In This Issue
Rabbi's Message
Hanukkah Shabbat Service
POWER Update
Fall Education Series
Apprentices Wanted
Rabbi's Winning Haiku
Member Profile - Laura Jacobs
BZBI Invites Us...
Snippet of LHI History
Member Birthdays
Member Yahrzeits
Sukkot 5774
Rabbi's Rosh Hashanah Day Sermon
Looking Ahead
Rosh Hodesh Chanukah Celebration     
The holidays are early in 5774 and the Kislev month starts November 4! Chanukah falls on Kislev 25 (first candle on erev!) on November 27th.
For years, the LHI women and their friends have gathered for a fun and meaningful time of lighting a menorah and  sharing experiences followed by a festive meal. We'll also have a Pollyanna with a value of no more than $10 per gift. Roby Jacobs will open her home for the ANNUAL CHANUKAH ROSH HODESH ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1ST. Mark your calendar and details will soon follow.
A Chanukah Poem
by Roy Shenberg

Both Fran and Monica
Play the harmonica
Fran plays at her Thanksgiving dinner
Monica plays on Chanukah

But this year is something special
For talented Fran and Monica
At last they can give a performance together
--Thanksgiving falls on Chanukah

For their opening number
They picked "Tea for Two"
Giving thanks for the harmony of Christian and Jew
Leyv Ha-Ir Listserv

To Post a Message - just send an email to


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


Other 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.

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 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
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Find us on Facebook!

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


Jewish Exponent
Contact Leyv Ha-Ir
Voice Mail:

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


Mordechai Kaplan, the father of Reconstructionism, said that we live in Two Civilizations. We're certainly doing that this year with the coincidence of celebrating Chanukah and Thanksgiving in one breath. The first and second candles will be lit just before and after the turkey is in the oven. The blessings at the Thanksgiving meal ought to at least include thankfulness for the survival of the Jewish people and for the existence of the State of Israel (and Leyv Ha-Ir). We will light the third candle before the Kabbalat Shabbat service with Rabbi Julie on November 29. Leyv Ha-Ir women will gather for the annual Rosh Hodesh Chanukah and light five candles on Sunday, December 1. So many riches, enjoy it all, and be blessed.


Bobbi, Roby, Myrna Schlanger, Iris N. and Sandy 

Your Executive Committee


Saturday, November 2, 10:00 AM, Shabbat Morning Service,

Join our lay-led minyan for a Shabbat morning service, Torah discussion and pot-luck veggie/dairy lunch.  

Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., second floor front.


Sunday, November 10, 10:00 AM, Book Panel Discussion and Signing

Join book editors Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer and Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell along with Rabbi Julie and other local contributors to launch this unique collection of personal spiritual essays by leading feminists from across the spectrum of Jewish life.  Books will be sold for $18 (cover price is $25), and a little nosh will be served. RSVP by November 5 to

Location: Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 W. Ellet St.  


Sunday, November 10, 2:00 - 6:00 PM, POWER Education Strategy Teach-In

See POWER article below for more detail.

RSVP to Susan Thompson at 215-932-4040 or

Location: Old First Reformed United Church of Christ, 141 N. 4th St.  


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

All members are invited to our Council meeting.

Location: Etta Risch's home. Call 215-629-1995 for exact location.


Friday, November 15, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat Service and Dinner 

Join us at the center city home of Evy Simon for a lay-led Friday night service followed by a pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner. Contact Evy at 215.561.7474 or  for directions and to tell her what you'll be bringing.


Saturday, November 16, 8:00 PM, Sonic Theology Plays South Philly

Come hear our own Jessi Roemer and her fabulous band Sonic Theology perform at The Little Shul. If you haven't heard them before this is a great opportunity to experience them in the intimate setting of this historic synagogue. Seating is limited.  

Tickets: $30. available at


Sunday, November 17, 11:00 AM, Education Program 

"How to Make Sense Out of What Does Not Makes Sense in the Bible" will be Rabbi Julie's topic. Brunch will be served. Please come even if you couldn't attend the first session in October. 

Fee: $10 for members, $15 for others.  

Location: Kennedy House, 30th Floor Community Room, 1901 JFK Blvd.   

Register by email to or call 215.629.1995, or just show up. 


Friday, November 29, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat / Hannukah / Interfaith Family Service  

Rabbi Julie Greenberg will lead our Friday night service, with Cantorial Soloist Jessi Roemer and the Leyv Ha-Ir Choir.

We will also light menorahs, sing Hannukah songs, and eat latkes (of course).  

Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, 2nd Floor Assembly Room  


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

Rabbi Julie Official Photo

Dear Chevre,


When people ask me how many people are in my congregation, I always answer by saying, "We serve about 400 people." That's because I count all the wonderful people who share their presence and their significant donations at the High Holy Days as part of this community. At the core of our congregation are the people who decide to step all the way in to become active members. I want to welcome those of you who joined as members this year. I'm excited about getting to know you better and working closely with you to build this community.


This week the Torah portion includes the story of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Abraham's son Isaac. After losing his wife Sarah, Abraham is turning his attention to the continuity of the family line so he wants his servant to search for a suitable partner for Isaac. Meanwhile Rebecca sees the search party, which includes ten thirsty camels (did you know that each camel needs ten gallons of water?) She makes the generous decision to draw water from the well for the camels.


You may know the end of this romantic story: Rebecca sees Isaac at the well and it is love at first sight. There's a great midrash that says when Rebecca started to draw all those gallons of water from the well, the water rose up to meet her. That meant she didn't have to tug and haul each gallon from the bottom to the top of the well. The message is that acts of generosity are met with generous responses from the universe.


What an important message for each one of us. The purpose of being in a community together is to grow ourselves in caring interconnection. Acts of generosity make us strong and deep and shift the world toward chesed/kindness. May each one of us set our intention to draw generously from our wells and may the water rise up to meet us!  


Many Blessings, Rabbi Julie



Leyv Ha-Ir will celebrate this special service with Rabbi Julie, Jessi and the choir in the second floor Assembly Room of the Ethical Society on Friday, November 29. 


It is is always a lovely service and evening. We will start promptly at 7:30 PM, the third night, with the lighting of three candles in the chanukias (menorahs) that you, our members and visitors, bring with you.


After the service we have a festive Oneg. It would be lovely if you can contribute something, especially latkes. We also will need applesauce, sour cream, drinks, fruit, cheese, snacks, nuts, or whatever you might like to add to make it special.


Please call or email Roby to let her know of your contribution.

Power Logo
Our Major Tikkun Olam Project


Education Funding Teach-In
Sunday, November 10th, 2-6pm
Old First Reformed UCC
141 N. 4th St., Philadelphia
Childcare and Food provided

This workshop will offer an in-depth focus on the fair and full funding formula campaign, a necessary first step towards improving public education in the city of Philadelphia. Experts will teach about the issue while experienced organizers will offer insight into building an effective movement. Learn how to explain the issues to others so that we can mobilize a deep and powerful impact on the upcoming election for Governor. Our goal is to raise education funding to the top of the policy agenda and we need to educate ourselves in this each one-reach one mobilization. More info is available at, or you can contact Susan Thompson or Rabbi Julie.
Bring Torah to Life
by Myrna Schlanger


A continuing educational program offered by Rabbi Julie -
part 2

Sunday, November 17, 11:00 AM
Kennedy House Community Room, 30th Floor
1901 JFK Blvd.

Discussions continue on December 15.

In October a lively group of Leyv Ha-Ir-niks and friends gathered to discuss problematic issues relating to our Bible. Participants shared troubling concerns such as the nasty character of God who seems to be jealous, threatening and punitive. Some people remarked on how women or slaves were treated; others wanted to understand how Biblical people could have lived to be hundreds of years old. Some wondered why there are repetitions and different variations of the same story all within the Bible. A grand collection of Biblical concerns were put onto the table for discussion.


Rabbi Julie offered some strategies for reflecting on the issues. One strategy was to take an historical/anthropological lens to the text. In this way we see how much development there has been between ancient and modern times. Another strategy was to think about the text as metaphor, not in a literal sense. We ask not "was this true?" but rather "what can we learn from this?" A third strategy was to look at how the Torah text invites us to use our own brains to make sense of it. The text poses a challenge but also gives us tools to resolve the challenge.


We tested these strategies on various concerns that people had raised and discovered where each one worked and where it did not. Next time we'll continue this community exploration of how to make sense when the Torah does not make sense. Everyone is welcome whether or not you were there for the first session. Bring a Bible with you if you can. Come closer to our tradition. It's the sensible thing to do!

Join us for a delicious brunch, an interesting class and a   lively discussion.  

$10/members; $15/all others
Register by emailing or leave a voice message at 215.629.1995, or just show up.
But not by Donald Trump

At the risk of sounding like a reality show, Leyv Ha-Ir is looking for a few apprentices. Keeping current with all of the things that make us great is getting more challenging every year. Some of our leaders would like to share their knowledge and transition some tasks to newer members.  These include:
  • Reading and responding to LHI email messages
  • Taking and distributing minutes from monthly Council meetings
  • Entering events onto our website calendar
  • Coordinating High Holiday services 

People have already stepped forward to help with our outgoing and incoming voice mail messages. In addition, we have new people organizing our retreat, sending yahrzeit notices and a new hospitality (formerly Oneg) chair. Please consider helping our great community.


If you are interested or want to know more, please contact me. If you are currently responsible for a task and would like to share your knowledge, please let me know that as well.



Bobbi Cohen

215.236.0689 or  

Or, actually a "biku"


Bike flies, sun shines, my
spirit soars. I am freedom!
Sharp glass. Deflation.
by John Oliver Mason

Laura Jacobs was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin; "My father was from Schenectady, New York and my mother was from Madison, Wisconsin. They met when my dad was stationed in Madison for Air Force duty before World War II.  I also have a sister. I moved down to Charlotte, North Carolina, when I was fourteen, and I attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (where she majored in Speech Education). When I graduated I went to Atlanta, and in, 1976, I came (to Philadelphia), and I've been here ever since."


Jacobs works as a life coach, which means, "I listen to what people say they want, and I stand behind them getting it." Prior to that, she owned a national executive search firm , Jacobs Management Group, Inc."  Up until 2010, I had a hard time wanting to continue running this very successful business because I was exhausted. So I sold the business, and I hired a life coach to help me with the transition because that's all I've done since I graduated from college. I had a large staff and the business had changed from personal relationships to a web based business. Leaving something that I started from scratch was extremely difficult. 


Jacobs needed help transitioning away from her business, recalling, "I needed support to make the transition, so I hired a life coach and,three months later, I walked out of the business." Some months later, Jacobs recalls saying to the life coach, "I love what you do and the shifts I have made in such a short time. He was kind enough to teach me the life coaching profession. "I love it," she says. "To allow people to get ah-hah moments is everything to me."


Of her Jewish background, Jacobs says, "My grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi, and he lived in Syracuse, New York. My father had a yeshiva background. In Madison, Wisconsin, there was no Orthodox synagogue, so I was raised Conservative. I went to Hebrew school, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and was Bat Mitzvah at thirteen with five other women. I've been active in Federation and in any synagogue I belonged to.' What drew her to Leyv Ha-Ir?  " One, the location is pretty wonderful," she says, "and I love the Reconstructionist philosophy of bringing meaning to spirituality.  I was involved in another Reconstructionist synagogue in Mount Holly but it was a  forty-five minute drive. " She met Rabbi Julie Greenberg, "and I loved her, I loved her sermons, and I loved the accepting nature of every single person in the synagogue". Jacobs has been to Israel twice, is in a Woman's Wisdom Circle and is constantly learning more about how the Jewish Faith can enrich her life.

at BZBI Member Prices

Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel (aka BZBI) has graciously offered Leyv Ha-Ir members discount pricing for many of their programs.  BZBI is located at the southwest corner of 18th & Spruce Streets.  Included are:

Legendary Israeli folkdance teacher Don Schillinger will offer family dancing (5 pm to 6:30 pm), followed by instruction and dancing for teens and adults (7 pm to 9 pm.)

Dates: The first Sunday of every month: October 6, November 3, December 1, January 5, February 2, March 2, April 6, May 4, and June 1.
Family Dancing: 5 pm to 6:30 pm. Pay at the door: $5 per person, $4 BZBI and LHI members, children under 4 are free.
Israeli Dancing for Adults and Teens: 7 pm to 9 pm. Pay at the door: $7 for adults, $6 for BZBI and LHI members, $5 for students under 21. 
Susan Berger


Former member Susan Berger, who died last summer, led an LHI team in the Mothers' Day Race for the Cure.


Here she is, in 2004, surrounded by Iris Newman and Beverly Hayden.
Happy Birthday
Please join us in extending birthday wishes to these members:

November 1  -  Lenore Gorenstein
November 3  -  Marsha Hyman
November 5  -  Jay Butler
November 14 - Howard Kravetz
November 16 - Enid Adler
November 19 - Laura Jacobs
May These Souls be Bound in the Book of Eternal Light: yahrzeit
Sibyl Cohen
A Lovely, Progressive Gathering

Many of us gathered in Sue Frank's beautiful backyard for our Sukkot service. Even Rabbi Julie's personal torah was with us! We then crossed the street to Roby Jacobs' home to enjoy her backyard and have some great refreshments.

A great time was had by all.
Being a Jewish Person in a Global World


Rabbi Julie Greenberg


Each year our community reads and discusses a book together in our One Book, One Congregation process. This year we read Dignity of Difference by Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of England. His writings inspired me to think more about what it means to be a Jewish person in a global world.


A little historical context here: Guess who invented the concept of globalization? The Jews. Four thousand years ago, WE launched the idea of a universal God. Our trade routes carried the idea far and wide. Our prophets taught how every human, no matter what their faith, had a share in the world to come.


The very first covenant in the bible celebrates this universal principle of inclusion. In the story of Noah and the flood, one of the earliest bible stories, God puts the rainbow sign into the sky as a symbol of covenant between God and all people. We don't even meet a Jewish person until many chapters later when Abraham and Sarah are introduced. So the whole Torah and all the teachings of Judaism are set in this universal context. The idea is that Judaism is one particular way of being human and of serving God but God and God's values are relevant to all humans. As a people, the Jewish mission is to let those values shine forth.


Thousands of years after Noah and the flood and the rainbow, we live in a world that has brought far-flung corners of the planet into our living rooms, where instantaneous communication links revolutions in the middle east with arms dealers in eastern Europe with twitter journalists in New York with school children writing reports in Alabama.


So we have to ask ourselves, as Jews who helped invent the very nature of globalization, the very nature of universal values, what does it mean to be global citizens today?


For one thing, we have to withstand the temptation to be swamped by what has been called "well-informed futility." We know more and more about what is happening in distant corners of the world and yet our own ability to have an impact, to make a difference towards the good, can seem infinitesimal.


Sandra Steingraber in her powerful book Raising Elijah shares a memory of watching T.V. as a young child in her living room. This was during the War in Vietnam and she saw a picture of a Vietnamese girl in flames. Her father leaped up and turned off the T.V. Her mother said, "time for dinner." Her parents clearly felt that in the face of well-informed futility, it was better to protect the innocence of their daughter and in a way let her live within a lie.


On this Rosh HaShana day of waking up, we don't want to live in a lie. We don't want to pretend that the toxins that corporations spew into the environment have no impact, or that nuclear leaks don't matter or that climate change is an unsolvable condition. We don't want to live in a lie, but we also don't want to be overwhelmed with information about disasters that we can't even impact. So at this moment in history, when the human species has not yet found either the political leadership or the technological capability to solve pressing problems that threaten life on earth, what does Judaism bring to the table?


Rabbi Sacks reminds us that religious values have an enormously important offering to make that is not economic or political or technical. Religious values offer a framework that says, we do not OWN this planet. We are stewards. We are entrusted to take care of it. And everyone matters. A child born in the slums of Mumbai matters no less than the child of a hedge fund tycoon in London. Our fundamental religious understanding is that every one of us is a child of God, intimately connected to the earth we live with and every one of us belongs.


As science and technology enable ever greater interconnectedness and ever greater threat of destruction, the world needs a religious perspective more than ever. Science is the quest for knowledge but it is morally neutral. It can be used for good or for evil. A religious framework holds the big truth that each human being has value. A religious perspective elevates science to serve sacred purposes. Religion calls for the human species to grow in wisdom even as it grows in technical competence.


But how can each of us be accountable to issues so big and so far away? We have a hard enough time managing our own relationships on the home front, keeping ourselves steady state, and trying to pay the bills. It's hard to live a life and even harder to imagine how to fix the complicated problems of the world. In the face of a deluge of information and few mechanisms for making a difference, it's no wonder many of us want to live in denial. We may succumb to the temptation to turn off the T.V., avoid the radio news, read about celebrities rather than social change activists.


That's understandable and yet the shofar's piercing call says Wake Up! Like it or not, this is your planet. Your God-given responsibility is to take care of the earth and those who dwell upon it. You're overwhelmed? You don't know what to do? You feel helpless? Me too. Let's join together to get back to core religious wisdom. It's really not so complicated. We know it is wrong to spew toxins into our environment. We know that every human being deserves clean water and air and food that isn't coated with pesticides.


These universal values are not confusing. It is an obfuscation to believe that these issues are too complicated or too intractable for us. The startling call to wake up in this New Year, is a call to clear away those cobwebs of confusion and despair that say, it's too big for me, I don't know what to do.


The pattern of Torah gives us a clue about how to approach these global issues: Torah, like I said, starts with a universal story about creation of the entire earth and then like a funnel, it narrows down to the story of one specific family and follows that family's saga through many generations. From universal to particular. On this very Rosh HaShana day, we gather to celebrate the creation of the world and yet the story we read is of a very particular, personal moment in the life of our ancestor Sarah telling about the beginning of her miraculous pregnancy.


This pattern offers us clues about how to be Jewish in a global world.


Judaism calls on us to hold universal, global values and to act in local, particular ways. Our own lives are laboratories for how well we can enact the universal values in very day-to-day ways: what choices do you make about using fossil fuels? what kind of bags do you use for groceries? what support do you give to urban bike lanes and preservation of open space? do you urge your representatives to manage our national carbon footprint?


Mary Pipher, author of the recent bestseller The Green Boat, is the brilliant feminist author who wrote Reviving Ophelia. Living in Nebraska, she'd hear about global warming and it seemed very far away and yet she knew climate changes were having an impact on the air, water, land and wildlife around her. She was a new grandmother and of course cared about feeding her grandchild healthy food and making sure the child didn't get burned or hurt on the playground. But it was hard to connect the big issues that could help or harm this child's development, with anything concrete that she could do about it.


Then she heard about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline designed to bring tar sand oil from Canada, across thousands of miles to ports where it could be processed and shipped over seas. The issue seemed huge and confusing: some people thought jobs were more important than potential environmental threat, others thought cheap energy was the priority. The Interior Department warned of dire impact on natural resources from the pipeline. Pipher felt ignorant, hopeless and despairing.


She decided to start somewhere: she invited people to her house for soup and bread. These living room gatherings grew. The group started learning together, clarified their own views of what was morally at stake. They joined, an environmental organization that helps local activists make a difference. Now they've organized 75,000 people across the country. They've raised the issues of environmental impacts of this pipeline on land, water and animals and made what was at one time a no-brainer energy project into a moral issue.


As a parent, I have also wanted to protect the innocent childhoods of my kids. As a rabbi, I know there's already enough anxiety and depression in the world. It's hard to talk about hard issues. But if we don't do it who will? Who will bring essential religious values to the table? Each one of us has the capacity to speak as stewards of the earth, as children of the One God. Each one of us can lift up the health of the environment as a priority in public discourse and in private practice, in elections and at the dinner table, in our decisions about where to donate money and time.


Another story shared by Sandra Steingraber is about a classroom of kids during the cold war. The Soviet Union and the United States were in an arms race that threatened life on earth. Parents were building bomb shelters and kids were having drills about what to do in case of nuclear war. Some of you probably remember those days. The teacher asked the kids to raise their hands if they were worried about nuclear war. Every single child raised a hand except for one. The teacher asked that one child, "Why aren't you worried?:


"Because my parents are working to stop it, " she said.


Doing something to make a difference, however small it may seem, is the antidote to anxiety and despair. Working together to make a change is more reassuring than the most resounding silence. We all know that every journey starts with a first step. What is your first step? What is next and next?


On this day of celebrating the creation of the world, we remember that the creation story is more than a nice myth. It is a global story embedded with a mission.  

  • That we are God's partners in the unfolding of creation.
  • That creation is precious and that our life on earth is intimately connected to the health of the planet.
  • That revelation is unfolding and we have choices about how the story continues or ends.

We have choices about whether this story will be about melting ice caps, the extinction of species and humans consuming ourselves into oblivion or whether it will be a story of sanity and creative problem solving as humans learn to cooperate and step by step design sustainable, equitable ways of sharing the earth. One way or another, we are writing the holy texts with our lives and each one of us has a role in the story.


In the story of the Garden of Eden it is said that a sacred river flowed from the holy garden into the four directions of the earth. This spiritual river is still flowing. It is an eternal spring within each one of us and it flows right through this sacred space, filling each of us up so that we can overflow with good works. This primordial river is a renewable resource. It can sustain you as you wend your way through confusion and ignorance and the haze of denial into identifying small steps that you can take to protect the earth. The only kind of action anyone ever can do is local, starting right here, right now, with the very first step.


On Sept. 21 there will be a local bipartisan, interfaith action here in Philadelphia that I invite you to join. Similar actions will take place on the same day across the country. Philadelphia's event will involve honoring leaders who have made environmentally positive choices. There will be more information posted at the website for

As global citizens we realize that there is no such thing as "away" on this earth. It is all part of a whole. "The world belongs to God in all its fullness. "L 'Adonay ha'aretz u'm'lo'o." (Psalm 24) The waterways and airways are part of a living organism, all vessels within a living, pulsing, interconnected whole that sustains life. As Jews we know that we are both a part of the whole and responsible for the whole. We are global citizens with a Jewish mandate right here, right now, to protect the earth. May this be a year of intentional action and of joy in making a difference. A very sweet, healthy and happy New Year to each one of you. Shana Tovah!