Who We Are

Congregation Kol HaNeshama is a place of friendship and community; spirituality, prayer, and learning; social action and tikkun olam.  We are proud to be known as an accepting, warm, welcoming congregation.

Kol HaNeshama’s members share countless opportunities for relevant, contemporary Jewish living
*    Uplifting, participatory, song-filled services;
*   Enriching programs and classes;
*   Joyful holiday celebrations;
*   Friendship-building social events.

Our vibrant and inspiring spiritual leader, Rabbi Jennifer Singer, is central to what we are.  Associated with KH as a member since its origins in 2007 (prior to her ordination), she knows and loves our congregation.  And we return that love.

Rabbi Jennifer has many gifts we treasure.  She creates services that are meaningful and moving, sometimes alternative, but always informed by tradition.  She teaches in ways that help us explore Judaism spiritually and intellectually.

Even more basic, she provides us with a better image of ourselves. She has the insight and empathy to nourish and guide us, in good times and in bad.

Several significant characteristics make Kol HaNeshama unique in Sarasota:
*    We are a synagogue for everyone. Our reality transcends labels, but in defining ourselves we use the terms “independent” or “post-denominational.”
*    The Reconstructionist Movement’s Siddur and the Conservative Movement’s Chumash provide a framework for our services.
*    We offer services every Shabbat—on Friday evening one week, on Saturday morning the next. Friday’s relatively short Kabbalat Shabbat Service is filled with singing, music and dancing to bring us together for an uplifting start to Shabbat.  The more contemplative Saturday morning balances prayer, song, Torah and thoughtful discussion.  We conclude Shabbat mornings with a warm and convivial potluck lunch.

Extensive programming and a wide range of interest groups bring our members together regularly:
*  The KH calendar features holiday celebrations, weekly Torah study, and a variety of provocative classes, such as “Exploring the Prophets” and “Making Prayer Real.” Our Scholar-in-*   Residence Weekend is an annual highlight.

*   We offer Books & Bagels, a Jewish Cinema Club, Jewish Meditation, a Hesed Committee and a Social Action Committee. We also sponsor occasional social activities, like a sock hop or a sunset cruise, just to enjoy being together.

*   Our very popular KH lunch series “Who Was That Person I Sat Next to at Synagogue?” gives us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to each other in depth.

Kol HaNeshama is more than a congregation.  We are, indeed, a family: A caring, supportive family that prays, learns, works, plays, and grows together.

 

Mission Statement

The mission of Congregation Kol HaNeshama is to enrich the lives of its members through active participation in the three traditional core values of Judaism:

TORAH

Jewish Learning and Way of Life

We recognize that study of Torah is a lifelong process. Our personal philosophies and practices may vary widely. However, we share a passionate commitment to Judaism and to furthering our spiritual growth individually and communally.

AVODAH

Worship and Celebration

We are united in our search for opportunities to explore creative approaches to Jewish celebration, learning and living while maintaining an abiding respect for traditional Jewish values and practice.

GEMILUT HASADIM

Acts of Loving Kindness and Concern

We strive to be a true Kehilla Kedosha, a holy community. We endeavor to engage each other in mutual care, aid and support in times of need. We will work together through participation in the Jewish community and the wider world to meet our sacred responsibility of Tikkun Olam.

Although we may differ in our political philosophies, we are united in our concern for the Land of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the State of Israel as a central focal point for the Jewish world. Our members are urged to understand the issues and be involved in activities that impact the well being of the State of Israel and all its inhabitants.

We welcome all individuals and families of varying Jewish lifestyles, marital status, gender, race, age and sexual orientation into our community.

Translation – Kol HaNeshama

The phrase “Kol HaNeshama” comes from the last verse of Psalm 150, the Psalm that many of us know simply as “Hallelu,” perhaps the most joyous of all the Psalms.  We chose it for the name of our synagogue both because of the text itself and the way it opens itself to English translations and interpretations.

The Hebrew spelling of “Kol” is K-L, Kaf-Lamed, meaning “all.”

The root of Neshama, N-SH-M, Nun-Shin-Mem, means “breath” or “breathing,” thus a “living thing.”

The simple meaning is: “Every living thing” (will praise God).  Some have expanded this to “The breath of every living thing praises God.”

The translation in our prayer book, which just happens to be named Kol HaNeshama, is “Let every living thing Yah’s praises sing.”

Another translation would be “all that breathes” or “all of humanity.” signaling a universality in Judaism that includes all of humankind as one entity.

If you change the first Hebrew letter, Kaf, to a Kuf, the pronunciation is identical, but the meaning changes to “the voice of” the living being.  Many Jewish musicians play on this double entendre, since the rest of the Psalm is a description of the use of many musical instruments in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, culminating with the human voice (breath) in song and prayer.

In Christian usage, the phrase is usually translated as All Souls, but the Hebrew source predates the theology of the soul as separate from the body.  When one considers that voice is created by breath, This might be the basis for the translation “Voice of the souls” or “Voices of the souls.”

Sometimes to get to the meaning one has to read not the lines, but between the lines.  The language throughout the centuries has “morphed,” and what a word or phrase meant then can be entirely different now.  To put this into a modern prospective think about how the meaning of the sentence, “My credit card was swiped.” has changed just over the last 15 years.

Somehow, as someone once said, “It ain’t simple being Jewish.”

We hope that this explanation helps, and leaves you smiling.
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Our synagogue worship is designed to reflect the joy of music and expression described in Psalm 150.  We praise God and express our gratitude for life, love, family and  community through singing together, learning together, eating and celebrating together in the spirit of “Kol HaNeshama.” We invite you to join us.