Congregation Kol Tikvah is a place where families and individuals can come to learn about their community, their history and their religion in a warm, caring, friendly environment. We represent a Congregation that respects and understands the needs of our ever changing society while perpetuating the ethical, educational and moral values of Judaism. We maintain a commitment to the State of Israel.
Belief in God (or however you seek a spiritual presence in your life)
Personal belief in God ranges from a traditional omniscient, omnipotent and personal God to abstract forces that permeate the universe. We believe Jews are called upon to be on a journey to discover Eternal Truths that are personally meaningful and fulfilling, and to experience God in a myriad of different ways. We insist upon the most inclusive definition of God, including belief in the existence of a personal God as well as accepting without judgement the theology of fellow Jews who identify as agnostic, atheist, or humanist.
The Jewish People
The Jewish People, Klal Yisrael, are bound by a common history and a common destiny. We are a Religion, a Nation, a People, and a Civilization. We believe that revelation is progressive and continuous and that the Torah is our people’s repository of wisdom and our connection to our ancestral past. We feel a bond of familial connection with our fellow Jews and are responsible for their welfare and wellbeing.
Social Justice is central to our self-understanding as Jews. Guided by the principle of “B’tzelem Elohim,” the Talmud teaches that all human beings are made in the image of God, deserving of dignity and respect. Our great sage Hillel taught, “that which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow; that is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary, go and learn it.” (BT Shabbat 31a). The Torah’s oft repeated directive to remember that we were once “strangers in the land of Egypt” underscores our moral obligation to care for those who are sick, hungry, homeless or vulnerable, those on the margins of society. We have no option but to act with charity and seek justice for all regardless of place of origin, gender, sexual preference, color, religion, or creed. We vow never to be silent in the face of injustice and bigotry. We consider it our obligation to bring about the Messianic Age through Tikun Olam (repairing the world).
Jewish Observance, Traditions, and Law
Jewish life has always revolved around home, community, and family. Observance of Jewish customs and traditions has helped Judaism survive for countless generations. Celebration of Shabbat and holidays and attention to the life of the spirit through private prayer and communal worship are central to Jewish identity. While staying connected to our most sacred prayers and traditions, we also value the creative adaption of our liturgy to reflect the values, mores, and language of our own day. Although some have dismissed Jewish tradition as irrelevant, we don’t believe these traditions should be easily dismissed or discarded as meaningless. On the contrary, we find that rituals and mitzvot reflect the highest ideals we seek to embody in our daily lives. On the other hand, while ritual, tradition and halacha are foundational, we uphold the value of personal autonomy and cast no judgement upon the ritual choices made by our fellow Jews. In other words, “halacha has a vote, but not a veto” in the ritual and moral choices we make. With that in mind, we challenge ourselves to study and learn so that our ritual choices are made with knowledge and understanding.
Our Relation to Israel / Zionism
We cherish our relationship with the State of Israel. As the historic homeland of our people in Eretz Yisrael, we pledge unwavering support and vow to protect her right to exist as an independent, Jewish, and democratic state with safe and secure borders. We insist that her government equally accords full rights and privileges to all streams of Judaism and that the lofty ideals enshrined in her own Declaration of Independence guide and direct her decisionmaking and resulting policies. As Ohavei Tzion, Lovers of Zion, we affirm our right to lovingly criticize her leaders and policies when they stray from the highest values of our Jewish heritage.
We also call upon Israel to pursue peace with all her neighbors, and especially in pursuing a just and lasting peace with the Palestinian people. We look forward to the day when the prophetic vision of Isaiah will be fulfilled when “nation shall no longer lift up sword against nation, nor shall they train for war anymore.”
The Mission of Israel / The Purpose of Being a Jew
The mission of Am Yisrael is “to be a light unto the nations” and to practice Tikkun Olam based on the values of ahava (love), shalom (peace), and tzedek (justice). The study of Torah, attention to the life of the spirit (avodah) and the practice of loving kindness (g’milut chassidim) helps to inform our personal ethics, and to inspire us to pursue justice and peace for all of God’s children. We are called to a life of holiness (K’dushah) by striving to reflect the image of God within us in all our interactions with our fellow human beings and in the moral choices that define our character. This involves lifelong study of Jewish texts and the application of that knowledge in all areas of public and private life.