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There is still time to present yourself as a candidate for our Council (LHI's equivalent of a Board of Directors), either Council-at-Large or an executive position. Please contact Bobbi Cohen at or 215.514.7329 if you have questions or would like tho help lead your synagogue into the future.
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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
Margie Wiener 215-563-8998
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MARCH 2015

Dear Friends of Leyv Ha-Ir,


It is the month of Adar - the month of joy!  And while we are mindful of the challenges faced by Jews throughout the world, let's celebrate Purim and Adar with joy in our hearts.   We can be strong like Esther and symbolically rid ourselves of all of the Haman's.  Come to our Purim celebration.  It's always a good time.  See the details further down in this newsletter. 


Stay warm and well.


Best regards,

Bobbi, Roby, Larry, Phyllis and Claire

Your Leyv Ha-Ir Executive Committee 


Saturday, March 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 Building, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., Collier Room, 2nd floor front

Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions.  


Sunday, March 8, 2:00 to 4:00 PM, Purim Celebration

Come hear the megillah, laugh at (or be a part of) our Purimshpiel, nosh and schmooze.  Rabbi Julie and Jessi Roemer will lead us.  Please bring a snack and/or beverage to share.  Hamantashen and alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks are always welcome. 

Location: William Penn House Community Room, 1919 Chestnut St., 1st Floor

Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions.    


Monday, March 9, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting
All members are invited to our monthly Council meeting.
Location: Bobbi Cohen's home in Center City.
Contact Bobbi at 215-514-7329 for exact location.      


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

Join us at Evy Simon's home in Center City for a short lay-led Friday night service followed by a pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner.
Contact Evy at  or 215-593-5248 for the exact address, to RSVP and to tell her what you are bringing. 


Sunday, March 15, 10:45 AM, Singing Circle and Retreat 

Please see the article below for the details
Cost: According to which part of day.  Please see article below.
Location: Penn Center House Leisure Lounge, 1900 JFK Blvd., 2nd floor
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions. 

Friday, March 20, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat Service 

Rabbi Julie and Jessi Roemer will lead us in prayer as we welcome in Shabbat. All are welcome.  

The service will be followed by Kiddush and Oneg Shabbat. 

Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., first floor auditorium   


Sunday, March 22,  11:00 AM, Rabbi's Education Series, RRC Partner Status Discussion 

All are welcome to this second session of Rabbi Julie's spring education series.  Rabbi Linda Holtzman from RRC will be joining us for this interesting and multi-faceted discussion.  See article below for additional information.

Brunch is included.

Cost: $10/member, $15/nonmember

Location: William Penn House Community Room, 1919 Chestnut St., 1st floor

Please register by leaving a message at 215.629.1995 or sending an email to


Saturday, April 4, 6:30 PM, Community Passover Seder

Join people from within and from outside our community in our annual seder, led by Rabbi Julie and Jessi Roemer.  Please see article below for details and registration information.  Friends and family are welcome. 

Location:  The Philadelphian Social Room, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., 2nd Floor 


Saturday, April 11, 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 Building, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., Collier Room, 2nd floor front

Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions.

Please note the change from the 1st Saturday of the month to the 2nd Saturday for April only! 


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

March 2015

Dear Chevre,

As we approach the Passover season of liberation, I'd like to lift up a developing theme of our city-wide social justice work. Our congregation has now been part of the POWER interfaith network of synagogues, churches and mosques, for three years. During this time we've forged amazingly successful working relationships that have advanced fair funding for public education and a living wage for workers. Leaders in POWER are now realizing that to go farther with this work, we need to go deeper in trust building across lines of difference.

We want the strongest possible coalition. One of the threats to our strength is the deep wound of racism in American culture. While we all carry personal "implicit bias" about people of different races, there are also systemic kinds of racism that we aren't very educated about.

For instance,
  • How does "Stop and Frisk" target and imprison a staggering number of young black males?
  • How does the war on drugs unfairly impact communities of color more than white college communities where an even higher rate of drug use is present?
  • How did unfair lending policies prevent black and brown people from building home equity, a major source of privilege for many white people?
Since race can be a taboo and uncomfortable topic, we limit ourselves from learning more. I think it is part of our spiritual practice to be curious about these kinds of questions and to learn more.

So now POWER congregations across the city are figuring out ways to integrate discussion of race into the fabric of our work. We want to learn how to challenge racism as a core part of all of our work. I'll be thinking with you about how we can move forward with this within our own community. I'm very interested to hear your ideas and comments.

Looking forward to Spring! Love and Blessings,

Rabbi Julie
From our February 15 Education Session

In a lively values-based discussion of our communal prayer practices, members of Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City, along with Rabbi Julie, reflected on our prayer experience, particularly on congregant-led services. What to do if you are leading and you forget a melody? What to do if you are a participant and you notice that the leader has left out something you care about? How can we best support leaders while providing satisfying prayer opportunities for participants?

We came up with some agreements about our communal expectations and commitments. We also have an outline for leaders of the flow of events in the "order," the siddur, of a Jewish prayer service that leaves plenty of room for innovation, kavvanah and alternative versions of prayers. We're all committed to nurturing and developing lay leadership.

Two prayers were mentioned that leaders sometimes forget to include; both of them are prayers that are special Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City traditions but are not standard items in every Jewish prayer service. One of these is the practice we call "Shamanu," based on the words of the Shema inspiring us to listen and hear one another. The other practice is a prayer for healing that we like to add to every service.

We did not agree on a single way to alert leaders if a valued prayer has been over-looked during a service.  Some people felt that interrupting the service is appropriate and others felt that private feedback could set the stage for a service at a later time. We all agreed that a tone of respect and consideration for the leader's efforts matter.

Reconstructionist Judaism celebrates democratic life in community; this discussion about prayer was an example of co-creating Jewish community life.

The agreements made are:
  • We recognize that we can all be leaders and we can all be followers; these are roles that people take turns enacting.
  • We agree to accept what our leaders offer, as it is given, in the spirit of receiving a gift.
  • When specifically asked in advance, even a moment in advance, we agree to be generous and responsive in sharing our skills to support leaders.
  • We understand that private dialogue with a kavannah/intention of good will about concerns, questions or feedback for a leader is welcome and appropriate whereas public interjection is not our community ethic.
  • We respect the integrity of each prayer and the service as a whole without interrupting that flow so we do not interrupt a prayer that is already under way.
  • We expect our leaders and participants to be mindful of time. Service gathering time and starting time will be listed in the invitation and the ending time should be listed if the host so desires.

You can print or save a copy of the agreements here.

Were you trying to reach us?

From last Wednesday, March 18 through part of Monday, March 23, emails coming into were lost and cannot be retrieved.  The problem has now been corrected. 

If you sent us an email during that time, please send it to us again, especially if it was to RSVP for the retreat or other program.

We apologize for the inconvenience and want to know what you had to say.  Thank you.
Please read about ways you can help

This is the last month of this drive. Please contribute to the annual book drive which will enable each of the students to take a book home for the summer and to keep them as well. Be generous! Send your check, payable to Leyv Ha-Ir, to
P.O. Box 15836, Philadelphia 19103 with a notation "Book Drive."

Save March 22, 4:00 to 6:00 PM (door will open at 3:30) for this Choir and Music concert featuring music from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Traditions. Last year's event was wonderful and this year's should be even better. Tickets are only $10. and benefit the important work that POWER is doing for our city. The concert will be held at St. Malachy's Catholic Church, 1429 N. 11th St. Free parking is available in the lot behind the church. Purchase your tickets here.
Joyful sounds in the heart of the city

Sunday, March 15, 2015
Penn Center House - 1900 JFK Blvd.,
2nd floor Leisure Lounge

10:45 am  - 3:45 pm


* Come and Drum with Joe Tayoun

* Finding Your Own Inner Song with Rabbi Julie

* Music from Different Jewish Traditions with Jessi Roemer

10:45 am to 12:00 noon
Drumming Workshop
12:15 to 1:00 pm
Lunch catered by Day By Day
1:00 to 1:45 pm
Finding Your Own Inner Song
1:45 to 3:45 pm
Music from Different Jewish Traditions

Full day including catered lunch - $50
Drumming Workshop only - $15
Drumming Workshop + lunch -- $35
Afternoon program with Jessi + lunch - $40

To register, please send your check, payable to Leyv Ha-Ir and marked "Retreat," to:
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir
P.O. Box 15836
Philadelphia, PA  19103

Questions?  Evy Simon - or 215-561-7474/215-593-5248

For the full flier, click here.
New series, new topics

2nd Session -- Giving Feedback to our Reconstructionist Movement - March 22
Reconstructionist congregations across the world have been asked to study an important question and give feedback about our thoughts, concerns and desires. The question has to do with rules for rabbis in romantic partnership.

There is currently a policy in place at RRC that if students are partnered, the partner must be Jewish at two stages of the student rabbi's journey: when the student enters the seminary and when the student leaves the seminary at graduation. At any other time, students are not scrutinized or judged about whether or not their partners are Jewish.

The College is proposing that this rule be abolished and that students be allowed to choose love partners at all stages of their careers, regardless of whether the partner is or is not Jewish.

This is a controversial proposal. On the one hand, traditionally Jews were expected to partner only with other Jews. On the other hand, in the modern world rabbis serve many, many interfaith couples and often love people themselves beyond the lines of Judaism.

Rabbi Linda Holtzman from RRC will be joining us to introduce various aspects and historical perspective on this.  We will grapple this issue, learning about its history and hearing views from all sides. And then we will share some of our understandings with the larger movement. In this way, we will be part of the movement's wrestling with the question of Non-Jewish Partners for Rabbis.

3rd Session -- Jewish Personal Growth - April 26
Judaism has a strong tradition of supporting personal growth. These teachings are especially embodied in a movement called Musar. The central premise of Musar is that the ultimate purpose of each of our lives is to make this world a better place, and that integral to the work of repairing the world (Tikkun Olam) is the work of elevating the level at which we each individually behave in the world (Tikkun Middot). Through Musar practice, we are offered a way of becoming more patient, more trusting, more reliable, more forgiving and so on. Each character trait that we cultivate is called a middah (virtue or value). Rabbi Julie will guide the group and also offer some individual guidance for staying emotionally well regulated by using spiritual tools from Jewish tradition.

All sessions are from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm and include brunch.
Cost per session: $10/members, $15/nonmembers

Please RSVP to 215.629.1995 or

Many LHI members gathered in February to discuss Shabbat Leadership, led by Rabbi Julie.  Ideas of how to conduct a Friday night home shabbat and/or Saturday morning services was discussed and a consensus was arrived at.  The results are posted above in the article "New Heart of the City Prayer Agreements."
Passover seder plate
Saturday, April 4


Our annual second night seder is always one of the highlights of our Jewish year. This year will be no different.

We will have a full seder, led by Rabbi Julie Greenberg with Cantorial Soloist Jessi Roemer. There will be food and wine galore, and some fun as well. We're a friendly group who loves to share holiday rituals with the larger community. Children are welcome and there will be afikomen prizes for them.

Please consider joining us! 


TIME: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: SOCIAL ROOM AT THE PHILADELPHIAN, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Philadelphia.
PARKING: There is street parking all around the building and the surrounding neighborhood.

A Pesadik dinner will be catered. Choice of entree, including a vegetarian option, will be available. Passover wine is included, and you are invited to bring your own dinner wine.

Final details with prices and dinner options will be sent soon.
Should be in your Inbox

Letters stating your 2014 contributions to Leyv Ha-Ir went out over email (or mail if you do not have email).  Please check your Inbox or junk or spam folders for them.

As a result of our learning curve with our new accounting system, the letters ended up going out three times.  All three should be identical so you can just delete two of them.

Any questions about your contributions or the receipt should be directed to Larry Finkelstein at or Phyllis Gottlieb at
More Community Activities

There is a new Center City Kehillah, supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and led by Miriam Steinberg-Egeth (who is awesome).  The Kehillah has been meeting for several months now and has had a community Hanukah candle light in Rittenhouse Square and a MLK Day learning program.  Both were quite successful. 

The Kehillah will be taking over the Tikkun Leil Shavuot program that LHI participated in last year.  If you can help with any of the following, please let me know and I will gladly forward your information to the Kehillah:
  • Participating in the planning committee
  • Publicizing the Tikkun to members of your organization
  • Soliciting teachers for the learning sessions
  • Providing volunteers during the event
  • Service leading for maariv (evening services) on Saturday night
  • Service leading and/or Torah readers for shacharit (morning services) at dawn on Sunday morning
  • Other
I know I say this often, but it's true that you will find getting involved to be very rewarding.

Thank you,
Bobbi Cohen or 215.514.7329
May this soul be bound in the Book of Eternal Light:  



Morton Beck