The Pulse of Our Congregation November 2005

In this Issue

Rabbi’s Message

November 2005 Activities

David Allon Presentation Preceeds Potluck Supper and Rosh Chodesh Meeting

Rabbi Julie Continues Interfaith Families Program

Erev Rosh HaShana 5766 Sermon
by Rabbi Julie Greenberg


Rabbi’s Message
Rabbi Julie Greenberg

Dear Chevre,

After all the months of preparation for Holy Days and of abundant Holy Days, the Jewish calendar gives us the month of Cheshvan, a simple, open month un-programmed by any Jewish holidays. Cheshvan’s claim to fame is that it is the only month in the Jewish calendar that contains no significant dates.

This month gives us space to consolidate all that we have harvested from our fall holidays. It gives us some emptiness to allow ideas, plans and relationships to flourish. We fill this month up with excellent programming and with developing friendships.

I invite you to step into life at Leyv Ha-Ir–Heart of the City in whatever way works for you. Will you be part of our interfaith support group? Will you join us for Shabbat? Will you learn with us on Wednesday nights? Will you heal the world with our Tikkun Olam committee? Will you help plan or set up for Hanukkah? We welcome your involvement!

If you are new to the community and want some help thinking about how to get involved, give me a call: 215-843-9592. I’d love to talk with you.

Also, if you or anyone you know is interested in Jewish experiences for children in center city, we are beginning to have some discussions about this and we’d like to hear from you.

Many blessings to all,

Rabbi Julie

Notes from the President

We are a very welcoming congregation, it is one of our many strengths. I am hard pressed to think of any other congregation that is more welcoming and friendly to the newcomer than we. Something happened this morning that reminded me of our trait. I was about to cross 19th and Chestnut and a woman called out my name. I asked who it was and didn't recognize her name. She said that she knew me from services. So I inquired if she had been to our High Holy Day services. No, she answered but she has been to many others. So I said, “That’s okay, we like to be a welcoming group.” She then helped me across the street.

I then pondered the experience. We have now had our four “grand slam” events. They included our book discussion of Jewish with Feeling, our Meet the Rabbi evening, our Shabbos celebration of the Schlanger’s 50th Anniversary, our Selichot service that included a fascinating discussion of the soul and was accompanied by Cantor Jack Kessler’s music. In all these events we enjoyed larger numbers than we normally had. Our increased numbers allowed more people to enjoy the high level of services that we offer our members and guests. We can be proud of ourselves.

Our High Holy Day services and Sukkot service were also greatly appreciated by those in attendance. Our ability to function as a team in creating meaningful services is continually surpassing our expectations. Our Membership Outreach Committee has initiated several strategies to bring in new people to swell our ranks. Our goal is to expand our membership to the level of giving ourselves a sufficient financial base to look to the future with confidence and security.

Now we, who have always been so good at hospitality face a new challenge. We need to keep in contact with those who have come to our services and expressed interest in joining our congregation. We have to go beyond the initial warm greetings and take some further steps. Our actions need to be sensitive to both those who are satisfied with minimal contact and those who might enjoy being drawn into our midst. We have to walk a path that is inviting but yet respectful. We have to decide when to push and when to refrain from pushing people into membership. Given our many other accomplishments I am sure that we can make these distinctions. I invite all of our members to join in the effort.

As always I also wish you all a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Joanne Perilstein

  • November 2005 Activities
  • Torah

    Tuesday, November 1
    Ma’ariv Meditation, Rabbi Myriam
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Wednesday, November 2
    Council Meeting, Joanne
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Saturday, November 5
    Shabbat Services, Lay Led
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Sunday, November 6
    Rosh Hodesh, Joan
    Joan Goldberg, 4:00 PM

    Wednesday, November 9
    Interfaith Group, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Friday, November 11 Veteran's Day

    Wednesday, November 16
    Prayer Class, Rabbi Julie
    Iris’s, 7:00 PM

    Friday, November 18
    Kabbalat Shabbat, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:30 PM

    Saturday, November 19
    Shabbat Services, Lay Led
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Thursday, November 24 Thanksgiving Day

    Saturday, November 26
    Shabbat Services, Lay Led
    Home, 10:00 AM

    Sunday, November 27
    Bagels & Books, M. Schlanger
    Joanne’s, 11:00 AM

    Wednesday, November 30
    Prayer Class, Iris N.
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Click here for a complete look at activities for the next two months...
  • David Allon Presentation Preceeds Potluck Supper and Rosh Chodesh Meeting
  • israeli stock fact

    A new language? Guess again! They're Israeli stocks* traded on the US stock exchanges. Learn about them, their profitability, and much more, when you join us to hear DAVID J. ALLON, MBA, Vice-President, Progress Financial Resources LLP, Philadelphia, an expert in analyzing Israeli technology and biotech companies. A pot-luck buffet supper will follow the question-and-answer session. Then, after supper, all women are invited to ride the elevator to a quiet, comtemplative time and place: Rosh Chodesh at Evy Simon's home (#2818) for private, sacred contemplation, reflection, and recognition.

  • Rabbi Julie Continues Interfaith Families Program
  • faithways illustration

    Leyv Ha-Ir and Faithways Proudly Sponsor Interfaith Community at the Heart of the City

    We invite your participation in this support group. First meeting: Wednesday, November 9 at the Ethical Society building, 1906 Rittenhouse Ave. in Center City Philadelphia

    A place to meet people like you, raise important questions, share hopes and dreams, gather resources for successful family- building and be part of a spiritual community that welcomes you

    Facilitated by Rabbi Julie Greenberg

    Next meeting December 14

    CONTACT: Rabbi Julie, 215-843-9592

  • Erev Rosh HaShana 5766 Sermon
    by Rabbi Julie Greenberg
  • Here we are; I invite you to take a breath and allow yourself to tap into the deeply nourishing power of these holy days. Through the wisdom of our tradition and through the strength of this community, each one of us has the opportunity to orient our self for the journey into this year.

    We get to ask what sights do I set for myself this year? What am I hoping for? What am I willing to commit?

    It’s so easy to let time rush by without taking stock of where we are and what is our purpose for being here. In my own life as Rabbi/Therapist and Mother there’s a daily agenda of congregants and clients and kids: meetings, homework, groceries, appointments, phone calls, car pools, prepare for that service, visit the shiva minyan, make a birthday party, raise money for AIDS, remember to feed the guinea pig. It’s full and rich and good but recently I had a wake up call.

    All of a sudden my little baby first born daughter Rosi had grown up and was going off to college. I really feel like it was yesterday that I brought her home from the hospital as this adorable, cherished baby. And now she’s 18 and a freshman at Brown University. And to top it off, the same week, my youngest little baby, Mozi, marched off to kindergarten, no longer the darling toddler in my baby backpack.

    The wisdom of Psalm 90 made renewed sense to me. Psalm 90 says Teach us to treasure each day. We really do need to treasure each day, each moment, because we realize, especially at this time of year, how fast time flies and that we don’t control our fate. We never know who will live and who will die.

    In the Jewish liturgical cycle, this season of facing our frailty and finding our strength, begins in late summer with the9th of Av. On the ninth of the Jewish month of Av we commemorate the destruction of the ancient temples. This day of deep mourning opens a portal for us to recognize and integrate loss and disappointment, longing and grief. It’s as though our own walls have tumbled down and our souls are laid bare.

    This year, just a few weeks after the ninth of Av, Hurricane Katrina struck and laid waste to the real walls of so many people. Literally thousands of people are homeless and bereft of all their possessions and even the papers that affirm their identity. Imagine losing your home and leaving behind your photos, your financial and insurance records, your heirloom objects, and even in some cases loved ones. These people experienced devastating loss.

    As our ritual cycle continues, we eventually arrive at Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and solemn self-scrutiny. Without even food to sustain our bodies, we stand in solidarity for a few hours at least, with all the people who live with hunger day in and day out. This year we’ll think of the thousands of Americans, uprooted by Katrina, who would not eat if it were not for the help of the Red Cross, of churches and synagogues and of the government. On Yom Kippur I will be talking more about Katrina; for now our prayers go to those people living through these hard times and to all the good souls helping them.

    As the fall cycle of Jewish holidays continues, by Sukkot we are dwelling in fragile harvest booths. We have moved from the wreckage of the temple walls on the ninth of Av, to the harvest of re-building. The reconstruction has begun in a way that acknowledges the fragility of life and the temporary shelter that material things provide.

    During these months of the Jewish calendar it is a time to imagine what life is really about, stripped of all the things we sometimes take for granted. No home, no food, no source of income. Who are you really and why are you here?

    There are times in our lives when we are forced to realize that you aren’t the home you live in, you aren’t the car you drive, you aren’t the grades you get or the job you have, you aren’t the perfect family or relationship or your current state of physical health. There is something more essential than all of these things and that is that each of us is a soul that is infinitely precious to God. We are loved by an unending love. And we are here to be channels for that love for each other.

    What does it mean to be a channel of God’s love? You know, it means you shlep the prayerbooks to where they are needed for the service. It means you find the time to take your friend to radiation therapy. It means you donate money to support democracy. It means you show up for the meeting or the study session. In the course of the year, our love-channels get polluted with self-doubt, with busy-ness, with little infidelities. These Days of Awe are the Jewish time for cleaning those channels.

    Right in the middle of these intense days that start with the Ninth of Av and end with the closing festivals of Sukkot, we get an inspiring message of support. Rosh Ha Shanah. This is the birthday of the world, the anniversary of the day human beings were created. What a joyous day! Everyone comes together with family or friends and fellow seekers, for prayer, apples and honey, song and delight. This is a wonderful celebration of community.

    Ha Yom ha-rat ha olam. Today the world was created.

    A new beginning. Fresh start. It is as if the past is stripped away and it is a time of new choices and new chances. All the psychic toxicities that accrue during the daily course of life, are absolved through our teshuva work, our work of returning.

    By coming together for uplifting prayer, song, silence, reflection we apply the Jewish version of Drano to our selves, purifying our selves for better service to our highest values. It is a time of soul cleansing. Bubbling up from the total vulnerability that we have faced, comes a time of renewal. This is so awesome that the days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are called the Days of Awe.

    We have the opportunity to start each New Year freed in a spiritual sense from all the trappings of life, from all past patterns and spiritual clutter. We don’t know what the future holds but we know that in each moment we have choices to make. Our choices matter: the Rabbis taught us to imagine a scale with two sides----your next action will tip the scale of justice in one direction or the other. Your actions have infinite ripple effects, beyond what you can imagine. The fact that each individual in this room is here, that you decided to come tonight, adds up to mean that Jewish continuity is happening right now before our eyes. Because you are here, we enact sacred rites that carry our precious heritage into the future. The rituals that we engage in over the next ten days, call us to be the best human beings we can be, together. These sacred rites, symbolized by our shofar calls, call us to make our Jewish contribution to the planet. There may be hard times ahead for us as a nation and as a species. We don’t know what is in store for us. But we don’t face the future alone. With renewed zest and a revived mission, as part of our community of faith, we’re in this together. By the time we reach Sukkot, our harvest festival, what will the harvest be? It will be a harvest of relationships, of learning and of good deeds. I am so happy to be taking this journey with you. There is no where I’d rather be and no work I’d rather be doing. Welcome to the year 5766. L’ Shanah Tovah, may this be a sweet year for all.

    Click here to read Rabbi Julie's additional sermons...
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