Here are a few upcoming events you might consider
Annual Martin Luther King Service... A night
Where? Ethical Society
When? Friday, January 12, 2007 at 7:30 pm
Stay tuned to join the Martin Luther King
volunteer event on Monday, January 15, 2007. We may
reconnect with "Books Through Bars" and offer a
Center City based opportunity to box up requested
books for prison inmates.
Bagels & Books
Where? Joanne's Apartment
When? Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 11:00 am
Brunch included, $5.00
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, if you'd like to
have an acknowledgement card sent.
A poem, by Roy Shenberg
was a friend of ours
left a gift to us,
A soul brimmed full-up with the juices of life
A gift of wise words she gave with
"Do good, avoid evil."
"Do good, avoid evil."
There will be no sequel to this teacher of people
She left us with a burning flame
A courage to show
Kindness and committment.
We stand up and proclaim
The wisdom of her name
In our hearts with us still
Dear Friends of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City,
Barry Nove, email@example.com
is the new Director of Development for the Jewish
Reconstructionist Federation (JRF), our parent
organization. Rabbi Julie and I heard him speak at
the JRF convention. In doing so we kept a promise
that we made to you at the annual meeting to begin
learning about planned giving.
Mostly what I
learned is that I'm glad Barry Nove works for the
JRF. With tax consequences and structural issues,
you should talk to Barry. He's a nice man. You
should also talk to your Estates Lawyer.
a little more about our values at Leyv Ha-Ir than I
know about planned giving. I know that our synagogue
is different from other synagogues for many reasons.
We have egalitarian, democratic values. These values
mean that our worship is participatory. Each voice
is heard. Everyone's sprituality is real. Everyone
is welcomed in our door.
Planned giving is how we
say that these values matter and that they should
endure forever. Please remember Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart
of the City in your will. As little as I know about
planned giving, I discovered that I know even less
about charitable annuities. Barry says that the tax
burden when making withdrawals on some retirement
investments is so significant that you may be better
off rolling them over into annuities which support
you during your lifetime and donate the residue to
Leyv Ha-Ir. Once again, talk to Barry and your
lawyer about charitable annuities.
should all give money to JRF. As President of Leyv
Ha-Ir, I've come to value the support of our
Federation. If we all make donations, it makes a
Michael Meketon, President
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City
|December 2006 Activities
DECEMBER 1 SATURDAY
DECEMBER 6 WEDNESDAY
DECEMBER 15 FRIDAY
Kabbalat Shabbat Service
1st Candle Hanukah
DECEMBER 16 SATURDAY
DECEMBER 17 SUNDAY
Family Torah Group
(See paragraph below)
DECEMBER 20 WEDNESDAY
DECEMBER 23 SATURDAY
DECEMBER 25 MONDAY
Kugel & Comedy
12:30 - 4:00 PM
Mark your calendar!!
December 29th dinner dance sponsored by the Ethical
Society in their building. It is $25 a person and
features a talented jazz quartet called "The Half of
It." Let me know of your interest by writing
Beverly at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a nice way
to support our friends at E.S.
Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City's Family Torah
Group is meeting this month, December 17, 10AM at a
house in Fairmount area. 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: 215-763-4977 or
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,
out the link to Center City Kehillah.
||Click here for a complete look at activities for the upcoming two months.
|Suggestions for Chanukah Gifts? Save Darfur Campaign Store Items
Our Tikkun Olam Committee recommends items from
www.savedarfur.org, which has wonderful gifts for
any occasion. With Chanukah approaching, how about
easily ordering wristbands or a t-shirt from their
online store? Their gifts not only include “Not On
Our Watch – Save Darfur” wristbands (10 for $15),
but also T-Shirts, Hats, and Posters sponsored by
The Committee on Conscience of the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum. For example, wearing
your wristband and sharing them with friends will
help others become aware of the crisis in Darfur and
demonstrate your commitment to ending the suffering
You can email them at email@example.com
||Link directly to their online store
|Message from Rabbi
As you read this message I hope you will have
fond memories of recent feasting and thanksgiving.
We all have so much to be thankful for. Which is why
Judaism encourages a constant litany of blessings
throughout the day and throughout the year. Every
time we eat food or see something amazing or even go
to the bathroom, there’s a blessing of appreciation.
Speaking of appreciation, there’s something that
I appreciate immensely that I’d like to share with
you. I’ve been marveling at how Jewish community is
a web of life that includes passings, new arrivals,
growing, learning. Jewish community celebrates the
entire life cycle, weaving together the times of
joy, the times of loss. At our Rabbi-led Friday
night service last month we had a baby naming, we
celebrated the work of ORT activists around the
world, we said good-bye to a beloved member who died
a few weeks ago. Joy, sorrow, good work, beautiful
song and prayer ... it’s all part of life together.
I am sad when I think of a Jewish community that
lacks representation in the various age cohorts. We
need young people coming up! We need elders to share
the wisdom! We need everyone in between because
Jewish community by definition is
multi-generational. We all inspire and guide one another
I feel so grateful for the elders in my Jewish
community who have let me into their lives: I have a
sense of what it means to turn 60 (still a decade
away for me) because I have seen intimately the
people who walk before me; I have a sense of what it
means to lose parents because I have been privileged
to witness and support people who have lived through
that terrible loss before me. Younger people have
told me many times that seeing how I’ve made a
family, seeing how I’ve balanced work and home, has
opened up possibilities for them. If the original
generation of Jews had just kept it to themselves,
we wouldn’t be here today. We’re here because
Judaism is about the generations, l’dor v’dor,
interconnecting. Each generation has its own needs
and opens up opportunities for others to care and
learn in new ways.
As we move toward the light of Hanukkah, I am
thinking about how Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City can
be a place that includes all ages and stages. On
Friday, Dec. 15, we’ll all have a chance to meet our
Family Torah group leader, Jessi Roemer. She is
leading a once-a-month Family Torah Time for 2 – 6
year olds in Center City for Leyv Ha-Ir (next
meeting Sunday, Dec. 17) and she’ll be leading songs
at our Friday night service so that the whole
community can meet her. Come celebrate Hanukkah at
the heart of the city!
|Sibyl Cohen: December 6, 1928 - November 1, 2006
Rabbi Julie Greenberg's Eulogy
We are here
to mourn the loss and celebrate the
life of Dr. Sibyl Cohen, a magnificent human being,
treasured in the course of her life as a daughter,
sister, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother,
student, teacher, colleague, congregant, activist
Sibyl was with us for all too short a time yet
her radiance touched every single one of us.
Her grandparents immigrated through the Port of
Philadelphia with her mother, Min Schwartz. Sibyl
lived in Philadelphia her whole life, although she
was well traveled. Astoundingly she made lifelong
friends in elementary and middle school and was
still having reunions with her middle school mates
in her seventies. Ruth Zager and Sibyl knew each
other from early childhood when their families
summered together in the Poconos at the ILGWU union
retreat and were life-long friends, sisters.
She attended the U. of P. becoming one of the
first women to graduate from the Wharton School at a
time when women still couldn’t enter the library.
Somehow she was able to accomplish rigorous academic
work and was accepted at the U. of P. Law School but
chose to marry Henry B. Cohen, Hank, instead. She
had met him on a blind date.
The fruits of that union were three very beloved
children. Sibyl planned to have three children,
three years apart. At the age of 23 she launched her
plan with the birth of Larry, followed three years
later by Janet and three years later by Liz. She did
it. Her three children felt special, secure, always
loved and had unquestioning support. Sibyl adored
Larry, Janet and Liz.
She stayed home until the youngest child was in
kindergarten. During that time she got involved in
Great Books. Inspired by Great Books and by her
friend, Ruth, Sibyl remembered that she loved the
life of the mind and the world of ideas. So she
returned to school for her doctorate in philosophy
from the U. of P. She worked on aesthetics, the
study of beauty, writing a dissertation on
aesthetics, intentionality and phenomenology that
was reprinted in Polish.
Sibyl taught at La Salle and Rutgers-Camden as
an adjunct professor. She taught Logic, Intro to
Philosophy, Business Ethics, Medical Ethics, and
worked on inter-disciplinary courses on Freedom and
At the age of 56 she lost her husband and
entered a new phase of life as a single woman. She
had been a devoted wife and had appreciated the
riches of traditional Jewish community. But she felt
that the orthodox Judaism she had married into
didn’t recognize her as an equal participant. In
later life she was able to reconnect with
spirituality and religion in a way that did work for
her and eventually found a wonderful home in
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City. We loved
Sibyl and Sibyl loved us back by being intimately
involved in every aspect of community life. After
her sudden death, members were in shock, devastated,
and had to re-direct their impulse to call Sibyl.
But it wasn’t just Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City
that benefited from Sibyl’s activism and caring.
Sibyl was a member of dozens of organizations and
she was a primary mover and shaker in many of them.
She was central and beloved to many communities. She
was a passionate political activist – I’m sure she
would think that one of the best ways to honor her
memory will be to vote on Tuesday. She helped
organize the Center City Kehillah ... she loved her
Great Books. This gathering today is a powerhouse of
testimony to Sibyl Cohen’s involvement and
engagement. Her network of friends was astounding.
She was always introducing us to each other.
Sibyl also somehow managed to swim regularly and
do yoga-in-a chair. She had a great life.
At the core of this life was her family. She was
crazy about her five grandchildren – I heard many
doting stories about these dear people: Cameron,
Maya, Thomas, Dylan and Avery. Each one was amazing
and precious to her. She basked in their growth and
development. She included her children-in-law as her
own as well.
I’ll share some words from each of her children
and I’m sure they’ll also speak for themselves
during this time of mourning.
Larry told me, “My mother could have done
anything. She was smart, good-looking, courageous,
perceptive. She chose to be a mother and she ended
up doing it all. She always found something good to
say about people. She helped you figure things out
about yourself rather than telling you. She knew you
had to be ready. She was one of the wisest people I
Selections from a beautiful piece by Liz, “She
was my mentor, model, closest friend. She taught me
beauty ... She was a pragmatist philosopher – for
her, ideas were as real as wildflowers and as fun to
discover. Sibyl was actively in the midst of a
spiritual journey from which I was hoping to learn
so much. She leave this earth having touched the
lives of countless people, having taught,
befriended, mothered and loved so many.”
And finally, Janet, summed it up in eloquent
simplicity, “I love my mother. She’s not here. It’s
We say good-bye today to a philosopher,
feminist, intellectual, activist Jewish mother. We
lost her way too soon but she would have been glad
to go when she was still independent, quick, smart,
involved. Sibyl knew that she could die at any
moment – she was aware of her medical fragility in
her later years. And yet she lived every single
minute fully up to the very end. That is the way she
would have wanted it.
The loss of Sibyl Cohen is a huge loss for so
many of us and especially for her beloved family.
She was truly a lamed vavnik, one of the thirty-six
hidden compassionate ones in each generation sent to
help heal the world. Sibyl’s joyful vitality and
passionate engagement with life will be with us for
years to come. We lost her too soon, but we will
remember her forever. May the memory of Sibyl Cohen
be for a blessing.
|Tikkun Olam Environmental Initiative
The Tikkun Olam committee will be submitting a
motion in council on December 6 that Leyv Ha-ir join
the JRF/COEJL Hanukkah Climate Change Initiative.
This is a nationwide campaign to engage the entire
Jewish community in awareness, advocacy, and action
to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas
emissions.The centerpiece of this program is to take
immediate action by changing to energy efficient,
cost effective compact fluourescent light (CFL) bulbs.
We encourage members to come to that meeting to show
support for the measure.
||Learn more at the JRF Web Site
Hanukkah sizzles at the Gershman Y's 4th annual
celebration of the latke! Join us for gourmet latkes
prepared by the chefs of many Center City
restaurants, including Old Original Bookbinders,
Estia and chefs of the Starr Restaurant
Organization. Enjoy entertainment and special
activities for the kids. $12 adults/$8 children 6 -
DATE: Sunday, December 10, 2006
Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
PLACE: The Gershman Y • 401 S. Broad St. •
||Find out More!
|Shabbos Walk In The Park??
Are you interested in a Second Saturday Shabbos in
the Park? Susan
Budenstein is looking for like minded people who
find G-D in nature. She invites you to a new kind
of Shabbos service – a walk in Wissahickon Park. We
will meet at the Valley Green Inn. The 3 mile walk
is beautiful and next the the Wissahickon Creek. Walk
at your own pace. We will have an informal brunch at
Bruno's Restaurant (Approximately $6.00 per person)
lay led 45 minute discussion about the week's
parsha. Snow and rain cancel.
Please e-mail Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
for directions or car pool.
|Xmas Day Kugel and Komedy
Plan to attend our annual Kugel & Komedy, held
Monday, December 25, 12:30-4 PM, at the Ethical
Society. There will be jokes, story-telling and
music, followed by a contest and prizes. Lunch will
be served and, if possible, bake a kugel to bring
with you. Please call our voice mail, 215-629-1995,
with your reservation and let us know if you are
supplying some kugel.
The cost is $8.00 for this entertaining afternoon.
As in the past, we ask for some assisstance in the
kitchen and with clean-up. Bring friends & family.
|RADICAL AMAZEMENT: Rosh HaShana 5767
Rabbi Julie Greenberg's Rosh HaShana Day 5767
I am so glad to be here with you for these holy
services. I spoke last night about the meaning of
Home, of coming home, and of how each one of us has
different experiences of what home means. During
these hours of prayer and song and study and
silence, we forge home together, here. Each of us
rides up over the small inconveniences of a psalm
that doesn’t speak to you or a song that isn’t your
traditional melody, and we craft something above and
beyond each one of us, something glorious and
In thinking about what message I wanted to share
with you today, I knew I could speak about the
middle east or about poverty or about Darfur. There
are so many pressing issues. But I decided to talk
about something much closer to home, something that
maybe is the wellspring of all positive action in
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke of “radical
amazement” as the Jewish approach to life. By
radical amazement he meant our human capacity to
experience awe, wonder, flashes of insight, “aha”
moments,” the art of finding meaning in life, all
these as signs of God’s presence. Here we are really
just a fragile species clinging to a rock called
earth that is spinning in a vast universe of space
filled mostly with emptiness, cold and dark. If you
look at us from a cosmic perspective we don’t have
too much going for us. Yet we are created as humans
with enormous capacity to find meaning and to engage
We manage like William Faulkner’s character to
find a way to say YES! to life. In our Jewish
tradition, God puts before us the blessing and the
curse and we are commanded to choose life.
Sometimes what gets in the way of saying YES to
life is the gunk of past mistakes, failed
relationships, despair about how wrong the world is
going. That’s why this New Year gives us a chance to
do a cleansing of the soul, to release the accrual
of suffering from the past so that we can go forward
fresher and free-er. With the communal support of
the congregation, each individual is bolstered to
look directly at the reality of your life and to
make good choices.
We are in fact co-creators with God of our lives.
We’re each born with parameters determined by
reality such as our historical era, our genetics,
our particular family situation. But we get to
create our own lives within that framework. This is
why Rosh HaShana is celebrated on the anniversary of
the sixth day of creation, because it was only on
that day that God had human partners; until then the
work of creation could not be celebrated.
Many of you are familiar with the mystical
teaching that the Torah given to the Jewish people
consists of black letters written on white space.
The black letters give us the text that we read in
every synagogue around the world. These are our
stories and myths and guiding wisdom. But there’s
still all the white space. The white space is there
for us to fill with the Torah of our own lives. The
choices we make become part of the evolving story of
Revelation was not a thing that happened way back
then at Sinai but rather an on-going process that
invites our full participation. We continue to write
the text of Torah with our own lives. Your self
discovery, your generosity, your acts of caring and
peace-making become a legacy for the future.
The invitation at this season is to show up, to
raise the consciousness another notch, to pay
attention and be aware, to step into radical
amazement. What do you want for your life? How do
you choose to handle your yearnings and
disappointments, your dreams and desires? How do you
deal with the reality of your life?
In this world it’s so easy to feel disengaged,
discouraged. Whatever it is you long for– a lover,
the Phillies to make the play-offs, a child, health,
wealth, peace, – may elude you and yet we are called
again and again into relationship, into presence,
with Self, with each other, with God. We are called
to stay present, to stay awake, even through all the
changes of life. Our liturgy says, “Awake, awake, O
This summer I picked up a book in the library
kind of randomly because it was about a topic I knew
nothing about. Chaos by James Gleick. He was
describing the history of chaos theory. A few
decades ago scientists started noticing that there
were certain systems with large apparent patterns
but with complete local un-predictability. Weather
is an example. There are large consistent patterns
of weather – the seasons come and go and yet it’s
very difficult to predict with perfect accuracy
exactly what the weather will be on a particular day
in a particular place. The same is true for economic
swings – everyone knows there are business cycles,
there are predictable patterns of inflation and
employment but it’s very hard to predict accurately
what will actually happen in the economy.
So scientists began investigating what looked
like chaos. And they found a very interesting thing.
Very small unpredictable inputs could have huge
impacts. In traditional science there is a fairly
linear expectation and anything outside of
predictable cause and effect is considered noise and
tossed aside. Chaos theorists got interested in the
noise. They are interested in small, random changes
that have huge effects.
They called this the Butterfly Effect: when a
butterfly flutters its wings in China it can set
into motion an accumulation of small changes that
result in large differences across the world, say in
the weather system of New York.
Each one of us is capable of creating butterfly
effects. We do a good deed and we don’t know exactly
what the upshot is. We can’t possibly predict the
effect of our small, random act on the huge systems
of the world. And yet tiny inputs can have huge
unforeseen results. Our acts of kindness and of
consciousness don’t need to feel hugely
consequential in the moment; we may think what we do
doesn’t matter, but actually what we do can matter
way more than we might ever believe in the moment.
Radical amazement can lead to radical
empowerment. I’d like to share with you the words of
Marianne Williamson who was a speechwriter for
Nelson Mandela. He spoke these words in his
inaugural address in South Africa:
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
An individual acting locally doesn’t always see
the huge pattern. In the face of not-knowing, the
challenge is to stay humble about not-knowing and
yet to say Yes, to choose life. This is the paradox
of these High Holy Days: to understand that we are
but dust in an awesome universe and at the same time
to act powerfully in the name of life.
The New Year in Jewish tradition opens the door
to startling new possibilities. The themes of
creation and renewal permeate all of our sacred
texts at this season. They invite us to look anew at
the potential in our lives.
Rabbi Heschel grounded his discussion of radical
amazement in an understanding that practicing
Judaism is a discipline, a spiritual path, that
helps attune each of us to the wisdom and
possibilities around us. He wasn’t talking about woo
woo flights of ecstatic God connection. He was
talking about daily awareness and attunement, a
spiritual practice of marking holy time and holy
occasions, Shabbat and the sacred cycle of the year,
of paying attention to the ups and downs of people’s
lives through celebrating simchas and joining with
mourners, of paying attention to making the world
right through hands-on social justice work. He was
talking about the kinds of presence that we have in
a congregation; the community becomes a base for
caring connection among ourselves and for acts of
rightness in the world.
For Heschel ritual engagement supported ethical
engagement. He was a passionate opponent of the
Vietnam War because an attitude of radical amazement
simply wasn’t compatible with bombing innocent human
beings, or with defoliating a land.
I started by talking about the foundation of
positive action in the world, a sense of the
incredible majesty of life on earth that Heschel
called radical amazement. But I will end by talking
about why it is important to be on this journey with
fellow travelers. No human being can sustain radical
amazement on their own indefinitely. We all have our
high times and our low times. We have our times of
joy and abundance and our times of doubt and deficit.
So it’s important to join together to support the
fragile flutter of butterfly wings as we each
manifest our vision of choosing life, for ourselves,
for each other and for all of human kind.
Welcome to the New Year, 5767. May it be a year
of blessing and peace for all.