The Pulse of Our Congregation February 2006

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

February 2006 Activities

Celebrate with Us:
Tu B'Shevat, The New Year of the Trees

Marking life cycle events...

Next Steps in Jewish Learning
with Rabbi Julie Greenberg

Katrina Firsthand
by Pat Wisch


Looking Ahead

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

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

Purimspiel Evening - (Anything Goes!!), Costumes are welcome. March 13th, 7:30 PM, Ethical Society.

Pesach Sing-Along with Cantor Jack Kessler. March 22, 7 PM, Ethical Society. Take home a Pesach Songbook.

Honoring Sibyl Cohen on her special recognition at the annual JRF Regional Gala. Saturday, March 25, 7:30 PM, Mishkan Shalom

Rosh Hodesh-Decorating a Seder Table. Sunday, March 26, 4 PM. Call Joan, 215-561-5193 for details.

Dirty Frank’s,
a poem

The art on the wall



They mean something

to whoever made them

Neon beer signs

light the room

the jukebox plays

nothing my father would play

on his stereo

One man rollerskates

from one side of the bar

to the other

He did!

Sarah – Jody – Sheila

Our ladies of the beer mugs

I salute them!

Pamphlets and posters

dot the other walls

The game in on the TV

if anyone’s interested




Home away from home

All here


You can dance here!

No one will laugh at you.

--John Mason

Dear Friends,

These past high holidays, Rabbi Julie spoke to us about giving respectful feed back. Aggrieved parties can be responsible for preserving relationships. By giving feedback, we can create an opportunity for the other person to make teshuvah and together the two can repair their relationship. I suggest that positive feedback is also essential to good relationships. Giving more positive feedback should be a part of our congregational teshuvah. Let's start with me.

I am very proud of Libby Cone. Libby has been visiting the Cambridge House every other Thursday for several years now. There, she serves the pastoral needs of Jewish adults with mental health or mental retardation concerns. She brings them challah and grape juice and conducts a maariv service. Over the years, various other members have followed Libby's example and given these folks rides to services, channukah gifts, sponsored seder attendance, and visited them at hospitals when they were sick.

This year, at my request, Libby applied for and was awarded a grant from the Federation to continue this work. Our congregation has been given almost $5000 to continue our activities with boarding home residents and other institutionalized Jewish adults. Maria M. has volunteered to coordinate the significant paperwork. With this grant, I expect our community to widen its involvement with this project. Please contact Libby or me to volunteer.

Much love,

Michael Meketon
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City

  • February 2006 Activities
  • Wednesday, February 1
    Council Meeting, Michael
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Friday, February 3 — Sunday, February 5
    Retreat, Beverly
    Ocean City, NJ PM

    Tuesday, February 7

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

    Wednesday, February 8

    Interfaith Group, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Sunday, February 12
    Super Sunday.
    Still looking for volunteers to man phones & help out at Federation building, 2100 Arch Street, beginning at 9:00 AM.
    Contact Bev Hayden 215-557-3777

    Sunday, February 12
    Tu B'Shevat Seder
    Kennedy House, 6:30 PM

    Wednesday, February 15
    Prayer Class, Rabbi Julie
    Ethical Society, 7:00 PM

    Sunday, February 19
    Bagels and Books, contact Roby at 215-546-8965
    Joanne's, 11:00 AM

    Wednesday, February 22
    Prayer Class, Iris N.
    Iris's, 7:00 PM

    Saturday, February 25
    Shabbat Services, Lay-led
    10:00 AM


    Also check out the activities at Center City Kehillah.

    Click here for a complete look at activities for the next two months...
  • Celebrate with Us:
    Tu B'Shevat, The New Year of the Trees

    FEBRUARY 12, 6:30 PM
    Kennedy House, 1901 JFK Boulevard,
    30th Floor Community Room

    Please bring something for the Seder
    If your last name begins with:
    • A thru H, bring fruit or nuts with a shell: peanuts, coconuts, oranges, pomegranates, or red wine or red grape juice.

    • I thru P, bring fruit with a hard interior and soft exterior; apples, pears, apricots, or white wine or white grape juice

    • Q thru Z, bring fruit with a soft interior and soft exterior; grapes, figs, raisins, or wine or grape juice of any color

    Where did this holiday come from?
    The Bible has many references to trees and their value, but it fell to the rabbis to establish the 15th (Tu) of the month of Shevat as the New Year of the Trees. This date established the tax year for tree fruit and the base year for counting off 5 years till fruit could be eaten. In the Diaspora, the holiday was seen as a point of connection with the Land of Israel. In the 16th century, the Kabbalists living in Safed in northern Israel associated the date and fruit with the mystic concept of the four worlds. Later, as Zionism strengthened, the connection with the Land was emphasized. As environmental consciousness increased, ecology and good management of the earth's resources were also emphasized. Tu B'Shevat as we celebrate it today brings together all these strands and is an excellent example of how Judaism is a living and adapting religion.

  • Marking life cycle events...
  • Making a financial contribution to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir is a great way to mark special life events, simchas, yahrzeits, etc. We are happy to send an acknowledgement of your contribution to a designee of your choice. Contributions can be sent to our regular P.O. Box address, or contact Evy Simon, at 215-561-7474 or, if you'd like to have an acknowledgement card sent.

    Thank you.
    Bobbi Cohen,

  • Next Steps in Jewish Learning
    with Rabbi Julie Greenberg
  • Rabbi Julie Greenberg

    Would you like to prepare for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah Celebration? Would you like to learn more about the Simchat Chochmah Celebration (celebration of wisdom)? We are gathering a core group of folks who would like to undertake a course of Jewish study with the Rabbi and with our Ritual Chair. This program will run for a year and a half, starting this winter. We will help you take the next steps in your Jewish learning, moving toward an understanding of basic Hebrew, prayer, Bible, history and Jewish custom. The commitment involves two or three Wednesday evenings a month, regular homework and participation in some services. Would you think about enriching yourself with a deeper knowledge of your tradition? We'd like to support you! Please call Rabbi Julie for discussion and details at 215-843-9592.

    Click here to read some of Rabbi Julie's sermons...
  • Katrina Firsthand
    by Pat Wisch
  • Monday, September 19, 2005

    To my dear family and friends:

    I returned from Jackson, Mississippi on Thursday September 15, 2005 having spent two weeks as a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health worker with evacuees from Katrina. This was an extraordinary time for me and I feel blessed and privileged to have been there. Some memories:

    • Waiting in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee airport feeling lonely and afraid and teary. I’ve been asked to keep in touch with the local radio station and share my personal reactions to this so I call and say “I’m on my way!”
    • Meet other Red Cross volunteers at the Charlotte airport and feel better with other people around me going to the same place.
    • Lots of confusion in Montgomery, Alabama (headquarters for deployment in the Southeast region); thinking about my perceptions of Alabama and Mississippi based on “happenings” in the 60’s...
    • Left for Tupelo, Miss. (birthplace of Elvis!) with three other mental health workers; amazing shelter and service center set up, waiting for planeload of 300 evacuees who never materialize; I hear on the news that they went to Phoenix, AZ, but we’ve never been notified; first example of disorganization and mismanagement from above.
    • Arrive in Jackson, Miss. having driven on the Natchez Trace Trail, trying to create wonderful memories of this “adventure”.
    • Days and days of hard work, intense interactions with evacuees, developing warm and loving relationships with Red Cross workers from around the country; I am awed by the Red Cross and its mission.
    • Meeting amazing leaders of churches and local organizations who opened their hearts, homes, and pocketbooks to evacuees; these people had left their homes in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast before the storm struck, fully expecting to return home in three or four days as they have done before. Hardest for me were those with whom I could truly identify – people who have never asked for anything in their lives and were embarrassed to ask for help now.
    • The children...people in wheel chairs…the blind and the deaf...the heat...people standing in line in extremely hot, sticky weather for hours waiting, waiting, offering cold water and my sincere apologies for everything taking so heart cracking...unshed tears of compassion...there but for the grace of God go I...
    • Counseling a woman and her 16 year old daughter who had been in New Orleans, witnessed a miscarriage left in the toilet, and went to Texas where they saw a two-year old raped, split apart, and bled to death – incomprehensible...
    • Counseling staff at shelters that were “burning out”;
    so hard, so sad...

    Some wonderful times:

    • Invited to a pre-ordination party (in the Reformed Church) for Arthur, from Kenya with wonderful African food, being blessed, and asked to teach some Hebrew;
    • Attending a Service of Healing at Beth Israel Congregation where the Methodist minister (also present were Baptists, Presbyterians, Muslims, as well as three Rabbis) seemed to speak directly to me when he said, “Oh, Lord, crack open my heart so that the world may come in.” About one-third of the congregation were evacuees and they, as well as Red Cross volunteers were invited to the Bima to receive a blessing.
    • Visiting the Institute of the Southern Jewish Experience at Camp Jacobs in Utica, Miss. A distribution center was being set up there to hold the truckloads of goods coming from Reform congregations around the country.
    • Being taken to lunch by the pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church – he would not even accept a contribution to his church, so I’ve sent him some of my home-grown and home-made blueberry jam.
    • Small world stuff: meeting the daughter of one of Bill’s professors at Washington University – when I called and told him he said “She’s a little girl!” -- 40-some years ago she was, now she’s a Red Cross volunteer and living in Massachusetts; working with the roommate of a great-nephew from Tallahassee, Florida; we are truly one people...

    There are so many other things I could tell you but my heart is beginning to crack again as I recall those two weeks. It’s hard to believe that I am living my normal life while the devastation continues...Again, I feel privileged to have been able to be present in the lives of the evacuees. When asked why I was doing this I responded (and I don’t know where this came from), “Because I can and because I must...I comfort because I was comforted.”


    :: 215-629-1995