In This Issue
Looking Ahead
Mark your calendar:

April 8-9, the Kaplan Center (affiliated with RRC) will be holding a Shabbaton in Center City and Roxborough/ Manayunk. 

April 10-11, following the above Shabbaton there will be a Reconstructionist
conference on Jewish Peoplehood at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Watch for more information on both of these.
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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
Margie Wiener 215-563-8998
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Center City Kehillah
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Dear Friends and Members:

Donna and I have recently returned from a lovely cruise to the Eastern Caribbean.  During this time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I had the opportunity to reflect on a number of important Jewish values.

First is the importance of setting aside time on a regular basis from doing all of the things that normally fill our busy lives.  In Bereshit, which we read at Simchat Torah, we are commanded to set Shabbat apart from all of the other days of the week in order to make it special and unique. This is such a brilliant concept. It's what the human body and spirit need to keep on going. We need to take time to disconnect and slow down and take time to appreciate everything and everyone that we have in our lives.

Second is Tikkun Olam ... repairing the world. This was made painfully clear to us on the lovely island of Barbados, the Easternmost island in the Caribbean. The island is a real example of the behavior of the "1%" who continue to clear land in order to make space for their luxury winter homes and yachts. Over 60% of the trees on the island have been cleared, the few remaining mahogany trees are in a small national park. This has led to the loss of almost all of the island's birds. While the island does provide free healthcare and mandatory education (they put parents in jail for failing to send their children to school) for all residents, all paid for by a tax on visiting tourists. How can they sustain this model if the ecosystem that makes it such a beautiful destination is destroyed? Only fighting for what you believe in will bring change.

Just as the Maccabees fought for their beliefs, we must also fight for ours. We need to help alter the impact that humans are having on this planet.

Happy Hannukah!

Larry Finkelstein 
President, Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City
Saturday, December 5, 10:00 AM, Shabbat Morning Service
Join our lay-led minyan for a Shabbat morning service, Torah discussion and potluck veggie/dairy lunch. There will be no meditation program before this service.
Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq, 2nd floor Collier Room
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions.

Sunday, December 6, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM,
 Anti-Racism Allies Group
This new group will read enlightening works about racism in articles and books and discuss the content with an eye toward practical application to move from bystanders to allies. Pre-registration is required.  
Location: a member's home in Society Hill.
Contact Claire Dubin at for questions or to register.

Tuesday, December 8, 5:15 - 5:45 PM, Center City Kehillah Chanukah Candle Lighting
Join with others from our larger community in Rittenhouse Square to light a giant menorah, and enjoy music and snacks. And, courtesy of the National Museum of American Jewish History an amazing gift will be raffled off at the candle lighting! When you arrive, enter to win a $54 gift certificate to their gift shop + a private tour and admission for four!
More information available on facebook here.

Friday, December 11, 7:30 PM, Chanukah Kabbalat Shabbat Service
Rabbi Julie and Jessi Roemer will lead us in prayer as we welcome in Shabbat and celebrate Chanukah. Bring your chanukkiah (menorah) and candles to light.  There will be latkes and other snacks, following Kiddush.
Location: The Ethical Society Building, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., second floor Assembly Room

Monday, December 14, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting
All members are invited to our monthly Council meeting with Rabbi Julie and congregational leaders. 
Location: Sandy Brown's home in Center City
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions and exact location.

Friday, December 18, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat Service and Dinner
Join us at Beverly Hayden's Center City home for a short lay-led Friday night service followed by a pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner.
RSVP as a courtesy to Bev and let her know what you will be bringing,

Saturday, December 19, 4:30 PM, Shabbat Sing!
Come and bring a friend to our new monthly music program led by cantorial candidate Jessi Roemer. Close Shabbat with soulful music.  Full details can be found here.
Location: The Ethical Society Building, 2nd floor Collier Room
Cost: $10/member, $12/guest, $15/member and guest coming together
Payment requested by December 16 by check or PayPal.
Checks should be payable to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir and mailed to Leyv Ha-Ir, P.O. Box 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103.  You can pay on PayPal here, specifying in "Special Instructions" that you are paying for December 19 Shabbat Sing.
Snacks will be served.

Saturday, January 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. A meditation program, led by Daniel Johnson, will precede the service at 9:00 AM promptly.
Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., 2nd floor Collier Room 
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions.  

Tuesday, January 8, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat
Service and Dinner
Join us at Phyllis Gottlieb and Natan Szapiro's home for a short lay-led Friday night service followed by a pot-luck veggie/dairy dinner. The service will start promptly at 6:40 PM. 
RSVP as a courtesy to the hosts and let them know what you will be bringing,
December 2015

Dear Chevre,

It is the darkest time of year and what a troubled time it is in our world. There is so much hate afoot, so much pain in the lives of so many. There is the global news on the one hand and the personal challenges in the lives of our selves and our beloveds on the other hand. Sometimes life is hard.

At times like this, the value of spirituality is inestimable. Our community of faith reminds us to live bigger than fear. Now, more than ever, we need each other; we need the light of Shabbat and the lights of Hanukkah, we need to shine forth our Jewish values that teach that refugees are not expendable, that no place on this precious earth deserves to be a climate crisis "sacrifice zone."

On the Hanukkah dreidle in the diaspora, the letter "shin" stands for the word "sham," "there," meaning over there, away from the land of Israel. On the Hanukkah dreidle in the land of Israel, the letter "peh" is substituted for the "shin," representing the word "po," meaning "here." Po and Sham, Here and There.

In this world we recognize that really there is no Here and There; we are all deeply interconnected and we are all part of one integral earth. From the vantage point of Zionist traditional Judaism, where we are in Philadelphia is considered "there." But we know this land is holy too, it is home, it has value and actually it also is a source of Jewish creativity and wisdom, just as Israel is. Po and Sham, Here and There, all places of merit.

When we spin the dreidle the letters all blur together anyway, making one integrated, joyful whole. Wouldn't it be great if humanity could spin ourselves into a united symbol of playful energy?

Please join us for Hanukkah candle lighting ~ this world needs all the light we can channel!

Rabbi Julie
Friday, December 11

Help make this special Kabbalat Shabbat service festive by bringing your menorah, candles, dreidels, gelt and some yummy food. Beverages, chocolates, cookies, cheese and crackers and fruit are welcome, and we especially need LATKES, applesauce and sour cream.  Homemade latkes of any type are best: white potato, sweet potato, zucchini latkes, and some bought ones are good, too.

Please email me at to let me know what you are planning to bring.  We may also have birthday treats.

This service is in the Assembly Room at the Ethical Society (second floor), and starts at 7:30 PM.  I suggest you arrive 10 minutes before the service to set up your menorah.  Menorah candle lighting is early in the service, before Shabbat candle lights.

Chanukah, Oh chanukah, come light the menorah. Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora!

Roby Jacobs, Hospitality Chair
A music program for everyone

After a wonderful premiere event in October, we look forward to Shabbat Sing!, our third in a series of events led by cantorial candidate Jessi Roemer.

Shabbat is the most joyous time of the week, and Jessi will lead us in a singing celebration from 4:30 to 6:00 pm on Saturday, December 19 at the Ethical Society Building, Collier Room (2nd floor), just before Shabbat closes to seal in its sweetness for the week to come. Newcomers are most encouraged, and we welcome members to come, and bring a guest (or two). 

The cost for this program is $10/member, $12/nonmember, $15/member and guest together.  Payment is requested by Wednesday, December 16.  You can mail a check payable to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir to us at P.O. Box 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103.  Or, you can pay by PayPal or credit card here, specifying Shabbat Sing Nov. 14 in the Special Instructions.

Snacks will be served. If you would like more information, call Frann Shore at 215-964-5924.
Center City Kehillah's New Learning Experience

The Center City Kehillah is beginning a new, innovative learning program. Not only will you study with a chevruta partner, the teachers will be in pairs as well.  This will be a monthly program through June, 2016.

For the first session, Rabbi Eli Freedman (Congregation Rodeph Shalom) and Rabbi Eliezer Hirsch (Mekor Habracha) will be teaching on the topic of Chanukah & Machloket Lshem Shamayim: How to Fight.

Date: December 16, 2015
Time:  7:00 - 8:30 pm
Location:  Jewish Federation, 2100 Arch Street
Cost: $10 per session or $50 for the series, including a light dinner.  Registration 

Full details, including the entire schedule and topics, are available here.  Registration can be completed here.
Study - Support - Action

A Small Group Experience

When it comes to racism we are all learners, and we learn more effectively in a group where we can express our personal views without judgment or criticism. 

This new group* will read enlightening works about racism in articles and books and discuss the content with an eye toward practical application to move from bystanders to allies.  

Our first read is Between the World and Me** by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Written as a letter from father to son, this is a bold and personal literary exploration of America's racial history, hailed by Toni Morrison as "required reading."

The group will be open to minimum of 4 and maximum of 8 people and led by Claire Dubin and Bobbi Cohen. The sessions will build on each other, so people who join the group must commit to each of the first three sessions.*** No newcomers will be admitted after the first session.

Dates: Sunday, December 6
           Sunday, January 17
           Sunday, February 14
Time: 11:00am to 12:30pm
Place: Claire Dubin's home
Her address will be provided to group participants.
RSVP: If you are interested, please contact Claire:
    call: 215-510-4757
no later than December 3
*     This group came about after our One Book One Congregation discussion of Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving to meet members' interest in an ongoing exploration of racism.

**   Available in hardcover at and Barnes&Noble, and in digital format on iTunes, for Kindle (Amazon), and for Nook (Barnes&Noble).

***  Additional sessions for participants, or sessions for a new group of participants may become available depending upon interest.

POWER Leadership Assembly 
Rabbi Julie Greenberg 

Rabbi Julie offered this Faith Reflection at the recent POWER Leadership Assembly which included teams from the 45 congregations in our social justice network. The drenching downpour that evening did not hamper the 150 people in attendance. Our congregation was well represented by nine active POWER participants. 

It's good we are people of faith and ethical vision because we face a daunting array of challenges. On the one hand we see reality clearly---we see the problems and the pain in our city--- and on the other hand, we hold a moral vision of a city that offers enough for each and every person: enough excellent education, enough living wage employment, enough respect and enough opportunity. It is us, here in POWER, people of all kinds of faith, who aim to bridge that gap between what IS and what we know OUGHT to be. 

It's good we are people of faith because we are going to need all the faith we can inspire in one another. This is a long haul and the stakes are huge. Will this be a city that works for all or will there be great swaths of humanity left out of the rewards of a good life? 

Now part of the journey of faith is also to embrace questions and doubt and diverse opinions and in POWER this evening, we are taking a big step to engage all of us in this process of reflection and renewal. 

To launch us into this evening, I'd like to share a Jewish folktale and then ask you to discuss a question that I'll raise at the end of the story. 

A long time ago in biblical lands there was a terrible drought. The rains did not fall for days, weeks, even months. The water cisterns began to run dry, crops were wilting, and the people were thirsty. Leaders gathered together and decided to call on a very great teacher, a Rebbe, to come to them from far away and offer prayers for rain. 

Great preparations were made. People got the day off from the fields and the hearths and all gathered in one massive central place to hear the wise Rebbe's prayers. An entourage accompanied the famous sage to his place at the center. Everyone looked expectantly at him. But he just sat there under the dry blue skies. 

"Come on," said the mayor, "why are you just sitting there? We brought you here to say prayers for rain. We're all waiting." 

"Naaaa," said the great leader, "My prayers wouldn't do any good." 

"What? We made endless arrangements to get everyone here and to bring you here to us for the sole purpose of hearing your prayers for rain! Why won't you pray for rain?"

"I can tell it would do no good," said the Rebbe. 

"How can you tell?" asked all the people. 

"I can tell you do not have faith that the rains will come." 

"What makes you think we have no faith?" begged the people. 

The Rebbe looked around, "Not one of you brought an umbrella," he said. "When you are truly ready for rain, you'll bring umbrellas." 

Being people of faith means that we bring our umbrellas because we are determined to make a difference. And when we evaluate our triumphs and our defeats we'll continue to continue because we will not rest until the very least of us is fully included in the web of life. 

Now maybe it wasn't the direct influence of prayer on the heavens that caused the rains to come. Maybe there wasn't such a cause and effect process. Maybe the power of prayer was that all the people came together to get educated about the issues and to get connected around their communal well being. 

 Maybe when at first the rains didn't come, they went home and built better systems for conserving water and maybe they made plans to share what water there was so that everybody had some and none were left out. Maybe it was their people's movement that put them back into harmony with the universe. Who knows? 

But in the story, everyone went out and got galoshes and raincoats and umbrellas and then they marched with the Rebbe as he prayed for rain. And soon enough there was a downpour, like tonight's, and the rains fell joyfully on the land. 

The question for you and one other partner, in a dyad, now, one minute each is, "What replenishes your faith even when the challenges are enormous?

Reception and Silent Auction

Helen Gym, the City Council-at-Large elect, addressed the POWER Fundraiser on November 12, 2015.
Leyv Ha-Ir was well represented and filled a table.  A splendid evening!


Beatrice Beer's sister Suzanne and baby niece Malke live in Paris. They added candles to a makeshift memorial.
Conclusion of a great education series

Rabbi enthusiastically concluding the final fall education program "Thinking Like a Rabbi".

Stayed tuned for information on the spring series.  It should prove to be as exciting as this one was.

May these souls be bound in the Book of Eternal Light:   

Bertha Blai
Susan Singer
Sol Volk
Available for Reading

You can find Rabbi Julie's High Holidays sermons on the LHI website here.  Once on that page, just click on 5776 for this year's sermons.  You can also revisit past sermons for Rabbi's words of inspiration and teaching.