Congregation Shir Tikvah (Song of Hope) was formed in 1982 as the Troy Jewish Congregation by two mothers desiring conveniently located Jewish education for their children. While Troy and neighboring Rochester, northern suburbs of Detroit, are valued for their ethnic diversity, top-rated schools, cultural programs and community safety, they do not have a significant Jewish population.
After developing and understanding our own identify as a congregation, we joined the Reform movement and have continued to value that relationship. We began to grow by attracting new members from a broader geographical area who were looking for a smaller, inclusive, genuinely welcoming and a casual come-as-you-are congregation. Today, we serve members from throughout metropolitan Detroit and are still the most convenient congregation for families living along both the I-75 and Woodward corridors.
We pride ourselves in welcoming all who want to be with us without hesitation or questions. Our non-Jewish spouses and partners enjoy the same rights and privileges as their spouses/partners. And, in keeping with the Reform movement, we make no distinction between those who are born-Jewish, Jew by Choice, or a non-Jewish partner. We are also equally welcoming to individuals and families of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, disabilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities and expressions.
Rabbi Arnie, Renewal and Our Commitment to Tikkun Olam
In 1988, we welcomed Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg (“Rabbi Arnie” to all) and have grown and flourished with him as a true spiritual leader.
With his inspiration, we joined the Renewal movement, now being only one of two Congregations with joint Reform and Renewal affiliation in North America. We continue to fully embrace all Reform principles and practices and very much appreciate the deep spirituality, musicality and enthusiasm that Renewal adds to our services. As our name implies, we love to sing.
Inspired by the leadership of Rabbi Arnie and Congregant lay leaders, we continually evolve and refresh our religious practices. We embrace Tikkun Olam and are proud of the numerous significant activities undertaken by the Congregation to repair the world. The State of Israel, as well as its people and land, are vital to and in our expression of Judaism.
As we continued to grow, we decided it was time to have our own home rather than renting space in churches so we bought property and constructed our synagogue in a quiet residential area of Troy. The focus of the synagogue is our sanctuary, which overlooks our serene and peaceful wooded property. Our sanctuary seats approximately 154, but with movable walls, it can be expanded to accommodate anywhere from 154 to 500 seats, as needed. The sanctuary is surrounded by classrooms as well as a social hall, all of which can be transformed into open space areas thanks to our moveable walls and multi-purpose facility model.
At the rear of the property we constructed an outdoor sanctuary using all natural materials that is popular for summer services and weddings. At the front is a labyrinth for personal meditation. Our flexible facility has continued to provide quality spaces for worship, family education programs and celebratory simchas.
We have several Torah scrolls, each with its own rich history. Most recently, we wrote our own Torah, paid for and participated in by hundreds of congregants and written by one of the very few female scribes. Our other torahs came to us by various means: one came from another local congregation that had to close its doors, another from a former Czechoslovakian congregation that was arranged by the London-based Westminster Synagogue Trust, and another was donated by a founding member.
With now more Torahs than needed, we decided to re-loan the Torah that came to us from the former local congregation. We certainly wanted this Torah to only go to a congregation that satisfied our conditions: 1) without a Torah, 2) cannot afford to buy or write, and 3) that shared our values and inclusiveness. After many applications, we decided on a small independent lay-led congregation in Berlin, Germany, Ohel Hachidusch. In 2009, many of our members took part in the dedication of the Torah and this is written about on their web-site, www.ohel-hachidusch.org.
Bringing a Torah “back” to Europe was meaningful beyond words to us.