Learning the ropes
Are you a synagogue or what?
Yes and no and kinda. Words like “synagogue” can feel constraining, and we want to think expansively about what Jewish life can be – so we think of ourselves as a spiritual community and let the experience define itself. Check out this video we made for our Purim shpiel a few years ago. It kind of says it all.
What movement are you affiliated with?
IKAR is post-denominational and not affiliated with any movement. We hope all people feel comfortable at IKAR — Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, unaffiliated, not Jewish, Frum, faithful, disconnected and skeptical.
Do I have to be a member to come to IKAR?
Not at all. Our doors are open to anyone to come and join us for services. If you’re coming for the first time, be sure to introduce yourself so we can welcome you and shower you with love and maybe even rope you in to help pour scotch.
Are you open to interfaith families?
Absolutely. IKAR families come in all imaginable configurations. Really–we challenge you to imagine one we don’t have.
What if I don’t know Hebrew?
No Hebrew, no problem. Many of us neither read nor speak it. There’s a lot of Hebrew in the service — but also a lot of music and spirit, and Hebrew is not a prerequisite for getting swept up in both. Humming and random lalalas are highly encouraged.
Do you keep kosher?
Yes. All meals served at IKAR are vegetarian and are brought in from either hekshered (kosher certified) or vegan establishments.
What do I wear to IKAR?
Jeans, or Prada. Or something in between. Our services are not about your clothes, they’re about your spirit. That said, you shouldn’t feel awkward in a suit if that’s how you roll.
Does your clergy perform same-sex weddings?
What, exactly, is Minyan Tzedek and why are you always talking about it?
We believe that the active pursuit of justice is a core expression of our Jewish spiritual and religious selves, so social justice and pursuing dignity for all people is integrated into everything we do at IKAR. Minyan Tzedek is our social justice work, mobilizing the organizing power of our entire community to bring about more equality in our world. We’ve created four minyanim (or “paths”): Feeding Our Neighbors, Green Action, Organizing and Global Partnership and you can read about them here. Our goal is to engage every member of the IKAR community.
When will IKAR have its own building?
We’re hard at work identifying potential properties and conducting real estate and architectural studies as we strive to find our own location that best fits our needs. We’ve been searching for a site within our current geographic area and are looking for a property that has room for an inspiring, sacred space for davening, lectures, screenings and learning, a center for exploration in Jewish art, music and culture, a coffee shop, and a space that will house Limudim and our Early Childhood Center. It took Moses 40 years to find his way to the Promised Land – we’re hoping to wrap this search up in a fraction of that time.
Making it Official
Yikes! Filling out the form seems like a lot of work!
For current and past members, we are auto-filling forms this year, so all you’ll have to do is verify your membership form for accuracy and make your community and contribution commitments. For new members, we promise it’s worth it to make it all the way through the form! We want to know you and important people and events in your life, so we can reach out throughout the year.
Why do you have three types of membership?
Membership contributions only cover a tiny portion of IKAR’s total budget – approximately 20% . So we’ve been exploring ways to increase these contributions to cover a greater percentage of our annual operating expense.
Last year we piloted our Sustainability Model to help us strengthen the financial health of our community in the long term while remaining consistent with IKAR’s dynamic and inclusive approach. We’re continuing to explore this model, and now offer three membership contribution levels so that each individual or family can do what fits best.
Can we get a discount on membership if we belong to another shul?
An associate membership is available for people who already belong to another synagogue, or those who don’t live in the area but want to support our work. Associate memberships have all the privileges of a full membership, except IKARds (tickets) for the High Holy Days.
You require a “spiritual commitment” from members — What does that entail?
When you join IKAR, you sign our membership brit. This brit is an expression of your core commitments and a way to expand your own Jewish horizons through learning and spiritual growth.
Does IKAR offer financial aid?
We have a few different membership models to fit different needs. That said, we don’t turn anyone away for financial reasons. If our membership contribution rates feel out of your reach, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org link and we’ll have a confidential conversation and let us know what level of contribution is you think is doable and meaningful for you. Alternatively you can just fill out the “Ezra” portion you’ll find as you make your way through the membership form.
Do you have adult education?
Why yes. We consider ourselves a community of learners and we offer a variety of programs that let us explore the most soul-stirring questions through the lens of Jewish texts and traditions. We often study in people’s homes so folks can engage in provocative learning and text study in an informal environment with a glass of wine and some chocolate. We cap registration at the number of people who can fit comfortably in the hosts’ living room, and we choose discussion topics based on what is most interesting or compelling to members of the community at that time.
How am I supposed to meet people?
This community is crawling with good folks – moldy oldies and newbies alike – and there are so many ways to connect. One way to meet people is to just start showing up at services (and be sure to come say hi to one of the rabbis or staff if you’re new – if we haven’t approached you first — and we’ll help introduce you around). Come to house parties for some small-group learning over wine. Volunteer with hesed or in our office or as a Shabbat Schmoozer or in preparation for a big event or holiday. Hop into an activity with TRIBE (20s/30s), Alta Rockers, or with a group of fellow parents. Come to our Shabbaton. There are a lot of doorways in. Get on our Weekly Email list, check out our Facebook page and website to learn more and stay in the loop.
Are there ways to get involved with Jewish rituals at IKAR (e.g., read Torah)?
Yes, please. If you have skills, we want them. Please let us know what you can do and we will put you to work.