The Pulse of Our Congregation November 2006

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

November 2006 Activities

Israel on Our Minds: An Evening of Reflection

Message from Rabbi

Do A Mitzvah!

Continuing Tikkun Olam Opportunity with Jewish Relief Agency

COMING HOME: Rosh HaShana 5767


Looking Ahead

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

“Conversations with Biblical Women” Midrash for Women
Panelists include: Dr. Ellen Frankel, Penina Adelman, Deborah Bodin Cohen
Moderating the panel discussion is Dr. Rena Potok
Where? Borders Avenue of the Arts (1 South Broad Street, Philadelphia – corner of Broad and Chestnut)
When? Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 2:00 pm

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.

The Fabric
A poem, by Maria Mackey
October 18, 2006

Woven Together

Frayed Edges
Strong Material

Holding Patterns
Ancient Wisdoms
Ancient Ways

Newsletter Design:

Ilene Hass
Creative Solutions
for Business Marketing

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

I hope your new year was as happy as mine. I watched with joy as our small circle of spiritual Jews opened itself up with loving expansiveness (chesed) to accommodate hundreds of new worshippers. Over one hundred of you are receiving this e-newsletter for the first time this month. I have spoken out loud in this community for almost a decade, asking for money, for participation in tikkun olam (social action) events, and leading prayer. For the most part, my message has been the same: we are a good synagogue — we deserve to exist. Along that theme, I have itemized expenses that need to be paid. I have pulled together minyans so that our friends can say kaddish and I have advocated for our needs in the larger Jewish community. I am hoping that this year we are making a transition. This year, I am not merely talking about out right to exist, but of our right to dream.

This year we can further open ourselves. To that end, I am asking our old friends to send me an e-mail, have a cup of coffee with me, or pull on my jacket after a shabbos morning service. Let me know how we can better meet your needs. Understand, however that we are a volunteer run organization, and I might also pull on your jacket. To our new friends: send me an e-mail, join me for a cup of coffee or pull on my jacket. Let me know what it would take for you to enter into the next phase of relationship with this community. If you attend High Holidays, what would it take for you to become a member? If you are a member, what service can you perform for this community as a volunteer? If you volunteer already, would you sit on a committee?

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

P.S. We have received an anonymous $1000 donation to celebrate timely and generous dues payment. I am forming a task group to plan a joyful event — preferably with food and music — to mark this acheivement. Please e-mail me if you want to serve on this committee.

  • November 2006 Activities
  • November 1 WEDNESDAY
    Council Meeting
    Ethical Society
    7:00 PM

    Shabbat Service
    Ethical Society
    10:00 AM
    Lay Led

    Bagel's and Books
    11:00 AM
    "The Zulu and the Zeide" by Dan Jacobson

    JRF Convention
    Hyatt Regency
    Penns Landing

    Beginning Hebrew
    Ethical Society
    7:00 PM
    Rabbi Julie

    Kabbalat Service
    Oneg is sponsored by Women's American ORT
    Ethical Society
    7:30 PM
    Rabbi Julie

    Shabbat Service
    Ethical Society
    10:00 AM
    Lay Led


    Shabbat Service
    10:00 AM
    Lay Led

    Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City's Family Torah Group is meeting once a month in our neighborhood, hosted by different families each month. The program is for 2 - 5 year-olds; it includes Jewish song, movement, stories, games, values in a lively, fun context. Parents love it! Children love it! If you'd like to join, give us a call: 215-843-9592

    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:

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

    Click here for a complete look at activities for the upcoming two months.
  • Israel on Our Minds: An Evening of Reflection
  • This program will be presented on Thursday evening, November 9 at the Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing as part of the JRF Convention in Philadelphia. You don't need to register for the whole conference to attend this program.

    Find more details here
  • Message from Rabbi
  • Dear Chevre,

    There once were two Chassidic masters who happened to be brothers, Reb Elimelech and Reb Yusha. One day they started wondering whether it would be possible to make Shabbas in the middle of the week. Was Shabbat an external construct dependent on the day of the week or was it an internal spirit that could be generated in any place and at any time? They decided to do an experiment.

    On Tuesday, the two brothers baked their challah, set a fine table, went to the mikveh and prepared for Shabbat. On Wednesday evening they lit candles, made kiddish, blessed the bread and had a Shabbat feast with company, song, and delightful conversation.

    To their amazement, they felt the full richness of Shabbat – all the joy and connection of that special day. So they went to their Rabbi to find out how it could possibly be that one could make Shabbat successfully on a Wednesday.

    Their Rabbi said, “It’s because Shabbat is such a holy day that, if you make an effort, you can experience its remnant even on Wednesday!”

    Here we are, a community that has come through our holiest of holy seasons. Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, all behind us now. The glow of those holy days resonates in the background now, ready for re-activation whenever we, just like Reb Elimelech and Reb Yusha, make the effort.

    I see that activation in our extraordinary lay-led services. I see it in our emerging children’s programming. I see it in our on-going thoughtful leadership. I see it in the wonderful learning, praying, caring and community building that is at the heart of Leyv Ha-Ir. I look forward to making Shabbat together on Friday, Nov. 17.

    See you then,
    Rabbi Julie

  • Do A Mitzvah!
  • Take advantage of a special offer brought to you by JPS and Borders Books. Go to and print out a coupon good for 10% off your purchase of ANY books, music, DVDs and café items at any of FIVE Borders locations in the Philadelphia area.

  • Continuing Tikkun Olam Opportunity with Jewish Relief Agency
  • Collect and distribute food to low income Jewish families

    Dates: Sundays, November 19th and December 17th.

    Time: 9:00 am - 1:30 pm

    Meeting Place: Congregation B’nai Abraham, 527 Lombard Street

    Please contact Catherine if you are interested in participating, 215-832-0597

  • COMING HOME: Rosh HaShana 5767
  • Rabbi Julie Greenberg's Erev Rosh HaShana 5767 Sermon

    Responding to the call of the imaginary shofar, each one of us has shown up, here, right on schedule to be part of these sacred rites.

    In a world with bombings and terror, military rampages and sectarian violence, coming together in prayer is such a good thing. What a holy contrast to the strife of the world. The prophet called for a place of God for all people to pray. As we step into this place of worship to herald the New Year may that place of God be the whole earth and may our Jewish prayers fulfill our piece of that whole.

    Year after year I marvel at what draws us each here at this season. There is no coercion. No one has to be here. Expressing free will and free agency, the Jewish people and fellow travelers around the world, show up at this time. Is it the turning of the season that clues us in? The leaves begin to turn, summer has ended. Is it the start of a new school year (I think many of us continue to think along those academic calendar lines even long after we are students)?

    There probably are many different reasons that bring each one of us to this place at this time. But I think one thing that unites us is that most people here long for a spiritual home. You may long for a home because it would reflect the Jewish home you had as a child. Or you may long for a Jewish home because you never had one as a child. The idea of a spiritual home that links our deepest roots and highest aspirations and brings them together in community is so powerful.

    The concept of home is amazing. Home is a place where you belong. Where you are seen. Where you are sheltered, comfortable and cared for. Where you are counted on. In the ideal home, the big people get it right and the children are safe and protected. Home is a place of love, nourishment, nurturance.

    That’s the idealized concept of home. We all know that the reality, even in the most wonderful homes, is very different. The reality is that there are tensions between people, there are major life stressors that have to do with work and loss and transitions. In some homes there is fighting or even hurting, both emotional and physical. In real life, home is never a static picture. It is a moving picture, an endless video of efforts to love, efforts to repair, efforts to build. Fragile real people make home, through all the ups and downs of life, for better or worse.

    But when we show up at the synagogue door, there is a strong desire to be home. A longing. A hunger for that place of peace and acceptance that many of us carry with us as a vision.

    This is a beautiful vision, a necessary vision, a potentially transformative vision, and we see its power in that here we all are, ready to honor our New Year by coming home to this place of worship. Our prophet Isaiah also held out the vision, “My House shall be a place of prayer for all people.”

    The problem is that each one of us has a unique experience of what it means to be home. Home is a universal value but our particular experience of home is not universal. For one person it might mean quiet, respectful conversation with long reflective silences. For another person home is lively discussion at a high decibel level with constant interrupting and shrieking. For one person appreciation is expected and for the next it would be embarrassing to be publicly appreciated. For one person the Hebrew language provides a sense of comfort and tradition, for the next person Hebrew is alienating and discouraging.

    We each carry our own home history within us. The patterns of our previous home history are deeply internalized. If you are programmed internally from your home experience to be left out, you’ll probably find places where you’ll be left out again and again and this isn’t all bad. You are likely to repeat that pattern for two reasons. Number one, this is what feels normal because you’re used to it. But number two, this is where your most liberating work can be done because if you work through this very stuck place you’ll be free. We keep returning in life to our most stuck places, over and over again because these places have the most potential to free us if we can work them through.

    The most intense spiritual work any of us can do is to learn to thrive in intimate relationship. God shows up in the form of your mate, or your committee members or your annoying next door neighbor. God is present in relationship. When relationship is trying for you, this is a message, a gift from God, that this is the place for you to learn and grown. The better we learn to navigate through intimacy, holding on to Self while connecting to other Selves, the more we manifest that sacred web of inter-connectedness that is godly.

    Our tradition welcomes the stranger. This means to welcome what is strange to you. The people whom we tend to cut off from or dismiss are the very people our tradition chooses to embrace. My House shall be a place of prayer for all people, says Isaiah (56:7). Not just those who agree with me. Not just those who look like me or with whom I am most comfortable. Not just those who share my level of mental health, or IQ or physical ability, or brand of Judaism , or experience of home.

    I have a dear friend Felice who is very involved in her synagogue in another state. Recently she poured out her frustrations to me: the lesbian havurah doesn’t understand progressive Judaism; the mainstream community doesn’t understand lesbians; the progressive Jewish community doesn’t understand children. None of them are politically active enough. Finally we just had a good laugh realizing that Felice could sit on a rock all by herself and have a complete union of lesbian, progressive, child-friendly, politically active Judaism but she would be all by herself.

    Here is a great suggestion for when we bump up against what is strange to us: Curiosity

    We need to learn to see home through each other’s eyes. A fantastic place to start is right here in intimate Jewish community. You know the teaching, the best way to have a good friend is to be a good friend. The best way to have a wonderful home is to make a wonderful home for others. Learn what makes someone else feel comfortable in this home. Make this home work for others.

    But we don’t want to stop here. We need to learn how to make home for our city, for our country, for our planet.

    Expanding this out into the world, we have the opportunity to realize the full manifestation of HaMakom, the name for God that means The Place.

    In this world, the value of being able to build A community, just one community is huge. It’s a micro laboratory of what needs to happen again and again all over the world until we truly live in a world that is a place of prayer for all people.

    Welcome to the New Year, 5767. Shana Tovah!

    :: 215-629-1995