The Pulse of Our Congregation February 2012

In this Issue

Looking Ahead!

Leyv Ha-Ir Rosh Hodesh Celebration

LHI Calendar February 2012

Rabbi's Message

LHI Winter Shabbaton

POWER Center City Cluster

More POWER Opportunities to Make a Difference

February Yahrzeits

Quote of the Month

Brighten Your Days with Light Bulbs from Leyv Ha-Ir

Rabbi Julie's Yom Kippur 5772 Sermon


Looking Ahead!


Rabbi Julie Greenberg Lectures
March 1 and March 8 - THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND BIRTH OF MODERN JUDAISM (See article in newsletter)


READING THE BOOK OF RUTH, March 22 and March 28 - More information on Rabbi's lectures will appear in the March eNewsletter.


LIMMUD Philly - April 27-29

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 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

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

We are so grateful to our lively community for offering so many opportunities to share spiritual and other important times together and enrich our lives. Just in the last couple of weeks, our small but incredibly energetic congregation has delighted us with a very special Martin Luther King service with great songs from our beloved choir and an exciting Shabbaton in Fairmount Park where we learned about the Ethiopian Jewish community (and food!) and had a lot of fun. Join us in February and enjoy the combined Kabbalat Shabbat-Tu B'Shevat service or our Shabbat morning minyan or a Shabbat home dinner at the home of one of our members. And don't forget to mark your calendar for a great series of classes in March, taught by Rabbi Julie, and put together by our super active Education Committee. Does Leyv Ha-Ir not rock?

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

  • Leyv Ha-Ir Rosh Hodesh Celebration
  • Leyv Ha-Ir Rosh Hodesh Celebration

    Ten members, two daughters, attended our annual year-end Rosh Hodesh. Gifts were exchanged, delicious food served and a good time was had by all!

  • LHI Calendar February 2012
  • Saturday, February 4, 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.


    Friday, February 10, 2012, 7:30 PM
    Kaballat Shabbat service celebrating Tu B'shevat
    Rabbi Julie invites you to join us for an inspiring celebration of Tu B'shevat, the Jewish birthday of the trees. Our Shabbat service will feature bounty from the earth. Please bring interesting fruit, nuts, or chocolate to share! Yum!! Rabbi Julie and the LHI choir will lead us in Friday night prayers. We'll be at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.


    Monday, February 13, 2012, 7PM - 9PM
    Council Meeting
    All members are invited to join us at us at Joan Goldberg's home. Please call us at 215-629-1995 if you need the location.


    Friday, February 24, 2012, 6:30PM
    Home Shabbat dinner/service
    At Donna and Jay Butler's on Rittenhouse Square. Contact the Butlers at 484-410-9060 or for their address and to tell them what you will bring, or call us at 215-629-1995 for more information.


    Thursday, March 1 and March 8, 2012

    Rabbi Julie Greenberg's Lecture Series: The Enlightenment and Birth of Modern Judaism

    To understand the intractable issues of the day, Jewish tradition teaches us to study our roots; the historical process of the Enlightenment and how it shaped Jewish discourse for succeeding centuries. At the March 8th lecture, Milton Viorst will join us, a most outstanding guest who has written on this subject, and much more, for half a century.

    Cost for EACH session: $10/member, $15 non-members.
    Place: 1901 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
    Kennedy House Community Room, 30th Floor
    Indoor paid parking available.
    RSVP with name & phone number to 215-629-1995 or email at


    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,

    Recently at a Council meeting, your congregational leaders studied our budget with satisfaction. What do we have to be so proud of?

    We have pioneered a model of synagogue financing that has three pillars:

    First Pillar: We open our doors to everyone and invite people to give from the heart whatever they are moved to give. Hundreds of people pour through our welcoming doors every year, especially during the High Holy Days, and give generously such that these gifts become a substantial part of our funding for the year. These people are an important part of the community we serve.

    Second Pillar: We accept membership dues, on a sliding scale, for people who choose to engage more and want a more personal relationship with the rabbi. People in this group make the synagogue happen by participating in decision-making, organizing, caring and attending and through these interactions they build deep, close relationships within the Jewish community. These people are the core of this community.

    Third Pillar: We encourage individuals from both the above groups to rise up as Angels, because they have the resources and the consciousness, to make large financial gifts to support the congregation. We live lightly on the land, without our own building, and without hefty pension funds for employees so donations of $5,000 - $10,000 are significant in our setting. These people ensure the stability and continuity of this community.

    On February 16, the Jewish Learning Venture is inviting rabbis from the entire region to come to a breakfast seminar to study new models of financing congregations. The old ways don't work because they demand the same thing of everyone when in fact people have very different desires and needs in relationship to Judaism. They also don't work because having to "buy your religion" hurts the feelings of some people, especially people who have not yet been deeply nourished by the spiritual riches of Judaism.

    When I received the invitation to take part in this seminar, I felt a wave of pride for the thoughtful work we have done at Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City. Yes, we have more to do. We need to grow the Angel component of our funding. We need to continue to welcome people into the heart of creativity within the congregation. I'd be glad to meet with anyone interested in exploring either of these two pathways. Also our Council meetings, the second Monday of every month, are open to all. I hope to see you soon.

    Love and Blessings,

    Rabbi Julie

  • LHI Winter Shabbaton
  • Shabbaton 2012

    Rabbi Julie and our guest speaker with Shabbaton member who facilitated the afternoon

    Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir's Winter Shabbaton was held January 28, 2012 at Chamounix Mansion in Fairmount Park. This special meeting included a morning Shabbat service, led by Rabbi Julie, followed by an authentic Ethiopian lunch, followed by our speaker, the Director of Beta Israel of North America (BINA) who discussed Ethiopian-Jewish cultural heritage, its traditions and history.

  • POWER Center City Cluster
  • By John O. Mason

    Members of Leyv Ha-Ir took part in a meeting of the Center City Cluster of POWER, held at St. Paul Baptist Church, 10th and Wallace streets, on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

    A POWER representative began the program by urging people to break up into pairs to discuss their occupations, and what they visualize as an ideal job situation.

    Another spoke of his group's meeting with officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and of the Department of Labor to discuss the expansion project for the Philadelphia International Airport, where POWER hopes to employ Philadelphia residents. The group asked the officials what conditions would be attached to the project. The expansion project would create 44,000 construction jobs and there would be 3,000 permanent jobs at the airport when it is completed. POWER plans to invite US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to meet with its activists.

    The pastor of Arch Street United Methodist Church spoke of his group's meeting with Mayor Michael Nutter and city airport and transportation officials. There has been an ongoing dialogue between POWER and city officials, and POWER has urged officials to model the experience of Los Angeles, when community and faith groups in LA got involved in the expansion of that city's airport LAX. Wes Lathrop, spokesperson of POWER, indicated how impressed the mayor was with POWER's influence with the Labor Department officials in Washington.

    The next POWER meeting will take place February 28th, 6:30 PM, at the Old First Reformed United Church of Christ, located at 4th & Race Streets. For further information, contact Susan Thompson or Beverly Hayden.

  • More POWER Opportunities to Make a Difference
  • Rabbi Julie Greenberg invites you to join the Tikkun Olam/Repair of the World committee to make a difference in our city.

    POWER opportunities:

    ***Philly Center City Regional Gathering
    Tues. Feb. 28, 6:30 - 8:30
    Old First United Church of Christ, 4th and Race Streets
    (please contact Rabbi if you need a ride)

    ***Community Leadership Training
    Sunday, March 18, 3:00 - 5:00
    Rodeph Shalom, 615 North Broad St.
    (please let Rabbi know if you are interested)

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

    Joan Rumberg

  • Quote of the Month
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

    - Martin Luther King Jr.

  • 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 215-629-1995.

  • Rabbi Julie's Yom Kippur 5772 Sermon
  • Returning to the Throne

    by Rabbi Julie Greenberg

    These High Holy Days we've been following a thread of learning from the prophet Ezekial who lived around the time of the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem. He was aware of the menacing political alignments of the super powers of his day and he was terrified that his beloved Jerusalem would be caught in the cross fire of attack. His prophecy was exceedingly unpopular until it came to pass that what he predicted actually did take place: the reigning power of Assyria succumbed to Babylonia which left little Judea bereft of its protector.

    There are times when our world also feels as though it is on the verge of great calamity or even destruction. Predictions of global warming, ice caps melting, polar bears with no ice platforms for feeding and breeding. Reports of huge famines and migrations. Nuclear melt down, swaths of land deemed uninhabitable. Precarious economies, an invisible hand that seems increasingly baffling and unfair, that generates huge disparities between haves and have-nots and leaves all of us insecure. The realization that everything precious to us is fragile.

    We tend not to like our contemporary prophets any more than the ancient Judeans liked Ezekial. Isn't it easy to tune-out and turn-off the news about one more crisis? Or to let the latest crisis, as long as it's somewhere else, merely brush our brains as passing entertainment? The media helps keep the crisis of the day fleeting and superficial whether it's a tsunami or a sex scandal.

    If you're like me, the upshot of all this trauma is a vague sense of dis-ease coupled with some hopelessness and helplessness. I don't like all the bad news but it's really hard to figure out what to do about it. The barrage of bad news leaves some people so unsettled that some choose the strategy of simply not paying any attention to what's happening in the world and don't even feel prepared or willing to vote.

    In his day, Ezekial railed about big issues that were equally troubling to him. But he also offered powerful visions that served as beacons for our ancestors and potentially for us. I'd like to raise up some of Ezekial's images as resources to us in our own unsettling times.

    We spoke already about the fiery chariot, pulled by angels, telling us we are not alone in figuring out this journey of life.

    Today let's add in Ezekial's vision of the throne. On these holy days our liturgy has many images of Kingship and of the throne. The very opening lines of prayer for the Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services are HaMelech, the King. This image is asking us at this season to pay attention to what we en-throne in ourselves and in our society. What is central? What is elevated? What gets the choice feeding and the prime spotlight? And when we stray from the throne, how do we get back there?

    In Ezekial 1:14 the prophet imagines the throne surrounded by angels, running around hectically. "The living creatures ran and returned like a flash of lightening." You get the picture of these angels, surrounding the throne but darting to and fro. The Ba'al Shem Tov explained this image by saying, we can't live every moment of our lives in a fully spiritual state, there's also the material world. The angels dashing around, running and returning, means they include both poles of life, the spiritual at the throne and the material, out in the world, or as they thought about it down in a lower world.

    Then Shneur Zalman, a later disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov, said Actually, both the running and the returning are in the realm of the throne, all holy. There are times we get distanced from our core. The angels of confusion, distress, anxiety, depression are running around our insides, distracting us from the inner throne, yet we are within reach of the throne, just like the angels. We can re-enthrone the calm, clear place of royalty within. Running and returning, ratz v'shov. Running and returning, ratz v'shov.

    Our society also enthrones certain values which we get to help choose. Are we a society that values decent education for all, not just for a privileged elite? Do we believe that health care for all, not just for the ones who can afford it, is important? Do we think it is right to have to choose between investing in teachers or lunch for school children? Whatever we collectively enthrone is what our society will look like. Are we making good choices about what society looks like or is a change called for in the New Year?

    Even more than the specific images that Ezekial gives us, he's giving us a path forward. He's recognizing the wildness and beauty of the unconscious, the mystery, the dream, the big picture as a way to return to the throne. He's recognizing the need to learn about new possibilities. In day-to-day survival let's not forget what makes us human, what makes us identify with humanity.

    We live in a society in which we are encouraged to consume, consume, consume: things, food, culture, commercial entertainment, rather than to look within ourselves and amongst our community for satisfaction. Our Jewish tradition, as always a counter-cultural resource, values dreams and visions, our own inner production and sharing of possibility. Judaism invites us to imagine how we'd like things to be, what kind of a world we believe in.

    We have personal dreams and longings that are guides to our own individual whole-ness. The Talmud says "An unexamined dream is like an un-opened letter." Just as Ezekial's images don't necessary make immediate sense, our own dream images and yearnings might need pondering and reflection. Do we set aside time to pay attention to these dreams, to educate ourselves about what is possible for ourselves and the world?

    Along with Ezekial, our ancester Joseph is a model of someone who took his visions seriously. Remember Joseph the dreamer who was mistreated by his brothers? In his dreams he pictured his eleven jealous brothers as sheaves of wheat bowing down to him, the biggest sheaf of all? He pictured his hostile brothers as stars circling him, the center of their attention. These dreams charted a path out of misery and brutality for him. They guided him toward his own greatness.

    Later in Egypt, Joseph rose to high places on the strength of his dream interpretation. He imagined abundant years and lean years and encouraged Pharoah to build warehouses, the first social security system, so that no one would go hungry in times of famine.

    We too have resources beyond the ones that already exist in front of our faces. We have an inner world that is free, that is there to enrich, and strengthen and make whole. We have access in the outer world to new ideas, policy proposals, justice organizations. What do you imagine for our planet? It is a challenge to develop and own our visions, to see a bigger picture than what already exists. This year will you take the magical mystery tour on your own chariot? Will you harness the power of your imagination, your dreams, for your own life and for our world?

    Years ago I was talking with a friend who was divorcing her partner. These two women had been pioneers in establishing custody law for same sex couples in California and now they were in a bitter separation, about to establish divorce law for same sex couples. The couple had consulted all sorts of legal and psychological experts in their fight and now my friend was in despair, bitterly complaining to me about her ex. I asked her, "What are you hoping for?"

    She stopped stock still and looked at me. "No one has asked me that, " she said. "That's a good question."

    Many years later these two ex-partners are devoted parents who support each other in raising their fabulous children.

    She might have answered, "I don't know what I'm hoping for." That's part of the process too, the not-knowing. In this congregation each year we read a book together in our One Book, One Congregation program. This year we read a book by Rabbi Naomi Levy called Hope Will Find You. If you don't even know what you're hoping for, hang in there, because hope will find you. (By the way, we'll be gathering on Dec. 4 for a bagel brunch and discussion of Hope Will Find You and you are all invited.)

    When we grow our visionary selves, we grow into more hope and more commitment to ourselves and to the world. We have the resources within and without to grow this world into a place of loving kindness, justice and peace, qualities that were embodied as angels in our Rosh HaShana text study. Our capacity to be compassionate and interconnected is vaster than we might realize during the ordinary waking day. We are so much bigger than our fears and our current assumptions.

    The new group POWER, in Philadelphia, is responding to the prophetic call for justice, by organizing congregations to support policy that will make people's lives better in this city. POWER - Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, Re-build, will hold regional meetings, moving toward a specific platform. This congregation will be participating on Oct. 17 at Mother Beth El Church at 6th and Lombard. Watch our website for more info. We need people who want to attend, who are able to give rides, and who are able to make financial pledges to support our pledge to POWER. I invite each and every one of you to join me as part of this exciting social justice mission for the New Year.

    May the prophet Ezekial and the dreamer/organizer Joseph inspire us to embrace our own visions in this New Year. May the chariot of our souls take us to unknown destinations. May we enthrone what is truly of value. Let each one of us be sealed into the Book of Life. Shana Tovah.

    :: 215-629-1995