Please note that in the LHI Calendar below, the book title for our August 24 One Book, One Congregation Bagels & Books was incorrect.  It has now been corrected in this edition.  Our apologies for any inconvenience.
In This Issue
POWER Update
One Book, One Congregation Bagels & Books
Monthly Singing Circle
Shofar on the Horizon
Shabbat Morning Service with the Geese
Member Profile: Daniel Johnson
In Memory of Marci Fleet
August Member Yahzeits
Rabbi's Message
Looking Ahead September and the High Holidays
Please look for future emails with detailed information about LHI High Holidays services.


Now is the time to join LHI or renew your membership. The latest information is available here.
Donate via PayPal
Leyv Ha-Ir Listserv

To Post a Message - just send an email to Attachments are accepted.


Leyv Ha-Ir Event Postings - will be sent by designated people using the information on our


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.

Chesed Reminder
A reminder that we have a Chesed (acts of loving kindness) committee who will do their best to offer assistance to LHI members in need. If you find yourself in that situation please call and we'll see how we can be helpful.

Joan Goldberg 215-561-5193
Pat Wisch 215-563-1894
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, z"l, lovely art cards created for this purpose to the recipient of your choice.


Sue Frank will send the card and compose a note that expresses your thoughts. She can also customize a card based on your suggestion.


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
Home Shabbat Hosts Needed
Our monthly Friday night home Shabbats have become a popular mainstay of Leyv Ha-Ir community life. Hosts are needed for upcoming months.

Host responsibilities are minimal and support is available to guide you every step of the way. Attendance averages 10 to 18 people.

For more information or to volunteer as a host, please contact Roby Jacobs at  You'll be glad you did.
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


Jewish Exponent
Contact Leyv Ha-Ir
Voice Mail:

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


What does it mean to "belong?" There are many levels of belonging. We belong to the global Jewish community, by birth or by choice. You may belong to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir by making a commitment to be a member and paying dues.

On another level, belonging means you fit in, have a rightful place, have a home. At Leyv Ha-Ir we continue to create a community where Jews can have that sense of belonging. We offer worship services, education programs, and special interest programs that we hope will lead to further exploration, learning, and fun. In addition, you might experience a deeper sense of fulfillment of your Jewish self.

We urge you to participate in the various types of programs that Leyv Ha-Ir has to offer, and experience this deeper sense of belonging. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to know more. 


Best regards,


Bobbi and Roby

Your Co-First Vice Presidents


Saturday, August 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: Roby Jacobs' home in the Fitler Square neighborhood of Philadelphia

Contact Roby at to RSVP an let her know what you'll be bringing for lunch.


Monday, August 4, 8:00 PM, Tisha B'Av Service

All are invited to our annual commemoration of the destruction of the First and Second temples in Jerusalem and much more. Rabbi Alanna Sklover will again lead us in thoughtful prayer. As Tisha B'Av is a traditional fast day no food will be served.
Location: Iris Newman's home in center city Philadelphia. 

Contact Iris at 215-561-0228 or  for exact location.  


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

All members are invited to our monthly Council meeting.
Location: Bobbi Cohen's home in center city Philadelphia. 

Contact Bobbi at 215-236-0689 or for exact location.

Sunday, August 24
, 10:30 AM, One Book, One Congregation Bagels & Books
Welcome Rabbi Julie back from her vacation at this annual event. We are reading "My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit. Please come whether or not you have read the book as there will certainly be lively discussion.  Brunch will be included.
Cost: $10/member, $15/guest
Location: Penn Center House Leisure Lounge, 1900 JFK Blvd., 2nd floor
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions. 
Saturday, September 6, 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., 2nd floor

Contact: LHI at 215-629-1995 or for additional information.

Sunday, September 14
, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM, Singing Circle
Come be a part of this new LHI monthly program! You don't need a great voice, just an interest in music and singing. Cantorial Soloist Jessi Roemer will lead us in High Holiday melodies and music. No refreshments will be served at this event; you can bring your own beverage. Guests are welcome. 
Cost: $5 per person to cover the cost of the room rental
Location: Penn Center House Leisure Lounge, 1900 JFK Blvd., 2nd floor
Contact: Frann Shore at or 267-614-4012 for additional information.

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

Power Logo

Education: Full, Fair Funding 



The Issue: Philadelphia Schools and the Need for a 

Full, Fair Funding Formula 


Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the US without a fair funding formula, which means money is doled out based on political power not student needs. This can lead to dramatic funding crises-like the ones we have experienced in Philadelphia for the past few years-in districts that can't rely on property taxes to adequately fund their schools. 


In 2014, POWER continues to educate voters and policymakers across the state on the importance of a full, fair, transparent funding formula, with the goal of getting such a formula enacted within the first 100 days of the state legislative session in 2015. 


A fair funding policy would take factors like the number of special education students in a district or ability to raise money from property taxes into account when deciding how much to give each district. It would make it possible for districts to predict, in advance, how much they will get each year, thus reducing the likelihood of annual funding crises. The only way to win a full, fair funding formula (FFFF) is to make school funding a top issue in the 2014 Governor's race and expand this issue outside of Philadelphia, building a statewide coalition of faith communities, parents, educators, and public education advocates who will maintain pressure on legislators to make full, fair funding a reality. 


This process has begun and is in full swing. Currently, POWER Philadelphia is joining CUNA in Allentown to become FAITH in PA, under the auspices of the national PICO network. Cecily Harwitt will become the state regional coordinator of the new team. Faith-based groups in Pittsburgh will continue to work with POWER to win a FFFF. A new education coordinator has been hired for Philadelphia. 


POWER has been central to creating a table where several groups already working on winning a fair funding formula, including Education Voters PA, Pennsylvania Citizens for Children and Youth, and the Education Law Center can coordinate their efforts. 


In order to fund this statewide campaign, POWER is hosting Education is Power: A Fall Fund Raiser on Thursday, October, 23rd, 6-8 p.m. at Rodeph Shalom Synagogue. I am asking that you consider buying a ticket to this event. VIP tickets are $100; regular tickets are $60. VIP ticket holders will have private conversations with our two guest speakers, Reginald Browne (featured in Forbes and Bloomberg magazines) and City Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. The event will also feature catering by Chef's Table, an open bar, a silent auction and musical entertainment provided by GAMP students. Tickets can be purchased at In addition, sponsorships are available at the $250, $500 and $700 levels. Please consider supporting this worthy event by buying a ticket, becoming a sponsor or contributing to the silent auction.

Contact Susan Thompson,, for any questions.

"My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit




1900 JFK BLVD.


Each year Rabbi Julie Greenberg chooses a book for us to read and discuss. This year it is "MY PROMISED LAND"  written by an Israeli journalist attempting to explain his homeland to the World.


Please join us whether or not you have read the book. Come and gain a better understanding of Israel, its history, its people and its place in the world.


Brunch is included. 


Members $10.00   Guests $ 15.00

Jessi Roemer, our Cantorial leader, will teach and lead us in Jewish melodies and chants for Shabbat, holidays, and everyday life! We'll have fun during each session, and we'll come away with more tunes under our belts, ready to "lead from our seats" and help Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City be a vibrant singing community! Sessions are open to anyone who loves to sing, whether or not you think you have a good voice. Membership is not required. Singing Circles will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.on the second Sunday of the month, with some exceptions. A small entrance fee will help us cover the cost of room rental.

At our first Singing Circle, Jessi will prepare us for the High Holidays.
Date: Sunday, September 14
Location:Penn Center House, 1900 JFK Blvd, 2nd floor Leisure Lounge
Time:10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
A schedule of future Singing Circles will be distributed at this meeting.  For further information, write Frann Shore, the Singing Circle Facilitator, at
A "heads up" - no refreshments will be served.
Calling All Volunteers


This is a wake-up call for volunteers needed for the High Holydays! Yes, it is only early August, and the High Holy days are late (Yom Kippur is in October), but we are starting to plan already. It takes a village, or in our case an Active Community to make the High Holy days meaningful and smooth running. The 50 or so not-so young members take on hundreds of High Holy days attendees! We want to be there for old-timers, AND for those searching to belong, to be-at-home during these Holy Times and possibly beyond.


I am inviting VOLUNTEERS to join me to:

  1. Help set-up, clear/clean up for various services and Break Fast
  2. Welcome and check-in attendees at our check-in desk
  3. Reach out and say hello to visitors and friends
  4. Participate in services by doing a reading, opening the ark

Except for Rabbi Julie and Cantorial Soloist Jessi, Leyv Ha-Ir is operated by "We-The-People"! Thus, practically speaking, I would now like to hear from all who can contribute of your self, especially for numbers 1 and 2 above.


If you know my email or telephone, feel free to contact me that way, otherwise use the LHI email, or phone number, 215.629.1995.  


Thank you,

Roby Jacobs, Hospitality Chair


An Annual LHI Tradition
Fifteen members and friends visited with Myrna Schlanger at her
New Jersey home July 12. Donna Finkelstein led services, followed by a delicious potluck lunch. The ducks in Myrna's backyard have disappeared because a flock of geese (about 30) has taken over.  

by John O. Mason and Daniel Johnson 

Daniel J. Johnson was born at the foot of the Rocky Mountains near Provo, Utah. When he was around four his family moved to northern Wisconsin, where he was raised. Solon Springs is a small vacation town that sits next to St. Croix Lake-right where the St. Croix River begins. The town hovered in population between six hundred in the winter to as many as a thousand in the summer.

Of his religious upbringing Johnson says that by the time he was on the scene his parents weren't involved with institutional religion. "My father was what's called a 'north-woodsman.' He believed that God was in nature. My mother was a disaffected Roman Catholic." She'd been divorced and had had Carol, his 'half-sister,' from that marriage. So for most of her life she'd say, 'the Catholic Church doesn't like me much.' She got involved once Daniel became involved.

Johnson was brought up in the local Lutheran church, and baptized at the age of ten. "I was theologically curious," he says. Once his godmother Edith, who he describes as a really wonderful person, asked him, 'What are you going to be when you grow up?' And I said, 'a theologian.' She exclaimed, 'A theologian? What does that mean?' And I said, 'I'm not sure yet, but I'll find out when I get there!'"

"Pretty much everything I've done," Johnson says, "has had something to do with religion and spirituality." He attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior as a music major, studying voice, and was exposed to all kinds of sacred and other music. "But I had to escape that part of the country, so I joined the Navy." After basic training, Johnson was assigned to the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. "I was studying to be a psychiatric technician," he recalls, "but I washed out of that school because I got depressed. I couldn't deal with the amount of mental illness I was encountering." Ironically in the 1980's he became a mental-health professional. He spent much of his career in mental health specializing in HIV/AIDS services, though not always directly in patient care.

"I went to Temple University and in 1981 earned my B.A. in Religion." Among others, his teachers included Leonard Swidler, who specializes in inter-religious dialogue, and Franklin Littel, a Christian Holocaust scholar. On occasion, Johnson says, he would cross paths with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal movement), and studied with some of his students.

After working as a medical secretary, Johnson studied at the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia (LTSP), in 1986 earning a Master of Arts in Religion (MAR) with an emphasis in Practical Theology. "Which means I was trained to do administration and counseling." That's how he got back into mental health. Using his background as a Hospital Corpsman (Medic) and seminary training, he landed his first job as an addictions counselor. In addition to his position as a Public Health Program Analyst-which he did for 15 years-Johnson worked as an HIV counselor, as well as social worker in Philadelphia Department of Health. He retired five years ago.

Of his decision to convert to Judaism, Johnson said, "I had glimmers of my future when I was ten years old." While living in the country he attended the Presbyterian Church. But once his family moved into the village he began attending the Lutheran Church. "One time, we were reading the story of Jacob and the Ladder, and it hit me: It was so cool! It's a great story. And I asked my Sunday-School teacher, when we were discussing that particular story, 'Why aren't we Jewish?' After she 'recovered' from the question, her answer was, 'Because we believe in Jesus.'" Johnson says that much of his life was spent exploring the question, 'What does it mean that we follow Jesus?' He relates: "It's a great question! Over the years, it's been a real quest." In 2011 he received a Master of Sacred Theology degree, also from LTSP.

"Then I responded to an internal conflict," Johnson recalls. "For Christians, Jesus is the one with all the answers. He's 'the savior.' I'm a Storyteller. So I've read many stories. In Judaism, you constantly have the stories, the arguments, the questions, the answers, more questions, more answers." Christianity was lopsided.... You end up with a conundrum. "To me it was circular logic." Johnson realized he could no longer credibly call himself a Christian, saying that he gave up belief in Jesus as God: "Jesus as Rabbi, Yes! Jesus as God? Not so much." During his religious explorations, Johnson encountered Judaism as an adult.

During a class at Starr King School for Ministry, one of the Unitarian-Universalist seminaries, his friend Ed Greenlee was taking a class online that included visiting various faith communities for a worship service. One of the places they visited was Leyv Ha-Ir. "It's like I walked in and I just resonated with it!"

Last year over the summer Johnson read a great deal on Judaism. He began attending services regularly, and participated in the High Holy Days services. "After that I had some talks with Rabbi Julie. I withdrew from the Society of St. Francis (of which I was a member) and Episcopal Church, and met with Rabbi Julie regularly from September to May. "I became interested in Judaism a long time ago... I've always been interested in Jewish thought and culture. It's always been an important part of my spiritual journey."

In May, Daniel J. Johnson successfully met with a Beyt Din and entered the Mikveh at Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, near City Line Avenue. Among friends and members of the Congregation, he was then given the name Daniyyel Ya'akov Ben Avraham v' Sarah by Rabbi Julie. He calls it a "wonderful experience of rebirth and renewal."

Leyv Ha-Ir's treasure, Marci (Marsha) Fleet past away last week.  Many of our members sent along their thoughts on her passing. Below is a message from Joanne Perilstein which sums up the essence of our beloved Marci:


"I can't go to the funeral due to my need to recuperate  from my knee replacement. On this day however, my thoughts  center around her, and our loss of her. I want to share one of my most sweet and touching memories of Marci. She and I had mutually frustrating difficulties  communicating with each other. My hearing limitations and her speech problems did not permit us to communicate the complexity of ideas and feelings that we wanted to share. It was also difficult for her to provide me with some help with mobility, even though she clearly wanted to.  Undaunted, Marci both noticed something about me, and responded in a way that was unique. The same arthritic problems that is currently causing me to recover from a knee replacement also expresses itself in my having very painful hands. I don't really expect anyone else to notice this, and luckily, there are many times when the pain is not present. But good old Marci was aware of the pain in my hands. Often unsolicited, she would take one of my hands and very gently touch and massage it. It was so was so unexpected; it was such effective communication of feelings and warmth and kindness. I think part of what was the genius of being Marci was her ability to transcend some of her communication frustrations through other means, such as her art, her gentleness, her giggle, and, as I remember, even the tilt of her head. I am so sorry that her time among us has been truncated and I hope that she may rest in peace ." 

~~~by Joanne Perilstein~~~

May These Souls be Bound in the Book of Eternal Light: 
Haim Klimoff
Gregory Triestman
Looking back at Rabbi Julie's past sermons, which can be found linked on the "Spiritual Leaders" page of our website, a poignant and timely sermon called "PEACE", KOL NIDRE, 5771, strikes a chord at this time of war. In it, Rabbi profoundly recalls the discussions that were going on between the leaders of the Israeli and Arab worlds, and the importance of these discussions. Rabbi Julie says " how essential the value of Right Speech is in Judaism. It is considered one of the most important Jewish practices. The way we talk about peace in the middle east matters: do we bring a tone of suspicion and a viewpoint that looks to all the hurts and disasters of the past? Or do we emphasize glimmers of possibility, creative problem solving, small steps towards success?"  Please read the sermon in its entirety, printed below:

Long ago in a small eastern European shtetl there lived a Jew named Yankel. Month after month he eked out a meager living, earning barely enough to keep his family alive. Frustrated by his poverty, Yankel began to dream of a richer, fuller life.


So he started asking friends for suggestions on how he could find a decent occupation that would fulfill his dreams. Soon a consensus developed. Mead is not only a fine drink, claimed his friends, but a great way to make a living. After all, isn't mead served at every bar mitzvah, wedding and festive event? With such a market for spirits, who could go wrong?


So Yankel began to learn all he could about mead. He inquired of the local innkeepers, he read what he could and day after day he practiced the distilling arts. Finally he was ready to try his mead recipe on his friends.


He gathered them around, poured them each a glass and invited them to drink to his success. But to his dismay, looking around the room all he saw were strained faces showing distaste with the brew. He lifted his own mug and realized that it tasted flat, almost bitter.


Dejected, but not defeated, Yankel tried week after week to make a pleasing brew but every week he met with his friends' polite distaste. Yankel knew that in the big city of Kiev there was a great brew master whose reputation was known far and wide. Yankel decided to make the journey to the great city for a consultation.


Over the course of several days Yankel reviewed the ingredients and procedures with the brewer.


Finally the brewer said, "Well, I'm not sure what the problem is."


"Do you mean I came all this way for nothing?" Yankel cried.


"I'm sorry, " said the brewer and gave Yankel a parting gift of a small jar of honey. "You probably have this at home, but I give it to you anyway for your mead."


Immediately, Yankel realized why he had been led to Kiev. He thanked the brew master, packed his belongings and headed home. No sooner did he arrive than he began to root through his own pantry. There on a low shelf, overlooked, was a small jar of honey. Yankel scooped up the jar and rushed off to make a fresh batch of mead.


When the spirits were ready, Yankel again summoned his friends. This time smiles and approval came forth as Yankel and company drained their mugs. From that day forward Yankel's mead delighted his customers far and wide and became the livelihood for himself and his family. (Based on Brewing Spirits: A Hassidic Tale in Show Me Your Ways, Rabbi Howard Addison)


"When first hearing this Hassidic tale you might be struck by the simplicity of the message: in the midst of our need, the ingredients for fulfillment are right at hand. Sweetness is no further away than our own pantry. 


But it's interesting that Yankel had to go on a journey of discovery to find that missing ingredient. The honey was always sitting on his shelf, but Yankel had no idea of its significance until he engaged with others who helped him come full circle back home, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. 


Spiritual yearning brings us into community where we find the treasures that have always been ours. What is the missing ingredient, the sweet honey, that will pull it all together? 


At the end of many services here, we rise for the Aleynu prayer and I ask "What kind of world are you taking a stand for today? It is a world of ____________" and almost invariably the first word shouted out to finish that sentence is PEACE. Many of you have been with me for this prayer and you can testify, right, that the longing for peace is a primal response. 


But we are missing some ingredient for peace and it's hard to know where to look, both internally for peace of mind, and out in the world, for peace in all the troubled spots of the world. We all want to be Rodef Shalom, or Rodfay Shalom, Seekers of Peace, but getting the exact right recipe is the challenge of a lifetime. 


Last week President Obama held a conference call with Rabbis from all the denominations, from all across the United States. I joined this call to see what the President had to say. He wanted to talk with us about the Peace Talks that are underway between President Netanyahu and Prime Minister Abbas. 


The first meetings had just taken place with a constructive tone and a serious commitment to re-launching negotiations. The leaders are establishing a positive one-on-one relationship and teams of thoughtful peacemakers are providing deep back up on all sides with the United States leading the way. 


Their goal, Obama said, is to create a framework for agreement and then to move through each and every issue until there is a peace agreement. They intend to meet every two weeks for a year to accomplish this. Despite past disappointments, low expectations and huge challenges, he felt that the leaders hold a shared goal: that there be two states living side by side in peace and security. The United States is committed to playing an active and sustaining role in this. 


There are hazards at every step of the way that will test the resolve of these leaders to stay focused on that goal. 


Obama made it clear that he thinks there is the possibility of success and there is also the possibility of failure. He wanted the Rabbis to know that both leaders, Abbas and Netanyahu, have huge political pressures at home and that both will say some unfortunate things for political consumption at home. We can't allow every stupid statement or incident to defeat the process. By keeping our eyes on the prize, the goal of peace, we need to ride up over the tough spots on the way that could pull us into doubt, despair and defeat and stay aligned at all times with the vision we're working towards. 


What Obama was really doing in this phone conversation was calling on the Rabbis of the land to build a climate of support for these peace negotiations.. He wants us to continue to speak in favor of peace, knowing that because the United States will never abandon Israel's security needs, Israel is coming from a position of strength. Obama urged us to give these talks a chance. He said, "Please do not look for reasons they should fail." 


That made me think of how essential the value of Right Speech is in Judaism. It is considered one of the most important Jewish practices. The way we talk about peace in the middle east matters: do we bring a tone of suspicion and a viewpoint that looks to all the hurts and disasters of the past? Or do we emphasize glimmers of possibility, creative problem solving, small steps towards success? 


It is up to us to manifest the truth of these Holy Days, that there is reason for optimism; there is hope for new beginnings. What is the point of these religious days if we can't infuse their message into our actual lives?


So I call on you in the coming months, as the peace negotiations soar or lurch or muddle forward, to speak of them with your best selves, bringing to bear the true message of this season, change is possible, hope is worthwhile. Without hope, why would we ever try? The outcome is uncertain which is why we need faith.


There is a window of opportunity, now, for peace. We are the ones creating the climate in this country to support this opportunity. Just as with any relationship, the process of engaging to move towards peace, will test our ability to manage disappointment, to handle compromise, to listen to the Other and to truly keep the vision of peace, with all that it entails, before us. 


Each one of us has a part to play in the success of these peace talks. No, we are not at the negotiating table. We are not diplomats, most of us are not Jewish Israelis or Palestinians and we don't set their agenda. Yet, each one of us is an essential missing ingredient. Each one of us has a choice to build or detract from the momentum of these talks. Jewish voices matter a lot in United Sates politics. Be a Jewish voice for peace. Be the elusive, hidden honey that Yankel needed for his mead.


Obama ended his conversation with the Rabbis by noting that the call of the Shofar is "urgent, timeless, familiar, distinctive." He inspired us to respond to the call of the shofar by being partners in making peace, by building support for the peace talks. Will you heed the call? 


Shalom, May the Year 5771 be a year of peace for each of you and for all who dwell on earth.