The Pulse of Our Congregation June 2009

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

Leyv Ha-Ir Art Expedition!

June 2009 Activities

Message from Rabbi Julie

After the Race

Get a Taste of Limmud

Member Profile: Sue Frank

Torah Scribe Visits LHI

Classified: Let Jack-of-All-Trades Help You Get Things Done


Looking Ahead

August 30, 2009, 11AM
Location to be announced
Rabbi Julie will lead the discussion on "The Flying Camel" - essays on Identity of Women of North African & Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage - edited by Loolwa Khazoon. Get your hands on a copy and join a lively discussion.

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.

Newsletter Design and eMail Marketing:

Ilene Hass
Creative Solutions
for Business Marketing

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

It is Shavuot, the celebration of revelation at Sinai. Our Jewish tradition teaches us that our revelation on Shavuot is as great as our liberation on Passover. So during spring time, we examine the ways in which we are slaves, and the means for ending that bondage. Then seven weeks later we are given a clearer understanding of the universal truth (Torah) explained by our earlier state of bondage. Our egos and brains often want an explanation before we are willing to cross the red sea. We ask why should we change? The truth is that we change because we can no longer stand the status quo. The fuller understanding can only come later from the position of freedom. So in your Jewish spiritual practice, today you have arrived at a greater understanding of what you dealt with 49 days ago. Chag Someach! Happy Shavuot.

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

  • Leyv Ha-Ir Art Expedition!
    A group of LHI members visiting the Woodmere Art Center to view Marci Fleet's photo. Marci is the third person from the left, standing in front of her art.

  • June 2009 Activities
  • Sat - June 6 - 2009, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Service
    Our lay-led service will be at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq. Stay and schmooze at our potluck dairy/veggie lunch.

    Sun - June 7 - 2009, 10:30 AM (Bagels) 11:00 AM (Meeting)
    Annual Meeting Elections, budget, brunch and shmoozing. We'll be at the Kennedy House, 1901 JFK Blvd, Community Room. A jewelry swap will take palce from 10:30 to 11:00. Come early!

    Fri - June 19 - 2009, 6:30 PM
    Home Services/Dinner
    We'll meet at Roby's home for a lay-led service and pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner, 2519 Pine Street. Contact Roby at or 215-546-8965 to let her know what you'll be bringing.

    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 Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir activities for the upcoming two months.
  • Message from Rabbi Julie
  • Dear Chevre,

    This will be my last newsletter message until September because I am off-duty for two months in the summer. So let me take this opportunity to talk about the High Holy Days which will be upon us before we know it.

    Our congregation has a tradition of opening its doors wide to welcome all seekers for the High Holy Days. We collectively become an extraordinary vessel that expands to include all who are drawn to us. To make this possible, our members start working now, months ahead of the big event. Each person is encouraged to find a niche for your contribution: learn songs, plan logistics, prepare registration, practice Torah reading, design outreach, write Torah talks, and more.

    The process of working together to welcome literally hundreds of guests for the Holy Days can be profoundly engaging, exhausting, exhilarating. It is really an experience not to be missed. It's what community is all about. So......whether you're ready to take a tiny step or a big leap into sharing the "production" of the Holy Days, talk to an active member about how to get involved. If you'd like to take on some ritual leadership, talk to me about your interests and desires. We are especially seeking a shofar blower.

    I hope to see all members at our Annual Meeting, an important venue for the voice of the congregation. At this meeting, we invite people to join our One Book, One Congregation program in which we all read the same book and then meet at the end of the summer to discuss it at a session of Bagels and Books. This year our book will be The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage, edited by Loolwa Khazoom. I will be introducing the book at the Annual Meeting and facilitating the discussion at the end of the summer.

    With many blessings,
    Rabbi Julie

    Read more from Rabbi Julie
  • After the Race
  • The Leyv Ha-Ir "Race for the Cure" Ladies enjoying brunch on Mother's Day.

  • Get a Taste of Limmud
  • Limmud is the Hebrew word for learning. LimmudPhilly is a panoramic learning experience, encompassing many facets of Jewish life. LimmudPhilly 2009 took place in February and was a huge success with over 650 attendees. Planning for LimmudPhilly 2010 is underway.

    You can get a "Taste of Limmud" at an event on Wednesday, June 17 from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM at the Gershman Y at Broad & Pine Streets. At Taste of Limmud you can get a flavor of the vibrant Jewish community in your own backyard. The program is free of charge and will include light refreshments.

    The program that evening will include your choice of a Panel Discussion about Building Jewish Community or a Presentation by Mark Leuchter on "Tradition of Disagreement among the Biblical Prophets," then a choice of participating in Building Jewish Community break-out sessions or text study led by Mark Leuchter related to the themes of his presentation.

    RSVP is requested at or (267) 235-4083.

    I am very proud to be serving as the co-chair for LimmudPhilly 2010. For additional information or if you would like to volunteer to help out with Limmud, please feel free to contact me at (215) 236-0689 or (do not hit "reply" to this email). I hope to see you at Taste on June 17.

    - Bobbi Cohen

  • Member Profile: Sue Frank
  • Sue Frank grew up in Woods Hole, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but was born in Charleston, South Carolina: "I went to first grade there," she recalls, "so I have a feeling for the Low Country." (Charleston has one of America's oldest Jewish congregations). Sue went to public schools in Woods Hole and Falmouth. She recalls, "Cape Cod in the summer fills up with people from all over the world who study the waters off Cape Cod, where you can find all kinds of (sea) creatures. Special conditions related to the Gulf Stream make for a wide variety of habitats. My Dad ran the laboratory of the Federal Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (now NOAA), and my mother taught in the local public school for years."

    Sue is a Jew-by-choice. "My Dad came from an old, New Englandy family. Their religion really was science, inquiry. My mother came from nice old Boston Brahmans who were Episcopalians, because that's what you do. I went to Sunday school because of her. She didn't attend church herself, but she had an affection for it. I realized soon enough that I didn't want to be confirmed in the church, and I wasn't baptized in it, so I felt no real commitment, except to appreciate what it brought to the life of the town in lots of gentle ways."

    Of her conversion to Judaism, Sue says, "I knew I wanted to be a Jew when I was about ten. I always loved the stories of the Bible. I had figured out that the Jesus story did not work for me. But I always had this religious something going on, and I knew I wanted to identify somewhere, find a place to root."

    Sue studied Hebrew from a book she found in a second-hand bookstore. She loved the music of Israel that she heard folkdancing. During her high school years she found inspirational young people's discussion groups at local Epicopalian and Conmgregational churches, early experiences of high level, respectful dialogue.

    One of the prevailing themes of her life is the compassionate, intellectual support of Christian mentors in her quest to make meaning of her Jewishness. "One of the things that reached me as a youngster was a small volume I lucked on to, The Sayings of the Fathers (Pirke Avot), edited by a non-Jew, R. Travers Herford.It was presented in the original Hebrew with English translation and the lovely commentary of an admiring Christian. Wow, went Sue. "This is for me.'"

    When she got to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Sue studied Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. She met Rabbi, Yechiael Lander, and worked with him towards conversion. "He gave me a wide ranging reading list," she says, "and met with me weekly during the school year. Everything I read moved me. I was at last doing something I had always wanted to do." She also remembers a visit from Elie Wiesel giving a talk at the college. "That was enormous," she recalls, "and made me want to learn Yiddish."

    It was also while at college that she met her future husband Ken. "In the meantime, I decided I needed to go to Israel, so I went in 1975 and spent half a year at the Ulpan, Hebrew language-work program, in Kibbutz Ruchama." She describes her time in Israel as "beautiful, strange, and scary, and exciting."

    Deciding to attend rabbinical school in 1976, she inquired about admissions to the seminaries of the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as an Orthodox yeshiva in New Jersey. She also found, in the Jewish Encyclopedia, the address for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. "I was really taken," she says, "by what I started learning about the Reconstructionist movement. I am a peculiar sort of a Jew and thought I should pick my home carefully." The school was small, a couple of Philadelphia rowhouses joined together. The innovative ideas of Mordechai Kaplan combined with the romance of gritty North Philly made the decision easy.

    Sue eventually became the librarian at the college after being a library assistant during her years of study there and then earning a degree in Library Science at Drexel. And she did finally complete that doctorate in religious studies at Temple University, shepherded through by Father Gerard Sloyan and Professor John Raines!

    Sue took part in Leyv Ha-Ir from the beginning, happy to see one of the dreams of RRC President Ira Eisenstein come to reality. She fondly remembers going with Roby Jacobs to those inaugural services at First Unitarian Church at 21st and Chestnut. It has been a joy for her to see over the years how RRC graduates strengthened the congregation succeeding one another as rabbis for the group. Rabbi Julie's recently renewed commitment to Leyv Ha_Ir is a thrilling development. She has been particularly active in Purim programs, bringing costumes for members to use.

    by John Oliver Mason

  • Torah Scribe Visits LHI
  • Rabbi Kevin Hale, Torah scribe, visited Leyv Ha-Ir May 3rd. Interested members & friends spent a day of hands-on experience of writing and restoring of the Torah. Betsy Teutsch, calligrapher, joined Rabbi Kevin Hale.

  • Classified: Let Jack-of-All-Trades Help You Get Things Done
  • I am available for all forms of jack-of-all-trades, general-purpose work you need done. Please call John Mason at (215) 271-2982. Thanks.

    :: 215-629-1995