The Pulse of Our Congregation December 2005

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

December 2005 Activities

Two opportunities to help!

Latkes and Laughs! Let's Party...

Kol Nidrei Sermon 5766
by Rabbi Julie Greenberg

We Welcome Your Simchas


Looking Ahead

Here are a few upcoming events you might consider participating in:

Latke Palooza
Annual event
at Gershman Y
, December 11, 2005 from 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM.

Looking for volunteers
for Super Sunday
, to be held at the Federation Building, 2100 Arch Street, beginning at 9:30 AM. If interested, contact Beverly at 215-557-3777.

Fundraiser for Gershman Y, Saturday Evening, April 8, 2006. Arlo Guthrie in performance. Tickets $35 - $50 Reception before concert, $150

Gloria's Poem

For the women who can and the women who can’t

For the women who will and for the women who won’t

For the women who died unfulfilled and unloved &
For the women who were their own person regardless of the consequences

For the women who fought, marched and protested &
For the women who remained silent & bore their pain

For the women who stood tall & kept the vigil during all wars & desperately tried to keep it all together during peace times

For the women who are nurturers & the women who only want to be pampered and waited on

For the women who care & for the women who don’t

For the women who struggled for their place in the sun & for the women who knew not their place nor dared or cared to know

For the women of today who have met the challenge of a man’s world

And for the women who have not and who remain locked in their own cocoon & refuse to grow with the times

I only know that I am proud to be a woman with strong convictions & it is great to be living in the 20th century

Which has given me the opportunity to be myself to express myself artistically & I look forward to the 21st century with great enthusiasm & delight

Gloria Goldstein

Dear Friends,

As most of you know by now, Joanne Perilstein has resigned as President of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City, and I will complete her term pursuant to our by-laws. Once again, I thank Joanne for her dedicated service as President, and for the grace with which she has assumed some much needed post-presidential projects including Chesed and Bagels and Books. Let her be a model for all members.

It is my pleasure to tell you how proud I am to be the new President of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City. I am consistently amazed at how we continue to live up to our name. It is important for each person reading this newsletter to understand that we are a small congregation. Everything that gets done in this community is done because someone like you exerts effort, and because someone like you donates some money.

We are currently in an interesting part of the Jewish ritual calendar. After a flurry of excitement and deep spiritual work ending with Simchat Torah, we mostly have shabbos until our Chanukah celebration. During that same time period we read Berashit (Genesis), our foundation stories that explain our origins and invites us to explore family relationships. Let's take this time to appreciate the close relationships that are available to us in sacred community.

My door is always open. Please call or e-mail me to share your ideas or your energy for our synagogue's future. I look forward to seeing all of our members and friends at services and other events. Please come up to me and say hi.


Michael Meketon
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City

  • December 2005 Activities
  • Saturday, December 3
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Tuesday, December 6
    Ma'ariv Meditation, Rabbi Myriam
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Wednesday, December 6
    Council Meeting, Michael
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Friday, December 9
    Kabbalat Shabbat, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:30 PM

    Sunday, December 11
    Habitat for Humanity, Center City Kehillah
    North Philadelphia, 8:30 AM

    Wednesday, December 14
    Prayer Class, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Saturday, December 17
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Sunday, December 18
    Jewish Relief Agency, Center City Kehillah
    925 Lombard Street, 9:30 AM

    Saturday, December 24
    Erev Christmas Chinese Food Fress
    with Congregation Beth Ahavah
    See website or contact Bobbi, 7:00 PM

    Saturday, December 25
    Hanukah Party, 1st candle
    Ethical Society, 3:00 PM

    Saturday, December 31
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    Home, 10:00 AM

    Click here for a complete look at activities for the next two months...
  • Two opportunities to help!
  • Congregations Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City and Beth Ahavah proudly co-sponsor two special opportunities to work together to help others:
    Work on two houses in North Philadelphia with Habitat for Humanity, Sunday December 11, 2005 from 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM

    Assemble and deliver food packages to needy people in Center City with the Jewish Relief Agency, Sunday December 18, 2005 from 9:30 AM - 1:00 PM

    Both activities are jointly sponsored by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir and Congregation Beth Ahavah in conjunction with Center City Kehillah (Center City congregations and organizations acting together).

    For registration, questions and meeting places, contact Sibyl Cohen at 215-568-9827

    or e-mail Sibyl
  • Latkes and Laughs! Let's Party...
  • It's a Hanukah Party at Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City.

    Please join us at the Ethical Society Building, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square on Sunday, December 25 at 3:00 PM
    Bring Salads, Main course, Desserts, Drinks, Hanukiah & Candles

    Bring your family, friends, jokes and family stories.

    CONTACT: Myrna, 856-795-6956

  • Kol Nidrei Sermon 5766
    by Rabbi Julie Greenberg
  • Rabbi Julie Greenberg

    My colleague Rabbi Sheila Weinberg suggests that we think of these High Holy Days as a marathon. How many of you have ever been in a marathon of any kind or know someone who has been? When you think about it there are some common features.

    Number one, you get to choose your level of participation. Just as in a marathon, some runners aim to stay the whole course—they’ll be proud of themselves if they finish, regardless of their time; others have a goal to get there in a certain amount of time; others show up for the beginning and go as far as is comfortable and fun; others watch the festivities and others are judges, registration people, setter uppers, medics, news people. It takes a lot of roles and levels of participation to make the thing work and each person enters the experience in the way that works best for them. This is true for the marathon and for the High Holy Days.

    Number two, whatever level of participation you choose, the more you prepare for a marathon, the better shape you’ll be in. Training, stretching, weight lifting, proper nutrition, practice runs all play a part in getting an athlete ready to participate. Similarly, preparing for these Holy Days days helps open the heart to the meaning and purpose of this time. You get to design your own training regimen, the one that works best for you. The tradition offers the entire month of Elul for daily reflections on forgivingness, teshuvah. Listening to the shofar, being part of the selichot prayers of forgiveness, saying special psalms that focus attention on what is important in life are all options for spiritual preparation. In this congregation we also always hold a session specifically devoted to spiritual preparations for the High Holy Days and we welcome everyone to join in.

    Number three in this analogy of High Holy Days as a marathon, you may just bump up against a wall at some point. In a marathon this is when you just can’t imagine gasping in any more air or pumping those muscles a single extra minute. Overcoming the wall involves psychology, guts and physical endurance. Our walls here in the synagogue take all different forms. For some people the wall is "I’m not sure I belong, I don’t understand Hebrew." Or "there’s not enough Hebrew," For other people, the wall might be, "these aren’t the people I like to hang out with," or "I don’t really know anybody." Or "it’s too long," or "too boring." We all have our own walls in the marathon and in the synagogue.

    I like the marathon idea but I’ve always had one question about marathons and that is why in the world would anyone want to run one?

    I’ve concluded that there are just some human activities that you have to experience from the inside to understand. You may have had that experience in one realm or another. Some people say " Why would anyone want a child? They’re sticky and dependent and expensive." But from inside parenthood you know the absolute joy of raising up a human being.

    Some people say "Why would anyone want to be an artist? It’s messy and there’s no money in it." But you know what it means to create an artistic expression.

    "Why would you want to live in center city?" Cultural life, companionship, excitement of the city, commitment to the complexity and diversity of city living.

    "Why would anyone want to climb Mt. Everest?" That’s a hard one.

    Some experiences really only make sense from the inside. Allowing yourself to step inside, gives a whole new perspective. The High Holy Days are an invitation to step more inside than you’ve ever been. To follow in the footsteps of the High Priest who would access the Holy of Holies, the inner-most sanctum of the Temple, on this one sacred day. From inside the experience, you might have a different understanding of what it means to participate in these holy days than if you weren’t here.

    Nevertheless, each one of us, just as in a marathon, most likely will sooner or later encounter a wall. Every year there are moments for me when I wonder with huge self-doubt, why am I doing this? Am I even good at it? What’s the point? These walls can be forms of spiritual resistance. To walk away at that point is to give up on yourself and your potential for spiritual life

    Whatever our spiritual resistance, getting past it takes some intention and effort. Feelings of not belonging, feelings of boredom, antsy-ness, shpilkes. But on the other side of the wall there are treasures waiting to be realized. The treasures are not things that I will enumerate in depth here because they are for you to discover. But just some brief headlines:
    A Treasure: Jewish community is a joyful, uplifting experience. It’s also annoying and frustrating and will stretch you to the limit because that is what intimacy is about.

    A Treasure: Time to nourish the soul is an essential part of human life—our ancestors knew the centrality of spirit. It’s only in an industrial or post-modern age that we forget we even have souls.

    A Treasure: Living by the sacred rhythm of the Jewish year which is close to the cycles of nature and makes room for work and rest, work and replenishment, and for acknowledging the joys and the sorrows of a life richly lived.

    By being here, this evening, you have stepped into this marathon. You are an insider on the Jewish journey into this New Year. You are surrounded by supporters, wishing you well, offering you the water of song and prayer, and the cheers of witnesses who champion your progress.

    Tonight is a night of stepping inside. Our task tonight, tomorrow and in the year ahead, is how to make this inside more than a place to visit. How can we make this inside a home for all? Just as there is no one correct way to relate to a marathon (there are many roles and many levels of participation), in our home here there are diverse ways to connect. We welcome you to find the way that works for you. Engaging in leadership or arranging chairs/writing a check or being present at a service—each and all are of great value, each helps make this a home. Let us remember that to lack a home is one of the worst human tragedies; to have a home is the greatest blessing of all. Welcome home to the New Year 5766.

    Click here to read Rabbi Julie's additional sermons...
  • We Welcome Your Simchas
  • If you have a special occasion coming up such as a birthday, anniversary, retirement or recovery celebration, Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City would love to be part of it. There are a range of ways to integrate your celebration into the life of the community, from a simple candle-lighting on Shabbat to making a presentation at a service, co-leading a service, being called to the Torah or bringing in klezmer music for dancing. By working with me you can craft a moment of ritual that works for you, ensuring that your milestone will be noted in a spiritual framework. In this way the Torah of our lives is shared and recognized. Be in touch!

    Rabbi Julie

    :: 215-629-1995