In This Issue
Looking Ahead
Mark your calendar:

April 8-9, the Kaplan Center and the RRC/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities are organizing a pre-conference Shabbaton in Center City and Roxborough/Manayunk.

April 10-11, following the above Shabbaton, The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood, the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History at Temple University, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) and McGill University are convening a conference titled "Wrestling with Jewish Peoplehood," to be held at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Watch for more information on both of these.
I'm Okay! Program

I'm Okay! is a program designed for people who would like to check in with another member of LHI daily to offer friendship and reassurance. If you are interested, contact Evy Simon, Coordinator, at (home) 215-561-7474, (cell) 215-593-5248 or email
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Leyv Ha-Ir Listserv

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Other Postings - You can post information about other events or information of interest by sending an email to  


Contact Bobbi or Beverly 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
Margie Wiener 215-563-8998
Marking Lifecycle Events
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Center City Kehillah
Jewish Exponent
Contact Leyv Ha-Ir

Dear Friends and Members:

The greatest good you can do for someone is to hold him in high esteem. I once read, "Many people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could."

How do you treat others? When you see someone you know, do you greet them pleasantly and make them feel important? The Talmud teaches that it is better to show a person "the white of your teeth" (to give them a smile) than to give them a drink of milk (Ketubot, 111b). The commentaries say this applies even if the person has just come in after a long trek on a hot day. Your smile is still of more value, and does more for him than a cold drink ever could.

A person who practices the skill of spreading optimism and honoring others is going to benefit a lot of people. They will also receive immediate benefits since it is impossible to make someone feel better and not feel better yourself.

The opposite is also true. The Sages say that shame is the greatest pain (Talmud, Shabbat 50). Sometimes even a lack of a hello between neighbors or co-workers can cause more damage than we can imagine.

One of the central themes in the Torah is the famous golden rule: "love your neighbor as yourself." Don't think that this is just an impractical ideal. These are laws governing human conduct, which apply as rigidly as the law of gravity. When we disregard these laws in any walk of life, chaos results.

How can the Torah command us to love our fellow Jews? The Torah can tell me to eat matzah on Passover or to put a mezuzah on my doorpost, but how can the Torah command an emotion? The answer is you should act as if you love the person. If you act as if you love them, then the action will awaken the feeling of love.

The Hebrew word "Give!" - "!הַב" is the same root as "אַהֲבָה", which means "love." Giving is what leads to love. If a person learns to live to give what they can, instead of get what they can from life, they will enter a new and wonderful world. Once a person has tasted this, it is a point of no return. After that, you can never go back to completely self-centered living.

Practically speaking, how can I put all this into practice? The answer is simple. Start giving. Rabbi Avigdor Miller taught his students to do at least once a day each of the following:

1. Say something to encourage someone.
2. Shine a big smile on someone.
3. (extra credit) Look at a person's face and think,"I'm seeing an image of God" (Genesis 1:27).

This will help you to appreciate the tremendous inherent value in all human beings, including yourself!

Have a happy and healthy secular new year, and show some love for your fellow members and friends of Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir in the Heart of the City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love.

Larry Finkelstein
Saturday, January 2, 10:00 AM, Shabbat Morning Service
Join our lay-led minyan for a Shabbat morning service, Torah discussion and potluck veggie/dairy lunch. Daniel Johnson will lead us in Jewish Meditation from 9:00 to 9:30 AM.
Location: Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq, 2nd floor Collier Room
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions.

Monday, January 4, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting
All members are invited to our monthly Council meeting with Rabbi Julie and congregational leaders. 
Location: Joan Goldberg's home in Center City
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions and exact location.

Friday, January 8, 6:30 PM, Home Shabbat Service and Dinner
Join us at Phyllis Gottlieb and Natan Szapiro'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 Phyllis and let her know what you will be bringing,

Friday, January 15, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat Service 
Join us for Friday evening Shabbat services led by Rabbi Julie Greenberg and cantorial candidate Jessi Roemer. In honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, Sheldon Moore, a gospel singer, an active member of his church in South Philadelphia, a long time employee at Ingles House and an aide and godsend for Bill Yancy and Pat Wisch, will share several songs with us. Stay for oneg following the conclusion of services. 
Location: The Ethical Society Building, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., first floor Auditorium

Sunday, January 17, 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM,
 Anti-Racism Allies Group
This group is reading 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, to receive the reading for January, or to register.

Saturday, February 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. 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.  
December 2015

Dear Chevre,

A Happy Secular New Year to All.

I'd like to start this year by shining light on a program this congregation started last year but that has been sorely under-utilized. The program is called I'm Okay!

I'm Okay! is designed as a daily check-in for members of the congregation who choose to participate. You give your name to our coordinator, Evy Simon, and she matches you with another participant. Then you and your buddy decide how you want to do your daily check-in. It could be by phone or by e-mail and you can set the time of day by which contact has to have been made.

Each participant provides a backup list of people who can be called in case the buddy doesn't hear back from them. People on the list of back up helpers could be neighbors or family members or anyone who could easily knock on your door and even get in to make sure you are actually okay.

This is an amazing program for frail elders and others in need and for those wishing to do an important mitzvah: making sure the members of our community are wrapped into our care. Anyone open to sharing more connection in this community is welcome to participate for any reason. There is no cost, other than being a member of Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City. In addition, buddies in I'm Okay get some extra checking in from the Rabbi.

So, please join in and spread the word so that we can all be okay in the New Year.


Rabbi Julie
You can read Rabbi Julie's High Holiday sermons from this and past years here. Just click on the year, and then the sermon you want to read.

Do you remember the Leyv Ha-Ir Retreat at Port-O-Call Hotel in Ocean City, New Jersey two years ago? As the song says, we're "returning again" to this beautiful location. Those of us who participated in previous retreats recall what a spiritual experience they are.

Rabbi Julie was inspiring, congregation members contributed their expertise to help facilitate workshops, and we actively shared in an exciting and enlightening weekend. A bonus this year: our cantorial candidate, Jessi Roemer, will add her special brand of music and joy.

Be a part of a spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical adventure, all in one weekend. Enjoy a wondrous Havdalah service. And bundle up at the crack of dawn to join hands on the beach for a magnificent sunrise.

So prepare yourselves for a wonderful weekend Friday, February 12 through Sunday, February 14, 2016.  
Prices and more details will be sent soon.  Contact Evy Simon at 215-561-7474215-593-5248, or if you have questions.

Rabbi Julie joined faith leaders to stand with Philadelphia Imams at the Mayor's Office. "We will stand together against hate and violence."

Rabbi Julie also visited with 20 others to lobby a state legislator to fund public education.  Read about it here.

Give the gift of reading to those who need books in their homes and school.

This campaign will give the school we support, Spring Garden School, and its 300+ students, the gift of books in 2016. Make a contribution to buy books from their Summer Reading List so we can ensure that each student has a book to take home.

The selection of books is made in March. Think ahead and mail in your donation now for the purchase of books.

Checks should be payable to Leyv Ha-Ir with a notation "Book Drive" and mailed to:
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir
P.O. Box 15836
Philadelphia, PA 19103 

Bring your own cup to services

At the conclusion of Rabbi Julie's educational program, Rabbi talked about Eco-Kashrut - that is "living in alignment with protecting the environment," also called the "Green Movement." Its motto is Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle.

A few of us met to see how these principles can be applied to Leyv Ha-Ir's activities. This idea was approved at a LHI Council meeting, and a Green Movement Group was formed to pursue it. The group decided to start with the principle of "Re-Use," beginning with the monthly Shabbat morning service at the Ethical Society. The Green Movement group now suggests the use of ceramic or other non-disposable cups. You are encouraged to bring your own cup when you attend the Saturday service. The cup can be used for Kiddush and for other drinks.

Please note: there is always the option of using paper cups for visitors and people who consider this is too much of a burden. We will welcome everyone to the Service no matter what container you drink from. Attendees are also invited to bring food contributions in cloth bags.

Joan Goldberg, Roby Jacobs, Joe Fishman
Center City Kehillah's New Learning Experience

Leyv Ha-Ir was well represented at the first session of the Center City Kehillah's new and innovative learning program.Not only did we pair up with chevruta partners from our larger community, but the teachers were in a pair as well. Rabbi Eli Freedman (Congregation Rodeph Shalom) and Rabbi Eliezer Hirsch (Mekor Habracha) led us in learning on the topic of Chanukah & Machloket L'shem Shamayim: How to Fight. It was a fun, interesting and unintimidating way to learn. A light dinner from Mama's Vegetarian was served.

The next session will be:

Date: January 26, 2016
Time: 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Location: Gershman Y, Broad & Pine Streets
Topic: Jewish Women's Leadership: Models of Empowerment, to be led by Rabbi Elisa Goldberg (Kol Tzedek) and Beverly Socher-Lerner (Makom Community)
Cost: $10 per session or $50 for the series which will continue through June, including a light dinner. Registration requested, although walk-ins are accepted.

Full details, including the entire schedule and topics, are available here. Registration can be completed here.
Start Your Week Off Right

Come to lay-led Shabbat services - you'll like them. One Saturday morning a month (usually the first), 10 AM - 1 PM, Leyv Ha-Ir holds services at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., 2nd floor Collier Room, including a lively discussion of the Torah portion of the week.

There is a strong feeling of community, and explanations are provided as needed. We enjoy schmoozing at the potluck lunch afterwards.

Give it a try! Limited on-street parking is available, information letter to be printed and placed on windshield can be found here. Call our voicemail at 215-629-1995 for more information.
One Biblical Sentence as a Window to a World

Literary scholars sometime look at the first sentence of a book as a window into the whole story: for instance, do you recognize "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?" In this mini-series, we will take the first sentence of each of the five books of the Torah and use it as a window into that book. Even one word in Judaism can open up such riches for spiritual exploration and discovery. Just imagine what we can find in a whole sentence! 
Dates and additional details will be forthcoming.

Attendees at the December 19 Shabbat Sing! celebrated cantorial Candidate Jessi Roemer's birthday with a yummy chocolate cake.
May this soul be bound in the Book of Eternal Light:   

Joan Appel