The Pulse of Our Congregation July 2006

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

July 2006 Activities

Joys of Yiddish

Message from Rabbi

Leyv Ha-Ir 2006 Annual Meeting Minutes

Sandy Brown: Simchat Chochmah


Looking Ahead

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

Tisha B'Av
Wednesday, August 2, Iris Newman's Apartment

Shabbat Service
Saturday, August 5, Beverly's Apartment

Council Meeting
Wednesday, August 9, Bobbi's Apartment

Rosh Hodesh
Sunday, August 20, Susan Berger's Pool in NJ

Bagels & Books, with Rabbi
Sunday, August 27, Joanne's Apartment

For more information call our voice mail or visit 215-629-1995

Newsletter Design:

Ilene Hass
Creative Solutions
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Dear Friends,

Hazak, Hazak, Ve-Nithazek -- from strength to strength, may we be strengthened. We just finished another great book in Leyv Ha-Ir's history. As we finish one book, of course we start another one. The year 5767 is just around the corner. Let's build on our strength and create an even better year next year. In order to build on our strength, we need to nurture the relationships that have made us who we are. Give your friends at Leyv Ha-Ir a call, e-mail or visit. Check in with each other to strengthen the relationships which build the core of this community. Then, from that solid core of relationships which have formed the basis of our congregational life, grow our community by creating new relationships. Tell people why you come to this synagogue. Encourage them to attend some of our services or outreach events.

Speaking of starting new books, for the third consecutive year, we are reading a book together. This summer we are reading Exploring Judaism by Rebecca Alpert and Jacob Staub. We will be meeting together in August to discuss this clearly written description of Reconstructionist Jewish values and practices. I am asking you to get your hands on this book right away, start reading it, and talk about it with everyone you know who might be interested. If you are an informed and energized member of our community, you will be our best marketing strategy. I look forward to continuing this conversation.

On behalf of the officers and staff at Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City, I wish you a restful, enjoyable summer. I look forward to hearing from each of you.


Michael Meketon, President
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City

  • July 2006 Activities
  • Some of the events listed below have flyers with more detailed information about each activity. You can view these fliers as .pdf files and print them. The events with associated flyers are underlined with clickable hyperlinks to the associated flyers.

    July 1 SAT
    LHI Shabbat Service
    Sibyl's, 10:00 AM
    Lay Led

    July 5 WED
    LHI Council Meeting
    Sibyl's, 7:00 PM

    July 15 SAT
    Shabbat Services
    Joan Goldberg's, 10:00 AM
    Lay led

    July 21 FRI
    Erev Shabbat Service & Pot Luck Dinner
    Bobbi's, 7:00 PM

    As part of the Kehillah of Center City we are invited to attend all of the events that are sponsored by the Kehillah and our larger community:

    The 2nd annual Independence Eve Study Session: An interactive encounter with the great texts of American independence and democracy. We will be led in an interactive learning session on our American "Torah" (the Declaration and the Constitution) by Dr. Michael Zuckerman of the University of Pennsylvania. See Dr. Zuckerman's bio. Location: Congregation Mikveh Israel ("the Synagogue of the Revolution") 44 N. 4th St.
    Date and time: July 3rd, 6-8 PM, the eve of Independence Day. Admission is FREE. All are welcome! For more information, call 215-832-0597, or e-mail

    Join the Kehillah of Center City and the Jewish Relief Agency to help feed those in need in our Center City community! They are currently registering people for Sundays, July 9th and August 6th, Time: 9:00 am-1:30 pm; Meeting Place: Congregation B'nai Abraham, 527 Lombard Street.

    To learn more about these events, check out the link to Center City Kehillah.

    Click here for a complete look at activities for the next two months...
  • Joys of Yiddish
  • Have a "yiddish" phrase that sticks with you and needs some explanation? Just submit that phrase and our resident expert, Maria Mackey, will research it for you. Submit to Beverly Hayden

  • Message from Rabbi
  • Hello friends. I hope everyone is joining me in reading Exploring Judaism by Rabbis Rebecca Alpert and Jacob Staub. This book, available from is a terrific introduction to Judaism from a Reconstructionist perspective. It will help you explain what Reconstructionism is all about. Check our web site for the Bagels and Books discussion on this book that I'll be leading on August 27th. This will be the third year in which we've undertaken a "One Congregation, One Book" program. It's been a great way to learn together. Enjoy the summer!

    Many blessings,
    Rabbi Julie

  • Leyv Ha-Ir 2006 Annual Meeting Minutes
    Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City
    Annual Meeting
    May 21, 2006
    1900 JFK Blvd., Philadelphia

    Present: Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Joanne Perilstein, John Mason, Roby Jacobs, Mike Meketon, Marci Fleet, Richard Yaskin, Karen Zeitz, Bobbi Cohen, Beverly Hayden, Iris Cutler, Iris Newman, Patty Goldentyer, Susan Berger, Louise Simons, Joan Goldberg, Joe Fishman, Sol Volk, Polly Gussman, Evy Simon, Sandy Brown, Maria Mackey, Frann Shore.

    Michael Meketon, Acting President, opened the meeting. We reviewed the many, many highlights of the past year.

    Rabbi Julie reviewed the year's events of our very active congregation. Her hopes for next year include more Simchat Hochmah ceremonies, more involvement of parents and toddlers, and outreach for Yizkor on Yom Kippur.

    Appreciation of Joanne Perilstein. Mike thanked Joanne for her service as past President. He presented her with a gift from the congregation: three CDs of Jewish music.

    Joanne presented the Nominating Committee's slate of officers for next year:

    • Michael Meketon: President (two-year term)
    • Bobbi Cohen: First Vice President (two-year term)
    • Sibyl Cohen: Second Vice President
    • Iris Newman: Secretary
    • Sol Volk: Assistant Treasurer
    • Council at large: Marci Fleet, Theresa Candelaria, Myrna Schlanger, Maria Mackey

    There were no nominations from the floor. The slate was elected unanimously.

    Bobbi presented the proposed budget for 2006-07. Total revenues are budgeted at $50,650, expenses at $58,980. This year, income and expenses were close to budgeted amounts. We have been operating with a deficit budget for several years, making up the difference with some surplus funds for previous years. Eventually, we will have to either reduce expenses or increase income by increasing our membership. We have faith that indeed membership will grow. Mike and Rabbi Julie will begin to look at legacies, inheritances and endowments.

    The budget was unanimously approved. Bobbi was thanked for her excellent work.

    Conversation About Congregational Voice
    We want to be a congregation that speaks respectfully to each other, particularly when we disagree with each other. We should bear in mind that we do not share the same political beliefs.

    The meeting was adjourned.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Iris Newman

  • Sandy Brown: Simchat Chochmah
  • Simchat Chochmah is a celebration; it is said to be a life transition, or naming. It is significant that the biblical Sara was known as Sarai prior to her pregnancy, and when she gave birth, G-D re-named her Sarah. I am going to take this celebration of my life as an opportunity to re-take the name that some of you knew me by as a child. You may remember that my father named me Sarah, and my mother went along with it, until I went to school. On that first day, she told me that from now on my name was Sandra. And so, for those in this room who knew me as Sarah, and had a difficult time changing to Sandra, and then Sandy, feel free to call me Sarah if you like! You may even recall that I resisted that name for a long time.

    On Friday evening, we celebrate the end of the week, and enter Shabbat. Having worked for 6 days, we look forward to rest and prayer on Shabbat, the 7th day, and then we begin the cycle again; a new week, new experiences, new -----.

    Today, I am celebrating 7 decades of life. There are friends and family in this room who represent each of those decades of my life; my cousin, Jackie, since she is a bit older than I, has been here since my first decade, actually since my birth; Sheila came in the second decade; we met when we were 13, have been thru much both separately and together, and we are still as close as sisters. She shared the most difficult time when my mother died.

    In my 3rd decade I went to school, became a nurse, and desperately tried to find a place for myself professionally. This was another difficult time for me, until the end that that decade when things began to change and I found my place professionally working w/parents and their brain injured children at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.

    During the 4th decade I began to learn about me, what I was capable of, what my own potential might be. This was the decade in which I met my Institutes friends, some of whom are here today, as we are still close and see each other regularly. I began to travel to many faraway places that I never dreamed I would see.

    In my 5th decade I took great professional risks which took me to even more of the world, to teach others. I grew professionally and personally during these years.

    The 6th decade brought a godson, Matthew; then Allison, Jesse, and another godson, Stephen came as well; and finally, in the 7th decade came Max, Brady, Alex, Eli, Abe, and now Marvin and Ayla. This has been the continuum of my life and those I love. And the cycle goes on.

    The Parshat Emor, Leviticus 21-24, which we will read tomorrow, deals with laws which exist until today, and reveals another type of continuum. This Parsha is a record of law and a chronicle of change. There are 3 categories of laws: Laws that are integral in our lives, Laws that have obvious wisdom, but require transition into new circumstances in order to be relevant, and Laws that appear to have no relevancy.

    This is the Parshat in which we read about an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This law was an improvement over the time that people were killed as punishment. The law now decreed that nothing more than an eye could be taken for an eye. But as time passed this also evolved; for instance, if a blind man’s eye is taken, he doesn’t have an eye to give up. And so it was worked around and evolved over time to mean that people could pay a fine instead of being hurt, which is pretty much how civilized people deal with all types of injury today.

    This third category contains a law which prohibited those with deformities or deficits to serve, although they were permitted to eat at the Temple. (I can see your eyes popping) Having spent my entire professional life working with disabled children and adults, you all must have a pretty good idea how I was affected when I read it. I was actually horrified and upset. But as my studies continued, I learned that the reason we maintain this law is that it gives us an opportunity to examine it, discuss it, and learn from it. The rejection of imperfection that is inherent in the law is very human and very much within us today. By looking into this law we come face to face with our fear and rejection of those that appear on the outside to be different; different by color, religion, physical or mental deficit. How many times have you looked away from a person who appears to be different? Are we embarrassed, afraid, do we think it is communicable and we might catch it? We are reminded of the controversy regarding the statue of FDR. Many, many people were opposed to showing him in a wheel chair, as we know he did not want to be seen as being unable to walk.

    But it also makes me aware that in all of life there is a continuum: the continuum of human development such as the new born infant who develops into a full fledged human being by advancing thru the normal developmental stages, the development of a people from primitive, such as the natives that Sheila and I visited in the Amazon, to the highly sophisticated human beings that we profess to be. There is also the continuum of our beliefs. When I was disturbed about disabled people being excluded, I discussed it with Rabbi Julie, and she informed me that in later years, after the destruction of the Temple, the Rabbis looked at this passage and were uncomfortable with it. They interpreted it by identifying that we are all disabled, spiritually, because none of us has the Temple to go to anymore to purify ourselves. And now none of us can serve at the Temple, which is fine, because there is no Temple.

    It reminds me that as everyone of us goes thru that developmental continuum, each of us reaches a certain point, our individual potential, but none reach the ideal - that unique human being who is perfect in every way – physically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and morally. I don’t know this person, do you? So in fact we are all imperfect, to varying degrees. Our development as an empathic human being can be fast or slow, because it is an ever changing process – it can be slowed, discouraged, or stopped by teaching prejudice, racism, ignorance and hatred; or it can be encouraged by education, learning, understanding, participating, speaking out, and empathizing.

    And so our religion has also moved along in a continuum, the way we observe our religion has evolved, the manner in which we observe the laws changes with the times; and we all observe it even today in very different ways. And so we continue to evolve and move along that continuum of life.

    Now that I am entering my 8th decade, I accept my self as I have developed and evolved, as I am today. I acknowledge my mortality, and celebrate that I am healthy and willing to keep moving thru the continuum of life, wherever it takes me.

    In honor of this Simchat Chochmah I have made a donation to Rabbis for Human Rights for the planting of Olive Trees for Peace.

    In addition to Rabbi Julie, I would like to thank Pat Wisch for the insight and teaching she has given me for this Simchat Chochmah.

    Sandy Brown 5/12/06

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