In This Issue
Looking Ahead
Sunday, March 20 -
Purim celebration
Join us for a Purim celebration on Sunday, March 20th and enjoy a unique reading of the Megillah, skits, songs, costumes, tasty treats and more.  Location: William Penn House Community Room, 1919 Chestnut St., 1st floor

Saturday, April 23 -
Annual Passover Community Seder
Our Community Seder will be on Saturday night, April 23.  It will be in The Philadelphian's lovely social room.  Please mark your calendar and plan to attend.  Please contact Donna Finkelstein at if you want to help with the planning of the seder.

April 8-9 - the Kaplan Center, in conjunction with RRC/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities and other local synagogues, 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 all 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

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 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:

From community service to congregational service.

Every year, in celebration of Martin Luther King Day, congregants from across the country and across the religious spectrum, including congregants from Leyv Ha­-Ir, spend time and energy giving back to the larger community in some meaningful way. This year, some of our members helped at the POWER MLK Day Leadership Assembly.

As important as it is to give back to the larger community, it is also very important to give back to our own spiritual community. This is one of the primary tenants of the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities ... to help create the Judaism we want to live. We need to continue to strengthen our own community. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan viewed Judaism as an evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people, where each generation is responsible for guiding that evolution.

We need the next generation of congregational leaders to step forward. We have started on the journey to create a leadership team to guide our congregation into the future. Although I will continue to serve as President for the next year, a committed team of dedicated individuals is necessary to work with me. Please let me know how you can help strengthen our congregation and help lead us into the future.

Larry Finkelstein, President
Saturday, February 6, 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, February 8, 7:00 PM, Council Meeting
All members are invited to our monthly Council meeting with Rabbi Julie and congregational leaders. 
Location: Iris Newman's home in Center City
Contact LHI at 215-629-1995 or for questions and exact location.

Friday, February 12 to Sunday, February 14, Winter Retreat: Love and Laughter
Please see the article below for information on our Ocean City, NJ retreat weekend.  Space is still available.
Contact Evy Simon at 215-561-7474 or or Bobbi Cohen at 215-514-7329 or for questions. 
Click here for more information

Friday, February 19, 7:30 PM, Kabbalat Shabbat Service 
Join us for Friday evening shabbat services led by cantorial candidate Jessi Roemer. Please stay for oneg following the conclusion of services. 
Location: The Ethical Society Building, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq., first floor Auditorium

Sunday, February 21, 11:30 AM - 1:00 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 February, or to register.

Saturday, March 5, 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.  
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir thanks Sandy Brown for serving as Treasurer.  Her efforts and dedication are tremendously appreciated.  

We are looking for a volunteer to serve as Treasurer to complete Sandy's term through the end of June.  Please contact Larry Finkelstein ( if you are able to help.
February 2016

Dear Chevre,

February. The Love Month. Everywhere we go, red hearts and boxes of chocolate.

What a mitzvah to celebrate love and yet how sad that only certain kinds of love are recognized and affirmed. This weekend I will be a guest at the marriage of two women who have been together for 37 years. They will host the festivities in a rustic barn in Bucks County, surrounded by close friends and by their three grown children. Isn't this celebration several decades past due?

Same sex love is now more acceptable in many quarters but what about all the other kinds of very primary love such as love for a mother or a brother, love for a best friend, or for your community, or for nature or for justice? What about the love of a dear teacher or of a formative book or a beloved pet?

In a society that packages, judges and then stigmatizes who we each are, it is all too easy not to recognize and affirm our own amazing loving selves, especially when (mostly) heterosexual romantic love is the single kind of love being promoted.

Next time we are together for Shabbat we will sing together the Libby Roderick song:

How could anybody ever tell you, you are anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you, you are less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice, your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you're connected to my Soul.

My prayer for each of us is that we fully live within the longest term loving relationship each of us will ever be in: the love of God that abounds and surrounds from the very first moment of life.


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.  

From 6:00 P.M. on Friday through noon-ish on Sunday, many activities are planned, including services, workshops, and of course, food.  There will also be free time to relax, watch a film or enjoy a game with others in our penthouse suite lounge.  We'll also be adding a Tikkun Olam project to this year's retreat.  Our retreats have always been community building experiences.

Price: $225 including all retreat activities, 2 breakfasts, one lunch and one dinner

Contact Port-O-Call Hotel directly at 800-334-4546 to reserve your room. Be sure to ask for the special Leyv Ha-Ir discounted rate. Discounted room rates are guaranteed until February 3, 2016
  • Single/double bay view room $110/night plus tax 
  • Single/double oceanfront room $129/night plus tax
Contact Evy Simon at 215-561-7474, 215-593-5248 or, or Bobbi Cohen at 215-514-7329 or if you have questions or to register.
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! 
Mark your calendar for these dates:

Sunday, March 13
Sunday, April 17
Sunday, May 15

All sessions will be in the William Penn House first floor Community Room, 1919 Chestnut Street at 11:00 A.M.

POWER Leadership Assembly on MLK Day 

Bev, Susan and Bobbi register attendees at the POWER Leadership Assembly

Members of Leyv Ha-Ir - Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Beverly Hayden, Bobbi Cohen, Susan Ross, Roby Jacobs, Evy Simon, Patricia Saddier, Sharon Wallis and John Mason - took part in a leadership conference held by POWER on Monday, January 18, Martin Luther King Day, held at Arch Street United Methodist Church.

Various clergy from POWER congregations greeted the attendees and led the faith reflection and roll call of faith communities represented.

The Reverend Bishop Dwayne Royster, Executive Director of POWER, spoke to the group about POWER's successes and how it was preparing for the future, including reaching out to suburban congregations.

Attendees broke into groups to discuss and propose actions for their area of interest - economic dignity, education, racial justice, fundraising strategy or communication. Each group presented past activities and future ideas.  

The assembly celebrated POWER's influence in Comcast's new once in a generation contract with the city.  It includes provisions for paying a living wage, free connectivity for those who cannot afford it, training, internships and employment for city residents, and more. 

There was prayer led by the Reverend Maria McCabe and Imam Abdul-Halim Hassan. The conference concluded with an address of support by Mayor Jim Kenney, who acknowledged the importance and success of POWER for all Philadelphians. 

Rabbi standing with low wage airport workers on MLK Day, "If MLK were alive today, he would be standing here with us calling for economic justice."


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 

Center City Kehillah's New Learning Experience

Each month the Kehillah presents chevruta-style learning on a different topic. Not only do the students pair up, the teachers for that month also present different aspects of the topic. This is attended by people our larger community. A light dinner is served.

The next session will be:

Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Time: 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Location: Gershman Y, Broad & Pine Streets
Topic: "Jewish Textual Views of Disabilities," to be led by Gabby Kaplan-Mayer (JKidPhilly) and Rabbi Joel Seltzer (Camp Ramah in the Poconos)
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.

Facing What We Need to Face
Shabbat Service in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 18, 2016
Rabbi Julie Greenberg
Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City

Once again, I stand with you here on this potent Shabbat of MLK weekend. I've thought a lot about what reflections I wanted to share with you on the sixteenth MLK Friday we are spending together. I'm thinking about what it means to be called into our full humanity.

One of the ways we are called into our full humanity is to face whatever we have to face in life with courage, compassion and grace. Life throws all of us challenges that aren't so easy to face.

Read the rest of the sermon here
May these souls be bound in the Book of Eternal Light:   

Leslie Glick

Joan Rumberg