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Q: What does Shirat HaNefesh mean?

It means Song of the Soul. As in, finding a place for your soul to feel at home. As in, finding a way for our Jewish souls to soar. As in, using gorgeous music to awaken us into our lives.


Q: Which movement does Shirat HaNefesh belong to?

Ahh… a good question. We have ties to Reform, Conservative, Renewal, and Reconstructionist traditions. We come from Orthodox and secular backgrounds and everything in between. We include Jews by birth, Jews by choice, and people who are not Jewish but wish to walk a Jewish path by participating in our community. So, call us “post-denominational.”

Q: How do I become part of the community?

Just start coming to services. We meet every Saturday morning and occasional Friday nights a month. You’ll make friends and start participating in the flow of congregational life. Check the rest of the website for activities, committees, and events that you might want to get involved with.


Q: Can I come to regular services or High Holidays if I'm not a member?

Yes! Our weekly services are open to everyone; no membership required. Non-members can come to High Holiday services; we suggest a donation of $225 per adult to cover all services. Children and students may attend at no charge. Many of our High Holiday services do not require tickets and are open to the community. See our ​High Holiday page​ for details.

Q: Where and when do you meet? 

We meet on Shabbat each week, either online or at a location in North Chevy Chase near the Beltway. (Please email or call 240-292-9450 for specific location information.) PLEASE CHECK THE CALENDAR FOR OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE OF SERVICES.  On Saturday morning online and in-person services run from 10 to noon; in-person services are followed by a light kiddush.


Q: What siddur do you use?

We have chosen ​Eit Ratzon​ (“A time of willing desire”), edited by Dr. Joseph Rosenstein. Eit Ratzon contains the traditional weekday, Shabbat, and Holiday Hebrew prayers combined with a complete, new, and egalitarian translation and full transliteration of all Hebrew prayers. There are also contemporary poems and readings, explanations of prayers, and suggestions for meditations that help guide the participant on his or her path. The prayerbook is non-denominational and is designed especially for communities that want to draw from both traditional and contemporary spiritual paths. For more information, visit

Q: What if I don't read Hebrew? 

Well, you won’t be alone. We’re happy to help you learn if you wish, but meanwhile there are lots of ways to participate in and enjoy our services — the music, the comments on the service from the prayer leaders, the feeling of community. Plus every word of prayer in our prayerbook is transliterated into English.

Q: If I don't believe in God and I don't like prayers, why bother joining you?

Because there’s more to your Jewish identity than just “being Jewish.” At some level you want to “do Jewish” too. And that’s bigger than prayer. There’s the glorious music of our services.  There’s acting to repair the world.  And learning Jewish texts and traditions to see what they have to say to us in our time. And having a community to go to Jewish movies and theatre and performances with. Those are all ways of “doing Jewish.” We think doing Jewish is more fun, more powerful, and more engaging when you do it within a community.

Q: What if I can't afford membership? 

We don’t want to let that stand in your way. Talk to our Treasurer confidentially and work out a meaningful and feasible membership rate.

Q: I don't know anyone. Is there an easy way to get connected?

We’d be happy to talk with you in advance, and perhaps introduce you to someone who is coming to services, or let you know about an upcoming Tikkun Olam committee meeting you might want to attend. Email us at ​​ and we’ll give you a call.

Q: Why are music and song so important to your services? 

We believe that there is a thirst in the American Jewish community for a warmth and joy in worship that can be achieved by combining prayer with music, both vocal and instrumental. We believe a powerful spiritual experience is achieved through services that underscore the music in prayer and the sacred in music. Come to our services to experience this for yourself!

Q: Can I be a non-religious Jew at Shirat HaNefesh?

Yes!  We have Book Discussions every two months, Wise Aging groups, and a monthly Movie Night on Zoom.  We work together on social action projects and in support of members who may be ill or suffering a loss.  We celebrate at Hanukah and have a Zoom seder on Passover.  Together, we face the challenges that come our way.  

Other questions?

Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyyar 5784