What's Happening At Leyv Ha-Ir

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Rabbi Dayle's January 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Jan 2, 2020, 7:47 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jan 2, 2020, 7:51 AM ]

January/Tevet, 2020/5780
Dear Leyv Ha-Ir Hevre/Community,
I have recently been studying Psalms, which I find to be a treasure trove of wisdom. I’d like to share a teaching with our community. Psalm 16 contains a famous line: shiviti Adonai l’negdi tamid—I place the Eternal/the One/Being/the Ultimate before me always. This phrase is a favorite text for meditation, and it is often integrated into works of art.
Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi translated the verse this way: I place myself constantly in Your Presence; I will not falter because You are at my side.
The rabbis offer a myriad of interpretations of this verse. Does it mean that staying aware of the Divine, we will not give into the temptation to miss the mark (sin)? Does it mean that cultivating consciousness of God’s presence is inherently comforting? Perhaps.
I am drawn at this moment to an interpretation by the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism. He suggests that the word shiviti, which we have understood to mean placing ourselves in relationship with God, might be related to shivui, which means equilibrium. Shiviti Adonai l’negdi tamid means to the Ba’al Shem Tov: with the Divine presence, I can find equilibrium in whatever is l’negdi—facing me.
In this understanding, our relationship with God/what is deepest/ultimate/transcendent (however we understand it), calls us to be right where we are-present to, and yielding to, our reality. However beautiful, bright, painful, challenging what we are facing is, we will not falter if we breathe, acknowledge, and accept. Our Leyv Ha-Ir community, and our shared spiritual practice, can support us in meeting our experiences with equanimity and grace.
May this teaching give us strength and inspiration in the month ahead.
Meanwhile, please enjoy this setting of the verse from Navah Tehilah, a Renewal congregation in Jerusalem.
Bivracha–with abundant blessing,
Rabbi Dayle

CANCELLED - "Sunday Salon Series" Session I - The Jews of Shanghai

posted Dec 20, 2019, 1:52 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated ]

Come join us over the winter months for the LHI Education Committee's Sunday Salon Series.  A speaker will present on an interesting topic in a relaxed, salon-style setting.  LHI member Beverly Hayden has graciously agreed to host our intimate gatherings.  The salon will run from 2pm to 4pm.

We are holding our first Sunday Salon on January 26, 2020. 

We are delighted that at this Sunday Salon, LHI member Bobbi Cohen will present on The Jews of ShanghaiMany people are unaware that, since the mid-1800's, there have been multiple waves of Jewish migration from Europe and the Middle East to Shanghai, China.  A vibrant international city, Shanghai welcomed Jews with open arms.  This session will explore the history of Jewish Shanghai, the relationship between the Jews and the Chinese, as well as what you can see and learn for yourself if you are lucky enough to go there.

It promises to be a very enlightening presentation.  We'll follow it up with some Q&A.

Very light noshes will be available. 

Please contact Beverly at hayden15@verizon.net or 215-557-3777 to RSVP and for her address.  Seating is limited!

Stay tuned for information about additional Sunday Salons.

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

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