What's Happening At Leyv Ha-Ir

Keep your members up to date on your synagogue blog.

Rabbi Julie's November 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Nov 2, 2020, 9:52 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir

November 2020

Dear Chevre/Community,

It is so good to be part of a caring community of faith in these unsettled times. We continue to show up (virtually) together, to reach out to those in need, and to celebrate the sacred cycle of our year. I count as some of the blessings in my life the grounding and guidance of Judaism and the strength of our community at the Heart of the City.

With so much uncertainty about the election and its aftermath, it is time also to pivot our gaze outward. I hope most of us have already voted -- if not, I'll echo Bobbi Cohen and Susan Thompson in suggesting that you go to the polls early and be prepared to wait until you get to vote on Election Day, November 3rd. We also have to be ready to protect the vote after the election.

There will be opportunities for everyone to be involved in this from home. Please pay close attention to our listserv in the aftermath of the election as this is where we will share information about how you can help protect the vote, if it turns out that this is needed. Our listserv is such a valuable place of connection. 

Let's help every vote count!

Love and Blessing to All,

Rabbi Julie

Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir, Heart of the City




Rabbi Julie's October 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Oct 1, 2020, 10:21 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Oct 1, 2020, 10:23 AM ]

October 2020

Dear Chevre/Community,

Wow, we have come through the first-ever adventure of High Holy Days in cyberspace. And it felt holy and connected and meaningful. Immense thanks to all the helping hands who gave to our community ahead of time, in the zoom rooms, behind the scenes of the zoom rooms -- everyone who generously and creatively made these holy days so awesome. Thank you also to all the people who made financial donations from the heart -- you sustain us. What a community!

Now we turn, with the turning of the season, to the final fall holy days of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Thank God, the stability of the seasons is still more or less true for us here. This is something we can no longer take for granted in this age of climate crisis. So let's savor the falling temperatures, the changing leaves, the different sounds and smells of autumn. This year is definitely different but let's count the blessings of each other, of our adaptiveness and of the gift of all our Jewish times of celebration. See you for Sukkot!

Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's Fall Education Series: The History of Whiteness and What About the Jews?

posted Sep 9, 2020, 7:16 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 29, 2020, 2:22 PM ]

White people have had a hard time in this country opening our eyes to what is true about White supremacy and racism.  We have been miseducated about race and have been sheltered from experiencing much of the impact of a destructive and unequal system.  As Jews, we have our own special stream of history and unique relationships to issues of White supremacy.  Yet many of us enjoy the privileges of Whiteness in a stratified system that we did not create and may wish was more fair.  In this series we will co-create safe, brave space to explore these issues in our Jewish community.

Registration is not required.

Information for this and all online events will automatically be sent to LHI members. If non-members would like to participate, please email us at info@leyvhair.org, or call us at 215-629-1995, for the remote access information.

Session I: White Fragility

Before we can delve deeply into the truth of our racist system, we need to bolster ourselves for the journey.  We need to dismantle some of our fear, defensiveness, and ignorance in talking about privilege and unjust systems.  With the spiritual support of loving kindness and the knowledge that we are all good people doing the best we can, we will learn more about stepping beyond White fragility.

Many people have read the book White Fragility by Robin D'Angelo, which is highly recommended. Additional suggested reading -- "Refusing to See" by Tema Okun -- will be circulated. 

Session II:  The Invention of Whiteness

Before the invention of Whiteness in the seventeenth century, people were categorized as Christians or Heathens.  What changed?

Two resources are offered here: 

1.     Jacqueline Battalora’s 35-minute video that gives a revelatory review of how Whiteness got invented, in the early years of this country's history. Listening to just audio will work too:  Birth of a White Nation

2.    David Dean’s in-depth essay on the history of how Whiteness got invented:  Roots Deeper than Whiteness

Session III: How Jews Became White

When most of our ancestors immigrated to this country, we were considered "Jewish," not White.  We faced lots of anti-semitism although there was way more opportunity for education, livelihood and participation in mainstream culture than we had had as a people in Western and Eastern Europe or in the mid-east.  What changed as we moved from "Jewish" to "White?"  How did we come to be White and what was the cost of Whiteness?

A shorter article will be assigned but here are two full books recommended on the subject:

The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity, by Eric L. Goldstein

How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America, by Karen Brodkin


Rabbi Julie's September 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Sep 1, 2020, 9:08 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 1, 2020, 11:33 AM ]

September 2020

Dearest Chevre,

It has been wonderful to be back with you moving through the month of Elul and into our New Year. I am astounded at how this community has migrated so effectively onto Zoom during the pandemic and I'm counting the hidden blessings of having no obstacles of transportation, weather or geography for our meetings. It is special to see your shining faces in the little Zoom boxes as we continue to gather and learn and pray together. 

This month I'd like to lift up the beautiful song "Olam Chesed Yibaneh" by Menachem Creditor. In English the words mean:

I will build this world in love

You must build this world in love

When we build this world in love

God will build this world in love.

 This song was written just after 9/11 when our world was filled with terror and hate, fear and destruction. Jewish communities around the world immediately proclaimed the song as music of resistance, a song that insists on not succumbing to hate but on leading with love.

As we enter an intense election season, in a polarized and suffering country, what does it mean to lead with love? How are we being called into the best of our humanity as we approach the gates of the Holy Days?

Thank you for being partners on the journey.

With gratitude,

Rabbi Julie

High Holy Day Information 5781 - 2020

posted Aug 3, 2020, 3:52 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 9, 2020, 7:09 PM ]

Our High Holy Day Services are set!  Services will be conducted this year online via Zoom. They will be conducted by Rabbi Julie Greenberg with Cantorial Soloist Rena Branson.  Please join us in worship as we usher in 5781.  All of the information you need can be found here:

Tickets are not required.  In lieu of tickets we suggest making a contribution for each adult who will be joining us. Please click on the Contribution Form for a downloadable form, or use the Donate button on the left to donate by credit card or PayPal.

Advance registration is REQUIRED for all attendees to ensure the integrity and security of our services. Zoom links and information will be sent only to registrants. Please use this Registration Form.

ROSH HASHANAH - Registration deadline September 17

  • Erev Rosh Hashanah Service Friday, September 18, 7:30 - 9:00 PM 
  • First Day Morning Service Saturday, September 19, 10:00 - 11:30 AM
  • Torah Service Saturday, September 19, 3:00 - 4:30 PM
  • Second Day Shofar & Torah Discussion Service Sunday, September 20, 10:00 - 11:30 AM

YOM KIPPUR - Registration deadline September 26

  • Kol Nidre Service Sunday, September 27, 7:00 - 8:30 PM 
  • Morning Service Monday, September 28, 10:00 - 11:30 AM
  • Yizkor/Memorial Service Monday, September 28, 1:30 - 2:30 PM
  • Learning Session - to be announced
  • Mincha/Neilah Monday, September 28, 6:00 - 7:30 PM

  • Zoom will remain open after services for people to break the fast together in community.


Reconstructing Judaism has generously created a pdf version of our Kol Haneshamah High Holy Day prayer book so that everyone can access it from home in this unusual year.  Everyone who registers for our services will receive the pdf version a few days before Rosh Hashanah. If you would like to purchase the actual book, go to Recon Press.  More information about prayer books will be forthcoming to Leyv Ha-Ir members.

Copyright © 2018 Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~ Heart of the City · info@leyvhair.org · www.leyvhair.org
Sign in|Report Abuse|Print

Rabbi Julie's August 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Aug 2, 2020, 10:33 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Aug 2, 2020, 10:34 AM ]

August 2020

Dearest Chevre,

"The old will be made new and the new will be holy." 

These are the words of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel in the 20th century. Written in 1909, his words are a meditation on the challenges of his times and could not be more relevant today. As I return from a replenishing and stimulating year of Sabbatical, I am eager to join with our community in facing both the challenges and the opportunities of our first ever High Holy Days in cyberspace. Despite the losses of not being physically together during the raging pandemic of COVID-19, we will embrace adaptive change to keep us connected, to continue to deepen and extend our spirituality, and to live into Judaism in the New Year of 5781. 

Judaism has always integrated tradition and innovation. We have a long history of adapting new technology to the needs and opportunities of the times. Think about how an intimate, ancient oral tradition within a small tribe evolved into a text-based tradition engaged by people in far-flung places. Think about how Torah scrolls evolved into printed books and how many of us now access the same texts on digital devices. We are an adaptive people rooted in nourishing traditions!

Finally, this month as I return to Leyv Ha-Ir for a twenty-first year of our long term relationship, I want to make three Thank Yous. 

~ Thank you to you all, the community as a whole, that generously provided a year of Sabbatical, modeling best practices in the world of rabbinic employment. May this generosity come back to enrich the community!

~ Thank you to my very able and dear friend Rabbi Dayle Friedman who held this congregation so well through these endless early months of COVID crisis -- I cannot imagine better hands to have been guiding the community at this time.

~ Thank you to the many people who are stepping up to sustain our community in these urgent times: People taking leadership on racial justice, people taking leadership on congregational management, people making especially generous financial donations in this season, and thank you to all of you who have warmly welcomed me back.

I am so glad to be with you for this journey into the High Holy Days and beyond.

With gratitude,

Rabbi Julie

One Book, One Congregation Discussion

posted Jul 1, 2020, 12:21 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jul 20, 2020, 6:15 PM ]

Join us as we welcome Rabbi Julie Greenberg back from sabbatical.  On Sunday
August 23, 2020 from noon to 1:15 PM, Rabbi Julie will lead us in a discussion on Zoom of our summer reading Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness by Stephen Mitchell.

In Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, Mitchell takes the ancient biblical story of Joseph, which is the longest narrative in the Torah, and finds profound meaning for today.  Tolstoy called Joseph's journey"the most beautiful story in the world."  One critic described Mitchell's book as "a unique and special kind of masterpiece.”   Mitchell’s retelling, coming from the perspective of a renowned teacher of mindfulness,will surprise us with new understanding of our ancestors and of our choices today.  The book reads as a novel so if you like novels, this one promises to be engaging, innovative and illuminating.

Registration is required though there is no charge.  REGISTER HERE

Remote access information will be sent to registrants.

Rabbi Dayle's July 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Jul 1, 2020, 12:13 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jul 1, 2020, 12:26 PM ]

Dearest Leyv Ha-Ir-niks,

This is my last newsletter message to you as your Interim Rabbi. What a year it’s been! We could not have imagined when we met at the High Holy Days that we would be three months into a global pandemic, that we would be gathering not with hugs and collective singing and shared refreshments, but in virtual spaces on Zoom! We could not have imagined that we would stay home to stay safe, and that we as a city and nation would be grappling with the toxic costs of racism and injustice.

I was reminiscing this week about that painful time in early March when we had to decide whether to hold Kabbalat Shabbat at the Ethical Society, and whether to cancel our planned Purim celebration and Pesach Seder. It was not clear then how we would go forward. There was so much loss and uncertainty. But somehow, we all migrated to “Zoom land,” and we discovered that we could connect to each other in our weekly SHAMANU sessions, and that we could raise our spirits and connect with the Divine and with our people in our monthly Kabbalat Shabbat services. We even managed to have meaningful learning in our spring education series, sadly minus the brunch!

You have all shown flexibility, patience and grit in this challenging time.

In this week’s Torah portion, Hukkat, the children of Israel find themselves without water. They are parched, frustrated, and hopeless. They rail against Moses and God, saying, “Why have you brought our holy community into this wilderness—so that we and our animals will die here? And why did you bring us up from Egypt to this awful place, where there is no grain or figs or pomegranates? There is not even water to drink!” (20:4-5)

God instructs Moses to take his staff, and to speak to a rock, and water will flow from it. Moses is furious at his faithless people and stung by their criticism. He says, “Listen you rebels, shall we get water for you from this rock?” and he angrily strikes the rock. Water does flow, but God is enraged that Moses has not followed orders. Later in the parashah, when the people are again in need of water, Moses sings to a rock and water emerges.

As we live through this time of fear, uncertainty and loss, we can probably relate to our people’s impatience and anger in the wilderness. How many of us have fervently wished that this would all be over already? How many of us wish we could go back to January, when we knew nothing of this terrible plague we are facing? The Torah calls us to patience, to appreciate the goodness we do experience, and to find new ways to get what we need.

I pray that we at Leyv Ha-Ir, as a community, will continue to support one another in finding blessing amid the challenges of this time, that we will quell our anger and act out of love, and that we will continue to find new ways to meet our needs and those of the people around us.

I look forward to the learning, prayer and observances ahead in the coming month.

With blessings for shalvah-tranquility,

Rabbi Dayle

REMOTE LEARNING: Rabbi Dayle's Summer 2020/5780 Education Series - Life Story Midrash: Our Stories as a Map for Transformation

posted Jun 3, 2020, 5:42 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jun 12, 2020, 2:16 PM ]

LHI's Education Committee is pleased to present Rabbi Dayle Friedman's remote Summer Education Series. Over the course of three sessions, Rabbi Dayle will lead a discussion on the topic
Life Story Midrash: Our Life as a Map For Transformation

Life review is a natural and generative part of growing older. Sociologist Sara Lightfoot-Lawrence says “Our stories are our only map” for the journey beyond midlife.  Through our stories, we can come to recognize tender places, unfinished business, and yearnings that can transform our lives going forward. Re-framing our stories can guide us and heal us.  As Fred Luskin says, “we can always rewrite the stories we carry around.”

In this series, we will investigate the interpretive process of Midrash, the rabbis’ approach to finding meaning in the stories from our sacred text. We’ll sample some key questions Midrash uses in expounding a text, and then we’ll each apply these questions to a story from our lives. We’ll write and re-write our story in order to glean lessons from our pasts and directions for our futures.

Please note: the stories from our lives that we work on will be kept private. We will share reflections only about the process and the lessons we learn.

Session I – June 28: Life Review: A Tool for Spiritual Healing

Reading: Selections from Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal, pp. xxi-xlii, 26-31, 314-17.

Session II: July 12:  The Midrashic Process: Digging for Meaning

Reading: Dayle A. Friedman, “The Journey of Later Life: Moses as Our Guide,” in Midrash and Medicine: Healing Body and Soul in Jewish Interpretive Tradition. Jewish Lights: 2011 (pdf).

Session III: July 26:  Making Own Life Story Midrash

Registration is required and the cost is $10 per session. 

Zoom access information and reading material will be sent to registrants.

All are welcome.  You need not attend all sessions to participate.  Here are the registration links:

June 28 - Session I Registration:  http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=at4mmpbab&oeidk=a07eh4ujb16fb7de45c

July 12 - Session II Registration:  http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=at4mmpbab&oeidk=a07eh4ukusk052c2a7a

July 26 - Session III Registration:  http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=at4mmpbab&oeidk=a07eh4ukuund650d033

Rabbi Dayle's June 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Jun 1, 2020, 3:00 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jun 1, 2020, 3:40 PM ]

Dearest members of the beloved Leyv Ha-Ir community,

I write to you on the festival of Shavuot, the time of the Giving of the Torah. On this holiday, we relive that dramatic and powerful moment at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Interestingly, although the holiday is called the time of GIVING the Torah, our commanded action is to RECEIVE the Torah. Traditions for this time include studying Torah all night, or at least until the skies open up at midnight, reading the Ten Commandments from the Torah, and eating dairy foods, because the Torah is compared to milk in its life-giving capacity (except for those who are lactose intolerant!).

Receiving Torah, however, is not a one- or two-day a year affair. We receive Torah every time we read from the sacred scroll, every time we study a Jewish text, and, in the broadest sense, every time we open our hearts to learn from the Torah that is revealed to us each day of our lives. This is why the blessing after reading the Torah acknowledges the Divine who “has given us the Torah of truth and implanted within us eternal life.” We close the blessing with the words, “Blessed is the Eternal, who IS GIVING us the Torah.”

So, the act of revelation is a continuous process. Our very lives are a process of uncovering life-giving truth. May we open our hearts to the Torah that is awaiting us in every day we are alive, and may we, in our sacred community, witness and learn from one another’s precious wisdom.

With blessings for inspiration and health,

 Rabbi Dayle

1-10 of 32