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.
Rabbi Aura Joins Shir Tikvah
In 2015, our beloved Rabbi Arnie announced his plan to retire as a full time Rabbi and to continue to serve us as our Rabbi Emeritus. Following an extensive rabbinic search, our congregation was thrilled to find such wonderful match for our community in Rabbi Aura Ahuvia, and in July 2016 she joined us as head Rabbi. Rabbi Ahuvia continues to lead us in the traditions of Shir Tikvah, with warmth, compassion, knowledge of Judism, and most importantly song.
More About Our History of Community
Shir Tikvah is a busy congregation. Throughout our history Tikum Olam has been at the forefront, with numerous projects through the years. Our Sisterhood is committed to providing soup to be distributed to shelters for the homeless though their weekly soup making efforts. Our involvement in Empty Bowls provides both adults and children the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate. We partner with South Oakland Shelter on a bi-annual basis, in which we open our doors and transform our shul into a home for homeless adults and children. Our army of volunteers provide shelter, food and social activities. All who participate in these projects agree that they benefit as much, or more, than those we help. Our grief support group invites congregants who have suffered a loss the opportunity to share their grief with others while they are on their journey towards healing. Our Social Justice Community is working diligently to support important local, national and global efforts where there is a need.
We are committed to education to all ages. Our Adult Education Committee provides wonderful opportunities for learning in various subjects of interest. Weekly Torah study and monthly Lunch and Learn groups are available to members who wish to further their study of Torah and Judaism. Our Family Education program, in addition to educating our youth, provides stimulating educational programs for adults throughout the year.
Having fun is a value we wholeheartedly embrace. We have fun when we work together to make the world a better place but we also enjoy socializing with one another. Throughout the year congregants enjoy Shabbat dinners made by a group of volunteers lovingly known as our "Dinner Divas." Members can also join dinner groups that meet throughout the year. Dinner groups give members the opportunity to get to know one another and often result in the forming of deep friendships. Our Brotherhood softball team provides an opportunity for fun, friendship and team work. We also have a variety of social activities for both adults and children.
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.