In This Issue
Rabbi's Message
POWER Update
Retreat in Ocean City
Member Birthdays
Member Yahrzeit
December Education Program
Rabbi's Yom Kippur Day Sermon
Looking Ahead
Salon Repeat Performance       
We're delighted that Marsha Hyman will be coordinating an encore Salon event, and that the Steel's are again graciously hosting this event. Those who attended last year's Salon can tell you what a lovely time was had by all. We hope to add more to this fundraising event with a Silent Auction/raffle to be coordinated by Evy Simon. Stay tuned for more information. 
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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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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,   


January 1 will send many on a road to New Years' resolutions. We Jews hopefully emerged out of the High Holidays in September with noble intents of doing better and shedding bad habits in order to improve ourselves and the world around us. Living in two civilizations gives us an extra chance this secular New Year: an opportunity to refresh our vows, re-evaluate our commitments and work towards a year of peace, happiness and good health.




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

Your Executive Committee


Saturday, January 4, 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, January 13, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting

All members are invited to our Council meeting.

Location: Bobbi Cohen's home. Call 215-236-0689 for exact location.


Friday, January 17, 7:30 PM, Martin Luther King, Jr./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 Phyllis Taylor, who has been a chaplain in the local prison system. You can read more about Phyllis here

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


Friday, January 24, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat Service and Dinner 

Join us at the Rittenhouse Square home of Susan and Paul Jaffe for a lay-led Friday night service followed by a pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner. Email Roby Jacobs at to RSVP and to let her know what you'll be bringing to the Jaffe's. Roby is coordinating the details for this. 


Saturday, January 26, 2:00 PM, Voices of POWER Winter Fundraiser 

Please plan to attend this fundraising musical concert at Congregation Rodeph Shalom to benefit POWER (see article on below about POWER). Light refreshments will be served at 2:00 PM and the concert is from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Tickets are only $10 and our own Jessi Roemer will be among the musicians performing. More information and tickets purchases are available here or contact Susan Thompson at or 215.923.4040.  

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

Rabbi Julie Official PhotoDear Chevre,

I have been sitting at the hospice bedside of my mother these past two weeks, accompanying her towards what must be one of the most universal and at the same time one of the most individual experiences of human kind: death. By the time you read this she will have entered Olam HaBa/The World to Come.

Thank you for your prayers and care.

Rabbi Julie
Power Logo
Our Major Tikkun Olam Project


Spring Garden School's Summer Reading Project

At our last Kabbalat Shabbat Service, our guest speaker, Principal Laureal Robinson of Spring Garden School spoke of the progress the school has made in the last year. The cutbacks have been very dramatic but, despite the state's lack of funding to Philadelphia schools, Spring Garden is doing its best to keep a healthy, nurturing and educated student body functioning.

The principal indicated that ALL of the students are eligible for the free-lunch program. In other words, all 380 students are below the poverty level. That's a pretty startling fact to take in!

Leyv Ha-Ir is now announcing our second year of funding efforts for the Spring Garden's Summer Reading Project.  Because of our efforts, and along with Congregation Rodeph Shalom, we were able to supply books for EACH child to take home and keep. See the photo above for the children's smiling faces with their books. Not only did we achieve that task - enough monies were left over to present Principal Robinson with a check with which to purchase school supplies.

Leyv Ha-Ir always comes through!  We will do this fund-raiser again. Please contribute by sending a generous check, payable to Leyv Ha-Ir, to P.O. Box 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103, stating Book Drive. Let's help these children by giving them a book to call their very own.


Voices of POWER Concert


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., with light refreshments beginning at 2 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 will be performing. Tickets are only $10 each. You can also place an ad in the ad book for the event at a rate that is quite reasonable. All necessary information is here, or contact Susan Thompson at if you have additional questions. To purchase a ticket, please contact Susan as well. 

Friday, March 7 - Sunday, March 9, 2014.  Don't miss out.  


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


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


To register, please send a check payable to Leyv Ha-Ir and with a note saying "Retreat" to:

Leyv Ha-Ir

P.O. Box 15836

Philadelphia, PA 19103  


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. Hotel room payments are made directly with the hotel. 


Contact Evy at 215-561-7474, or Sandy at 215-561-5149, with your questions and to join the Retreat Planning Committee.
Happy Birthday
Please join us in extending birthday wishes to these members:

January 7 - Roby Jacobs
January 8 - Karen Zeitz
January 20 - Bobbi Cohen
January 21 - Todd Feldman
January 26 - Donna Butler
January 30 - Susan Jaffe
May This Soul be Bound in the Book of Eternal Light: yahrzeit
Joan Appel
Led by Rabbi Julie

Fifteen members assembled on December 15 for part 3 of "How To Make Sense out of What Does Not make Sense in the Bible". Rabbi Julie chose the Genesis story of Cain and Abel as the basis of this class, which made for great discussion and some very clever midrashim. Of course this followed a delicious brunch put together by Myrna Schlanger and Evy Simon.

Thanks to all who had a part or attended this successful series.  Look for more information about education programs being developed for the winter and spring!
Kabbalat Shabbat/Hanukah/Interfaith Family Service
held in November
Lighting of the Candles at Annual Rosh Hodesh/Hanukah Celebration

Being a Jewish Person in a Global World, part II


Rabbi Julie Greenberg


These holy days, I have been talking about what it means to be a Jewish person in a global world, a world of huge diversity and difference. Our mission is to find the values within Judaism for tolerance and respect and justice for all, values that will allow us to share and sustain a world with others.


Being Jewish in a global world means opening ourselves to share and listen with others who are very different from us. I had an experience this past January at a week-long training for organizers in Atlanta. It was a multi-faith training conference offered by PICO, People Improving Communities through Organizing which was started about thirty years ago by a Jesuit priest. At this gathering there were about 130 people and they truly came from all walks of life. There were Native Americans from reservations, there were Dreamer kids who had been brought to this country as undocumented young immigrants and now do not have citizen's rights, there were people returning to society from prison who call themselves Returning Citizens. What we had in common was that we were people of faith and we were involved as activist citizens making the world better.


Each morning leaders from different faiths gave an hour-long presentation about their faith. There was a Muslim, a Seventh Day Adventist, a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a Quaker Friend. There was one other Rabbi there, a young twenty-something, newly minted from the Reform seminary, very cute and very new. He had graduated less than a year before. He was eager to do the presentation and I said fine.


So he got up in front of the group and gave a very textbook presentation about Judaism. I'm sure after years in the rabbinate he will have more and different things to say but he did well. Afterwards people in the audience asked questions.


One person said, "Do you believe in Jesus?"

       "No," said the Rabbi.

       The next person asked, "Do you believe Jesus is the  


"No," said the Rabbi.

Another person asked, "What do you believe about Jesus?"

"Nothing." said the new Rabbi.


At that point, there was an audible gasp in the room as this information sunk in, "They don't believe in Jesus!" rippled around the room. This was profoundly new and different information for most people there and it took a while for these friendly people of good will to "get it." I could tell it was taking a while because the next question for the rabbi was "Do you celebrate Christmas?" 


I'm sharing this story to illustrate how we really don't know about each other's experience and reality unless we listen. Those fellow travellers now have a totally new understanding of diversity in this world. Not everyone believes Jesus is God!


Here in Philly, I am in a city-wide interfaith clergy caucus that has monthly meetings. In this caucus I really get to know colleagues from very different backgrounds. My colleagues come from every geographic area of the city, from every faith and class background and they are of different races. We work together on projects that affect the well being of the city and I think the bonds we build help hold the city well.


A couple months ago in the clergy caucus, we were having lunch together and the Black and Latino ministers started sharing stories about being racially profiled. These guys are the most upstanding citizens, highly educated, moral leaders in their communities. I'm continually impressed with their eloquence and insight. And yet when they walk down the street, they are just another brown skin body.


Colleague after colleague shared stories of being stopped on the street to be frisked or of being followed by security when entering a store. One minister had just come back from traffic court because he had been ticketed "for driving in the wrong lane." "What's the wrong lane?" we asked. "That's what I wanted to know." He said. Another one told of lending his Mercedes to his teenage son and the son being stopped by police under suspicion that he had stolen the car. My heart was weeping to hear stories like this right here in my city. Just as the folks in Atlanta had their eyes opened about Judaism, I had to register the reality of my friends who do not have white skin privilege.


For a similar entry into another's experience, I recommend the film Fruitvale Station, a must-see movie for all Americans --- this film tells the powerful, true story of a young Black man who was not well educated by the public schools, could not find and keep employment, had no place in society, and then was accidentally shot to death by police at the Fruitvale train station in a New Year's eve incident. He was barely 20.


Most of us good people here do not consciously harbor personal feelings of racism. Our intent is not to create a society that targets some of God's children for racial abuse. And yet we participate in institutional racism: we tolerate a society in which brown children are much much more likely than white children to be in underperforming, poor schools; in which people of color are way more likely to be unemployed, or to be the working poor, people who work 40 hours a week and still can't pay basic bills. We don't personally discriminate against people with different colored skin but we agree to a society that systematically deprives some people of the education and opportunity they need to have a decent life. We are part of a system that took 1.3 billion dollars out of public education in Pennsylvania while allocating millions to the construction of prisons. Does that make sense? To dis-invest in education and instead to invest in prisons? So even though our intent is not to cause harm, the impact of the system we live with does cause harm.


I learned more about systemic, institutional racism from reading the mind-blowing book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. There are now Reconstructionist congregations around the country doing study groups on this book and I encourage people to read it if you haven't already. The author is a Civil Rights lawyer who says that there have been three iterations of racism in our society.

The first was slavery.

The second was the system called Jim Crow of enforced segregation between the races.

The third manifestation of racism is the war on drugs and the incarceration industry that targets poor Black and Latino neighborhoods and systematically imprisons people. Anyone with a felony record is then unable to re-enter society: they can't get jobs, can't be on a jury, forevermore are part of that prison industrial complex.


Why am I talking about this in a Jewish context on Yom Kippur? Because we are called today to live our values. The Torah teaches that human beings were made b'tzelem elohim, in the image of God. A midrash explains that God is different from the maker of coins. Someone making coins designs a mold and presses out multiple copies of identical coins. But God in creating human beings makes each one incredibly unique and yet we are all equally children of God.


In Deuteronomy we learn that it is our mandate to "tzedek, tzedek tirdof," Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue. Tzedek is the word for right, for justice. It's connected to tzedakah, justice giving, and to tzadik, being a wise, fair person. Whenever there is a repetition of words in the bible such as tzedek, tzedek, the rabbis have a ball with interpretation.


Why does the Bible say tzedek twice? Maybe because we have to work on making things right both within ourselves and out in the world. Or maybe it says tzedek tzedek because even when there are obstacles and it's hard work, we keep persisting. Or maybe it says tzedek tzedek, the rabbis taught, because there is justice here on earth and there is justice in the world to come.


The Torah is a mythic teacher of values, not a technical blueprint for life. It teaches us to ask deep questions about the purpose of life. If we are truly each made in God's image, what is our responsibility to others? If we are truly here to pursue justice, what does that mean? What is our responsibility to create a world that actually respects and provides opportunity to every single person? An early bible character, Cain, asks the piercing question "Am I my brother's keeper?" It has been said that the entire Torah and Jewish tradition is an answer to that question. The answer is Yes, that's exactly it, we are our brother's and sister's keepers. We are here to be part of a whole, w-h-o-l-e, a holy whole, that works for all. That is God's vision. That is the Jewish vision.


But, you may say, I want to live by Torah values of justice and respect, but I am swamped in my own life with daily demands and I can't become an expert on all the pressing issues of the day. I can't get involved with immigration reform and ending racism and making sure every child gets a decent education.


You're right. You can't possibly take it all on. And here's where I want to bring another Jewish concept to the table. The most intimate unit for worship in Judaism is the minyan, a group of ten people who come together to pray. But each person does not actually have to say all the prayers. A leader often says the prayers on behalf of the minyan. The leader is called the shaliach or schlichat tzibur and it can be any Jewish person over the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The leader does not have to be a trained Jewish professional. The shlichat or shaliach tzibur, the leader, is a public messenger, who offers up prayers as a representative for the rest of the minyan. We say that the other people in the minyan are "yotzay," they have fullfilled their obligation to say those prayers because they supported the leader to say them.


The beauty of a congregation is that different people play different roles and collectively we are all yotzay, our obligation is fulfilled, because we are all part of the whole. In this congregation, we have a powerful social justice component. We are very involved in the Philly public schools on both a hands-on level and on a policy level and we also participate in living wage work. Working on Education and Jobs are ways that we address issues of systemic racism.


Not every one of our members can do this work and yet each person knows that through their membership in Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City, they are being represented in this work. My main role as Rabbi is pastoral, caring for the people in this congregation and helping build community here. Another role I have is to lead us in Repair of the World, Tikkun Olam. In both my roles, I know that I don't have to do it alone. We are in this together. I know that when I can't show up for an event another one of us will because we have strength in numbers. We yotzay each other. When you become part of a community you become bigger than yourself, more effective than just you can be, you multiply the good works, as each one strengthens and inspires and stands for the next one.


This is what it means to be a Jew in a global world. It means that we join together as Jews in collective service to the people and the possibilities of the world. Like our prophet Isaiah said, ritual practice is all well and good but that's not the essence of what is called for from you. Being here on Yom Kippur is great but it is not enough. The essence of what is called for from you is the mitzvot, the good deeds, that are the privilege of every single Jewish person older than the age of 13, to make this world a good place. Because our sages knew that no one can do this alone, our religion is a communal religion. Each person says, Hineni, Here I am, for the part that you can do, and you rest assured that your peers are also doing their part so that the sum is greater than the individual parts. That's what it means to be a Jew in a global world.


May this be a year of showing up, joining in and making a difference together. May we be infused with the wisdom of the sages, the melodies of the angels, and the truth of Torah. May we each participate in the commandment tzedek tzedek tirdof, justice justice you shall pursue, by giving tzedakah, by being a tzadik and most of all by participating in Jewish community again and again in the year 5774. Shana Tovah.