The Pulse of Our Congregation January 2012

In this Issue

Looking Ahead!

What's New? Our New Listserv!

LHI Calendar January 2012

Rabbi's Message

One Book, One Community, Two Birthdays!

LHI Winter Shabbaton - Mark Your Calendar Now!

Chanukkah Delights!

POWER Center City Cluster

January Yahrzeits

Quote of the Month

Brighten Your Days with Light Bulbs from Leyv Ha-Ir

Rabbi Julie's Kol Nidre 5772 Sermon


Looking Ahead!


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 September, 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 to subscribe to our listserv. The listserv is a way to share ideas, requests and events of interest to our community in virtual real time. These messages will also inform you of late additions or changes to our event calendar.

To join the listserv, send your first and last name and e-mail address to Bobbi Cohen 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

Newsletter Design and eMail Marketing:

Ilene Hass
Creative Solutions
for Business Marketing

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

As we write this, Hanukkah is about to begin. How lovely it is to have our Festival of Lights at the time of year that has the most darkness for us in this part of the world. It's a great boost to our spirits to have all of those candles flickering for 8 days.

Since Hanukkah will be over by the time you receive this newsletter, we hope you had a joyous holiday. We also invite you continue to both give and receive light throughout the winter season. Lighting candles to welcome Shabbat is a great way to do this. Doing mitzvot (good deeds) is another.

Let's help ourselves and each other bring light into our lives, our community and the world during this winter season.

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

  • What's New? Our New Listserv!
  • For years we have been using a listserv as an important means of communicating both official synagogue notices and personal messages of interest to our community. These emails would come from Shamash is no longer offering this service.

    We have moved to a new listserv provider, NPOGroups. All subscribers to the old listserv and all members were successfully subscribed to the new listserv. Here's what this means to you:

    a. In order to avoid listserv messages going to your junk mail folder, please add this address to your email address list:

    b. To send a listserv message, please use this address in the "To" field: Notice that there are no hyphens in the new address. Only subscribers can send a message.

    c. If you hit "Reply" to a listserv message you received, your reply will go back to the entire list. If you want to reply only to the sender of the message (or to someone else), you need to FORWARD the message directly to that person. NPOGroups offers some nice features which will be new for us, including:

    d. Attachments - you can attach a file (document, photo, etc.) to your outgoing listserv message and all subscribers should receive it.

    e. Messages will be sent individually in (almost) real time, rather than accumulating during the day and sending them all at once after midnight. This will get messages to you more quickly, and allow us to send and receive urgent messages in real time.

    Please start using this new listserv immediately. If you'd like to subscribe to this service or have any questions please contact Bobbi Cohen at 215.514.7329 or Thanks to all for a smooth transition.

  • LHI Calendar January 2012
  • Saturday, January 7, 2012, 10:00 AM
    Shabbat Morning Minyan Join us at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, for a lay-led service, Torah discussion, and veggie potluck lunch.


    Monday, January 9, 2012, 7PM - 9PM
    Council Meeting
    All members are invited to join us at us at Evy Simon's home. Please call us at 215-629-1995 if you need the location.


    Friday, January 13, 2012, 7:30 PM
    Kaballat Shabbat service
    Rabbi Julie and the LHI choir will lead us in Friday night prayers. We will honor the memories of Dr. Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel who marched with Dr. King. We'll be at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.


    Friday, January 20, 2012, 6:30PM
    Home Shabbat dinner/service
    At Beverly Hayden's on JFK Blvd. Contact Bev at 215-557-3777 or for her address and to tell her what you will bring, or call us at 215-629-1995 for more information.


    Saturday, January 28, 2012, 10:00AM
    We always have a good time at Chamounix Mansion in Fairmount Park. Rabbi Julie will be leading the service and more. Registrations with payment of $50 are due by January 15. Call 215-629-1995 for more 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
  • Dear Chevre,

    Our community is well-represented in our work with POWER: Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Re-build, our major social justice initiative as a congregation. POWER is building its strength deeply and consciously by organizing each congregation, undertaking a democratic decision-making process about goals and strategies and including many people in shared ownership of the agenda. To some people this looks too slow or too vague.

    I encourage our community to have faith, to engage, and to let this very new organization grow and build, with our support. We need to check our own anxiety and urgency as we participate in this city-wide process. It isn't going to have instant results but it is, we hope, going to be strong, powerful and around for the long haul. (See accompanying article by John Mason.)

    Many blessings to each one of you in this New Year. I hope to see you on Friday, January 13 for a rousing service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work.

    Love and Blessings,

    Rabbi Julie

  • One Book, One Community, Two Birthdays!
  • Our annual "One Book, One Community" was held December 4th. Two LHI members were celebrating their mutual birthdays, seen here cutting the delicious birthday cheesecake they provided, candles and all.

  • LHI Winter Shabbaton - Mark Your Calendar Now!
  • Limmud Philly

    Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir's Winter Shabbaton will be held JANUARY 28, 2012 at Chamounix Mansion in Fairmount Park. This special meeting will include the Director of Beta Israel of North America (BINA) who will discuss Ethiopian-Jewish cultural heritage and promoting understanding of its traditions and history.

    Featuring: a morning Shabbat service, led by Rabbi Julie, followed by an authentic Ethiopian lunch, followed by our speaker.

    The cost of this wonderful day is $50, if received before January 15th. Mail to our PO Box 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103. For more information, call 215-629-1995 or write


  • Chanukkah Delights!
  • Lighting the Chanukia at our Shabbat Service. New members were welcomed and latkes were served.

  • POWER Center City Cluster
  • By John O. Mason Our congregation continues to grow with POWER. Each of the forty or so congregations that are part of POWER are creating a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) to spearhead each community's participation in POWER. Together these building blocks of POWER now represent over 30,000 Philadelphians, working towards a better city.

    Beverly Hayden, and Susan Thompson took part in a meeting of the Center City cluster of POWER, held at Congregation Rodeph Shalom on Sunday, December 11, 2011.

    The meeting focused on each congregation in POWER organizing its own Local Organizing Committee (LOC), which would concentrate on neighborhood issues, specific concerns identified by the congregation, etc. and "federated" goals- the creation of 10,000 jobs for residents of Philly via the airport expansion project ( a primary mission of POWER). The LOC will maintain contact with the congregation for their feedback.

    The City would sign a Community Benefit Agreement, a form of contract, with community groups for that purpose. The member congregations of POWER, said Lathrop, would educate their congregants about this issue. POWER would follow the model of efforts by community groups in Los Angeles to affect the construction of Los Angeles International Airport

  • January Yahrzeits
  • May These Souls be Bound in the Book of Eternal Life

    Joan Apple
    Joan Rumberg

  • Quote of the Month
  • The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.

    - Albert Einstein

  • Brighten Your Days with Light Bulbs from Leyv Ha-Ir
  • Light Bulbs for sale

    Leyv Ha-Ir has a supply of high-efficiency light bulbs for sale, $5 each bulb. Please let us know your needs and we are happy to fill your orders. Call 215-569-1995.

  • Rabbi Julie's Kol Nidre 5772 Sermon
  • Rites for Life

    by Rabbi Julie Greenberg

    Here we are once again at this holy doorway into the New Year. One year is ending, a new year is beginning. Our sacred rites mark this transition year after year. I think one reason it is so important to Jews and fellow travelers around the world to participate in these holy rites is that they let us rehearse something that is a huge challenge for human beings. The challenge is change, transition, ending and beginning.

    As human beings we can be constantly buffeted by having to cope with endings and beginnings, beginnings and endings. Some of these transitions we willingly choose-going off to college or starting a family or taking an exciting new job. Some transitions we agonize over-is this the right relationship for me or not? Should I put my mother in a nursing home? And some transitions many of us do not choose---illness, the infirmity of age, death of loved ones, and our own deaths.

    Whether we choose it or not, life is about navigating change. We can bump up against that reality by living with fear, frustration, rage, resistence. Or we can find the wisdom to both go with the flow and steer our life force at the same time. Reb Zalman says, The river will take us wherever its current is going; but we get to steer the canoe.

    Religions structure and support our human ability to withstand this impermanence, to survive change, to embrace change, to make change. Jewish ritual is especially potent at this time of year as we take leave of an old year and usher in a New Year. By partaking in these rituals we strengthen ourselves to deal with inevitable, endless change in our lives. We counter-balance endless change by re-connecting with what is eternal.

    Do you ever feel sort of fragmented, like a part of you is moving at a faster speed than some other part? Maybe you feel like a thirty year-old in a sixty- year old body? Or maybe you are extremely effective in your work and yet young and baffled in relationships? These holy days make a sacred space for you to catch up with yourself, to integrate, to bring all the parts together into a whole as you stand in that liminal time between old and new, then and now, younger self and current self, old ideas, new ideas. There's no pressure to get it perfect in the next hour because this gateway into the New Year is a marker, a reference point, and the holy days will recur again and again and you are always welcome back.

    Your soul is doing that work even if you don't know it. This is deeper than your mind. Your mind might be saying, I don't know if I belong here, I don't know what I believe, I don't know how to do this. Not to negate the mind, which has a crucial role in critical inquiry-we are not fundamentalists here-but I am saying these holy days take you deeper than mind. Set your critical doubting voice aside here because this tradition speaks to a deeper soul place.

    When I was ready to have my first baby, I thought, ok I have to figure out how to get pregnant. I read about fertility and conception and I had some anxieties about how this would all work. How do you make a baby? Then I realized, no this is a deeper, biological, human process-human beings have been getting pregnant for millions of years and I don't have to analyze it. Or said another way, it doesn't really matter whether I analyze it or not because under the right biological circumstances I'm either going to get pregnant or I'm not and my mind has very little to do with it.

    That's the level of profundity in these holy days. It's a time for soul work, with or without your conscious mind participating. New Age theology sometimes gives too much credence to mind over matter, mind over soul and it almost comes out as a blaming of the sufferer: you weren't positive enough, you didn't have good enough energy. Some things are deeper mysteries than that and that's where we delve today.

    Delving into the wisdom of these holy days we find:

    These Days of Awe teach us that every ending is also a new initiation. As the old year ends the new year begins. In our bodies themselves, the outflow of breath and the intake of a new breath, mirror this rhythm of reality. Our very own bodies are part of the rhythm of the universe. The tide flows in and the tide flows out. Close and open, in and out, end and begin. Begin and end.

    These Days of Awe teach us that the stuff of the past, good and bad, is the fuel for the future. In my kitchen I take scraps of leftover vegetable matter, eggshells, coffee and dump them into a compost pile in my backyard. Miraculously a few months later my garbage has become rich new soil. Just as kitchen scraps become deep, fertile earth for new life, all of what we learn and who we've become, including the mistakes we've made, flows into the next cycle of life. Our ancestors Abraham and Sarah acted with audacity in their day and here we are today, inheritors and creators of this on-going legacy with its beauty and with its challenges. What future will our choices create for tomorrow? How can we make our garbage today into tomorrow's compost?

    These Days of Awe invite us to soul search, to ask who am I? am I on the path I want to be on? What options do I want to explore? What questions do I want to ask? Where do I want to make teshuva, to align with my vision of my life? How does me being on this earth serve the ideals of Godliness: a fount of kindness, forgivingness, patience, justice?

    These Days of Awe encourage us to have an intention, a direction for ourselves for the future. Anchored in our own past, we get to use consciousness, will, and creativity, in making choices for the future. We don't get to choose what the reality is but we do get to choose how we will interact with reality. There will still be difficult news, loss, hard economic times, but these holy days ask us to hone our own personal intention, whatever our circumstances. What is your commitment? What is the next step for you in line with that commitment?

    These Days of Awe also give us a place for not knowing, for re-grounding, and that is the place of prayer, tefila. Your place of prayer might be meditation, it might be a long walk in the woods, it might be cleaning out the linen closet or writing in a journal. Jewish community also offers on-going holy space for centering and clarifying your truth. The rhythm of life encompasses sometimes knowing and acting with direction, sometimes submitting to the mystery of not-knowing, letting it be, waiting to see what unfolds.

    So wherever you are in that rhythm, you can look at yourself gently, with compassion, and say Oh, here I am. You can say to yourself with assurance these interpretive lines, You are where you are meant to be right now-Zot ha yom asah Adonai AND This too shall pass-Gam zeh ya'avor. I think it is worthwhile on this High Holy Day that is a rehearsal for life, to practice the lines of this holy paradox. In a way that is what the entire prayer service is about.

    We've been tracing the theme of the prophet Ezekial during these High Holy Days and we'll be picking up on that again tomorrow. Ezekial has a phrase "breathing from the four winds." This evening could we join Ezekial in "breathing from the four winds." What are the four winds in your life that nourish you and allow you to fill up and spill over with goodness for others? What are your top four priorities in life? Will you re-orient to them for this New Year?

    In Hassidic Judaism the four worlds that we operate within at all times are: the world of action, the world of relationship, the world of ideas, and the world of being, spirit. Do you have a wind that can nourish you in each of those four worlds? Your body and the work of your hands, your heart and the relationships you are in, your mind and all that you learn and teach, your soul, your being-ness? If not, are you ready to make a change in this New Year?

    Being here together in this grand pageant, a pageant of releasing the year that has passed and welcoming the one that is arriving, is an enactment , a holy ritual. This ritual enactment will bolster each of us for the inevitable passages we all face in life. We are literally practicing Judaism, practicing the skills that are needed to sustain our selves and the human species through change.

    Riding Ezekial's chariot together, filled by the four winds, tomorrow we are ready to face the throne that Ezekial pictured. Please join the pageant as we write ourselves into the Book of Life. G'mar chatimah tovah, may you be well-sealed into that book for the New Year.

    :: 215-629-1995