In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Adult Ed Class
POWER Updates
Thank You from Rabbi
Membership Committee Report
Intro to Judaism
House of Study
Rabbi's Erev Rosh HaShana Sermon
Listserv Reminders
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 
contribution form on our website, which contains the mailing address for your contribution, PO Box 15836, Philadelphia PA 19103. You can also

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Contact Leyv Ha-Ir
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October 2012
Dear Friends of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City,  


We hope you all had a wonderful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and that this will be the beginning of a happy and healthy year for you.  We'd like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who assisted in any way with our High Holiday services and break fast.  Fearful that we might forget someone if we name names, our gratitude goes out to the many, many people who planned, schlepped, set up, cleaned up, collated, sang, read, chanted, blew shofar, donated materials or services of any kind or helped in any way at all.  As you could see it truly takes a village for us to do what we do. And we can't forget to thank Rabbi Julie and Jessi for their incredible leadership of our services, which were full of joy, song and inspiration.


Our calendar is full of interesting holiday and Shabbat services as well as educational events this fall, so please take a look at the calendar and plan to be with us for something that appeals to you.


We also want to wish Rabbi Julie a great year as she takes her well deserved sabbatical, and look forward to having Jessi Roemer lead us in meaningful prayer through the coming months.


Best wishes,

Bobbi, Roby and Iris N.

Your Executive Committee

LHI Calendar October 2012

Saturday,  October 6, 10 AM, Shabbat Morning Service 

Join us at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, for a lay-led service and discussion of the Torah portion. Stay and schmooze at our veggie potluck lunch.  


Sunday,  October 711 AM - 2:30 PMSukkot Celebration Led by Cantor Jessi Roemer, We'll be celebrating Sukkot at the home of Sue Frank in the Fitler Square area. Contact or 215-629-1995 for directions.  

Monday, October 8
, 7:30  PM, Simchat Torah   We will be joining Minyan Tikvah as we celebrate the end and the beginning of the annual cycle of Torah readings, at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.

Friday, October 12, 6:30 PM, Friday night home dinner/service  Join us at Roby Jacob's  lovely Pine St. townhouse for a 45-minute lay-led service, followed by a veggie pot-luck dinner. Call 215-569-1995 for further information.


Thursday, October 18, 7:00 PM, Reconstructionism class led by Rabbi Erin Hirsch (see article), Community Room, Kennedy House, 1901 JFK Blvd.  


Tuesday, October 23, 5:30 PM, POWER - Library Launch Kickoff Event (see article), Rodeph Shalom 


Friday, October 26, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat Service 
Join us as we welcome the Sabbath. Cantor Jessi Roemer and the LHI choir will lead us in Friday night prayers. We'll be at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square. 


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.


Take a complete look at Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir upcoming activities. 

So What is Reconstructionist Judaism, Anyhow?


Have you ever found yourself tongue-tied trying to explain what is so special about the kind of Judaism we share at Leyv Ha-Ir? Did you wonder about the thinking behind the kinds of choices you saw at Leyv HaIr's high holiday services? Did you know that our communal values are deeply rooted in Reconstructionist Jewish thought?


If you've pondered these questions, we have a great program for you. Rabbi Erin Hirsh, a nationally-known educator and former Director of Education for the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement, will lead a class about the evolution and contemporary life of Reconstructionist Judaism. The class will be suitable for those who are looking for an introduction as well as for those who are interested in a refresher course.


Light refreshments will be served.  Admission is $10 per person for Leyv Ha-Ir members or guests. Guests should register for this event by emailing us at or calling us at 215.629.1995.


Thursday, October 18, 7:00 PM

Kennedy House Community Room

1901 JFK Blvd., 30th Floor



POWERJoin Leyv Ha-Ir, Rodeph Shalom, and Saint Paul's to celebrate the launch of ALLIES (A Lively Library in Every School)

Power Logo

POWER is a local faith-based community organizing group that includes about 35 congregations from across socio-economic, cultural, religious and neighborhood lines. We are the local Philadelphia chapter of a national organization called PICO. Through interfaith relationships we hope to make lasting, effective change in our community. Please click the link above for more information.


Rodeph Shalom, Leyv Ha-Ir and Saint Paul's are hosting an launch/introduction event about ALLIES (A Lively Library in Every School) project and partnership with Spring Garden Elementary School.


Date: October 23, 2012

Time: 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Honored Guest: Laureal Robinson, Principal Spring Garden Elementary
Location: Rodeph Shalom


Light refreshments



  • meet others who believe that a library is critical to student success in public schools
  • learn about the project and meet the Principal of our first partner school.
  • discover ways to participate in the variety of activities.
There is something for everyone.


Why is reading important?

A child's reading skills are important to their success in school and work. In addition, reading can be a fun and imaginative activity for children, which opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them. Reading and writing are important ways we use language to communicate.


For more information contact our co-chairs:

 Susan Thompson 

 Beverly Hayden 


P.S.  POWER MEETING - 9/27/12


There was a recent Leadership Assembly of all POWER Interfaith groups. Three specific campaigns were outlined as part of an overall civic engagement project.


The newest and most urgent action is called "Let My People Vote". It is a postcard campaign asking citizens/congregants to take a pledge to commit to vote. It is a non-partisan effort designed so that faith-based voices will be heard in the political arena. LHI will be asking members and friends to sign these postcards at upcoming October events.


The second strategy focuses on education. In an effort to improve Philadelphia schools, POWER will work with local schools to build a strong parent base. A unified parent voice has been missing from the education reform landscape. POWER will help research "best practices" that result in concrete improvements. The first meeting of the Education Strategy Team is Tuesday, 10/9 at 7 pm at St. Rose of Lima Church, 1535 N 59th St.


Finally, POWER continues to focus on securing good jobs for Philadelphians, particularly underserved populations. In addition to its main project involving the airport expansion, POWER is working with universities, SEPTA and the Youth Streets Department to create increased job opportunities for citizens in need of training and work.  

Thank you from Rabbi Julie
Rabbi Julie and Cantor Jesse

Dear Chevre,


Thank you to all of you whose presence and prayers and participation in so many ways launched us into this New Year. Thank you especially to Roby Jacobs who oversees the holy day preparations with such love and care and to all the many, many people who helped her create such holy space. Thank you to the Heart of the City choir and to Jessi Roemer for the musical gifts you bring to your community. Thank you to Sol Volk for his steadfast ritual participation and to all others who helped make these days our Holy Days.


Thank you also for the gorgeous flowers, chocolate and many blessings that I will carry into this sabbatical year. I'll be here in town, continuing my counseling and teaching but with a wide open space for learning, writing, doing social justice work, and renewing my prayer practice. (Also I am raising a puppy dog.)


A very good year to each one of you. 


Love and Blessings, 

Rabbi Julie

Membership Committee Report
Susan Thompson, Membership Committee Chairperson

It was exciting to see so many attendees at our High Holiday services. Numerous people told me how much they enjoyed the services. If you are new to Leyv Ha-Ir or if you are seeking additional events to participate in throughout the year, please consult our website to learn about future happenings.


October offers many opportunities to get to know more about LHI, through a variety of programs:

  • a celebration of Sukkot in a member's garden on Oct. 7 
  • a talk on "What is Reconstructionism?" on Oct. 18 
  • a home Shabbat on Oct. 12 
  • a Shabbat service led by our cantorial soloist, Jessi Roemer, on Oct. 26.

We hope that you will be able to attend all or some of these events.


We extend a warm welcome to our new and affiliate members:

Marilyn Blake, Shirley Adelman Kenig, Donna and Larry Finkelstein, Fred and Lenore Gorenstein and Eric Penn.  

Intro to Judaism series starts October 18
Five session series with Rabbi Julie Greenberg




Do you know someone who is curious about Jewish fundamentals? Excited about including Jewish elements in family life?

Here is a welcoming, informative 
introduction in a five session series with Rabbi Julie Greenberg, beginning Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, 7:00 - 8:30 pm at the Gershman Y on Broad St. This is a great way for people new to Judaism who want to deepen their Jewish understanding and meet others on the same path. It is also a good way to develop a relationship with a Rabbi. The sessions are $25 each or $125 for the series. Please help spread the word! For more information and to register, please contact:


Wendy Armon

Managing Director


Interfaith Family Support Network



Jewish Learning Opportunities - Ages 10 - 13

HOUSE OF STUDY Features joyful Jewish Learning


Registration is open for House of Study. If you know children aged 10 - 13 who would like to join our Sunday evening one-room-schoolhouse for joyful Jewish learning, please send them to






Erev Rosh HaShana Sermon 2012:  

The Primordial Sparkle

by Rabbi Julie Greenberg

Have you ever wondered why Rosh HaShana starts in the evening?


In fact all Jewish days, whether they are ordinary days or holidays, start in the evening.


Why? Because of this paragraph:

 "In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was without form and empty, with darkness on the face of the depths, but God's spirit moved on the water's surface. God said "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God divided between the light and the darkness. God named the light Day and the darkness Night. It was evening and it was morning, the first day.


Did you hear in that paragraph how the rabbis knew when a Jewish day begins? They knew because there was evening and morning the first day.


Ancient cultures reasoned from within their own systems so the Torah was a proof text that determined the correct position.


Isn't it interesting that to get to the light of morning, you have to go through the dark first? That's kind of a metaphor for enlightenment in general. The only way out is through. You gotta go through the night to get to the day. When you have been through the dark night and only then, do you know the depth of your courage and your endurance, your creativity and your full human-ness.


And the only way to the light is through the dark night. It is by facing our fears and losses, our grief and our regrets, that we eventually know our whole selves. To deny any of that shadow side, diminishes and distorts, and cuts you off from part of your wholeness. Historically the dark side has been considered bad, you know, the Dark Knight and the Dark Side, which plays into an un-intended racist parallel that dark equals not good.


By contrast,  I am holding up here, in the tradition of mystical Judaism, the supernal value of the dark: that is where the journey happens, that is where you birth your life's work, that is where the struggle for wholeness and healing happens and where the gift of integration, of shalom, is born. All human beings travel through the dark. You are in good company on this journey. The only way to reach the light of the next morning is through the night.


The dawn of a Jewish day is actually twilight, an in between time, in Hebrew called bayn ha shamayim, between the lights. Dusk, which we've all come through to get here this evening is a mysterious, liminal time on any day. At this juncture of the Old and New Year it is especially potent with potential, with the unknown future.


At these  moments when the old touches the new, the prayers of Jewish people and our friends throughout the world surge forth. Prayers for a good year for each one of us and for all the world. Prayers for healing, prayers for health. Prayers for peace and goodwill. Prayer that this will be a year of choosing life for this planet and for the people who dwell on it.


In the story of creation, at the break of day, God said Let there be light and there was light. Y'hi or v'yehi or. Our ancestors wondered about this. How could God create light on that first day when God didn't even create the sun and moon until the fourth day? What was that first light?


It is said that that first light was not light from the sun or the moon; it was primordial light, the very light of God in the process of creating.


This light of creation is now a hidden light within each of us and within every thing. As Meister Eckhardt said, "Somewhere inside you is a place that has never been hurt." That is the God place of primordial light.


That light is within you what ever you go through. It is there to sustain and nourish you and to shine through and beyond you in your acts of kindness and compassion. What a world this would be if each of us knew about that tremendous glow, that original light, burning within ourselves. What if each of us could relate to the other light to light, sloughing off reactions of annoyance or disappointment or anger and simply seeing the pure light of the other doing the best she can do?


In the course of a year, through the daily batterings of human existence, our inner light gets veiled, more and more hidden, almost covered by the scar tissue of survival. You may feel your separation from that inner source, in the form of lassitude -- the opposite of clarity, zest and purpose. You may feel beaten down, a spiritual exhaustion, that you are just barely keeping your own head above water and can't be generous of spirit to others in thought or deed. It may feel that your light is under water, maybe that it is damp or drenched, or even flooded.


Judaism offers ways to re-kindle that primordial sparkle throught the year and especially on these holy days. When we light the Shabbat lights each week or the holiday lights throughout the year, we intentionally reignite that primordial light. The simple practice of lighting candles together, renews and refreshes our inner light. It may be enough for you to do this once a year at these holy days but if you need a more consistent practice of re-kindling, you are welcome to join this community for our frequent Shabbat and holiday celebrations.


The natural state of human beings when we are well lit on the inside, is one of open hearted  generosity. There is naturally an interconnected spread of chesed, kindness, throughout the world, when it isn't blocked by firewalls. If you don't feel that surge of compassion for yourself and for others, then I invite you to make your own spiritual renewal a priority in this new year. We are here to support you in that quest. We trust that your spiritual renewal will be good for the world.


In the words of Psalm 36:

Cee imcha makor chayyim b'orcha nireh or.

 With you is the source of life. In your light we see light.


Starting right now, right here, with the welcoming dark potential of this New Year night, may the gates of heaven open wide to our prayers for life in the coming year. Shana Tovah. May this be a superb 5773 for each one of you and for all who dwell on earth.


Leyv Ha-Ir Listserv Reminders
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Leyv Ha-Ir Event Postings - will be posted by Beverly Hayden using the information on our web calendar.


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Contact Beverly or Bobbi if there are questions about the listserv.