Footnotes for the Perplexed

Who comes to Tikkun Leil Shabbat? We are Jews from birth, Jews by choice, people committed to both traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, and people who are not Jewish but are exploring Judaism; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels; Sephardi, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi; people with no formal Jewish education, Jewish educators, and people with all other types of Jewish backgrounds. 

We are people of all sexual orientations; people of all genders; and people of all colors; people with visible and invisible disabilities, and able-bodied individuals; Virginians, Marylanders, DC residents, and people from other places. We tend to be heavily 30's and 20's, with attendance by folks of all ages.

What does "Tikkun Leil Shabbat" mean?
First, some vocabulary:

l'taken (v) = to repair or heal
tikkun olam (n) = the holy work of repairing the world
Tikkun Leil Shavuot (n) = The name of our havurah is a play on this term, which refers to the annual all-night Torah study session which spiritually "heals" the world on the holiday Shavuot.

Shabbat (n) = Jewish day of rest from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, when we stop running around trying to accomplish things and make some time to breathe and bless, eat and love.

dvar torah (n) = a teaching or sermon, literally a "word" or "bit" of Torah. In a play on this term, we call each talk we hear about social justice work a "dvar tikkun," a "word of repair" that takes the place of a "dvar torah" at each of our gatherings.

Tikkun Leil Shabbat is a welcoming, restful, songful community where we glimpse redemption at dusk on a Friday evening, eat things with tofu and noodles in them, learn from each others' thoughts and experiences, and educate ourselves -- by hearing a dvar tikkun -- about the good work people are already doing to make our city a gentler and fairer place for everyone who lives here.

What style of services are these?
All of the services are fully egalitarian, full Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv with much singing. Micro variations to the words of the prayers are up to the person leading services. Sometimes we sit in a circle and the service is accompanied by acoustic guitar and percussion. Sometimes we sit facing East and the service is unaccompanied. The style of service is announced in advance.

Are the services interpreted in ASL (American Sign Language)?

Sometimes. Please email tikkunleilshabbat[at]yahoo[dot]com if you would like the service and speaker on a particular date to be interpreted professionally in ASL, or orally interpreted by a trained volunteer. We are grateful to the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning's Community Interpreter Fund for helping with the cost of ASL interpretation.

Is TLS wheelchair accessible? Is there handicapped parking?
Our meeting site at the 15th Street Presbyterian Church building (15th & R) is wheelchair accessible. Enter from the parking lot out back, and take the elevator down to the fellowship hall. Unfortunately, our meeting site at Church of the Pilgrims (2201 P St) is not wheelchair accessible.

What siddur (prayerbook) do you use?
Tikkun Leil Shabbat participants bring a wide range of prayerbooks, including Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, and nondenominational siddurim, and some participants prefer to pray without a printed text. We provide copies of Siddur Chaveirim Kol Yisraeil ("the purple siddur"), which contain the text of the evening service in Hebrew, in English, and transliterated phonetically in English letters.

Can I come just for services and then leave? Can I show up just for dinner?

Yes, and yes. (If you're planning to eat with us, please bring a vegetarian entrée or salad to share.) We generally start dinner approximately 1.5 hours after the posted start time.

What should I wear to Tikkun Leil Shabbat?
Anything you want. You'll see people wearing suits, jeans, and flowing funky garments, with sandals and with dress shoes, with covered and uncovered heads.

What kind of food should I bring?

Please bring a vegetarian entrée or salad to share. Your dish should fit into one of two categories:
1. Option One: Bring a vegetarian contribution (no fish please; dairy and eggs are fine). There's a table where you can place that contribution.
2. Option Two: Purchase a potluck item that is hekhshered (kosher-certified) and vegetarian, or prepare a vegetarian potluck contribution in a kitchen that only uses hekhshered products. There's a table where you can place that contribution.
(If you don't totally understand Option Two, don't stress; just go with Option One, above.)

I keep kosher in a particular way. Will I be able to eat dinner at TLS? 
There is always one table of vegetarian food, and another table of vegetarian food that is hekhshered or prepared in a hekhsher-only kitchen. This makes it possible for as many of us as possible to eat and to contribute food. (Learn more about the "two-table" potluck phenomenon here, or read about our famous system for getting the dishes washed here.)

After services, a handful of participants fill kiddush cups with a wine or grape beverage of their choice, and Tikkun Leil Shabbat participants all say kiddush together. After a break to allow for ritual handwashing, we say a communal motzi over hekhshered challah.

I'm not Jewish. Can I come?
Yes! Please do!

I am Jewish, but I'm probably not "Jewish enough" to come to something like this. Can I come?
Yes, you are, and yes, please do! Is there such a thing as Jewish "enough"? Seems to us like you're probably just the right amount of Jewish. 

I'm not in my twenties or thirties. Can I come?


I'm not a member of the inner circle of Jewish cool people in DC. They all know each other already. Can I come?

Yes! These gatherings gain strength from each person who joins us. (If an inner circle of Jewish coolness exists, we're not in it, either.)

Has Tikkun Leil Shabbat taken any steps to "green" these gatherings?
We've taken a variety of steps to reduce the environmental impact of our gatherings:
  • Our meeting locations are metro accessible (Red line Dupont Circle) and for many attendees, also walkable and bikeable.
  • By gathering for vegetarian meals, we significantly reduce the environmental impact of our Shabbat dinners together. (Eating lower on the food chain, even once a week, is a very powerful way to reduce the energy use and carbon emissions associated with our food consumption -- and it's yummy!).
  • We've taken steps to minimize waste from disposables on both potluck tables. On the vegetarian table, you'll find a colorful collection of cloth napkins we procured on Craigslist and donations from participants -- a volunteer launders them after each TLS. We use reusable tableware: Preserve brand plates and cups made of 100% recycled plastic, previously-loved forks, serving utensils, and other donations from participants. We wash and re-use plastic cutlery for use on the vegetarian table. The hekhsher table also sports its own set of lime-green reusables which get washed separately. 
  • Whenever we can, we collect food waste for composting.
  • We recycle glass, plastic and aluminum containers after TLS meals, diverting some garbage from the waste stream and conserving resources
  • We have heard divrei tikkun speakers on a variety of environmental issues, including the protection of the Anacostia watershed, community gardening, and local and national climate activism. In October of 2009, several TLS participants donated to make it possible for TLS to become an organizational partner in the Jewish Climate Change Campaign.
  • That said, our exuberant potluck gatherings of more than a hundred folks continue to generate a lot more garbage than we'd like. We encourage TLS participants to bring food in reusable containers that you'll take home to minimize the trash we generate. And TLS participants can further reduce TLS' environmental "footprint" by choosing local and organic foods for your potluck offering whenever you can, and by walking or biking to TLS.
"Greening" our community's practices is an ongoing process, and your suggestions for further improvements are welcome: tikkunleilshabbat at yahoo dot com.

Who organizes Tikkun Leil Shabbat?
Tikkun Leil Shabbat is a lay-led havurah entirely organized by volunteers.

Participants in the TLS community bring potluck dishes to share, lead services, suggest and give divrei tikkun, wash dishes, and find all sorts of lovely and creative ways to enrich our community.

The Tachlist is a crew of particularly reliable TLS volunteers who are periodically called upon to help set up, clean up, and otherwise keep Tikkun Leil Shabbat running smoothly. (Tachlis = "nitty gritty" in Yiddish.) To join the list, email tikkunleilshabbat at yahoo dot com.)

The Tomchei Tikkun are the coordinating team of Tikkun Leil Shabbat. (Tomchim ="supporters" in Hebrew.) The Tomchei Tikkun take an ongoing and active role in both the logistics of each TLS gathering and the opportunities for decision-making and community maintenance that arise between TLS gatherings. Tomchei Tikkun serve on davenning, meal coordination, divrei tikkun, communications and other committees along with other TLS volunteers. Every six months or so, the team's members choose to rotate off or remain on the Tomchei Tikkun, and any openings are filled through an application process. Currently, the Tomchei Tikkun are Sam Bloom, Michael Freiman, Joel Heller, Judith Hellerstein, Kat Rother, Melanie Schwartz and Shanni Silberberg.

Can I help? I'd like to get involved.
Yes! If you're interested in helping set up, clean up, lead services, give a d'var tikkun, or help in some other way, email: tikkunleilshabbat at yahoo dot com.
You're also welcome to make a financial contribution, which will enable Tikkun Leil Shabbat to secure a space to meet going forward. Please contact the email address to learn more about donating.
Be'chol Lashon