In This Issue
Rabbi's Message
POWER Update
Fall Education Series
Retreat in Ocean City
Apprentices Wanted
Member Birthdays
Member Yahrzeits
Reconstructionist Movement Info
November Education Program
Rabbi's Kol Nidrei Sermon
Looking Ahead
POWER Fundraising Concert      
On Sunday, January 26 from 3 - 5 PM there will be a fundraising musical concert at Congregation Rodeph Shalom to benefit POWER (see article on right about POWER). Tickets are only $10 and our own Jessi Roemer will be among the musicians performing. Please plan to attend. More information is available here
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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
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Jewish Exponent
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Dear Friend of Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City,   


With Menurkeys and Thanksgivukkah, latkes and all the trimmings behind us, we move into the quiet, Jewishly speaking, month of December. At Leyv Ha-Ir, we'll have the usual services and other events. The world around us - the "other" civilization we live (and participate) in - reminds us of the many needs in America and the world by inundating us with requests for donations at this time of year. LHI does not follow this trend.


However, while you are considering your year-end giving, we'd like you to know that LHI, YOUR Jewish community, could also use your attention. We are managing on the margin at this point, following the High Holiday period. Reviewing your blessings, where does LHI fit in? What do you receive from this shul in spiritual, educational and social benefits? Is this worth another donation? Thanks for thinking about LHI in such a manner


Happy Secular Holidays!


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

Your Executive Committee


Sunday, December 1, 4:00 - 7:30 PM, Women's Rosh Hodesh Group 

In the old tradition of women gathering to celebrate each Jewish month, LHI members and their female guests will gather at Roby Jacobs' home to light menorahs and exchange little gifts. Contact Roby at 215-546-8965 or for directions and to tell her what you'll be bringing for our pot-luck supper.

Saturday, December 7, 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.


Monday, December 9, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting

All members are invited to our Council meeting.

Location: Joan Goldberg's home. Call 215-629-1995 for exact location.


Friday, December 13, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat Service and Dinner 

Join us at the Society Hill home of Joan and Phil Steel for a lay-led Friday night service followed by a pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner. Contact Phil at  or 215-922-6673 for directions and to let the Steel's know what you'll be bringing.


Sunday, December 15, 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. You won't want to miss this, the last session on this topic! Please come even if you couldn't attend the first two sessions. 

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, December 20, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat Service  

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

Our special guest speaker will be Principal Laureal Robinson, who will update us on our support of the Spring Garden School. 

Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, 1st Floor Auditorium  


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

Rabbi Julie Official Photo

Dear Chevre,


This year we celebrate the rare convergence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah so I've been pondering what we can learn from this overlay. Here are some reflections and I hope you'll share yours with us throughout the next month.


Thanksgiving and Chanukah represent opposite poles of value. Thanksgiving calls on us to accept and appreciate the amazing blessings that are present every single day of our lives. Chanukah, on the other hand, which literally means "dedication," calls on us to devote ourselves to radically changing what is not yet right. Our Jewish ancestors led a revolution to right the wrongs of their era.


This year the calendar brings the values of Acceptance (Thanksgiving) and Change (Chanukah) into relation with each other. Where in our lives do we need to cultivate acceptance and gratitude and where do we need to work with determination for change? This is an essential question for me in my relationships and activist work and in life in general. It's great to have a holy day this year that holds it all.


As we approach the cold and darkness of winter, please know you are always welcome at Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City. We warm the winter with friendship, song, prayer and the extra sweetness of Shabbat.


Happy Holidays,


Rabbi Julie
Power Logo
Our Major Tikkun Olam Project


On Sunday, November 10 Beverly Hayden, Susan Thompson and Sharon Wallis (with husband Leonard) attended the POWER Education Fair Funding Training along with 100 others from POWER congregations.  A lawyer from the Education Law Center in Philadelphia gave us an overview of how there had been a fair funding formula under Governor Rendell.  After Governor Corbett took office this was eliminated. Currently, Pennsylvania school districts are suffering without a law that would guarantee full and fair funding for all schoolchildren.


POWER has pledged to support a full and fair education funding bill.  House meetings have been held at congregants' homes throughout the city.  Leyv-Ha-Ir hosted two of these and participants learned about the next steps needed to initiate efforts towards this goal.  POWER representatives met with sister organizations from Allentown and Pittsburgh to discuss statewide efforts to initiate a fair funding bill.  POWER will be present at gubernatorial candidates' forums, such as the one held on 11/23, to learn about candidates' views on education and statewide funding.  A major Voter Education Campaign Launch will take place on 1/20/14.  More news will be forthcoming.


Many of you have already seen information about the Voices of POWER concert on 1/26/14 at Rodeph Shalom from 3-5 p.m.  This will be a fundraiser for POWER.  There will be a number of choirs and singers from POWER congregations who will be participating.  Our own Jessi Roemer, with members of her band, will be performing.  We are hoping that LHI will sell at least $100 worth of tickets (at $10 each).  You can also place ad in the ad book for the event at a rate that is quite reasonable.  All necessary information is on the POWER website ( or contact Susan Thompson ( if you have additional questions.  To purchase a ticket, please contact Susan as well. 

Bring Torah to Life
by Myrna Schlanger, Co-Chair of Education Committee along with Evy Simon


A continuing educational program offered by Rabbi Julie -
part 3

Sunday, December 15, 11:00 AM
Kennedy House Community Room, 30th Floor
1901 JFK Blvd.

We learn a greater appreciation of our bible by listening to Rabbi Julie teaching us how it make sense of it.

Join us for a good brunch, lively conversation and a chance to learn.

At the end of the program the we will be asking  for suggestions for future programing.
What would you like ?
What are your interests?  
Would you like to join our committee?


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.

Friday, March 7 - Sunday, March 9, 2014


Plans are underway for a Leyv Ha-Ir Retreat at Port-O-Call Hotel in Ocean City, New Jersey.


Experience a spiritual, intellectual, and emotional adventure at this beautiful location at the seashore.


What will be happening?

  • Arrive at Port-O-Call after 3 pm Friday 
  • Friday Kabbalat Shabbat services with Rabbi Julie
  • Friday night dinner
  • Saturday morning breakfast
  • Saturday Shabbat services with Rabbi Julie
  • Saturday lunch
  • Afternoon workshops
  • Saturday Havdalah service
  • Sunday sunrise on the beach
  • Sunday breakfast

Registration, including everything listed above:


~ LHI Members $190 if registered by 1/10/14

                       $215 after 1/10/14

~ Guests          $215 if registered by 1/10/14

                       $240 after 1/10/14


Hotel rates per night, per room:


Ocean view room with 2 double beds  $115 + tax

"Bay View" room with 2 double beds    $95 + tax


Room amenities: balcony, mini fridge, single serve coffee maker, and hair dryer


Call Port-O-Call Hotel for reservations at 609-399-8812 or 1-800-334-4546 and mention that you with the Leyv Ha-Ir group.


Contact Evy at 215-561-7474, or Sandy at 215-561-5149, with your questions and to join the Retreat Planning Committee.
But not by Donald Trump

Leyv Ha-Ir's apprentice program is rolling along nicely.  Many thanks to Donna Finkelstein who is now managing our email, and Claire Dubin who is now managing our calendar.

Some of our leaders would still like to share their knowledge and transition some tasks to newer members.  These include:
  • Taking and distributing minutes from monthly Council meetings
  • Coordinating High Holiday services
  • Managing our voice mail line
  • Coordinating the newsletter and publicity
  • Parking privileges around the Ethical Society for services and High Holidays
  • Posting LHI events on the listserv   

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.


THANK YOU!  Everything you do for Leyv Ha-Ir is a mitzvah. 


Bobbi Cohen

215.236.0689 or  

Happy Birthday
Please join us in extending birthday wishes to these members:

December 2 - Evy Simon

December 5 - Joan Goldberg

December 17 - Margie Wiener

December 26 - Donna Finkelstein

December 31 - Marci Fleet

December 31 - Jessi Roemer

May These Souls be Bound in the Book of Eternal Light: yahrzeit
Bertha Blai
Susan Singer
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., President-Elect of RRC
What is RRC? How is it important to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir?

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, located in Wyncote, PA, is the only seminary affiliated with Reconstructionist Judaism. RRC has an enrollment of approximately 80 students in rabbinic and other graduate programs.


As of June 3, 2012 the Reconstructionist movement was restructured by incorporating the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF) into RRC, which is now the movement's primary organization.


As of January 1, 2014, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., will be the new president of RRC. Waxman, a historian of American Judaism, brings a vision well suited to today's landscape. As many readers will know, a recent study by the Religion and Public Life Project of Pew Research found that three quarters of U.S. Jews feel "a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people," although 42 percent of those say they have no religion. Waxman offered a decidedly upbeat take on the study: "Reconstructionist Judaism brought to the forefront of Jewish thinking the concept of Jewish peoplehood, and our approach continues to offer pathways for non-religious Jews - inviting them to explore and ideally deepen their experience of Judaism and Jewishness," she said.


For more information about RRC, go to The part of the website specifically for congregations and their members is at
Led by Rabbi Julie

Twenty members and guests assembled for part II of "How To Make Sense out of What Does Not make Sense in the Bible". Rabbi Julie Greenberg selected a paragraph from the Torah about "The Rebellious Child".  It made for a lively discussion, which followed a delicious brunch put together by Myrna Schlanger and Evy Simon.
Hineni --- Here I Am


Rabbi Julie Greenberg


When a baby is born wouldn't it be nice if a little certificate came along with the baby saying, "This child is guaranteed to be loved at all times, to be fed and nourished and cared for, to excel at education and meaningful work, to be respected in community, to live with health and length of years, to have fulfilling relationships and a good home all the days of its life?"


But when a baby is born, when you were born, that's not how it works, is it? We don't come into life with a warranty or a guarantee that life will be easy. No one ever said that life will be easy. In fact, life is hard!


Yom Kippur says in the face of this impermanent, confusing, difficult world how will you live your life? In the face of challenge and loss how will you make a good life?


On this day we rehearse our mortality. We take away every prop that could allow us to stay in denial about our mortality. No eating, no sex, no finery. When we take away all the illusions that life is secure and permanent, when we realize that like a blade of grass each one of us shines only briefly and then withers, even so, how will we find a way to choose life?


Our tradition gives us some guidance in how to respond, "Zeh ha Yom Asah Adonai." This is the day God created. This very day. Right here, right now. The psalms are filled with specific glorious images of nature, calling on us to notice and appreciate and be present to the glory of what is. I encourage you to find the psalms by looking in the index in the back of your machzors, under the alphabetical heading Psalms, at moments in the service when you'd like to do some meditative reading. The psalms, as so much of Torah and liturgy, are metaphorical. They talk about raging rivers and torrents of rain and these both point us into the world of nature and also point us beyond towards metaphors for other issues, such as the hardships humans encounter in life.


Another place where our tradition gives us guidance in how to respond to the No Guarantee reality of our lives comes from the Torah reading for the High Holy Days. Every year for the high holy days we read about Abraham's almost sacrifice of his son Isaac. God commands Abraham to take his son Isaac to the top of the mountain. Unexpectedly, it turns out that this hike is for the purpose of laying Isaac on the altar and slaughtering this very beloved child. It sounds absolutely crazy for a father to be called on by God, no less, to sacrifice his own flesh and blood, especially when Abraham waited till he was 100 years old to have this child.


In an earlier service, I mentioned noticing that the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac, is a story that calls on Abraham to rehearse giving up what is most precious to him. While that wasn't the moment when he ended up actually sacrificing his beloved son, the story highlights the truth that we all have to give up what is most precious to us eventually. We lose loved ones, we lose abilities, we eventually lose life. There are many, many losses in life. There's no way we can hold onto what we love or to what we expect forever. In fact, sometimes the more we hold on to what we wish were true, or what we assume to be true, the more we suffer.


My colleague Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, pointed out another interpretation of the Binding of Isaac story. He suggests that maybe the story is not really focused on the call to sacrifice but on a different part of the text. God calls to Abraham, "Avraham, Avraham?" Do you know what Abraham responds? He says, "Hineni," I am here. Rabbi Kligler suggests that maybe it is the "I am here" that is really the essential message of that story. Maybe the biggest teaching of Torah is to encourage us to be able to say, Hineni, I am here, no matter what you have to face.


Hineni, I am here, is what Adam says in the Garden of Eden.

Hineni, I am here, is what Moses says standing on holy ground at the burning bush.

Hineni, I am here is what Abraham says on the mountain top.


We are the babies who came into this world with no guarantees. We don't know what challenges we'll face in the future, or whether our dreams will come true, or even whether we will live or die in this coming year.


Nevertheless, today, stepping into the New Year, each one of us in the face of uncertainty and insecurity, living a life with no guarantees, is called on to say, Hineni, I am here. I will be present to face what I have to face, to support others in facing what they have to face, to do my part to make this a good world.


We stand together in the Garden of Eden at this very moment ---- if we pay attention we will see the spectacular beauty of the world around me. Hineni, I am here.


We stand together before the mystery of the burning bush that never consumes itself, at this very moment. We attune to what is beyond, bigger than us, mysterious, yet-to-be-discovered and say Hineni, I am here.


We are on the mountaintop with our father Abraham, on an intense journey that is beyond our control and we are called on to face unbelievable demands. Hineni, I am here.


But also on this day, we are new babies, being re-born into this New Year for fresh starts, with new hope for love and for care and for meaning. Since there are no promises that come with this new birth, no guarantees, we just have to make it as good as we can, just like we do for new babies. We make it as good as we can for each other, for ourselves. We show up again and again.


I hope you will join me this year in showing up for whatever we have to face, in doing the best we can do and in being witnesses and angels for each other as we joyfully, bravely, enter this New Year together. May it be a very good year for each one of us and for the world.