The Pulse of Our Congregation February 2011

In this Issue

Looking Ahead

Marking Life Cycle Events

February 2011 Activities

Rabbi's Message: Rabbi Julie Greenberg

LimmudPhilly Update

Career Help is Available

Quotes of the Month

Members' Profile: Howard and Beryl Kravetz



Looking Ahead

Mark your Calendars Now!

~Sunday, March 20th, 3 PM. Annual Purim Party. Place to be determined.

~An American Treasure Phil Steel, LHI member, will discuss his illustrious ancestor, Uriah Levy, who, in 1836, purchased and restored Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Held Sunday, March 27th, 11 AM, place to be determined.

~Tuesday, April 19th, Annual Second Night Seder, 6 PM, place to be determined.

Find us on Facebook

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

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,

As I write you tonight, we have spent the day cleaning up after another big snow. The last two winters have been cold, dark and wet. Frankly we're getting tired of it. As Jews, at this time of year, we celebrate trees. Premature as it may seem, we use this time of year to celebrate the onset of springtime. One of the gifts given to us by our ancestors and our tradition is the ability to anticipate springtime at the coldest and darkest times. We recognize that the universe has already started the next part of the season's cycle. In the tradition of the Jewish people, I invite you to anticipate a period of expansion and the creation of beauty in the universe. With the blessing for seeing beautiful things in the natural universe, we offer our gratitude to the multifaceted source of creation in the universe...who has such as this in the universe (Shech-kakah Lo Ba-olamo).

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

  • Marking Life Cycle Events
  • Revelations About Jewish Identity

    Friends, this is an invitation to keep Leyv Ha-Ir close in your thoughts when you have any occasion to remember someone with a card. Make a donation to your cherished congregation and honor someone you care about at the same time. It might be a note of sympathy, a message of congratulations, a shout-out on a happy occasion. Let me know, and I will gladly send along either one of Marcy Fleet's lovely art cards created for this use, or one I will customize based on your suggestions. I will also try to compose a note that carries your thought to the recipient.

    Please direct checks to our PO Box 15836, Philadelphia PA 19103 and details to me. You can reach me at

    From Sue Frank

  • February 2011 Activities
  • Saturday, February 5, 2011, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Service and Luncheon
    Come join our lay-led service and Torah discussion at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq. Stay and shmooze at our veggie/dairy pot-luck lunch.

    Friday, February 11, 2011, 6:30 PM
    Friday Night Service/Dinner
    Join us for a short service and delicious veggie/dairy pot-luck dinner at the home of Jay & Donna Butler, 225 S. 18th Street. Call to tell them what you will be bringing for potluck dinner at 484-410-9060.

    Monday, February 14, 2011, 7:00 PM
    Council Meeting
    All members are invited to join us at Roby Jacob's, 2519 Pine St., 215-546-8965.

    Friday, February 18, 2011, 7:30 PM
    Kabbalat Shabbat Service Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square
    Join us as Rabbi Julie and the LHI Choir lead this Friday night service.

    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 Friends,

    As some of you know, I lost a very dear friend this winter, Felice Yeskel, z'l, an amazing human being who died after a two-year battle with cancer. The experience of walking with her as she lived with cancer and eventually died from cancer, renewed my appreciation for the brilliant way in which Judaism structures loss.

    In the face of compromised health, own tradition calls forth the mitzvah of visiting the sick. My friend and her family were surrounded by love and care, soup and songs, flowers, rides, artwork and visitors for the past two years. As she died, her beloveds were with her chanting the Shema. From death until the funeral, the Jewish custom of a gap before the mourning process officially began made total sense because there was a hectic flurry of logistics to take care of. At the funeral and burial, the seven day shiva period began during which time family and friends accompanied and comforted the mourners.

    Because we are Reconstructionists, we can renew Jewish traditions in ways that work for us. I wasn't an immediate family member and therefore wouldn't be considered a mourner by the standards of Jewish law. But I invited a small circle of friends to my living room where we shared stories and songs in our own version of a shiva minyan. A seven day yahrzeit candle is burning on my mantle, as I write, warming my heart every time I look at it. (For a while I thought, this candle is so meaningful to me that I'll light one every single week for a year but then I got worried I'd burn the house down so I changed my plan.)

    My wish for the Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City community is that we witness each other's life journeys and accompany each other all the way through the rites of death. This is holy work.

    Love and blessings,
    Rabbi Julie

  • LimmudPhilly Update
  • Registration is now open for LimmudPhilly, with Early Bird pricing in effect through February 4, 2011.

    LimmudPhilly is a citywide learningfest encompassing many aspects of Jewish life. There is serious learning and much fun as well. In addition to learning sessions, you can shop a bookstore and shuk (marketplace), bid on restaurant certificates at a silent auction, and talk with representatives of many Jewish service organizations.

    LimmudPhilly will take place March 4-6, 2011 at the Gershman Y and University of the Arts at Broad & Pine Streets.

    You can learn more, see a partial list of presenters, and register at Hope to see you there!

    Bobbi Cohen

  • Career Help is Available
  • The JEWISH EDUCATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL SERVICES--JEVS--can give a ton of help if you are looking for a job, any kind of high/low professional or down-to earth position. Individual career consulting, Career assessment, Resume assistance, Job search assistance, Workshops. Call 215-854-1874 or

    Convenient locations in Center City and Northeast Phila.

    Also check out "helping hands" for unemployed or underemployed Jewish individuals under 65 and also their Youth Services.

  • Quotes of the Month
  • It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
    ~ Seneca

    You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.
    ~ Dale Carnegie

  • Members' Profile: Howard and Beryl Kravetz
  • Beryl Kravetz was raised in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia, "until I was twelve years old," she says, "then we moved to Huntingdon Valley. I lived there until I married in 1965, and I'm still married, forty-five years later." She attended Abington High School, and from there she went to Temple University, taking Education courses, but she dropped out to work for the Villager clothing company. She ended up studying at Temple's Tyler School of Art, graduating from there in 1967.

    Beryl ran a needlepoint factory, INNOVATIONS DESIGN, manufacturing designs and selling to stores. Her designs sold to Neiman Marcus for their Christmas catalogue, appeared in "W" magazine with their needlepoint jeans and were highlighted on local TV shows. Beryl did that for twenty-five years and then she retired.

    Howard and Beryl currently appear on eBay selling many things, mostly mosaic tiles. They purchase old vintage dishes, and cut them up - Howard does most of the cutting, and Beryl does the merchandising, photographing and selling.

    Beryl created Leyv Ha-Ir's Torah ark, which was on display at last year's High Holy Days services. "It was a much bigger project than I thought," she says. "I had some ideas, and I ran them by Iris Newman, and I spoke with the Rabbi about it. I wanted to combine the Philadelphia theme with 'Heart of the City.' I started one side, and as I worked my way down, I realized this was a bigger project than I anticipated. In between, I am working and doing other things. Every time I went to work on it, I really loved doing it. I loved it, and I was almost sorry when I finished."

    Beryl began work on it, she says, because of her cousin Charles who was looking for a synagogue at the time. She and Howard, had not been affiliated with a synagogue for many years. "Every place I called, said Beryl, said, 'You have to be a member, and tickets cost hundreds of dollars. I called Leyv Ha-Ir, and I told them I wanted to come in on the High Holy Days, and they said, 'Great, what's your name, we'll check you at the door.' I couldn't believe it, it was just such an unusual thing." Of the services, Beryl says, "I was really impressed, it was just warm and friendly, and everybody was just down to earth. It was not what I was used to."

    "When they brought out the Torah," Beryl continues, "and I saw it was in a little cabinet, I knew I could do something,' and she decided to ask the Rabbi "if I could do something." And so she began work on the Torah ark, which she dedicated to her cousin Charles, who passed away.

    Howard married Beryl forty-five years ago, when she was a student at Tyler. "I was a high-school counselor," he says, "in Philadelphia for thirty-seven years, and I retired about ten years ago. Also, for a couple of years, I was a fashion model, and I made some television commercials, for men's clothing and Philadelphia Electric." Retired from counseling, "we cut mosaic tiles for eBay where buyers make mosaic projects out of the tiles. We go to flea markets, look for unusual tiles, and cut them up. Like Beryl. I certainly enjoy the services and the whole idea of Leyv Ha-Ir."

    Written by John Mason

  • Saturday, January 29 we held our winter Shabbaton at Chamounix Mansion in Fairmount Park. In this beautiful setting, both indoors and out, we worshipped, ate (thanks, Evy, for the great catering job) and schmoozed with our own Rabbi Julie and Rabbi Jeff Eisenstat. Rabbi Jeff was the founding rabbi of Leyv Ha-Ir, then called the Center City Reconstructionist Congregation.

    Rabbi Jeff led us through "Roots and Wings," a workshop that let us examine our congregation's values as well as our priorities for the near future. Here are the rankings of how we feel we have done in various areas:

    Highest Ranked (#5): Spiritual, Caring, Tzedakah-minded, Rabbinic Support, Menschlich, Music and Arts, Holy Space, Website, Publications, Meaningful Services

    #4: Welcoming, Inclusive, Interfaith Program, Outreach

    #3: Accessible, Movement Affiliation, Fundraising, Communications, Study

    #2: Political Activism, Israel Connection, Tikkun Olam, Leadership Development, Financials

    Lowest Ranked (#1): Multigenerational, Membership, Growth

    Once we completed these rankings, we chose the five areas that we feel need the greatest emphasis and improvement for the immediate future. These are: Leadership Development, Growth/Membership, Communications, Study, and Financials/Fundraising.

    The final step in the exercise was blending five different snack foods to make our own trail mix. We assigned one of the five snacks to each of the five areas for improvement and then blended them in according to the importance of each. We were each able to take home some of our custom trail mix to remind us of the areas we feel are most important to Leyv Ha-Ir's future success. Roots and Wings was a fun and meaningful exercise.

    Many thanks to the entire Retreat/Shabbaton committee and to all who helped make this a wonderful event!

    Note: Photo shows Rabbi Jeff leading "Roots and Wings" discussion with start of "Ranking Our Values" exercise in background.

    Article submitted by: Bobbi Cohen

    :: 215-629-1995