What's Happening At Leyv Ha-Ir

Keep your members up to date on your synagogue blog.

Rabbi Dayle's December 2019 Letter to the Congregation

posted Dec 4, 2019, 5:24 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir

December 2019

Kislev/Hanukkah 5780

Dear Leyv Ha-Ir Hevre/Community,

In a few short weeks, we will be filling our homes with light as we kindle our Hanukkiot. Hanukkah is a beloved, but somewhat mysterious holiday. The rabbis of the Talmud were apparently unsure what the occasion was for celebration in the eight days following the 25th of the month of Kislev. They asked: mai Hanukkah? What is Hanukkah [all about]? They answered their own question by explaining that on the 25th of Kislev, the [Syrian] Greeks had captured and trashed the Temple in Jerusalem; the oils used for lighting the Menorah [lamp] were defiled. When the Hasmoneans [Maccabees] recaptured the Temple, they sought to light the Menorah to rededicate the sanctuary, but found only one small vessel of oil, whose contents were enough for only a single day. A miracle made it possible for them to use this tiny bit of oil to keep the lamp burning for eight days. The following year, an eight-day holiday of gratitude was decreed.

This tale of light wondrously pervading dark days has deep resonance for our time. But there is another mystery to be solved. Rabbi David Hartman, a great 20th century Jewish thinker, notes that the eight-day length of the holiday is surprising. Hartman points out that on the first day, it was to be expected that the light would burn. It was the seven days after the first that were miraculous.

Hartman suggests that, in fact, the first day was the most miraculous one. What was amazing was that the Jews chose to light the lamp with the tiny cruse of oil, even knowing that it could not possibly last until the Temple had been rededicated. They chose to act even when they could not imagine that their mission would be completed. The real miracle of Hanukkah was the courage and faith of our ancestors, who used what they had and did what they could to restore holiness in their midst.

In our fall education series, Be Strong and of Good Courage: Finding Our Grounding in Dark Times, we’ve been exploring practices that can help us to be resilient amid discouraging and frightening events around us. The miracle of the first night of Hanukkah can serve as an inspiration to us. May we, like our ancestors, find the courage and faith to use our individual and collective resources to bring light to our world.

I look forward to exploring activism as a spiritual practice in our December 8th education session, and to celebrating Hanukkah on Friday, December 27.

In blessing and hope,

Rabbi Dayle

Rabbi Dayle Friedman's Fall 2019 Education Series

posted Sep 1, 2019, 3:13 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Nov 4, 2019, 2:55 PM ]

Join Rabbi Dayle Friedman for her fall Education Series.  The timely and important topic is Be Strong and of Good Courage: Finding Our Grounding in Dark Times.

We are living in tumultuous times.  We face challenges to our democracy, our moral norms, and the very future of our planet.  What practices and attitudes did our ancestors bring to the challenges they faced that might sustain us as we navigate these rough seas?  We will investigate the concept of bitachon-trust, and how we might draw upon it.  We will explore daily practices, such as morning gratitude and evening prayers.  And we will investigate how taking action can be a source of encouragement and a spiritual practice.

Our discussion will follow a light brunch.  This fall Education Series will cover three topics; you need not attend all to participate:

Session I–November 3, 2019:  Cultivate Hope: Bitahon/trust As a Spiritual Practice:  We will investigate how the Mussar tradition has developed bitahon/trust as a grounding practice, and explore how we might integrate this into our lives.

Session II–November 10, 2019: Evening and Morning, Each and Every Day: Daily Practices to Ground UsWe will look at practices from the tradition for awakening and going to sleep, and explore how we can adapt them to suit our idioms and spiritual sensibilities.

Session III–December 8, 2019: Healing the World: Tikkun Olam As a Spiritual Practice:  How is activism or volunteer work a spiritual practice? We will explore how setting an intention, and taking time to reflect on the work, can bring sustenance and healing to us as we work to heal the world.

Advance registration: $10 - members, $15 - guests

Walk-in registration: $15 - members, $20 - guests
See our Calendar for details on location, time and RSVP information.

Rabbi Dayle's November 2019 Letter to the Congregation

posted Sep 1, 2019, 2:51 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Nov 4, 2019, 2:53 PM ]

Dear LHI hevre-friends,

I am delighted to be with the Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City community this year as Rabbi Julie enjoys a well-deserved sabbatical.

I am writing to you on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, a special time on our Jewish calendar. Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, is a one- or two-day minor festival marking the start of each month. Rosh Chodesh is a time of renewal; it is an opportunity for re-setting our intentions and beginning again.

Why do we need such an opportunity, you might ask, when we just wiped our spiritual slates clean and reset our intentions at the High Holy Days? The answer, I believe, is that the work of repairing our souls, tikkun ha-nefesh, and the work of repairing the world, tikkun olam, requires constant attention. As we sang on the High Holy Days, we must “return again, return again, return to the home of our soul; return to who we are, return to what we are, return to where we are born and reborn again.”

I am reminded of the words of a song by the iconic Israeli singer, Naomi Shemer: 

After the holidays, everything will be renewed.
Ordinary days will return, renewed.
The air, the earth, the rain and the fire -
And you, too, will be renewed. 

In an unending journey
Between the fields of shadow and the fields of light,

There is a path you have not traveled
And which you will travel.
The hourglass, the clock of your lifetime,
Signals to you now…

I look forward to engaging with you in the process of renewal and returning, as we study together, pray together, and connect ever more deeply to one another in the year to come.

Chodesh tov – with blessings for a good month,

Rabbi Dayle

Ronstructionism 101: I Was a Reconstructionist All Along And Didn't Know It

posted Sep 1, 2019, 2:36 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Oct 11, 2019, 6:56 PM ]

Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City cordially invites you to a seminar I Was a Reconstructionist All Along And Didn’t Know It:
Reconstructionism 101.

If you’ve spent any time at Leyv Ha-Ir, you already know what it feels like to be in a Reconstructionist community. But what is it exactly that makes our community Reconstructionist? In this seminar, we will explore the underlying components of a Reconstructionist approach to Judaism that form the building blocks of our congregation’s ever-evolving expression of Jewish life. This class is open to everyone, free of charge.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
7:00 PM
Penn Center House Leisure Lounge (2nd floor)
1900 JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia

Light refreshments will be served.

About our presenter:

Rabbi Micah Weiss is the Assistant Director for Thriving
Communities and Tikkun Olam Specialist at
Reconstructing Judaism and a life-long Reconstructionist.
Please register by email to info@leyvhair.org or by phone to 215.629.1995.

One Book, One Congregation Brunch August 18, 2019

posted Jun 11, 2019, 8:33 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jun 11, 2019, 9:24 AM ]

Please join us as we welcome Rabbi Julie back from summer vacation.  We'll have brunch and discuss the book we are reading over the summer:  How to Cure a Fanatic by the Israeli journalist/writer/intellectual Amos Oz.
This is a slim book of three short essays. We'll particularly focus on the third essay, an interview with Oz called "The Order of the Teaspoon." Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem before the state of Israel existed; he lived his life as a passionate Zionist who experienced the tragedy of idealism degenerating into oppression. He died this past year so this is a good time to review some of his stellar work. For more background, please see the recent New Yorker article here. We'll come together to discuss this book over brunch on Sunday morning August 18 in the William Penn House community room.  Please RSVP to info@leyvhair.org or 215.629.1995 by Thursday, August 15 to let us know if you are coming.

Jewish Night of Learning

posted May 11, 2019, 6:55 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir

Join the larger Jewish community in Center City for the annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot.  You can attend for any part of it or stay all night for the full experience before coming to Leyv Ha-Ir's Annual Meeting.  Full details and registration are at https://centercityjews.org/shavuot/.

Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir's Annual Meeting Sunday, June 9

posted May 9, 2019, 9:24 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated May 9, 2019, 9:44 AM ]

Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir will hold our Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 9th, at 10:30 AM in the Community Room at the William Penn House, 1919 Chestnut Street.  Brunch is included.   

Please join us as we elect new officers, approve the annual budget, review last year and look ahead to the coming year.  This is a very important and informative meeting.  Your attendance does matter!

RSVP by Thursday, June 6th to info@leyvhair.org to register for this event. 


Sunday, June 9

10:30 AM - 1:00 PM
William Penn House Community Room
1919 Chestnut St.



Rabbi Julie Greenberg's June 2019 Letter to Our Congregation

posted May 5, 2019, 12:23 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jun 5, 2019, 1:21 PM ]

Dear Chevre,

As we approach Shavuot, it's a time to reflect on the essential intertwining of the agricultural, historical and ethical in Judaism and see what this means for our lives. Shavuot, like so many Jewish holy days, celebrates the cycle of sowing, tending and in this case, harvesting. It's also a reminder of the peak historical moment of standing at Sinai, eyes lifted, hearts open to Torah pouring in and entering the world through us. And as Shavuot returns every year, we receive the ethical reminder to act from the highest realm of Self (even if we also have many other feelings and urges). So how do we live into all this today?
   I think Shavuot reminds us to reflect on our own cycles of sowing, tending and reaping. Where are you now in this process both personally and politically? Are you planting seeds to ready yourself or the world for change? Are you growing something in your inner life or supporting something in the world to grow? Or is it time to take stock of what has already been planted, a time of reflection and harvesting where you have been? 
   In any case, I hope all Leyv Ha-Ir-niks will be together on the actual day of Shavuot this year because it happens to be the Sunday of our Annual Meeting, June 9. Let's stand at Sinai together, harvesting our past year, living into our best selves for the congregational year to come. We'll also have some moments for Yizkor, a time of remembrance that takes place five times a year, including on Shavuot. See you then and there.
Love and blessing,
Rabbi Julie

Annual Community Passover Seder

posted Mar 8, 2019, 6:02 PM by Bobbi Cohen   [ updated Apr 7, 2019, 7:17 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ]

Join members and friends of Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City for our annual Passover seder, to be led by Rabbi Julie Greenberg and Cantor Sharon Sigal.  All are welcome, including children.  There will be afikomen prizes for the kids.

Saturday, April 20, 6:15 pm sharp

The Philadelphian Social Room, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Philadelphia

Your seder meal will include: 


Matzoh Ball Soup

Gefilte Fish with Horseradish

Choice of Brisket of Beef, Baked Salmon or Stuffed Eggplant (vegetarian)

2 side dishes


Passover pastries

Passover wine

Coffee and tea

You are welcome to bring your own table wine.

Complete seder plates will be provided.

Price: $58 per adult, $21 per child 3-12 years

Full payment is required no later than Friday, April 12 by check, credit card or PayPal.  Cancellations received by Friday, April 12 will be fully refunded.


Rabbi's Education Series Workshops: Religious Teachings About Care for the Planet

posted Mar 8, 2019, 11:33 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Mar 8, 2019, 11:51 AM ]

On Sunday March 31 and on Sunday April 7, Rabbi Julie Greenberg will lead our last two participatory discussions for 2018-2019.  They will be on the theme of Religious Teachings About Care for the Planet.
With daily dire warnings about the escalation of climate crisis, we know there is a huge role for people of faith to play in unifying humanity so that we can work together towards solutions. (If you want to take a deep dive into a most comprehensive, beautiful multi-faith teachings on the spiritual issues involved, read Laudato Si by Pope Francis. Jewish communities around the world are studying this text.)  
We will work with spiritual exercises taught by feminist philosopher Joanna Macy and with values found in Jewish sacred text.   
Assignment for March 31:
  1. Prepare a list of five items or experiences in nature that have moved you.  For example, seeing a sunset at the beach, planting a tulip bulb, dedicating a tree in Israel to a relative. 
  2. List five things that make you sad as you daily hear news about our climate crisis. What hurts about this news, what do you grieve, what is lost? Or do you feel numb? Why?
Assignment for April 7:
  • Take a look through these Jewish resources for sustainability:
  • Read the three paragraphs of the Shema prayer and write a one paragraph commentary about how it applies to climate crisis today. (Focus especially on the second paragraph of the Shema.) 
Light brunch will be served.
You need not have attended prior sessions to participate. Come one, come all! 
Sundays, March 31 and April 7
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
The William Penn House  
1919 Chestnut St., Community Room, 1st Floor
Advance registration: $10 - members, $15 - guests
Walk-in registration: $15 - members, $20 - guests
RSVP deadlines:
Thursday March 28th for March 31
Thursday April 4th for April 7
info@leyvhair.org or 215-629-1995

1-10 of 12