The Pulse of Our Congregation October 2010

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

A Beautiful Ark; A Beautiful Story

October 2010 Activities

Rabbi's Message: Rabbi Julie Greenberg

New Noon Educational Program

JRF 43rd Biennial Convention - Early Bird Extension

Tikkun Olam / Repair of the World - You Can Make a Difference Here

New and Potential Members

Discounted Parking for Events at the Ethical Society


Member Profile: Joan Goldberg

5771 Erev Rosh HaShanah - Blessings for the New Year


Looking Ahead

Mark your Calendars Now!

A special Interfaith Shabbat Service to be held November 5th, 7:30 PM with Rabbi Julie Greenberg leading. In memory of our past member, the Annual Sibyl Cohen Commemorative Lecture will present guest speaker, Cassandra Good, PhD candidate in American History, University of Pennsylvania, who will discuss "Rebecca Gratz, A Jewish Woman in a Christian World". Held at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.

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,

A Synagogue president looking out on a High Holy Day congregation cannot help noticing the size of the crowd. What is it about our spiritual practice that supports this style of observance? Our Jewish practice is like an energy turbine that we access in different ways. We have multiple daily worship opportunities, weekly shabbos, Rosh Chodesh on the new moon, seasonal Holidays, annual Holidays and life cycle events. We also have a series of ethical practices like visiting the sick, repairing the world and eating food in a principled way.

These practices enhance our connection to something bigger than ourselves. We can connect to each other, people around the world, to our ancestors and progeny over time in a variety of ways. Looking out into the congregation, I see individuals joining together, traditionally to bow at the B'ruchu, and informatively stretching as part of morning blessings cultivating gratitude for our bodies. I see congregants standing so that older members can use one of the surprisingly scarce chairs; and I see strangers sharing Mahzorim. I am grateful that our ancestors structured these Holy Days so that I can see you at least once a year. Your presence in my shul brings me joy.

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

  • A Beautiful Ark; A Beautiful Story
  • Leyv Ha-Ir has a new ark that comes with a beautiful story. Some years ago we welcomed Charles Nexer as one of our dear friends. Charles passed away two years ago and his cousin Beryl Zeaman Kravetz wanted to honor him and Leyv Ha-Ir. Beryl is an artist and she thought it was time for us to have a special ark - and special it is. It is in mosaic form, with some of the pottery donated by our congregants. Part of the panels represent the Hills of Jerusalem and our connection to Philadelphia.

    A lovely needlepoint with our name in Hebrew and English was created by Beryl's daughter, Stephanie Kravetz Taggart and it hangs from our bimah. Assisting in these projects were Howard Kravetz and Jay Taggart. Beryl and Howard are members of Leyv Ha-Ir.

    Our heartfelt thanks to all of you!

  • October 2010 Activities
  • Saturday, October 2, 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.

    Monday, October 11, 2010, 7:00 PM
    Council Meeting
    We'll be meeting at Susan Thompson's, 2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, #19-B-21. All members are invited.

    Friday,October 15, 2010, 7:30 PM
    Kabbalat Shabbat Service
    We'll welcome the Sabbath Bride with Rabbi Julie and the Leyv Ha-Ir Choir.

    Friday,October 29, 2010, 6:30 PM
    Shabbat Service at Home
    Join us for 45-minute lay-led service, followed by a tasty pot-luck dinner at a member's home.

    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,

    We have ushered ourselves into the New Year with truly holy days of reflection, prayer, and community building. The image I have of this year's holy days is of the sparkling new ark, created by artist Beryl Kravitz, which was dedicated this year at our Rosh HaShanah service. This ark was a vision of Beryl's from the moment she first set foot in Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City. She gathered the community's precious remnant shards from parents' dishes and other special pottery and crafted these into a gorgeous work of art that will grace our bimah for years to come.

    Beryl's generosity expresses an ethic in our congregation: we engage in hiddur ha mitzvah, going above and beyond in the doing of good deeds, to enhance the well-being of the community and the world. From each one's gifts to the collective welfare, we encourage each other to share our selves.

    This year I welcome you to find a way to share yourself. What are your talents and interests? How can you offer them into the wonder-full, magical mix of life in Jewish community? We especially invite you to join in the various small groups that are the building blocks of Leyv Ha-Ir~ Heart of the City: want to try out for the choir? Want to join a committee that creates programs for learning and fun? Want to help those in need with our Tikkun Olam / Repair of the World group? How about connecting with the Chesed committee that cares for members of the congregation in need? Building the financial infrastructure of our synagogue is another essential way to engage.

    Welcome to the New Year 5771. May it be a year of many blessings for all.

    Rabbi Julie

  • New Noon Educational Program
  • Join Rabbi Julie and our community for a fascinating exploration of "Revelations About Jewish Identity". We will take a Reconstructionist, historical approach to illuminate the meaning of Jewish identity and inclusion in different historical periods.

    What did it mean to belong in Biblical times?
    What did it mean to belong in medieval times?
    How does this heritage affect our decisions about membership, dues, communal responsibility and more, today?

    Informed by our past, we'll be wrestling with essential questions for Judaism's future. Rabbi Julie guides participants through text study and engaging discussion. She warmly welcomes you.

    Held November 1, 8, 15 at noon at the Bellevue Building, 200 S. Broad St., 8th Floor, PREIT office. Coffee, dessert will be provided. Feel free to bring your lunch. Since space is limited, call in your reservation to 215-629-1995.

    ~The Education Committee ~

  • JRF 43rd Biennial Convention - Early Bird Extension
  • bagels & books

    The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation's (JRF) 43rd Biennial Convention, "California Dreaming: Visioning our Jewish Future," is being held at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, CA, November 11-14, 2010. The program looks great with speakers, workshops and lots of music for all. The Early Bird program has been extended to anyone who registers through October 4. You can get a $36 certificate to use during the vendor showcase at the Convention on Friday, November 12.

    Full details are available at Or feel free to contact me at 215.236.0689 or I'd be happy to answer any questions as I am working on the Convention planning at JRF. Hope to see you there!

    Bobbi Cohen

  • Tikkun Olam / Repair of the World - You Can Make a Difference Here
  • Our Tikkun Olam / Repair of the World committee is seeking volunteers who would like to join together to tutor children being served by the People's Emergency Center (PEC). The children face poverty, homelessness and educational challenge.

    Once a week this group will meet with their students. Group members will support each other in reaching out to meet those in need. I plan to orient our tutors with helpful ideas for working effectively with the children. If you'd like to join this group, please be in touch with me.

    Rabbi Julie

  • New and Potential Members
  • The Congregation welcomes all of you. We will be planning a get-together for sometime in October or November. Watch the Leyv-Ha-Ir listserv postings to find the exact date of the event. We look forward to getting to know you better.

    ~From the Membership Committee~

  • 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.

  • A heart-felt THANK YOU to all the people who made donations in support of Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City. We appreciate every gift, large or small. It's amazing how money transforms into prayer, song, teaching and Torah. Your gifts are part of this magical alchemy. If you haven't had a chance to make a donation yet, please know that we rely on each angel to keep the chemistry alive.

    All the Best from the Heart of the City

  • Member Profile: Joan Goldberg
  • Joan Goldberg was born in Philadelphia. The family moved to Wynnewood when she was 11. Of her religious background, Goldberg says "I grew up during the 50's in a typical secular Jewish atmosphere. My parents joined Adath Israel synagogue, but my Dad couldn't afford 3 tickets for the High Holy Holidays so my mother and I shared a seat. She went during the day and I went during the evenings. It was not until I joined Leyv Ha Ir that I could have a seat all for myself!!" During her teen years she expressed her Judaism through Zionism, joining Habonim, the Labor Zionist youth movement. She lived in Israel from 1967-1969 and worked at Rambam Hospital in Haifa as an RN during the Six Day War. She is a member of Nurses' Council, a division of Hadassah.

    Goldberg describes her life as "very eclectic". She began working in her father's fabric store at age 12. "It was very common for kids to work at their parents' Mom and Pop store during the weekends." She graduated from Pennsylvania Hospital and Villanova University and worked in various positions from Operating Room nurse to Associate Director of Nursing at a Nursing Home. In addition she worked at the Consulate General of Israel as social secretary to Consul Moshe Yegar when she returned from Israel. She also was a receptionist at a law firm (Cozen O'Connor), teacher of English as a Second Language at a business school, secretary to the Associate Dean of Hahnemann University College of Medicine, and worked in the White House during the Nixon administration. "I have dabbled in Hinduism (lived in an Ashram), Buddhism, Catholicism, and Metaphysics."

    Goldberg has served as Vice President of Leyv Ha Ir and was Chairman of the following committees: Tikkun Olam, Rosh Hodesh, Education, and the High Holy Days Organizing Committee. She was also instrumental, along with other members of LHI, in finding a new home for the Congregation (The Ethical Society). Of her affiliation with LHI, she says " I feel truly blessed to be a member of such a loving family,"

    Now that her health challenges are under control, she looks forward to attending the JRF convention, music and art lessons, playing Mah Jong, continuing weight lifting at the gym, and volunteering in the secular and Jewish communities.

  • 5771 Erev Rosh HaShanah - Blessings for the New Year
  • Sermon by Rabbi Julie Greenberg 5771 Erev Rosh HaShanah BLESSINGS FOR THE NEW YEAR Rabbi Julie Greenberg


    An important image of these holy days is the Gate of heaven that is wide open at this time. The Hebrew word for gate is sha'ar. Each one of us is a sha'ar, a gate, the portal through which God will flow into this New Year.

    Take a minute to take stock of your gate. What is the nature of the gate that is you this evening? Where is it strong and where is it fragile? Where has the opening narrowed? What does it need to be a sturdy, wide gate that welcomes God into the New Year?

    As all of our gates come together, we unite into a much bigger and stronger portal. Our good deeds reinforce one another, our kindnesses create luck and possibility for others in the world, our talents and commitments and love make the world a better place.

    We come together in community to remember the spiritual resources that allow our gates to stay wide open. The world has so many demands, so many distractions, it's easy to forget that our job is to have open hearts, hearts that care and that comfort, hearts that have just enough self-shielding to be healthy but not a single bit of extra hardening. In the course of this service we'll exploring more the support that is available for each of us to widen the gate and let God pour through.

    Sha'ar, gate, also means IMAGINE. Take a moment now to imagine what a good world it can be.


    Welcome, welcome, welcome, from far and wide. I am so glad each one of you is here, whether you are new to Judaism or you're an old timer, whether you know Hebrew or not, whether this is a settled and stable time in your life or you are questioning and questing.

    We welcome you to partake in these High Holy Day services. Together we forge a sacred community that will expand and shrink at various times over the next ten days, just as the walls of the Holy Temple in ancient Jerusalem were said to expand to hold as many people as needed. Our community here at the Heart of the City can be as small as a one on one relationship and as large as the hundreds of people who come through this passage into the New Year with us. We welcome each one to sanctify this New Year.

    Human beings may be unique in caring about marking the passages of life and the seasons of the year. If you think about it, no other mammal celebrates birthdays or pays special attention to a New Year. In a dog's life each day is pretty much the same as the next and the years go by without any particular reflection or moral re-direction. But human beings have a need to sanctify time, to live lives that have some meaningful coherence, a narrative that makes sense: I was young then but now. . . I was ignorant about that but I have learned. . . I didn't know myself well enough but now I am learning. . . I acted impulsively and now. . .

    To say, even though I was stuck in that pattern in a relationship, or stuck in that addiction, a new year opens all sorts of new possibilities. It really is a clean slate, a fresh start.

    Acknowledging times of new beginnings and possibilities makes human freedom more possible. Isn't freedom, liberation, what Judaism is all about?

    Rabbi's Message

    These moments of inaugurating the Ten Days of Awe are so powerful. It is here that we enter into the prayer, melodies, Torah, teaching that will launch all of us into this New Year. It's not just a time of sitting through services, it's an active time of opening, prying out the old gunk and clutter, abolishing all the encrustations, clearing the channels so that you can live up to your highest ideals, be your best self, be the person you want to be. The signature motion of these Holy Days is the pounding on the chest in the Ashamnu prayer, a prayer of deep repentance. We beat the breast to break open the heart, to break away the crud.

    This spiritual crud has accrued all year in the course of daily life. It comes in the form of feeling discouraged and battered, of suffering from decay in both body and mind. Life can deplete and disappoint you. It is impossible to be human without being hurt in many ways and without causing unintentional hurt as well. That is the way of the world. That is the Din of the world, the harsh, hard aspect that includes loss and mistakes, absorbing trauma and painful diagnoses. Just look around the room and imagine what people have been through. We've all been through so much.

    To protect our tender souls from the harsh onslaught of Reality, we develop defenses, hardenings of the heart, self-protective mechanisms. It is these self-protections ironically that clog the channels that could be re-fueling your spiritual energy. Your self-protective reactivity blocks the flow of energy and love, diminishes your vitality and joy in life and commitment to making the planet whole.

    When energy is put into maintaining the self-protective blockages, there is less energy and zest for life. It actually becomes harder to re-fill your vessel from outer sources or to be aware of the inner sources that are always available for re-fueling. The balance of in-flow and out-flow can be out of whack. Consciousness is distracted and fragmented. The spiritual part of each of us knows this isn't all right. Many of us experience a yearning for wholeness, balance, inner peace.

    Following this universal human craving to purify, to breakthrough, to renew, our Jewish rites give us these holy days and rituals, our own very particular Jewish way of expressing universal yearnings for a second chance, a fresh start, and a new beginning.

    The spiritual resources that are here to nourish us are both external and internal. Can you picture the shofar calling you at this time of year to show up, to be here? Did you hear its call in some way? Maybe it called you through e-mail or a phone call or an invitation to help on the HH committee.

    And now can you picture an inner shofar, which is the same shape as a cornucopia, the inner spiritual resource, that is always there, nourishing, replenishing, ever-flowing, abundant. It is a Kos Re'vayah, an overflowing cup, an inner source of love, of shefa, of abundance. Maybe it is whispering to you in its still small voice, its kol d'mama daka, you are a child of God, you are made in God's image, you are good, not just good, very good.

    If you have that inner shofar always flowing, why do you need to respond to the call of the physical shofar? Ah,there's a connection between the outer shofar and the inner shofar. They reinforce one another. In the course of everyday life we lose consciousness of that inner shofar. We forget that there is always spiritual abundance within. It's important to come together in community because we remind each other of that inner spiritual resource. In a world that does not value the inner life, it's tempting to forget that it is always there, a constant source of sustenance. Even when life is hard, that fount is there to support and invigorate you with self-love, with God's love. But we need each other to remember this.

    The outer shofar, the ritual object or sanctum, allows you to hold the inner resource in your hand, to visualize it, touch it, to hear it and allow it to activate the inner awareness of your internal possibilities. Jewish ritual items always hold a teaching that points beyond the object itself. In this case the shofar directs us to an inner awakening.

    In this room, over these next ten days, there is a blessing and there is a spiritual challenge for each one of us. I don't know what your blessing or your challenge will be. It is yet to be discovered.

    How do you discover your blessing or your challenge? Sometimes it helps to formulate a question in your mind. You can lay this question on the altar of these Holy Days.

    Then attend to the texts, the songs, the stories. They have a message for you. You might think the language and ideas are archaic and at first glance that often seems true. We are part of a four thousand year evolution of Judaism. Our tradition is in flux; the way we do Judaism now is very different from how it was done in Abraham's time or in Solomon's time or even in your great-great grandparents' time. There have been times when Judaism changed by quantum leaps such as after the Destruction of the Temple when animal sacrifice came to an end and other ways of being Jewish such as prayer, rabbis and synagogues had to be invented. But often there is incremental change, so slow that you probably aren't aware of how different Judaism looks generation to generation.

    This is a tradition that requires patience. If you decide to be Jewish, you are choosing to swim in the river of history, a river that has a before, a present and a beyond. You can't rush it. It's moving at its own pace. Change happens. We here are in that river. So right now when you look for your personal message in the text, it may or may not come in the form of a complete prayer that makes sense to you from beginning to end. It may come in the form of one word that jumps out at you. Maybe the word Faith or the word Enter, who knows?

    You could distance yourself from what is happening here by saying, that language doesn't make sense to me, I don't relate to a power in the sky that has unfathomable capabilities, it seems so old fashioned. I agree that some of the traditional language of the machzor is out of synch with our sensibilities in a contemporary world. Nevertheless, I invite you tonight to ride up over that concern, and, in the teaching of Rabbi Shefa Gold, "close the back door that distances you from this experience."

    When you close the back door that lets you escape from Being Here, you silence the rational mind that is a chattering inner critic always analyzing and finding fault. Instead of feeding that part of the mind, drop deeper into a different state. Tune in to the mystery, to the unknown. Ask where is the blessing for me here? How can I open myself to it?

    The blessing that you find in these Holy Days, when you discover it, will allow you to be clearer and more centered, calmer and more compassionate. It will help you clear the blockages that limit your awareness of your own inner abundant and overflowing shofar.

    Are you ready for the blessing? You might want to sit in a receiving posture. Prepare the space to receive the blessing with deep breathing.

    (Hebrew and English Priestly Blessing)

    May God bless you and keep you.
    May God's presence shine upon you.
    May God lift you up and grant you peace.

    Love and Blessings.

    (Thanks to Rabbi Shefa Gold and Reb Zalman, as always, for their teaching of Torah.}

    :: 215-629-1995