebrew vocabulary and language can open up new vistas of understanding and connection in Jewish life -- but it’s absolutely no problem for you to participate without knowing Hebrew. You’re not alone! [back to top]
Shabbat and holiday services (along with many of our educational programs, classes and social events) are free and open to all. Members of the congregation commit to giving terumah, gifts from the heart to sustain our community; visitors and non-member attendees are invited (but not required) to donate to T'chiyah as they are moved. If you've had a positive experience at T'chiyah, a donation is a great way show your appreciation for our progressive and affirming Jewish community. If you're interested in sustaining our work without committing to membership, please consider contributing monthly as a part of our Friends of T'chiyah Giving Circle. [back to top]
Our online services featured Rev.com auto-generated captioning as a rule. For certain occasions, we feature CART (live captioning) and/or ASL interpretation. Our normal services do not feature ASL interpretation at this time. If you would like to request ASL interpretation or other accessibility measures, please email our Community Engagement Associate. [back to top]
YES. The building we are housed in (First United Methodist Church of Ferndale) is a barrier-free, wheel-chair accessible facility. The back (west) entrance is wheelchair-accessible. *Accessing our sanctuary requires climbing a flight of ~10 stairs, or utilizing a nearby elevator.* In our sanctuary, we use movable folding chairs instead of pews, so we can easily accommodate wheelchair users. [back to top]
When we meet in person, T’chiyah is housed at First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, 22331 Woodward Ave, Ferndale, MI 48220, on the west side of Woodward Avenue, between 8 and 9 Mile Rd. To access our sanctuary, please use the rear (west-side) entrance of FUMC.
There is a parking lot directly behind (west) of FUMC, and an additional overflow lot across Leroy Street, behind the Dunkin Donuts. A bike rack is located next to the rear entrance.
FUMC is right by the Woodward and Albany stop, and across from the Woodward & College bus stop, accessible via SmartBus routes 450 and 460. [back to top]
YES. Directly across the hall from our sanctuary is a large, single-person gender-neutral bathroom, featuring plenty of space and a long surface that can be used for changing clothes, baby changing, etc. There are other bathrooms (gender-neutral and gendered) available throughout First United Methodist Church. [back to top]
Reconstructionism is a Jewish denomination founded in the United States in the mid-20th century, based on the thought of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1881-1983). Kaplan understood Judaism as the “evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people” that is continually reconstructed as it responds to contemporary society, rather than being fixed and unchanging. He was also committed to a vision of social progressivism, something that is a hallmark of Reconstructionist communities.
Reconstructionists vary in their personal understandings of God and their communal commitments to traditional Jewish law (halakha), affirming that “the past gets a vote, but not a veto”
in determining how to live a committed Jewish life. Some Reconstructionist Jews are hard to distinguish from Conservative (or even Orthodox) Jews; others practice in ways that look more like Reform or Renewal approaches. Reconstructionist services tend to utilize traditional Hebrew liturgy, with certain modifications to reflect our values. Notable examples of this include the inclusion of foremothers in addition to forefathers, gender fluidity and/or neutrality when speaking of God, and the removal of liturgical elements that speak of Jewish chosenness - a belief that Kaplan emphatically rejected.
Reconstructionism has a long history of being especially progressive when it comes to gender egalitarianism -- the first modern Bat Mitzvah was held by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan for his daughter, Judith Kaplan! -- and the affirmation of LGBTQI+ people and other often marginalized identities.
For more information, visit the website of official organization of the Reconstructionist movement, ReconstructingJudaism.org. [back to top]
Our services feature a mixture of Hebrew prayers, English translation, and additional contemplative English poetry, commentary and song. English translation is provided for all prayers; transliteration (phonetic pronunciation of Hebrew, written in English letters) is provided for most prayers.
Our prayerbook is Kol HaNeshamah: Shabbat Ve-Hagim, available for purchase via the Reconstructionist Press. You DON’T have to bring your own copy (we have plenty to share for onsite use!), but you are welcome to do so if you wish. This siddur is available for free digitally here.
When serving or sharing food (for a Brunch & Learn, Friday night potluck, etc.), we adhere to pescetarian kashrut, refraining from the consumption of shellfish and non-kosher fish products. (For a list of kosher fish, click here.) We do not serve meat (including chicken). **At this time, we do not require that all products (including dairy products) served are hekhshered (certified kosher).** [back to top]
YES. Our services frequently feature the use of acoustic musical instruments. We utilize electricity and amplification on Shabbat for live-streaming purposes, but ask that attendees refrain from using phones in the sanctuary. [back to top]
NO. People can sit wherever they’d like. [back to top]
You should wear whatever helps you to feel comfortable and in touch with the spirit of a religious service! Some people like to wear extra-nice clothing to embody the specialness of Shabbat or holidays, but this is not universal. You would fit in just fine by wearing something “casual.”
As for religious garments like the tallit (prayer shawl), kippah/yarkmulke (Jewish headcovering) - that’s up to you. Traditionally these garments were worn only by men, but Reconstructionist practice invites all genders to wear them, whether all the time or just for moments of religious practice. You can bring your own or use ours.
In our community, customs vary. We do not require that everyone wears these garments; some do and some don’t. Whether you are a regular, a newbie or a guest, you will fit in just fine whether you wear these garments or not. We do ask that non-Jews who are not prospective converts refrain from wearing a tallit, which is a distinctively Jewish symbol. [back to top]