The Pulse of Our Congregation June 2007

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

June 2007 Activities

Leyv Ha-Ir's Annual Meeting

Message from Rabbi

Family Torah Group

A Special Bagels & Books

Zoe Greenberg's Confirmation Speech
(Rabbi Julie's daughter)

Rabbi Julie Sermon: Shavuot 5767 - What the Book of Ruth can Teach us about Immigration


Looking Ahead

A few upcoming events you might consider participating in are listed in the main section of this newsletter

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.

İRoy Shenberg 2007

Little Sonny asked me:
"How do you know so much?
Did you write words on clay
Back in your day?
Cause you sure have learned a whole bunch."

He said: "Where do you get blueberries
To make a blueberry pie?
And when you're blue
What do you do
When your eyes really want to cry?"

I said:
"They say there's a black hole in heaven
Where fading stars dissapear
Me, my star is shining
Like the Star diamond
Sonny, don't shed me no tears
Cause I'm learning to live with my years"


They say there's a tree in the forest
That grows where no sun appears
Me, I'm gonna grow, even in snow
So Sonny, don't shed me no tears
I'm learning to live with my years


I'm learning to live with my years
Conquering worries and fears
The road may get bumpy
I may get grumpy
I'm learning how to shift gears
Learning to live with my years


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

I am joyful and tired, having completed another excellent year at Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City. I wish for all of you, and for myself as well, a restful summer. Rest notwithstanding, there are three initiatives I will be pushing this coming year. I want you to make them priorities as well.

1. At our annual meeting, we unveiled a new Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City endowment. A generous and anonymous donor has donated $15,000 to seed an endowment. This same donor is willing to help us by matching further donations. This fund will help create a legacy for us. I am consulting with experts in this type of giving to determine how we can structure this legacy fund without sacrificing our general operating budget. Stay tuned -- this is very exciting.

2. We are encouraging a small and growing Family Torah Group in the Fairmount Neighborhood. Eleven Families with nineteen children have committed to this group. They meet once a month in homes. This coming year we are scheduling these monthly meetings in Fairmount as well as three family events with the congregation. I am hopeful that this group will grow and enrich our community more and more this coming year.

3. This year is the year to become a member of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City. Last year exceeded expectations in terms of attendance and fund raising. Our extended community is as large and active as it has ever been. I will be writing you a letter over the summer to encourage you to join our little shul. This volunteer-run synagogue needs your energy. We want to be the home of your Jewish spiritual journey. Please encourage your friends and family to check us out as we enter the High Holiday season at the end of the summer.


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

  • June 2007 Activities
  • June 2 SATURDAY
    Shabbat Services
    Ethical Society
    10:00 AM
    Lay Led

    June 3 SUNDAY
    Bagels & Books
    11:00 AM

    June 6 WEDNESDAY
    Council Meeting
    Ethical Society
    7:00 PM

    June 16 SATURDAY
    Shabbat Services
    Ethical Society
    10:00 AM
    Lay Led

    June 23 SATURDAY
    Shabbat Services
    7:30 PM
    Lay Led

    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.

    Thursday, June 14th, 7:00 PM
    Barnes & Noble Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut Street People of the Book Club
    Featuring Books of Jewish Interest. Meet Vanessa Ochs, as she discusses her latest book Inventing Jewish Ritual.

    Wednesday, June 6, 2007, 7:30 PM
    Society Hill Synagogue, 418 Spruce Street
    Taste of Me'ah!
    Featuring a panel of current students and a mini class taught by Me'ah instructor.
    Call the Kehillah of Center City to register for this free event, 215-832-0597. For a flyer go to

    Me'ah, an intensive adult Jewish learning experience conducted by Boston's Hebrew College, approaches Jewish history and Jewish thought through an intelligent and sophisticated conversation with core texts. This conversation is guided by university faculty who will lead and enrich your study of four central periods: biblical, rabbinic, medieval and modern. You will be studying along with others from local congregations and those who are unaffiliated who come to the program with varied denominational and Jewish educational backgrounds, and who share a desire to learn more about Judaism through in-depth text study. and click on Me'ah.

    Click here for a complete look at Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir activities for the upcoming two months.
  • Leyv Ha-Ir's Annual Meeting
  • Leyv Ha-Ir's Annual Meeting was held on Sunday, May 20 at which time the new slate of officers was voted in:

    Michael Meketon - President (completing the second year of a 2-year commitment)
    Bobbi Cohen - First Vice President
    Evy Simon - Second Vice President
    Secretary - Iris Newman
    Treasurer - vacant
    Member-at-Large - John Mason
    Member-at-Large - Marci Fleet
    Member-at-Large - Maria Mackey
    Member-at-Large - Myrna Schlanger

    The turnout was wonderful, the brunch, provided by Myra Caplan, was fabulous. It was an excellent meeting with much accomplished.

  • Message from Rabbi
  • Hi Friends,

    Each summer many of us participate in Leyv Ha-Ir's One Congregation, One Book program by reading a recommended book. This year the book that has been chosen is Spiritual Community by Rabbi David Teutsch. It is about creating communities that can "restore hope, commitment and joy." The book is about 100 pages long, easy to read and really worthwhile. David Teutsch was president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for nine years and now directs an Ethics Center. He is one of the most brilliant and thoughtful leaders of twenty first century Judaism. The book is available from Amazon. com and I'm sure from many other bookstores as well. I hope everyone will get a chance to read it and join me for the workshop on this book that I'll lead at the end of the summer.

    Have a great summer!
    Rabbi Julie

  • Family Torah Group
  • The Family Torah Group just completed its first year and it was a resounding success. There are 11 committed families who are looking forward to next year's activities. To encourage families with children, Leyv Ha-Ir will be hosting a service for them during the High Holy Days, sponsoring a Hanukah Tot Shabbat and encouraging their attendance by beginning our Second Night Seder at an earlier hour. For more information on future Family Torah Group meeting dates, contact our voice mail, 215-629-1995.

  • A Special Bagels & Books
  • Our next Bagels and Books is Sunday, June 3rd, 11:AM at JoAnne Perilstein's place: 1901 Walnut Street, Apartment 16F. As all active 'B and 'B'ers know, it's a terrific time with wonderful food and interesting readings. (Cost $5.00 per person.)

    This time we're doing something very special. Our own Joel Netsky has written and published a book of poetry. He'll be doing some reading and participating in the discussion. His book is titled: The Unequivocality of a Rose. The publisher is Poetic Matrix Press. (The website is:

  • Zoe Greenberg's Confirmation Speech
    (Rabbi Julie's daughter)
  • Hello. As many of you know, I'm Zoe Greenberg. I'm fifteen years old and this is my confirmation year. This year, I studied the Book of Ruth with Rabbi Lenny Gordon. This book has many immigration themes, and as I learned more of Ruth's journey from Moab into Israel, I became curious about my own immigrant roots.

    My biological father, Jack Gabriel, grew up in a Jewish immigrant section of New York City. I knew his family had lived in Poland during World War II, and I had heard bits and pieces of heroic tales, but I wanted to know more. He told me his story, and that is what I want to tell you about today.

    Jack's mother, Matilda, and his father, David, grew up in two tiny villages in Poland. In 1941, after Matilda and David had been dating for a while, David was forced to join the Russian army. He fought the Germans but ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp. He escaped-this was the first of many escapes. He was free until around 1943, when he was captured again, this time by the Nazis, because he was Jewish. He was taken to a village where trains were going to Auschwitz. An SS man was arguing with the train conductor, telling him to fit David in. The train conductor told the SS man there was no more room on the train, to shoot David right there. As they were arguing, David escaped again. Matilda was in hiding, and David went to join her.

    He wasn't safe yet, though. He left his hiding place to try to get back to his Polish village, but this time he was captured by Polish Nazis and taken to a quarry with about 600 other people. A power outage allowed David to climb a fence and escape into a swamp. When the Nazis came looking for him, he went under the swamp water and breathed through a reed. They couldn't find him.

    David found Matilda and they remained hidden in an attic and survived the rest of the war, even though the horrors continued around them. Both Matilda and David were Zionists, and they set off for Israel as soon as they could, but they ended up in a refugee camp at the bottom of Italy. My father was born in the Italian refugee camp in June 1946. Matilda found a 3rd cousin who lived on Park Avenue in New York, to sponsor their immigration to America. In 1950, the family set off for the United States. Jack arrived here at age three and a half, speaking both Italian and Yiddish.

    Jack told me one of the hardest parts of his childhood was the struggle to leave the sadness of the old world behind. When I was about to end the conversation, he said to me, "Zoe, your people were actually involved in miracles."

    It is a miracle that we are here today, and I hope we can all use our privilege to help others who need miracles around the world.

    Thank you.

  • Rabbi Julie Sermon: Shavuot 5767 - What the Book of Ruth can Teach us about Immigration
  • The special text for Shavuot is the Book of Ruth, one of the five megillot that comprise the third section of our Hebrew Bible. The book of Ruth, as many of you know, is the story of a young Moabite woman who follows her mother-in-law Naomi to the land of Israel. The women are moving to Israel, Naomi's homeland, out of economic necessity. The men folk in their lives had died and they had no means of support. Ruth, a penniless foreigner, arrived in the land of Israel and was embraced with welcome.

    At that time, the Biblical law of gleaning was in effect. It was an agricultural society and each farmer was commanded to save the corners of the fields so that poor people could glean the leftover crops. This was the social safety net of ancient biblical society. When Ruth arrived in Israel, she was immediately invited to glean in the fields.

    The story of Ruth is a foundational text for us. She became the great great grandmother of our greatest King, David. This immigration story is just one powerful narrative about immigration in our tradition. The story of our people wandering in the desert seeking the promised land resonates deeply with us as does the story of many of our own more recent ancestors who made the brave decision to find a new life in this country. Immigration is an issue that speaks to the heart of the Jewish community and also happens to be a prime issue in the news today.

    There is an immigration crisis in our country today, one that you can read about every day in the newspaper. In the past decade more than 3,000 men, women and children have lost their lives trying to cross the Mexican border into the United States. These people were desperately seeking economic opportunity or re-unification with loved ones. Tens of thousands of un-documented workers staff the agricultural, hospitality, domestic services and other low-wage industries; workers that play a crucial role in our economy, typically taking jobs that no one else wants. Urban studies have shown that bringing immigrant populations into troubled neighborhoods can have a positive effect on the level of hope, initiative and motivation in the neighborhood.

    Yet it has also been documented that this large pool of willing workers exerts a downward tug on the bottom end of the wage scale. It is easier for low-wage legal workers to be exploited when there are workers, unprotected by labor laws and workers' rights, willing to take the work. There are also other legitimate concerns about immigration including security issues, the ability of this society to assimilate new immigrants into our civic processes, and the question of how to handle people who broke the law to get here.

    This evening, I'd like to briefly take a look at some Jewish values that can inform this discussion on immigration. Looking at Jewish values doesn't give us the answers but it gives us a language for discussing the issues. I hope this is a conversation that will continue in the weeks to come.

    The Torah says 31 times that we need to remember the stranger, for we were once strangers in the land of Mitzrayim. 31 times that message is repeated so that we'll really take it seriously. Our tradition also includes as key values:

    pidyon shevuyim, redeeming the captive

    chesed, kindness

    hachnasat orchim, welcoming

    In Deuteronomy 23:16, the Torah says "you shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you..."

    On the other hand, there is a medieval Jewish principle of harem hayishuv which allows communities to exclude migrants from permanent settlement when they might have a negative economic impact on the community.

    Juggling these multiple values, Gideon Aronoff, CEO of HIAS, a respected Jewish voice on immigration policy, recommends "Congress should pass legislation that provides for border protection policies that are consistent with American humanitarian values; an opportunity for the hard-working undocumented immigrants in our country to regularize their status after fulfilling reasonable criteria; reforms to our family-based immigration system to more quickly re-unite families; legal avenues for workers and their families to enter the U.S. to work in a safe and orderly manner; and programs to enhance citizenship and encourage the integration of newcomers in American society." Other important Jewish voices add that immigration reform must be coupled with labor law reform so that all workers in the lowest paying jobs are protected, including making sure that there is a minimum, living wage.

    There is no single Jewish solution to the challenges of immigration today. But drawing from the well of Jewish values, in resonance with the story of our immigrant ancestor, Ruth, I think our faith tradition has something important to add to this national discussion.

    For further study check out the March-April 2007 issue of Sh'ma, a publication of Jewish Family and Life.

    :: 215-629-1995