The Pulse of Our Congregation December 2009

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

Kugel & Komedy Annual Event

December 2009 Activities

Rabbi's Message: Rabbi Julie Greenberg

LHI Member Profile - Iris Cutler

LHI Retreat Cancellation

Attention Women - Hanukah Rosh Chodesh

Still looking for Work? JEVS can help!

Gateways to Aging Well


Looking Ahead

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,

This issue of our e-newsletter marks my fourth anniversary writing this monthly letter to you. Bobbi Cohen and Beverly Hayden have put out this letter for four years; and it quickly has became our chief communication instrument, allowing us to talk to you on a monthly basis and let you know what's happening at your synagogue. It is my goal that this letter creates in you a stronger bond to this community, which will manifest in spending more time with us, and joining us in the role of owner/operator of this small community.

Synagogue is a strange business model because the service we offer is your generosity. You become more engaged as you consume our package of services. You do more and you give more. Paradoxically, you receive more. As President of this synagogue, I have done much and given much over these four years. Amazingly, the benefit goes to me.

Have a joyous Chanukah.

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

  • Kugel & Komedy Annual Event
  • Kugel and Komedy is Leyv Ha-Ir's annual fun fest. It will take place at noon on December 25 at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square. Karen Zeitz,our own stand-up comedienne and Sol Volk, teller of jokes, will provide the entertainment. Audience participation will be welcome. We will be serving kugels and other goodies. We all love to laugh and to eat.

    This will be great fun. The price is $10.00 or 1 kugel per person. We need kugels and would like to know if you are bringing one. Make your reservations at 215 629-1995.

  • December 2009 Activities
  • Saturday - December 5 - 2009, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Service
    Join us for a lay-led service back at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, followed by a dairy/veggie potluck lunch.

    Sunday - December 6- 2009, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    Council Meeting
    All members of Leyv Ha-Ir are invited to join us at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.

    Friday - December 11 - 2009, 7:30 PM
    Kabbalat Shabbat/Hannukah Service
    Join us as we welcome the Sabbath and light the first candle of Hannukah with Rabbi Julie at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.

    Sunday - December 13 - 2009, 4:00 PM
    Rosh Hodesh Women's Group
    LHI women members and their guests will meet at Roby's, 2519 Pine Street.

    Friday - December 18 - 2009, 6:30 PM
    Kabbalat Shabbat Home Service/Dinner
    Join us for a shortened Kabbalat Shabbat service at the home of Laura Jacobs, 275 S. 19th Street, #9, followed by a potluck veggie/dairy meal.

    Friday - December 25 - 2009, 12:00 PM
    Kugel & Komedy
    We'll have fun at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.

    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.
  • Rabbi's Message: Rabbi Julie Greenberg
  • Dear Chevre,

    As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, what a blessing it is to have a community filled with light. Recently, when we lit the Shabbat candles together I thought of us kindling the inner light in each of our souls, firing up inner warmth for winter. In a few weeks, Hanukkah will be here, with eight nights of candle lighting, bringing more and more light into our lives. May we reflect that light to each other and beam it out into the world as peace and justice makers in small and large ways. This is the season of miracles --- who knows what your light might illuminate?

    Sometimes bringing light into the world means acting with hope even at times when it is hard to believe in miracles. The prophet Jeremiah lived at a time when the Babylonians were besieging his beloved city, Jerusalem. Jeremiah had a chance to buy a piece of land that had been in his family. Even though it looked like the destruction of Jerusalem was imminent, Jeremiah bought the land. He had faith that a better day would come.

    I think of gestures of faith and hope, such as sending out that resume for the job you want, or going on J-Date for the relationship you want, or attending the committee meeting to build the synagogue community you want, or calling your senator to express your opinion on health insurance reform, as ways of bringing light and more light into the world.

    Many Blessings,
    Rabbi Julie

  • LHI Member Profile - Iris Cutler
  • Iris Cutler was born and raised in Philadelphia, and she attended local schools. Her grandparents were orthodox, so her father grew up in a religious family. Although her mother did not have this kind of experience, she agreed to keep a kosher home, so that her in-laws would be comfortable eating in their home, as well as participating in all of the Jewish Holidays.

    "The message I got from my grandfather" recalls Iris, is "girls didn't count very much" (in Judaism). My brother who was older than I was, was more like the 'crown prince.' I did go to Sunday school, but never went to Hebrew school."

    Of her education, Iris says, "My father died when I was fourteen. So, going to college was out of the question. We moved when I was in tenth grade, so I had to change high schools, which made it very difficult. I was going to Overbrook High School, and I had to change to Germantown High School, which I didn't like. I used to work after school, so I didn't have much of a school life in terms of after-school activities."

    Iris's after-school job was as secretary to the President of the Ingber Bag Company. After graduation, she worked at Everybody's Supply Company. At twenty-five she moved to Florida. "I was supposed to get married," she says, "but I decided I didn't want to do that. I went to Florida for two weeks and stayed ten years, and had several different kinds of positions there. A year after I lived in Florida, my brother died, and after spending several months with my mother, I decided to return to Florida. In 1963 when my mother died, I decided it was time to come back home to Philadelphia. I felt the need to be closer with my married sister, and to get to know her three children, since they were the only family I had left."

    The early part of Iris's career was in the business world. Her last job in that area was as Administrative Assistant to the President of Kardon Industries. "When I left my position at Kardon Industries, I went through a difficult time in my life. I didn't want to be in that business world any more, but I didn't know what else I wanted to do. So I started to do a lot of soul-searching. I thought that if I could really understand who God was and what my relationship was to God, I would feel more grounded and directed, because I felt like a ship without a rudder."

    Iris adds, "I began to investigate Eastern Religions, Christianity, and even took another look at Judaism, but nothing seemed to help. One Friday night I was sitting in the synagogue, and out of sheer exhaustion in trying to figure out the answers to all of my questions, I clearly remember saying...'Okay God, I give up', and in that moment of surrender my life changed! I felt a shift in my consciousness, and I heard a still small voice say...'go inside and listen.' That is what I have been doing ever since...going inside and listening to the still small voice within. It was also the beginning of my true spiritual quest."

    "One of the first things I did," Iris recalls, "was go down to the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Virginia Beach, where I learned about things I never heard of before, like reincarnation and meditation. When I came back, I learned that Eric Butterworth, Minister of Unity (Church) in New York was giving a week-long seminar in Gettysburg on prayer. My "inner knowing" told me to go, and it turned out that he became a very important teacher for me."

    At this time Iris also became the first Administrator of the Institute of Awareness, and after several years there, she decided to change her career to the helping profession. This necessitated her going to college to get the necessary credentials. She received a Bachelor Degree at Temple, and then went on to get a Master's Degree at Antioch, in Counseling Psychology and Business Administration.

    After college, Iris worked with the Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center at Hahnemann Hospital for ten years. While at Hahnemann, she also helped found and facilitated a group called, "Make Today Count" for people living with life threatening illness. She also became a teacher at the Institute of Awareness. When she made the difficult decision to leave the children and families she had grown close to at Hahnemann, she felt the need to go somewhere to heal, so she went to The Kripalu Yoga Ashram in Lennox, Massachusetts. Not only did she find it healing, but she learned a lot about Hindu Teachings. Her job there was to transcribe the Guru's tapes, and she would listen all day to his wisdom for several months.

    Returning to Philadelphia, Iris became re-acquainted with Rabbi Zalman Schechter-Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement, and she attended his Wisdom School for two years. "He's an amazing teacher," she says, "and he brought me back to Judaism." At this time she also became a student of the New Seminary in New York and, after two years of study, she became ordained as a Interfaith Minister in 1987.

    "I learned about Reconstructionist Judaism," she adds, "by taking a course with Mordecai Kaplan's son-in-law many years ago. When I began to hear some of the ideas that were more in synch with some of the things I believed about God, I got excited. I didn't know that within Judaism, there was that way of looking at things.

    "It was at that time," she recalls, "that some of my friends and I were instrumental in starting a Reconstructionist congregation in Philadelphia (before Leyv-Ha-Ir came into being), which didn't last. Therefore, I was happy to join Leyv Ha-Ir at its inception."

    Iris remains active in Leyv Ha-Ir, including the first B'nai Mitzvot ceremony in 1992. She has been a member of the congregation's choir and has helped organize the yearly retreats.

    Submitted by - John Oliver Mason

  • LHI Retreat Cancellation
  • The Retreat Committee found it necessary to cancel next year's January-February Winter Retreat. The Committee is working on a possible Shabbaton and details are being worked out. We will keep you posted.

  • Attention Women - Hanukah Rosh Chodesh
  • Roby Jacobs is hosting a Hanukah Rosh Chodesh at her home on December 13. This is a women's get-together for members and female friends of Leyv Ha-Ir. It will be held at 4 PM at 2519 Pine Street. Bring a pot-luck offering for supper along with a $10 gift for Pollyanna. And, of course, your favorite hanukiah for candle-lighting time. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Call 215-629-1995 for more information.

  • Still looking for Work? JEVS can help!
  • If you are Jewish and live in the Delaware Valley, you may qualify for the helpinghands program - and it's FREE!

    For more information, call 215-854-1834.

    Funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

  • Gateways to Aging Well
  • This program can help seniors balance their desire for independence with their need for preventative services and programs, helping them maintain the best quality of life possible.

    For more information, call 215-854-1830.

    A collaboration between JEVS Human Services and Klein & Stiffel JCCs. Funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

    :: 215-629-1995