In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Message from Jessi
POWER Update
Mark Your Calendar for April 20
Shabbaton/Tu B'Shevat Celebration
February Bagels & Books
Our Congregant in Cuba
March Yahrzeit
LHI Online Gift Shop
Listserv Reminders
Looking Ahead
From 3-5pm there will be a mass Call for Action. Please see the information in the POWER Update article on the right. Transportation should be available from center city. 

APRIL 26 - 28  


Mark your calendar for the last weekend of April to attend LimmudPhilly 2013. This is the 5th annual learningfest, and the program is looking really good. Use discount code LP13LEYV to receive $15 off any registration made by March 15. More info at 
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.


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
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
Find us on Facebook!

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


Contact Leyv Ha-Ir
Voice Mail:

MARCH 2013
Dear Friend of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City,   


As you've experienced, or at least seen in our newsletters, we are a community that enjoys a wide variety of activities. We are also a small congregation with only 53 members, some of whom we see mainly at High Holidays. What this means is that all of the events you see listed here are organized by a very small number of active members. While we will continue to offer events, it is becoming more difficult to do so. Recently the members who organized our annual Shabbaton for years have decided to step down. And the person who has facilitated the various pieces of our High Holiday services is retiring from this position. So, at this time we are looking for new people to get involved in planning these functions. Please consider what you can do. Even if you don't want to lead these efforts we can use your help with some piece of it. We will give you all the help and support you need. If you are interested or would like to learn more about this, please contact Bobbi at 215.236.0689 or We know that Leyv Ha-Ir adds value to each of your lives, so please consider giving back with your skills or interest. If you've enjoyed these events, help keep them great!


Many, many thanks go to Beverly Hayden and Roby Jacobs for their years of work organizing and facilitating the Shabbatons and High Holiday services. 


Wishing you a sweet and happy Passover,


Bobbi Cohen, Roby Jacobs, and Iris Newman

Your Executive Committee


Saturday, March 02, 10 AM, Shabbat Morning Service

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


Thursday, March 07, 7:00 PM, POWER Leadership Assembly

Come get involved in what POWER is doing. Information is below in POWER Update article. If you are able to drive there and take a few passengers, notify Beverly Hayden at hayden15@verizon net.  


Friday, March 08, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat Service and Dinner

Join us at Beverly Hayden's home for a 45-minute lay-led service, followed by a veggie pot-luck dinner. Call Bev at 215.557.3777 or email her at to RSVP or for more information.


Monday, March 11, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting

All members are invited to our Council meeting at Bobbi Cohen's home. Call 215.236.0689 for exact location.


Friday, March 15, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat Service

Join us as we welcome the Sabbath. Spiritual Leader Jessi Roemer and the LHI choir will lead us in Friday night prayers. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Laureal Robinson, the principal of Spring Garden School which is the recipient of our Tikkun Olam efforts. We'll be at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.


Sunday, March 17, 11:00 AM, Passover Workshop   

Spiritual Leader Jessi Roemer will lead us in "Bringing it Home: Personalizing Pesach," a Passover workshop.  What does Pesach look like in your home? We will investigate home rituals around Pesach, and consider our connections to them. We will also develop personalized pieces of ritual to be used at a seder! We'll be at the Kennedy House Community Room, 1901 JFK Blvd., 30th Floor. $10/members, $15/all others.

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 PM, Community Passover Seder
Our Seder is always a treat. We'll be led by Spiritual Leader Jessi Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir Choir. Join us at The Philadelphian, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., 2nd floor Social Room. Catering will be provide by Little Pete's. Reservations are a must by Monday, March 18. Click here for a reservation form with 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.


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

Cantor Jessi
Letter from Jessi


Dear Leyv Ha-Ir Hevre,


As March begins, we find ourselves stepping out of the mad revelry of Purim and into the journey of cleansing our homes and spirits for Pesach. The two holidays between which we stand are both joyous - but very differently so.


On Purim we let our hair down and embrace the unpredictable -- we free ourselves of our usual constraints and we attempt to return, temporarily, to a state of Edenic bliss.


On Pesach we celebrate a different kind of freedom and happiness - not the oblivious bliss of Eden, but the hard-won relief and freedom gained after centuries of slavery (not to mention a wet trek through the sea!). Accordingly, our joy on Pesach has a different texture. We recline and treat ourselves like royalty, but our celebration is thrown into relief by the sadness of slavery. We mix bitter and sweet at our seders to symbolize the complex nature of life, and of freedom. Pesach also has a few solemn echoes of the High Holidays: Aside from the nusach (prayer melodies), which, at times, recalls High Holiday nusach, we have a pre-Pesach ritual of completely cleansing our homes, much the way the priests cleansed the Temple in Biblical times before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.


Many Jews today maintain the tradition of completely cleaning their homes in preparation for Pesach. While on Purim we turned our expectations upside-down, to prepare for Pesach, we turn our homes upside-down and inside out to clean them. The tradition is so entrenched that in modern Hebrew, the expression "la'asot Pesach" (literally, "to make Pesach") has come to mean "to do a thorough cleaning" - of anything, at any time of year.


Several Jews today practice variants of this cleaning ritual: Some simply remove chametz (leavened food) from their houses or kitchens. Some Jews don't remove chametz, but clean their houses nonetheless. Some remove something symbolic to mark the transition from winter to spring, from slavery to freedom.


Our homes reflect our inner state of being, and this physical preparation of our homes is, itself, a practice run for the spiritual preparation we will later need to do, in the seven weeks after Pesach, to receive the Torah on Shavuot. The kavanah (intention) of our pre-Pesach rituals is to ready ourselves. We cannot receive our freedom until we are prepared to hold it, with responsibility, gratitude, and the commitment to prevent slavery from occurring again. This includes opposing the slavery of others wherever we see it.


What kind of cleansing ritual will you do to prepare yourself and your home for Pesach? Jewish tradition often starts with the physical and moves inward, to the spiritual - how might this manifest in your space? If you do not have a cleansing tradition, I invite you to consider clearing out something in preparation for Pesach, even if it is small. Then, notice what there is room for, once the space has opened up.


A good month and a zisn Pesach to all!




Power Logo
An Update


Important POWER Dates:

1. Leadership Assembly
All Welcome, Participation Needed!
Thursday, March 7, 2013
7:00 - 9:00 PM
7940 Williams Ave. (between E. Phil Elena St. & Vernon Rd.)
Phila., PA 19150 (Mt. Airy)

This Leadership Assembly is the last large gathering before our April 21st Action: "Building a City of Opportunity that Works for All".  It is critical that each POWER congregation send at least 5-10 leaders to this Assembly to discuss and decide:
  • Progress on solidifying Council and Mayor support for our Airport Jobs policy proposal
  • Clarity on our "policy asks", commitments we seek from Mayor, Superintendent Hite and other officials on 4/21
  • Strategies re: media coverage, large turnout, logistics and agenda for 4/21
  • Each congregation's progress towards turn-out goals (commitments made at January Leadership Assembly)
  • Strategies for each cluster to ensure their Councilmember(s) attendance at the 4/21 Action
  • Progress towards Jobs Petition signatures goal - click here to sign and forward the on-line petition.
Please call Susan Thompson at 215.923.4040 if you can attend.

2. Call for Action
Mass Gathering with many elected leaders
Your presence makes a big difference at this event!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
3:00 - 5:00 PM
Click here for more info on accompanying flyer.

ALLIES (A Library In Every School)
On Saturday, February 23 a group of people from Rodeph Shalom, LHI and Spring Garden Elementary School joined together to clean out the library space in the school. The library had been refurbished, but all the old books had to be  sorted and/or discarded. Bookshelves had to be cleaned and construction materials removed. Principal Robinson, who will be speaking to us at our March 15 Kabbalat Shabbat service, was amazed at how much we accomplished in a few hours. She was very appreciative of everyone's assistance.

Future meetings will discuss staffing of the library for the 2013-14 calendar year and ways to raise money for new library books. Watch for email updates as meeting dates and times become available.

Finally, a team of POWER representatives from Leyv Ha-Ir, Rodeph Shalom, St. Malachy's and St. Paul's will meet with parents from Spring Garden Elementary School on March 6. The purpose of the meeting is to generate increased parent involvement in school events and in the school's Parent Teacher Community Association. 
Cocktail party for salon
A Special Salon Fundraising Evening

A very special evening is being planned for your entertainment. Joan and Phil Steel have graciously offered their gorgeous home as the venue to present the SALON, an evening of entertainment and elegant food. This is a "first", not to missed, one--of-a-kind event to raise revenue for  Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City. More details to follow!
Tu B'Shevat 2013
Saturday, January 26

Many congregants and friends gathered for Shabbat Morning Services and to celebrate Tu B'Shevat.  Jessi Roemer led services and the Tu B'Shevat seder.
Bagels & Books 2-17-13
Submitted by Iris Newman

Many of us gathered on Sunday, February 16, to hear an excellent talk by David Groen, Roby Jacobs' cousin. David told us about his parents' amazing story of their life in Nazi-occupied Holland, as recounted in his book, "Jew Face."
Pat Wisch in Cuba
by Pat Wisch


My husband Bill Yancey and I traveled with an interesting and congenial group to Cuba in January.  The trip was sponsored by Gratz College as an educational and humanitarian mission to visit four distinct Jewish communities -- two in Havana, one in Guatanamo City, and one in Santiago de Cuba.


As background, in 1959 there were 15,000 Jews in Cuba.  In 1963, after the revolution, there were 1500!! That's how many are there now.


The group brought all kinds of "gifts" (the government frowns on "donations") ranging from medical supplies to school supplies to baseballs and even a sewing machine! We were warmly received, shared Friday night services and a Shabbat meal, danced, and spent time at the Patronato (the largest congregation in Cuba) where they have a free pharmacy, donated by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. We also visited Hemingway's home, El Floridita, his favorite bar where it is said the Dacquiri was invented, the Museum of the Revolution, and of course the Tropicana of Meyer Lansky fame, as well as many other interesting places. A beautiful island, gorgeous weather, sweet people, safe streets, and music, music, music.


This brief article does not begin to touch the depth of feeling in meeting the Jewish people deeply committed to keeping traditions vibrant and alive.  All in all, a wonderfully rich and rewarding experience!


The picture of Bill and me is at the studio of Fister,

an internationally renowned artist of mosaics and tiles and paintings. He has decorated many of the houses in his neighborhood and it is amazing! The colors and music and energy in Havana is truly dramatic and passionate.

yahrzeit May This Soul be Bound in the Book of Eternal Light:


Morton Beck   




Without Leaving Home

gift box Need a gift for someone else, or for yourself?  Take a look at the beautiful offerings in the Leyv Ha-Ir Online Gift Shop, all handmade by LHI member Beryl Kravetz. Choose from T-shirts, tote bags, jewelry and more. And what an easy way to support your community from the comfort of your own home!

Click here to go to the gift shop. Please be patient as it may take a couple of minutes to open.
faithways illustration

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


Other Event Postings - You can post information about other events or information of interest by sending an email to


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