The Pulse of Our Congregation November 2011

In this Issue

Looking Ahead!

Leyv Ha-Ir Sukkot Celebration

LHI Calendar November 2011

Rabbi's Message

POWER cluster meeting for Center City

LHI Welcomes Our New Members

Leyv Ha-Ir Email Etiquette

Instructions for Posting an Event on the Leyv Ha-Ir ListServ

Chesed Committee

Quote of the Month

October Yahrzeits

Dancing with our Torahs

Rabbi Julie's Erev Rosh Hashana 5772 Sermon

Eulogy for Elizabeth Jean Blachman Jacobs


Looking Ahead!


Sunday, December 4, 11 AM, One Book, One Congregation Rabbi Julie will be leading a discussion about two of Rabbi Naomi Levy's books, "To Begin Again" and "Hope Will Find You". Held at Penn Center House, 1900 JFK Blvd., 2nd floor. Cost for a delicious brunch is $10 members; $15 non-members. Call 215-629-1995 or write to reserve or with questions about the event.

Friday, December 23, 7:30 PM Chanukah Celebration, held at the Ethical Society. Bring Chanukia, Food and Wine

You can get all of the latest information about upcoming Leyv Ha-Ir services and other events on our web based calendar. 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.

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

Now that the High Holidays, Sukkot and Simchat Torah are over, we've started to settle into our "regular" routine. Rabbi Julie's always interesting education classes are in full gear, and there's still time to join us for these Thursday evening gems. Full information is on our website.

It was wonderful to see so many of you at our services for the holidays. It brings us great pleasure to see you year after year, and to provide this opportunity to our community. Here are a few of the many lovely comments we received from people who attended our services:

* "I appreciate being able to attend High Holiday Services."

* "My daughter, who lives in New York, and I met up at your Rosh Hashana service. Thank you for giving us a place to go for a meaningful Jewish experience."

* "Services were wonderful - joyous. Thanks for the "hospitality" as always."

* "My son and I had an opportunity to worship with you on Yom Kippur, while we were visiting family in the Philadelphia area. Thank you for welcoming us."

* "Thank you for continuing to provide an "open" service during the High Holy days."

While we love getting these comments, we'd also like to see more of you more frequently. Try us, you might like us!

Enjoy the autumn weather and colors.

Kol tuv,

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

  • Leyv Ha-Ir Sukkot Celebration
  • Annual Meeting Photos

    Fifteen members, family and friends gathered in a member's backyard for a Sukkot celebration. Rabbi Julie led us in song, prayers and wonderful tales to celebrate the occasion.

  • LHI Calendar November 2011
  • Thursday, November 3, 2011, 7PM - 9PM
    Jewish Teachings on Sex and Sexuality
    Join us to delve into the topic of sex and sexuality in Jewish tradition. Using sources from the bible, the Talmud and the Jewish Sages, Rabbi Julie will offer a variety of Jewish perspectives on this enticing topic. We'll be in the Community Room at Parc Rittenhouse, 225 S. 18th Street. The cost to attend this session is $10 members; $15 non-members. A dessert reception will follow. Please register in advance at or our voicemail at 215-629-1995.


    Friday, November 4, 2011, 7:30 PM
    Kabbalat Shabbat Service , A very special Kabbalat Shabbat Service, co-sponsored with Interfaithways Family Support System: a representative from Philadelphia POWER, will discuss how, as a community, we can change the needs and priorities of Philadelphians. We'll be at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.


    Thursday, November 10, 2011, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    Zohar: Mystical Jewish Stories , We will open some delightfully deep tales from the Zohar and see how the Kabbalistic process differs from other traditional forms of Judaism. Texts will be in Hebrew and English and the class will be taught on multiple levels for beginners and the more experienced. We'll be at the Parc Rittenhouse, 225 S. 18th St., Community Room The cost to attend is $10 members; $15 non-members. A dessert reception to follow. Please register in advance at or our voicemail at 215-629-1995.


    Saturday, November 12, 2011, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Service Join us at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, for a lay-led servise, Torah discussion, and veggie potluck lunch.


    Sunday, November 13, 2011, 11:00 AM
    Bagels & Books
    Iris Newman's apartment, 1919 Chestnut St., Apt. 2507.

    Joan Rivers-Gene Wilder-Beverly Sills-Barry Levinson-Fran Drescher-These five, plus 50 other famous plus people, were interviewed by journalist Abigail Progrebin in "Star of David-Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish". Join us as five of our Leyv Ha-Ir/Bagel & Books members take on the roles of these five celebrities and we discuss further their fascinating Jewish identities.

    The cost to attend, including a delicious brunch, is $10 members; $15 non-members. Please register in advance at 215-629-1995 or


    Monday, November 14, 2011, 7PM - 9PM
    Council Meeting
    All members are invited to join us at us at a congregants home.


    Thursday, November 17, 2011, 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    Zohar: Mystical Jewish Stories , We will open some delightfully deep tales from the Zohar and see how the Kabbalistic process differs from other traditional forms of Judaism. Texts will be in Hebrew and English and the class will be taught on multiple levels for beginners and the more experienced. We'll be at the Parc Rittenhouse, 225 S. 18th St., Community Room The cost to attend is $10 members; $15 non-members. A dessert reception to follow. Please register in advance at or our voicemail at 215-629-1995.


    Friday, November 18, 2011, 6:30 PM
    Shabbat home dinner/service
    Join us for a 45-minute ay-led service and a veggie potluck supper. we'll be at Jay & Donna Butlers' on Rittenhouse Square. Contact them at 484-410-9060 or for directions and to tell them what you will be bringing.


    Monday, November 21, 6:30-8:30 PM POWER Center City Coalition Meeting St. Paul's Baptist Church, 1000 Wallace St., Phila 19121. Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir has signed on to make our Philadelphia community operation viable. 2,500 people from our community met on Sept. 25th to agree to help and support its purpose of putting 10,000 Philadelphians to work in the next year. Join us in this effort. Questions answered by Beverly Hayden, or 215-557-3777


    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
  • Dear Chevre,

    Our community is participating with great excitement in a new social justice project: POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Re-build.) We have heeded the call of one reverend who said, "Are we going to stand by while the walls of Jerusalem fall?" The mission of POWER is to work strategically together toward a city that works for all of us, that has housing, education, employment, health care and safety for all. POWER represents over 30,000 Philadelphians, organized through churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious and secular organizations.

    Each building-block group pays dues which allows POWER to hire a dynamic executive director and four experienced organizers. These leaders have conducted over one thousand one-to-one meetings with local stakeholders and citizens, in the first year of POWER's existence, to get a sense of the priorities and possibilities in our city.

    A strategic plan is slowly unfolding, crafted by people at regional gatherings, drawing on research and analysis that takes place in committees. Ten Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City-niks attended the most recent center city gathering with over a hundred other people from diverse neighborhoods, races and religions. here's a buzz of energy and goodwill as people share ideas and make plans. We are building relationships and coalitions based on a shared commitment to the prophetic vision that this city can be a good place for all. See our calendar for the next meeting; all are welcome to attend. We also need drivers and donations to fulfill our dues pledge.

    To learn more about POWER, please join us at our Nov. 4 Friday evening Shabbat service to hear a speaker from POWER talk about "Repairing the World Through Interfaith Action." We will also be welcoming our youngest congregant at a baby-naming that evening and we'll share in a celebratory oneg after the service.

    Love and Blessings,

    Rabbi Julie

  • POWER cluster meeting for Center City
  • Members of the Leyv Ha-Ir community joined in the meeting of the Center City cluster of POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Renew), held at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 6th and Lombard streets, on Monday, October 17, 2011.

    George Waters of Mother Bethel welcomed those in attendance, and led an opening prayer. Stirling Schwibert of Old First Reformed United Church of Christ led in evaluation of the founding convention of POWER, held on Sunday September 25th.

    Bishop Dwayne Royster, Pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ, spoke as the newly appointed Executive Director of POWER. POWER, he explained, is part of the PICO network of faith-based community organizations. Royster also spoke of the organizational structure of POWER: each congregation is to form a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) which will send delegates to the regional cluster for its part of the city-Center City, South/Southwest Philadelphia, Northeast, and Northwest.

    POWER, added Royster, is to concentrate on employment issues, specifically developing ten thousand jobs related to the Airport and the water and sewer system, as well as schools, health, and public safety. There is a 27 percent poverty rate in Philadelphia, and it is greater in communities of color; plus over half a million adults in the city are classed as "low-literate." Two hundred thousand people have a criminal record, and that would hinder their finding jobs; Forty percent of adults are out of the labor force.

    By John O. Mason

  • LHI Welcomes Our New Members
  • While our ever-popular membership list will be in your hands soon, we would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome our new members:

    Elisabeth Bass
    Stef Cooper
    Heidi George
    Susan & Paul Jaffe
    Kenna, Jonathan and Jeremy Weiss

    We hope to see these new members often. May they find their religious and spiritual home with us.

    While we're on the topic of membership, there's still time to join or rejoin us. You can find membership information and a form on our website. Thank you to all of our members who rejoined for this year!

  • Leyv Ha-Ir Email Etiquette
  • Here is some guidance from your Executive Committee on what to do if you want to send an email to all Leyv Ha-Ir members (e.g., in your role as a committee chair or other official function or activity):

    1. If it's non-urgent information you want to share, you can post it to our listserv and people will receive it after 12:00 midnight.

    2. If it's urgent (e.g., notice of a funeral) or needs an attachment ( which can't be sent through the listserv): Send your e-mail to Bobbi Cohen at and to Michael Meketon at and they will send it to all members from our email address list. This option ensures that your e-mail goes to an up-to-date distribution list. It also clearly identifies it as originating from Leyv Ha-Ir.

  • Instructions for Posting an Event on the Leyv Ha-Ir ListServ
  • In order to avoid duplication of events on the Leyv Ha-Ir listserv, the following process should be followed: I will be coordinating the messages and they should be sent to me before posting. The messages should contain the following - brief description of event, date, time, location, cost (if any), how to RSVP, and if there is a deadline.

    Thanks for your help,
    Beverly Hayden

  • Chesed Committee
  • We all pride ourselves on being independent but, there comes a time in our lives, when an illness or other crisis has us feeling scared because we may have to rely on others. The congregation's Chesed committee is a resource available to members at such a time. We are volunteers, providing information, aid, and connections to community support to those in need. Members of the committee include Pat Wisch, Elaine Erenhouse, Stephanie Cooper, Myrna Schlanger, and Susan Thompson.

    If you or someone you know would benefit, please call Pat Wisch (215-563-1894) or Rabbi Julie for further details. Please be aware that information remains confidential within the committee.

  • Quote of the Month
  • Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • October Yahrzeits
  • May This Soul be Bound in the Book of Eternal Life

    Bertha Blai

  • Dancing with our Torahs
  • October 20 marked the last day of the High Holy day cycle for this year. Minyan Tikvah, a vibrant group of modern orthodox young people celebrated Simchat Torah at the Ethical Society to which LHI members were invited. Michael, Evy and I joined. It was heart-warming to see good spirits (yes liquor too), hebrew knowledge, lots of singing, hakafot and yes...dancing with our own Torah's. Seven rounds. "So draw, in joy, the waters from the fount of Help" (Mayim, mayim). Seemed to me our Torah's were given great honors, and very happy.

    A last greeting to all of us for a Shana Tovah, a rejoicing and being illuminated all year long with Torah during Saturday morning minyan, home Kabbalat Shabbat, Services with Rabbi Julie and more!

    ~Roby Jacobs

  • Rabbi Julie's Erev Rosh Hashana 5772 Sermon
  • Can These Bones Live?

    Welcome to this New Year, this holy day, this moment. By being here you are prying open this amazing space of potential between the old year and the new year.

    This year for the Holy Days I'm going to touch on some of the prophetic writings of Ezekial, Yechezkal, one of our ancient prophets, to see if we can draw out some inspiring images over these Ten Days of Awe. Let's start by considering a contrast between what is happening right now in this room and what Ezekial was worried about back then.

    In this room I watched people stream through the doors, expectantly, all with stories to tell and dreams to fulfill. Some with heavy hearts, some with happiness, some with uncertainty.

    I see a room full of people taking time out from busy lives to be present for these holy days, finding the energy to rouse and mobilize even if you are weary, to set aside this time, on the eve of the New Year, to look back at the year that is finishing with willingness to examine who you were in this year and where you have been; to look forward to the New Year open to who you want to be and to what you wish for. I see people who have chosen to open a space in your life and inside your self for song, prayer and companionship that will strengthen you and direct you in this New Year.

    Take a moment to look around you at your fellow congregants. Look at each other with the most compassionate eyes, with God eyes. Each one of us has been through a lot. Not one of us is untouched by hardship or hurt. Look at this beloved community, here, now. You are beautiful. Let's take a moment of gratitude just for being alive and here.

    Now I want to contrast this picture, the picture of this moment, with Ezekial's worst fear.

    Thousands of years ago, at a very unsettled time in Jewish history, Ezekial was desperately worried about the survival of the Israelites. He was aware of both inner, moral rot and he was also aware of terrible external threat. He feared for the survival and well-being of his people. Through this sense of panic and fear, the image Ezekial generated in Ezekial chapter 37, an image expressed in a terrifying vision, was of a valley of bones. Can you picture that? A whole field of white, dry bones with no flesh or life.

    I will read you the text, "The hand of God was upon me, " said Ezekial, "and God carried me out in a spirit and set me down in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones. And God caused me to pass by them round about, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry."

    A question came to Ezekial, "Can these bones live?"

    In some way that is the question that we ask about ourselves each year and about our people. Can these bones live? Can I be alive, vibrant, happy, valued? Can the Jewish people thrive, contribute, flourish?

    When we looked around a minute ago, you know the most amazing thing? We all showed up. We are here. We're here together. Over the next ten days, we're going to show up in even greater forces; this is the small kernel-- our group will swell tomorrow and again on Erev Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur Day. We'll welcome more and more people who are showing up, each one of us drawn to welcome the New Year with these time-honored rituals.

    So imagine taking a photograph of Ezekial's vision and putting it right beside a photograph of this room this evening. What happened between the time of Ezekial's questioning despair and today? I think the answer is, we showed up. We have been through ups and the downs as a people and as individuals. Not one of us has sailed through life, our people has not sailed easily through history. As an African proverb says, "Sailors who have never encountered a storm, are not very good sailors." We've each had our personal storms, we've shared in the historical storms of the Jewish people.

    But we surely aren't a valley of dead bones. Ezekial's worst fear has not come to pass. The good news is, the Jews survived! We are still here, defying doomsday predictions about assimilation and annihilation. Each one of us has survived the journey to this point, showing up here, ready for the next step.

    Can these bones live?

    What does it mean to you to live in this New Year? What life are you opening to, hoping for, building? When you make this holy space to look at that question, who knows what might fill it in the coming year?

    What does it mean for the Jewish people to live in this New Year?

    I wonder if the response to both these questions might have to do with showing up, but showing up with a new mindset appropriate to where we are now historically.

    In the old days, Judaism existed as a small, tribal religion eking out a destiny in competition with paganism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. In this global world, we know that there is room for all of us and a mission for all of us. Jews and our fellow travelers need to show up on behalf of all human kind and on behalf of the planet. Judaism will thrive as we make our contribution to universal issues. I see us as being here for our Jewish selves and also for humanity and for the earth. We have moved beyond tribal. Survival alone isn't enough of a mission. For our bones to live, we need to be kind, we need to be ethical, we need to care for our mother earth, we need to be bold makers of peace and justice.

    The world needs the values that root us in our tradition. On Rosh HaShana we celebrate the holiness of creation - as Jews we need to address the issue of global warming, energy dependence, fracking. On Rosh HaShana we celebrate human beings made in God's image-as Jews the employment outlook for low-income Philadelphians matters to us, the dignity of the hungry and homeless matters to us.

    the air is our business, job training for our co-Philadelphians is our business as Jews. These bones wilI live, Ezekial, because the values of Judaism are needed in this world and we are here to live them. We want more than for our bones to survive. For our bones to thrive we need to offer the gifts of Jewish wisdom to the world. The world needs us.

    Ezekial went on to imagine God saying, "My people, I will put my spirit in you and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land." Since I am not a fundamentalist who reads this text literally, I do not think "oh that means God promised me a piece of land." I read it as there is promise for me and for us. What is the promise? What promise does this New Year hold? What is the land that beckons you?

    Ezekial goes on to quote God "...Fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit."

    On this Rosh HaShana evening we come together to renew our hearts, to renew our spirits. We are here as Jews, we are here as world citizens, fused in a commitment to spirit and to action.

    With excitement and anticipation, I salute this New Year, 5772, L'Chaim, To Life!

  • Eulogy for Elizabeth Jean Blachman Jacobs
  • Written and delivered by Laura Jacobs

    As my Mom always said, there is so much tzoris in life if you have a reason to celebrate, celebrate big. And here we are celebrating Betty's life.

    Mom lived her life through 4 chapters each with an insightful legacy of values. Her gift to us was these Values: the codes to live by, with each chapter of her life imprinting a value in our minds and hearts.

    Chapter 1 ---- Love of family

    Mom was born in Madison Wisconsin. The eldest of two Russian Immigrants, Ruben Blachman , a sweet man who fished every day of his life and Frieda Mintz a woman who cared deeply about beauty, both in things and home.

    She had a younger brother Bill whom she adored.

    Mom was the epitome of the Blachman Family Motto - Allah Shane and Klug All are pretty and smart.

    Even though she didn't see it, as a young girl she was the most beautiful of all of her cousins so said her cousin Sylvia in an email sent 2 days ago. Those cousins and relatives were her best friends.

    While in Madison, Mom enjoyed acting in Workman's circle plays, loved her immense family and was quite the dancer.

    After one year of college...

    Chapter 2 --- love, resilience, and doing the right thing

    In walks a 6 ft 3 gorgeous loving Rabbis' son in an Air Force Uniform who literally swept Mom off her feet. Their wedding was attended by 500 people - that was every Jewish person in Madison. Most of her bridesmaids were her cousins who were her best friends As I said, she loved a celebration and was the most breathtaking bride. 9 months and 3 weeks later, they started their family. 5 years later, when Terry was 5 and I almost 1 Dad Had a stroke which altered her life but not her courageous spirit. She was a woman before her time. She worked and took care of her family while keeping friendships fresh and enjoying her huge extended family. Never missing an opportunity to be at a wedding, bar mitzvah or a majong game. Mom was a role model for courage, persistency, resiliency and of course doing the right thing.

    She was a great example for living by a code and never faltered from those values. Times were tough and she was determined to make things work for her family so she and Dad moved to Charlotte NC to follow a business opportunity.

    But that wasn't the best that came from the move South. Mom and Dad had made best friends with our neighbors Abe and Charlotte Wasserman. Terry and their son Steven fell in love got married and grew Moms family by Adam, Eric, and Richard. So Mom didn't get riches from the wealth side, but as she always said, she was the richest woman alive because of her family. This was her compass and her joy.

    Chapter 3 Celebrate Big

    Mom and Dad moved to Fl when she retired from being an executive Secretary at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. They made a great life for themselves there with friends galore. When we lost Dad, Mom picked herself up dusted herself off and 2 years later met another jewel, Manny Gold. A wonderful loving man who gave her laughs every day for the rest of her life. As Manny said yesterday, it was an 18 year blessing - For them both and it was for us as well. In addition to Adam, Eric and Richard, Mom also had Seven Great Grand children, Justin, Andrew, Alec, Kate, Jack, Jake, and Zack. Each a jewel, to her better than diamonds, riches, or wealth.

    Chapter 4 Persistance and courage

    Mom knew her daughters would be able, and more than willing to take care of her when her illnesses became too much for even her to handle so in Betty style at 85 she sold everything she had and moved to be near her daughters This was one of the best gifts she could have given us. To witness her courage as well as spend quality time with her as an adult gave me especially that precious time get to know each other again and deeper as woman and people.

    The next chapter

    Those of you who met my Mom and know her spirit, She left us with the most important gifts any one can give. The gift of an example of a life SHE MADE WORK. Mom thank you from the bottom of our hearts for those gifts they have made your family proud and we hope we can make you proud by the way WE live. With Courage, Persistancy, resilience, doing the right thing and of course most importantly Celebrating big

    We All Love you and are here for you and promise to live with your code and values in our hearts and deeds. Shalom Mamelah.

    :: 215-629-1995