The Pulse of Our Congregation September 2010

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

Bagels & Books with Rabbi Julie Greenberg

September 2010 Activities

Rabbi's Message: Rabbi Julie Greenberg

Selichot Service with our Sister Congregation

The JRF 43rd Biennial Convention is Ready and Waiting for You!

Reserve now for our High Holy Day Services

The Joy of Sukkot

Discounted Parking for Events at the Ethical Society

Tikkun Olam Committee Needs Your Help

Member Profile: Susan Thompson

The Gift of being Involved


Looking Ahead

Mark your Calendars Now! Simchat Torah will be celebrated with another group, Minyan Tikvah, who meet once a month at the Ethical Society. The date is Thursday, September 30th, time to be determined. New faces! Rolling the torah together! Sounds like fun.

The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation is holding its convention in Newport Beach, CA in November 2010. If interested, please visit:

Find us on Facebook

Be sure to join and visit Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City's Facebook group.

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 Sue Frank, at, if you'd like to have an acknowledgement card sent.

Thank you.

More Connection to the Heart of the City

One way to stay in touch with the daily workings of Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City is sign on to our listserv. The listserv is a way to share thoughts, concerns, ideas and events of interest to this congregation. In addition, the Rabbi frequently writes brief messages with uplifting tidbits of Jewish insight.

To join the listserv, send your first and last name and e-mail address to Sharon Cooper at Please use the listserv in a respectful way, posting short messages that are likely to be of general interest. We hope you join this internal conversation at the Heart of the City.

Call 215-629-1995 for more information.

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

In the July 8, 2010 edition of Newsweek, Lisa Miller writes as follows:

"It sounds like a Catskills-era joke with a Jewish lawyer in the punchline, but among Jewish leaders it's deadly serious. Why does it cost so much to be Jewish? At a time when American families are tightening household budgets, does it really make sense to continue to charge thousands of dollars to participate in Jewish life? "

The article continues to compare the high cost of synagogue membership to intermarriage, Israel politics and apathy as a factor hastening the decline of institutional Judaism. Twenty years ago, in an era which also gave birth to the concept of voluntary simplicity, a small group of women, and a couple of very nice men, created Leyv Ha-Ir. This synagogue was designed in a way to de-emphasize the importance of wealth and status. Our history has borne this out. To this day, our most valuable asset is our Torah, and our greatest expense item is our Rabbi's salary. We persist in being a tenant synagogue, with a five figure budget.

As is often the case in the outside world, the best place to go and get a hand out is from another poor person. To that end, a significant number of our stakeholders tell us that they are unable to afford membership or High Holiday tickets. Some have told us that feelings of shame have deterred them from attending other synagogues. Even though every Shul in Philadelphia will gladly defer membership for a needy applicant, it is the stigma that keeps them away.

We at Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City have always welcomed you to our shul, and it is my goal to have us become a post-dues congregation. The irony of becoming that congregation is that we can only do that by asking for money. To that end, I ask you to join Leyv Ha-Ir this year. If you are unable to join us, make a donation, and ask your friends to do the same. Send it to us at P.O. BOX 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103 If Jews really want a synagogue without dues, they should advocate for it. We are not that synagogue this year, but we hope to be within a generation.

L'shana tovah,
Michael Meketon, President
Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City

  • Bagels & Books with Rabbi Julie Greenberg
  • On Sunday August 22, fifteen members and friends gathered for our annual ONE BOOK, ONE COMMUNITY discussion. "The Lemon Tree" book was Rabbi Julie's choice, which generated a spirited discussion. A good time was had by all.

    The book is available from Amazon for about ten dollars.

  • September 2010 Activities
  • Saturday, September 4, 2010, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Service and Luncheon
    Our lay-led Shabbat Morning Service will be back at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square. Join us and stay for our veggie/dairy potluck lunch.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 7:30 PM
    Erev Rosh Hashanah
    Join Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Cantorial Soloist Jesse Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir choir at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010, 10:00 AM
    Rosh Hashanah - First Day
    Join Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Cantorial Soloist Jesse Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir choir at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square. .

    Friday, September 10, 2010, 10:00 AM
    Rosh Hashanah - Second Day
    Join Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Cantorial Soloist Jesse Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir choir at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square

    Friday, September 17, 2010, 6:30 PM
    Kol Nidre Service
    Join Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Cantorial Soloist Jesse Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir choir at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square

    Friday, September 18, 2010, 10:00 AM
    Yom Kippur
    Join Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Cantorial Soloist Jesse Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir choir at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square

    Sunday, September 26, 2010, 1 - 3 PM
    Sukkot Service
    Join us as we celebrate the harvest and the journey of the Chilren of Israel as they wandered through the desert, living in booths.

    Held in the backyard of 2508 Pine Street.

    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,

    Welcome back from summer schedules, vacations and trying to stay cool. In just a few days we'll step into the Jewish year 5771 and I hope you'll be with us. The wise therapist Pia Mellody taught that there are four times in a day to get a relationship right by marking beginnings and endings: when you wake up, when you leave the house, when you return to the house and before you go to bed. The way we greet each other and the way we part from each other are important, whether you live with other people or not.

    If this is true within the time span of a day, kal v'chomer / even the more so, it is important to mark the beginnings and endings of greater cycles of time. Judaism provides the framework for starting the new year in community with spiritual practice, reflection, and shared hopes for a good year.

    Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, first president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, used to say that the High Holy Days are a very particular Jewish expression of a universal need to attend to new beginnings. Our sacred rites will include meditation, beautiful music, chanting of ancient texts, talks that are relevant and challenging, and an opportunity to partake in meaningful spiritual honors. Let the Shofar call you to us. We will await you with open doors.

    Shana Tovah,

    Rabbi Julie

  • Selichot Service with our Sister Congregation
  • Selichot: Prayers of Repentance will be held jointly with Kol Tzedek, our sister congregation in West Philadelphia. It will take place September 4, 8 PM, at the Community Room of the William Penn House, 1919 Chestnut Street. Call our voicemail at 215-629-1995 for additional information.

  • The JRF 43rd Biennial Convention is Ready and Waiting for You!
  • bagels & books

    Mark your calendars for November 11th-14th, 2010, and plan to attend the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Biennial convention in Newport Beach California. Enjoy networking with other Reconstructionists from around the world while enjoying the beauty of Newport Beach, California.

    Registration is now available online and there is a complete website with all the convention information at Check it out to see all of the wonderful things planned. You'll be able to learn, pray, dance, sing, laugh, celebrate and schmooze, all in 4 days at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach. The theme is California Dreaming: Visioning our Jewish Future. Plan to attend this great convention and register now!

    Featured speakers include:

    • Jane Eisner, Editor of The Forward
    • University Synagogue's own Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional scholar and Dean of University of California Irvine Law School
    • Jeremy Ben-Ami, Executive Director of J-Street
    • Rabbi Steve Gutow, Executive Director of the Jewish Public Affairs Council

    There will also be a Saturday night concert with Julie Silver and lots of other great activities. Check out the website for more information and plan to register for all are part of convention as soon as you can. There's an Early Bird Special. Anyone who registers for the Convention before September 15, 2010 will receive a $36 gift certificate from JRF to be redeemed at the Vendor Showcase on Friday of Convention.

    I look forward to experiencing this great weekend with you.

    Bobbi Cohen

  • Reserve now for our High Holy Day Services
  • Our High Holy Days schedule and Registration Form has been posted to our website. Be sure to sign up yourself and your guests.

    All services held at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq. led by Rabbi Julie Greenberg.

    ROSH HASHANAH September 8-10

    YOM KIPPUR September 17-18

    See the complete schedule and reserve your space online now!
  • The Joy of Sukkot
  • After much soul-searching and praying during the High Holy Days comes Sukkot! As soon as Yom Kippur is over, we hammer the first plank for the Sukkah!

    As we did lat year, we gather on Sunday September 26, after lunch at 1 PM, at the home and back garden of Sue Frank, 2508 Pine Street. Sue and I will build the Sukkah again, using s'chach......the branches of the sukkah roof..... from the Amish. Every LHI-nik is invited, and you may bring your favorite Sukkah decorations and something for snack time. Ushpizin -- aramaic for guests -- this year folks from the broader Kehillot are invited to join us on their Center City Sukkah tour (see Kehillah newsletter for other sites). We at LHI have our own set time from 1 till 3 PM or so, with Rabbi Julie giving loving Sukkoth-themed input. Come join and also bring good weather so we can be outside!!!

    Roby Jacobs

  • Discounted Parking for Events at the Ethical Society
  • EZ Park, located at 2101 Chestnut Street in the River West Condo Garage (covered), has offered Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir discounted parking.

    The cost is $6, weekdays after 5PM; Weekends all day for $6. All tickets must be stamped with an Ethical Society Stamp, available at the check-in desk in the Ethical Society lobby.

  • Tikkun Olam Committee Needs Your Help
  • Can you help??

    Leyv Ha-Ir will participate in the Mitzvah Food Pantry's High Holy Days food drive.

    Congregations in Center City (like ours) are to collect cans of fruit, kosher, low in salt. MFP will send a vehicle to pick up the cans, and I would need another person to help me load the cans in the van. I have signed up for the van to come to the Ethical Society on September 27, or else September 28. I said we could collect 24 cans, could we do more? Thanks.

    John Oliver Mason
    Chair, Tikkun Olam

  • Member Profile: Susan Thompson
  • Susan Thompson comes from New York City, and spent time between there and Buffalo, where she completed high school. She graduated from the University of Connecticut, University of Hartford and the University of Michigan and studied at the University of North Carolina. She stayed in Connecticut, as she puts it, "for a good part of my married life, then I moved to Chapel Hill (North Carolina), Ann Arbor (Michigan), Paris and Sarasota (Florida).

    "My grandparents were German," Thompson recalls. "They sent my mother to the United States in about 1934 or 1936, and they (the grandparents) came a year later, escaping the Holocaust. They belonged to a German Conservative, low-Orthodox shul in Washington Heights, and I tagged along with my grandparents. I think they were "sort of" kosher. My mother wasn't always kosher, but she was on the kosher side. She didn't mix milk with meat, never ate pork and she went to synagogue every weekend and observed the holidays."

    Thompson raised her kids in what she calls "a low-Conservative synagogue" in Connecticut. "We didn't keep kosher, but we observed the holidays." Later, when her children were grown, Susan joined a Jewish Renewal congregation in West Hartford, CT.

    While Thompson lived in Sarasota, she says, "both my daughters came to Philadelphia, and all my grandchildren were here, and we decided we'd rather be closer to our children and grandchildren, so we moved to Philadelphia." Originally a special education teacher, "on and off almost eighteen years," she then worked as a social worker before retiring. Her volunteer work included working with low income women securing better public housing for them and often participating in diverse social action projects. In Philadelphia Susan served "as a tutor for students in Bache-Martin School," along with being active in the Green Condo and Coop Initiative in the city. Thompson found Leyv Ha-Ir this way: "My husband was taking a Kehillah course on intermarriage, learning about Judaism, and Rabbi Julie (Greenberg) was one of the rabbis that was teaching it, and he thought I would like her. He told me about the High Holy Day services and that's how I got there." Her activities with Leyv Ha-Ir include co-chairing the Chesed committee, helping Evy Simon on the food committee, assisting Roby Jacobs with the High Holy Day committee, and working with John Mason with Tikkun Olam work. She currently serves as Vice-President.

    Susan enjoys the closeness and spirit of the Leyv-Ha-Ir community and hopes that we can attract new members in the coming year.

    Submitted by John Mason

  • The Gift of being Involved
  • This is your invitation to help during the High Holy Days. To get that sense of belonging, of giving to others, no better way than signing up for a volunteer job. We need Hearts, Hands and Eyes to man the Welcoming/Check-in desk before and during the Services. We can always use volunteers to set up and clear and clean up. This year we like to be pro-active about BLOWING the SHOFAR!

    Who knows how to get the sounds out REALLY good; who has a shofar and more over who can TEACH blowing shofar to those who have an instrument but need practice!!

    Email Roby Jacobs if you can help out.

    :: 215-629-1995