Congregation Shir Tikvah is a spiritual home for everybody.
Troy’s 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.
After developing and understanding its identity as a congregation, Shir Tikvah joined the Reform movement. It began attracting new members looking for a smaller, inclusive, come-as-you-are congregation. Today, Shir Tikvah serves members from throughout Metropolitan Detroit and is a convenient congregation for families living along the I-75 and Woodward corridors.
In keeping with the Reform movement, Shir Tikvah makes no distinction between those who are born Jewish, who are Jew by Choice or who are non-Jewish partners. It is also equally welcoming to individuals and families of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, disabilities, sexual orientations and gender identities.
“We strive to be a spiritual home for everybody,” said Shir Tikvah’s Rabbi Alicia Harris. “We’re a singing community. Our services are super-dynamic, they’re interactive, and it’s a place we hope anybody can walk into and feel welcome and spiritually engaged.”
In 1988, Shir Tikvah welcomed Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg and flourished with him as its spiritual leader. With his inspiration, Shir Tikvah joined the Renewal movement, being one of the few congregations with joint Reform and Renewal affiliation in North America.
In 2015, Rabbi Arnie announced his plan to retire and now serves as Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Aura Ahuvia became head rabbi in July 2016 but left the congregation in the summer of 2020. In July 2020, Shir Tikvah welcomed Harris as the head rabbi.
Besides Harris, Shir Tikvah has two full-time staff members, Director of Lifelong Learning Sarah Chisholm and Executive Director Lorelei Berg.
Tikkun olam is at the forefront of Shir Tikvah in many ways, with an army of volunteers providing shelter and food to those who need it, and social activities for all.
Shir Tikvah’s Sisterhood provides soup that is distributed weekly to area homeless shelters. The congregation is involved with Empty Bowls, providing adults and children the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate. The congregation also partners with South Oakland Shelter on a biannual basis, opening their doors and transforming their shul into a home for homeless adults and children.
Shir Tikvah’s grief support group invites congregants who have suffered a loss the opportunity to share their grief with others while on their journey toward healing.
The congregation’s Social Justice Community works diligently to support local, national and global efforts where there’s a need. Shir Tikvah also has a partnership with Detroit Jews for Justice.
The Adult Education Committee provides 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. The Family Education program, in addition to educating its youth, provides educational programs for adults throughout the year.
The congregation has a program coming up in August, Camp Tikvah, where a group trip is taken to Lake Huron at Camp Cavell and a weekend is spent there partaking in camping activities.
Harris says 260 families belong to the congregation, including a considerable number of young families who joined in the past few years.
Harris said what drew her to Shir Tikvah, and what she thinks makes it special, is the warmth and kindness of the community.
“They’re down to earth. They’re committed to their Judaism and to being in an inclusive and open synagogue. We have a ton of interfaith families, LGBTQ+ families, and that’s part of our legacy, to be a place where everybody gets to be exactly who they are and show up in the most authentic way they can.”