The Pulse of Our Congregation January 2006

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

January 2006 Activities

Join us in an inspiring tribute to
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bagels and Books

A Week in the Life of Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City
by Rabbi Julie Greenberg

We Welcome Your Simchas


Looking Ahead

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

Febuary 3, 4, and 5, 2006
10th Annual Retreat at the Shore
The theme is "Life's Journey... Lessons Learned" and a special workshop on scrapbooking. Call or write Beverly, 215-557-3777,
or Evy, 215-561-7474, for further details.
Daytrippers on Saturday are welcome.

February 12, 2006
Super Sunday

To be held at the Federation Building, 2100 Arch Street. Volunteers needed to help with Federation's fund-raising phone-a-thon. Shifts from 9-11AM,11AM-2PM,1-4PM. Not all duties are phone solicitations. Call Beverly Hayden to enroll: 215-557-3777 or . Point of information: Federation funds Kehillah of Center City of which we are an affiliate.

April 8, 2006
Gershman Y Fundraiser

Saturday Evening Arlo Guthrie performance. Tickets $35 - $50 Reception before concert, $150

The Son Acquits the Father

By Adam Levick

"There are circumstances that must shatter you; and if you are not shattered, then you have not understood your circumstances. In such circumstances, it is failure for your heart not to break. And it is pointless to put up a fight, for a fight will blind you to the opportunity that has been presented by your misfortune. Do you wish to persevere pridefully in the old life? Of course you do; the old life was a good life. But it is no longer available to you. It has been carried away, irreversibly. So there is only one thing to be done. Transformation must be met with transformation. Where there was the old life, let there be the new life. Do not persevere. Dignify the shock. Sink, so as to rise. "
- Leon Wieseltier, Kaddish

I didn't say Kaddish – the traditional Jewish mourning custom – in the year following my father's death. I wasn't that kind of Jew. His death was an earthquake in my life, and profoundly changed both who I am and how I lived my life, yet lacking even the most basic understanding of the traditional Jewish grieving process I was forced to mourn not as a Jew, but as an amateur. Though it’s been nine years since his passing, I can still recall very clearly the people, places, and ideas that influenced and shaped the nature of my grief.

I remember the viewing that was held for the immediate family, prior to the service, and the visceral feeling I had that there was something almost grotesque about the sight of him elegantly, and tastefully, on display in that box. The funeral director informed us that seeing him would bring – yes – closure , that it would instruct us as to the certitude of his death. Yet, I was under absolutely no illusions that he was still alive, and seeing his smiling lifeless face was anything but the cathartic experience this premium service was said to provide.

I also have a vivid recollection of being bothered, at the funeral, by an older couple sitting a few rows back – I had no idea who they were, or how they knew my father – wearing matching shiny white sweat suits. Shiny white sweat suits to my father’s funeral?! I also remember the painful absence of a dear friend, whose uncle – I later learned – had died on the very same day.

And I clearly recall my girlfriend at the time embracing me after the burial, and nearly allowing myself to cry. I was in bed with her a few weeks later, shaking uncontrollably. An attempt at intimacy had been aborted, and she firmly, yet tenderly, informed me that I needed, needed so desperately, to let it all out. I complained that the tears wouldn't come, to which she responded – gently, yet with authority, into my ear, practically at a whisper – "He's still with you, he’s inside of you". The tears then flowed freely.

In the weeks, months, and even years, following his death, I found myself wanting desperately to talk about him, our life together, and the continued pain of his loss. Though, many around me expressed their sympathy over my continued suffering, I interpreted these feelings of pain and loss quite differently. For me, these recurring symptoms grief, which are still with me, only affirm the depth of our relationship, his continued presence in my life, and the love and acceptance for one another that we both fought so hard to finally achieve. The inverse of pain is not pleasure, its numbness. He truly is, and will hopefully always be gloriously, and painfully, inside of me.

Shortly after his death, I began reading about the Jewish traditions in death and mourning. Perhaps the most profound tradition I came across during this time, and one which inspires my life to this day, was "The merit of the children", in which the living child, by living a moral, just, and purposeful life, can, in the eyes of God, redeem the imperfect life of his deceased parent. At first, the ethical connection between my current life and his previous life eluded me. How can what I do now in any way effect how the life he once lived is judged? After some time, however, the inspired moral logic became apparent. The way I live my life is necessarily connected to the way he lived his life – a testament to who he was, as a father, and as a man. For, I am, as his son, the living embodiment of the sum of his moral life. My virtue inherently emanates from his virtue. I am, after all, my father's son!

Over the past several years I have strenuously tried to fulfill the obligations of my tradition by being a more sensitive friend, a more responsible citizen, a more observant Jew, and a better man. I also changed careers, and now work for an organization whose mission is consistent with my most cherished values and political ideals.

Sadly, though, nothing can change the fact that I didn't recite the Mourner's Kaddish, in the year following my father's death, as our tradition allows. At the time, I wasn't that kind of Jew. However, I do wake up every day and try – God knows it isn’t always easy – to live a more just and meaningful life, and, thus, continue to redeem the life of this flawed and beautiful man – Morris Levick, "Moe", my Dad. He raised that kind of son.

Dear Friends and members of Congregation
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City,

As I write this letter, I am preparing to leave for Israel. My father's sister, Hava Mehutan, is a sculptor who has lived in Israel since before 1948. She is celebrating her 80th birthday; and her work is being honored. Here is a nice link to an interview. It's a bit old, but still relevant.

Lately I have been speaking with Rabbi Julie about Israel programming. Frankly, I'm afraid to program Israel events at Leyv Ha-Ir. I know that the subject of the "Situation" in Israel provokes extreme emotional reaction. Sometimes I doubt whether our little shul could sustain the level of emotion this topic generates. Over time, I have become reluctant to provoke these feelings in my right-wing friends, or to subject myself to provocation.

It is my hope as time passes, that just as in our annual ritual cycle, the period of increasing darkness will give way to more light and longer days. Similarly, I hope that we in sacred congregation, Kahal Kadosh, will be able to honor heartfelt difference. One thing I believe is that if we cannot make peace among ourselves, we will never make peace with the other people.

I am engaging you, my spiritual community, to find enough love and respect for one another that we can program about Israel in a way that does not cause anguish, and which manifests the great respect we have for each other.


Michael Meketon
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City

  • January 2006 Activities
  • Sunday, January 1
    Rosh Hodesh, Joan
    Home, 4:00 PM

    Tuesday, January 3
    Ma'ariv Meditation, Rabbi Myriam
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM
    This event has been cancelled!

    Wednesday, January 4
    Council Meeting, Michael
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Sunday, January 7
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Saturday, January 14
    Shabbat Service (King-Heschel), Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Monday, January 16
    MLK EVENT, with Congregation Beth Ahavah

    Wednesday, January 18
    Prayer Class, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Saturday, January 21
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    Ethical Society, 10:00 AM

    Wednesday, January 25
    Prayer Class, Iris
    Iris's, 7:00 PM

    Saturday, January 28
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    Home, 10:00 AM

    Sunday, Janury 29
    Bagels and Books, M. Schlanger
    Joanne's, 11:00 AM

    Click here for a complete look at activities for the next two months...
  • Join us in an inspiring tribute to
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Shabbat Morning Services with Rabbi Julie Greenberg plus gospel and spiritual songs. Members of the Congregation will be reading excerpts from Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's speeches.

    Bring your family and friends

    Saturday, January 14, 2006
    10:00 AM at the Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square

  • Bagels and Books
  • Sunday, January 29th, 11 AM

    "Love is a Fallacy" by Max Shulman is one of the stories to be read. Held at Joanne's Center City apartment with a $5 fee for a wonderful brunch. This is a great way to spend a wintery Sunday morning.

    Bring your family and friends

    CONTACT: Myrna, 856-795-6956

  • A Week in the Life of Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City
    by Rabbi Julie Greenberg
  • Rabbi Julie Greenberg

    One week in December, I was privileged to do two mitzvahs in the name of our community. I felt your presence, Leyv Ha-Ir-niks, with me on these two occasions, even though you may not even have known the individuals involved.

    The first occasion was the funeral for Gertrude Klimoff, sister of one-time member Haim Klimoff. Gertrude lived most of her life in a psychiatric institution; Haim, for more than a decade, was her primary link to the world. This funeral was a bittersweet time of supporting family members in looking at both the tragedy and blessing of Gertrude’s life.

    The other occasion was the happy covenanting ceremony for a new baby in our community, daughter of Kat Rosqueta and Michael Idinopulos. Her name is Cecilia in English, Chasia in Hebrew. Baby Cecilia joins two year-old brother Zak in their lovely home in the Art Museum neighborhood. As midrash teaches, "With each child the world begins anew."

    In post-911 talk we speak of fire-fighters and medical personnel as "first responders." In Jewish community, we could speak of ourselves as first responders to the rites of passage in each other’s lives. We surround these inevitable times of change with our presence, with the wisdom of our tradition and with the strength of our sacred rites.

    Through your participation and support, you help sustain our capacity as a community to respond at times of joyful welcome and at times of sorrowful parting. This is what it means to be community.

    Many blessings,
    Rabbi Julie

    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