The Pulse of Our Congregation August 2011

In this Issue

Looking Ahead!

Scenes from the Annual Meeting

LHI Calendar August 2011

Rabbi's Message: Growing Our Wisdom

The Gift of being Involved

A Lost and Found Bat Mitzvah Sister and More

Quote of the Month

August Yahrzeits

Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER)

Reserve now for our High Holy Day Services


Looking Ahead!

Please note that activities during the summer will continue: Shabbat lay-lead services, first Saturday of August, and Friday Night Kabbalat Services and dinner, both services at a members home. Please check the events calendar on our website or our list-serv for places and times. Air-conditioning is promised!


High Holy Days are fast approaching. See our announcement in the right column regarding services.

POWER Convention - September 25 (see article in right column)

Rabbi Julie will give 2 courses this Fall:

Jewish Teaching on Sex and Sexuality -- Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 -- Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00

Zohar: Mystical Jewish Stories -- Nov. 10th and Nov. 17th -- Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00

Details will follow.

You can get all of the latest information about upcoming Leyv Ha-Ir services and other events on our web based calendar at Events are posted through June, 2012. Many thanks to Iris Newman for maintaining this calendar for us!

Marking Lifecycle Events

Please remember Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City when you have any occasion to send a greeting card to someone. While we are happy to receive contributions in any amount, for a minimum $10 contribution we will gladly send one of Marci Fleet's lovely art cards created for this purpose to the recipient of your choice.

Make a donation to your congregation and honor someone you care about at the same time. It might be a note of sympathy, a message of congratulations, get well, or a shout-out on a happy occasion. Sue Frank will gladly send along either one of Marci's cards, or one she will customize one based on your suggestions. Sue will also compose a note that carries your thought to the recipient.

Please use the new contribution form on our website, which contains the mailing address for your contribution, PO Box 15836, Philadelphia PA 19103. You can also reach Sue at 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.

Find us on Facebook

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

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

Here we are in mid-Summer. Even with the multiple heat waves (and hopefully not many more to come this month), Leyv Ha-Ir continues our summer programming and our attendance remains strong. At the same time there's a lot of preparation going on for the High Holidays and other functions for the coming year. You can see the full calendar as it now stands on our website at If you see something that you'd like to be involved in, please let us know and we can connect you with the appropriate person or committee. Much of the strength of our community comes from our committees and individuals who work hard to bring you exciting programs. There's quite a lot available for you.

There's still time to read our "One Book One Congregation" books before our August 28 discussion with Rabbi Julie about them. This year, it's actually 2 books from the same author, Rabbi Naomi Levy. The titles are "To Begin Again: The Journey Toward Comfort, Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times" and "Hope Will Find You: My Search for the Wisdom to Stop Waiting and Start Living." They are easy to read and contain many positive messages. The Bagels & Books discussion on them should be quite interesting.

Also, we'd like to take this opportunity for a gentle reminder that now is a good time to renew your annual membership if you have not done so already, or to consider joining Leyv Ha-Ir. Please check our website for membership information at

Enjoy the remainder of your summer!

Bobbi, Susan, Iris and Patricia
Your Leyv Ha-Ir Executive Committee

  • Scenes from the Annual Meeting
  • Annual Meeting Photos

    The Congregation and Rabbi Julie show appreciation to outgoing President Michael Meketon for his 5 years of dedicated service to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir.

  • LHI Calendar August 2011
  • Saturday, August 6, 2011, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Service
    Shabbat Morning Service Join us for our lay-led service and pot-luck veggie/dairy lunch. Roby is hosting at her home at 2519 Pine St. Call her 215-546-8965 and tell her what you'll be bringing.


    Monday, August 8, 2011, 7:00 PM
    Tisha B'Av
    Join us as we chant the Book of Lamentations together with Beatrice Beer and her wonderful voice. We'll be at Iris', 1919 Chestnut Street, #2507, Questions? Contact Iris at 215-561-0228 or

    Thursday, August 11, 2011, 6:00 PM
    City-wide social action project
    See Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER) article in this newsletter.

    Monday, August 15, 2011, 7:00 PM
    Council Meeting
    All members are invited to our meeting at a Congregant's home.


    Friday, August 26, 2011, 6:30 PM
    Shabbat Home Dinner/ Service
    Join us for our lay-led 45-minute service and delicious veggie/dairy pot-luck dinner. This dinner will be hosted by Bobbi Cohen at her home at the Kennedy House. Call Bobbi at 215-236-0689, or the LHI number, 215-629-1995, and let us know what you will be bringing.


    Sunday, August 28, 2011,10:30 AM,
    One Book, One Congregation
    Rabbi Julie will lead a discussion on the books we are reading this summer at the Penn Center House Community Room, 1900 JFK Blvd. Books to be discussed are "To Begin Again" and "Hope Will Find You", both authored by Rabbi Naomi Levy.

    Brunch is provided for $8; friends, family members are most welcome. Call our voice mail, 215-629-1995, for further information.

    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 upcoming activities.
  • Rabbi's Message: Growing Our Wisdom
  • In place of Rabbi Julie's monthly message, her Rosh Hashanah message of 5768 is being reprinted. Hark her words - put away your I-phone, Blackberry, before reading this. Enjoy!!

    I mentioned yesterday a vision of using technology to further our message in this House of Prayer---having smart boards on the bimah or enabling the Rabbi to beam text into your I- phone or Blackberry. The pace of technological innovation is mind boggling. Do you remember a time when people did not have answering machines? Remember telephone booths? My 7 year-old saw an old-fashioned dial phone and asked, "Mom, what's that?"

    In the year 2001 my family got cell phones for the first time as our own personal response to 911 - there was just an urge to stay more connected, to know where the kids were at all times. That year we had such trouble remembering to keep the phones charged or to even take them out the door with us. We just hadn't acculturated to the cell phone lifestyle. Now cell phones are an integral part of daily life. Probably many of you have gone through a similar learning curve.

    Experts say that within the next few years technology is fundamentally going to alter our lives as every machine we use will now be connected through wifi with every other tool in our lives;

    Change in this society in this century is fast-paced and demanding. We spoke last night about leaving our comfort zones to reach toward our God-given potential. In this world, it is almost impossible not to leave your comfort zone when it comes to embracing technology.

    How many of you have struggled recently to learn how to use a new gadget or program? Some people have more aptitude than others in these areas but for all of us it is a challenge to keep up with the technological possibilities before us.

    On a grand societal level, too, fierce weapons of mass destruction and our nation's ability to drop a sophisticated army into a mid-eastern desert confound the human imagination.

    A question that might be on the minds of many people at this season: Does Judaism have any relevance to these modern dilemmas? Are all these holidays and prayers just sentimental trappings?

    After all, the Torah is grounded in an ancient, agricultural society when people literally worshipped by offering their first fruits and choice lambs to feed God. The Rabbis were convinced that the world was about 5,000 years old; that's how we get our dating system and that's why we are entering the year 5768 in the Jewish calendar. The Jewish people believed in a personal, transcendent God who could intervene in human history, who could answer specific personal prayers.

    So much has changed since then. The world has literally gotten bigger and more confusing even as we get more educated, or at least our concept of the world has. We now know that the earth is more than 4.5 billion years old, we know that we are not the center of the universe but rather a small inconsequential planet on the far edge of a galaxy, surrounded by vast vast empty areas of space, dotted by many other galaxies comprising millions of stars. Here on the home planet, the number of choices we have is infinite: you can be a Buddhist, a secular humanist, an atheist, an artist. You can live in Philadelphia or L.A. or on a farm in Idaho.

    So how can Torah possibly have any relevance to us? Why does Judaism matter?

    Probably the single most important question facing human kind is whether we as a human civilization will be able to grow our wisdom, our moral ability, sufficiently to match our enormous technological capability, before we have destroyed life on this planet. Will human kind be able to achieve this inner growth in wisdom and morality?

    The question is on the table and we don't yet know the answer. But we had better muster every resource we possibly can, before global warming, AIDs, human cruelty and ignorance prevail. Apparently, the technological aspects of these challenges are not the biggest challenge on the table. Hard science and social science could most likely be used to achieve solutions to problems of energy, medicine, distribution. But there is a huge obstacle to success. The real challenge is our human ability to communicate, collaborate, care and share. The real challenge has to do with our ability to be wise enough, generous enough, compassionate enough to survive.

    The great prophet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his 1963 Strength to Love, "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

    How can Judaism help turn this around? Can Judaism grow us spiritually so that we can respond to the challenges of our times?

    Torah is the saga of human beings trying to live a moral life. Torah and all the years of Jewish teaching that follow call on us to live ethical lives, to grow the inner qualities that will result in right action. Jewish community life is a structured framework for reflecting on, cultivating, developing these moral capabilities.

    Our ancestors struggled with family relationships, with political decisions, with moral dilemmas.

    When a community engages with these texts, it isn't so much the particular story that is so significant, it is the living dialogue, the contemporary quest in community to enact the values that matters. To be part of such an on-going adventure is magnificent. I'm not saying it's always easy - you may have to get up and go out on a snowy day to be present for your minyan, you may dislike one or another member of your prayer group, you may ever feel over-worked or disappointed and you may be called to leave your comfort zone, the place where you feel most righteous.

    But where else in your life are you going to find an intense focus on ethical living? You are not going to find this in the mall, in corporations, in the academy or on the highways of this land.

    Jewish community is dedicated to supporting you in a quest for right living. We ask questions here about how to live a balanced life, how to help those in need, how to survive the ups and downs of life, how to be a mentsch. These are Jewish questions.

    Jewish community seeks to help you clarify what Paul Farmer, the Harvard-trained doctor whose life is described in Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains, called AMCs. Farmer advocates action based on "AMCs," or Areas of Moral Clarity." For instance, it is right for human beings to have food and medical care. End of debate.

    Farmer would have liked Rabbi Hillel's famous saying, If I am not for myself, who am I?
    If I am only for myself, what am I?
    If not now, when?

    We do live in a vast universe with constantly expanding technological capability. What would happen if each of us devoted as much time, care and attention to growing our wisdom and our right action as we do to mastering new technologies? What if we stretched ourselves to new moral heights just as we are constantly stretching ourselves to new technological competence?

    Each one of us deserves a home where we will be grounded and supported in developing the human capacity to live ethically in this world. One such home, which has open doors and welcoming arms, is Jewish community. We welcome you to make a home here at Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City, not just on these holy days, but throughout the year. Whether you are a member or not-yet a member, your presence bolsters the mission to keep asking important questions, to keep growing the inner qualities within ourselves that make for a better world.

    To conclude on a lighter note, perhaps there are ways that the technological universe can actually inform our moral quest. Rabbi Michael Remson, a Reconstructionist colleague, asked an intriguing question. "If the Book of Life were a computer, how would we be talking about it?" The Book of Life is another name for Torah and it also is the image in our minds during these Holy Days --- that there is a metaphorical Book of Life open in heaven, on which our daily deeds are inscribed and we want to be sealed into this Book of Life for the New Year.

    Based on Remson's idea, here are seven suggestions for the Torah of Computers:

    1. Garbage in/Garbage out

    2. There are different kinds of memory: hard drives, disposable disks, flash drives corresponding to all the kinds of intelligence we know humans have: emotional intelligence, musical or athletic intelligence, academic intelligence, spiritual intelligence

    3. Don't forget to save the good stuff

    4. You can always over-write your mistakes

    5. Avoid virus contamination

    6. Know the real mail from the spam

    7. Remember the system's restorative powers

    May you be inscribed in the Book of Life in this New Year. May you draw deeply from the well of living Torah for inspiration. May you share your gifts to support others in the quest for ethical living. Ken Yehi Ratzon~ Let it be so.

  • The Gift of being Involved
  • The High Holy Days are late this year, however your Leyv Ha-Ir committee is starting to gear up.

    This is your invitation to help during those 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 people to set up and clear and clean up before and after any of the High Holiday Services. Know where to find me to sign up at

    Roby Jacobs
    Chair of High Holy Days

  • A Lost and Found Bat Mitzvah Sister and More
  • Limmud Philly

    Our very first Rabbi Jef had enticed seven women of the Center City Reconstructionist Synagogue to become Bat Mitzvah. Thus May 30,1992, Iris Cutler, Sylvia Goloff, "z"l, Beverly Hayden, Roby Jacobs, Bernice Kates, Susan Singer, "z"l", and Iris Newman were called to the Torah: parsha Bechukotay - blessings and curses! Most of us were kind of Baal Teshuvah's, returnee's to Judaism, coming from Eastern Thoughts, Communism, Christianity or other spiritual paths.

    Sylvia, our oldest sister, gave us Teach us to Treasure Each Day song; she died in 1994. Susan Singer passed away in 2004. She led us in monthly Rosh Hodesh and gave us Shamanu.

    Than there was Bernice Kates who married in '94...orthodox style; all of us sisters were invited.( see photo's) When Bernice seemed to disappear thereafter, I thought maybe LHI was not "frum" enough?? Not so, it turns out!

    The mid July Exponent featured a moving article about a Stephen Kates who as an 11 year old left Germany before WW II, and via Holland and England arrived in the USA. The story sounded familiar to me. Never talking much about his early years, he finally opened up when his daughter questioned him daringly. She followed up through a computer search to find two of his co-escapee buddies. The daughters' name in the Exponent was Batya Warshowsky, Bernice's married name, I remembered.

    Via an inquiry to the Exponent, I "found" Batya aka Bernice and we were able to catch up by phone at this point. Bernice remembers us lovingly as a very spiritual community. The family is Conservative, two sons of which the oldest will soon be Bar Mitzvah! To find Bernice feels as a blessing to me, a treasure of this day, worthy of a shamanu for our newsletter.

    As an afterthought I 'd love to challenge newer LHI-niks to go for a group Bar/Bat Mitzvah. It can be so meaningful to study, bond together and become central to Leyv Ha-Ir - just as the original seven did!

    Roby Jacobs

  • Quote of the Month
  • The meaning of good and bad, of better and worse, is simply helping or hurting. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • August Yahrzeits
  • May These Souls be Bound in the Book of Eternal Life
    Haim Klimoff
    Greg Triestman

  • Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER)
  • Leyv Ha-Ir has signed on to be one of the many religious congregations whose mission it is to make lasting social/economic policy change that benefit all Philadelphians. The areas of concentration to affect change will be in Public Safety, Health Care, Housing and Education.

    The Founding Convention is scheduled for September 25 with expected attendance of 1500, from 3:30-6 PM, place to be determined. It is our hope that the Leyv Ha-Ir members/friends, will join in on such a historic occasion.

    An important planning meeting will be held on August 11th, 6 PM at St. Williams Catholic Church Social Hall, Robbins Ave & Argyle St, Philadelphia 19111. Drivers to this meeting are needed. More details will follow. If you have an interest in joining this important Social Action Event, write Susan Thompson, Co-Vice President, at

  • 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. and led by Rabbi Julie Greenberg, with Cantorial Soloist Jessi Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir Choir .

    ROSH HASHANAH September 28-30

    YOM KIPPUR October 7-8

    See the complete schedule and reserve your space online now!
    :: 215-629-1995