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Rabbi Julie's November 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Nov 1, 2021, 8:16 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Nov 1, 2021, 1:54 PM ]

November 2021

Dear Chevre, 

One of the things I love about congregations in general and about Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City in particular is how we hold the past, present and future all at once. I love having known people in their prime who are now at later stages of the life journey; their history is wrapped into the community's living story and their contributions live on in the continuity of the congregation. I love that we mentor young music directors and often give opportunities to rabbinical students. We invest in the future of Judaism. 

Today in my chevruta (learning dyad -- I've had the same partner for twenty years!) we were looking at a Hasidic teaching about the quote "There is nothing new under the sun." I'm sure you've heard that saying from Ecclesiastes. The teaching was that there is nothing new under the sun, i.e., renewal is not in the realm of material things. Rather, renewal comes from spiritual practices. Therefore, the invitation is to root yourself in the Source.

Rooted in the Source, both memory and imagination become spiritual practices that connect us to our past and help us live into the future. Do you make space in your life for remembering and for imagining? Do you take time to re-read your diary, or write a memoir, or look at old photos or to have a "conversation" with your ancestors? And do you get a chance sometimes to do things imaginative like doodling or singing, water color, fabric art or poetry, or have a "conversation" in which you are the ancestor? 

Let's hear it for finding what is new that is not under the sun!

With love,

Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's October 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Oct 1, 2021, 7:22 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Oct 1, 2021, 7:23 AM ]

October 2021

 Dear Chevre,

We continue to live into this world of COVID adaptation -- making it work together under unusual circumstances. Our Sukkot celebration was such a special example of experimental meeting of the moment, without giving up our connection or our participation in this fall festival, also known as the "season of our joy."

We celebrated Sukkot in a Zoom room beaming forth from a 12th floor balcony of 1901 JFK Boulevard that had been beautifully decorated by Evy Simon, Lois Master and Bobbi Cohen. When I forgot to bring my own laptop, Lois Master delivered hers. When Bobbi Cohen's computer and mine started to screech with feedback, Bobbi moved inside to continue her Zoom admin support and I led from the other side of the glass door. When the sun glare was so bright that I couldn't see my screen, I moved around on the balcony catching bits of shade. We adapted.

The upshot was an enormously satisfying and meaningful shared experience. We savored the experience of holding the lulav and etrog, we sang Hallel, we shared Torah and, best of all, our community was together, in our own way, for this beautiful holiday. At Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City we will continue to live into this year with the same spirit of creativity and mutual care.

I hope to see you soon in another Zoom room! Aren't we lucky?

With love,

Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's Fall Education Series: Judaism as an Evolving Religious Civilization

posted Sep 19, 2021, 7:18 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 30, 2021, 8:17 AM ]

Please join us for Rabbi Julie's exciting Fall Education Series: 
Judaism as an Evolving Religious Civilization.
Reconstructing Judaism makes a major contribution to Jewish pedagogy by organizing our study of history according to historical eras. In each era our people faced the needs of the moment by bringing Jewish values and wisdom to meet current times. In this way, Judaism evolved through the centuries, always staying true to tradition even as tradition was "reconstructed" in innovative ways. The classic eras are defined as Biblical, Rabbinic, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary. In this series, we will look at the historical context of each era, and we will trace one concept "olam ha'ba/the world to come" through each of the Jewish civilizations. Bring your questions and curiosity to join this learning community! All are welcome.

The three sessions are:  Sunday, October 17, 2021; Sunday, November 21, 2021; and Sunday, December 12, 2021.

All sessions run 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM on Zoom

You need not attend all sessions to participate.

Session I:  Sunday, October 17, 2021 - Biblical to Medieval Jewish Civilization: How One Concept Evolved

In ancient Biblical times,consistent with early human understanding of the afterlife, our ancestors believed that the actual bones of dead people would be resurrected. Building on that foundation, how did successive generations understand "olam ha'ba/the world to come" as science, spirituality and historical pressures changed?  Here is the reading assignment:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_history

Session II:  Sunday, November 21, 2021 - Modernity Changed Everything: What Made Judaism Still Jewish?

If you took a Jewish community from 300 B.C.E.  and compared it to an early twentieth century Jewish community, what continuity would you find?  In many ways the lives and understanding of the people in each era would seem to have nothing in common.  What did Temple sacrifice have to do with celebrating Shabbat in homes on Friday nights? Would they even recognize each other as Jewish if they met in a time warp? We will explore the ways in which they would indeed have found links of connection in our evolving civilization.  (Reading assignment to follow.)

Session III:  Sunday, December 12, 2021 - Contemporary Judaism: Our Turn to Co-Create Jewish Civilization For This Era 

One profound result of a curriculum based on evolving Jewish civilizations, is the insight that now it is our turn. We inherit these centuries of development of our precious tradition and we need to discover how to bring these treasures to the needs of these times. We will look at some of the ways that this is happening right before our very eyes, and even with our own participation, in Reconstructing Judaism. We are shaping the next iteration of Jewish civilization.  (Reading assignment to follow.)

Participation for LHI members is free of charge. We ask non-members to consider making a suggested minimum donation of $18 per person for the series, which you can make through Paypal on LHI’s website or by check payable to Leyv Ha-Ir, P.O. Box 15836, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Information for this and all virtual 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 to request that the remote access information be sent to you the day before each session.

High Holy Day Information 5782 - 2021

posted Sep 2, 2021, 7:16 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 12, 2021, 4:04 PM by Bobbi Cohen ]

We invite you to join us for High Holy Day Services, which will be conducted this year online via Zoom. Services will be conducted by Rabbi Julie Greenberg with Cantorial Soloist Rena Branson.

Tickets are not required.  In lieu of tickets we strongly 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 4

  • Erev Rosh Hashanah Service Monday, September 6, 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM 
  • First Day Morning Service Tuesday, September 7, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
  • Torah Service Tuesday, September 7, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

  • Second Day Shofar & Torah Discussion Service Wednesday, September 8, 10:00 - 11:30 AM

YOM KIPPUR - Registration deadline September 13

  • Kol Nidre Service Wednesday, September 15, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM 
  • Morning Service Thursday, September 16, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
  • Yizkor/Memorial Service Thursday, September 16, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
  • Panel led by Rabbi Julie - Early Builders of our Community Thursday, September 16, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Mincha/Neilah Thursday, September 16, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

  • Zoom will remain open after services for people to break the fast together in community.
We will be keeping Zoom open after our closing service on Yom Kippur to give you a continued opportunity to connect to community by breaking the fast with others. 

Jewish tradition recognizes a meal as a time for intimacy, fellowship, and significant conversation. Kindness is the basic mood of the Jewish meal. People are fed and nourished, and in this intimate setting people talk with each other about what matters.


We need volunteers who are familiar with Zoom to assist with check-in and other Zoom functions.  You can help by taking a shift or two.  Training will be provided.  Contact Frann at frannshore@gmail.com or Diane at dianetzilka@gmail.com.  Members and non-members are welcome to help out.


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.  Everyone who registers for our services will receive the pdf version a few days before Yom Kippur. If you would like to purchase the actual book, go to Recon Press.  Discounts are available to Leyv Ha-Ir members.

New to Zoom? You may want to watch this excellent 8-minute tutorial in advance of services: click here.

Rabbi Julie's September 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Sep 1, 2021, 10:53 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Sep 1, 2021, 10:58 AM ]

September 2021

Dear Chevre,

Jewish communities around the world are on the threshold of the New Year, gathered at the Gates of Awe, preparing for a time of introspection, reckoning and celebration. This year our theme in Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City is Return Again! Isn't that what this season is about? Returning to who we want to be, what we want to be and where we want to be. Returning to our holy rites, but with another year behind us and spiritual renewal ahead of us beckoning.

So in this season, I want to ask each of you an essential question: What do you love? It might be easier to answer who do you love? But I am asking us to gaze beyond the precious people in our lives to other values we hold dear. Do you love peace? Democracy? Judaism? Art? Life? Who are you, what are you here on earth for, where will you connect in this New Year?

Sometimes the answers to these questions are not an overwhelming epiphany, like a shofar blast. If you were expecting that kind of knowledge or revelation you might feel panic, as in "I have no idea!" Sometimes the answers come in the "small, still voice" of on-going reflection, of emerging clarity.

In this New Year, we will engage in our community, as we always do, about the big questions, including "What do you love?" We will show up for each other at times of joy and at times of hardship. For now, I wish each one of you and your loved ones a meaningful and enriching journey into the New Year. I hope to see you in the Zoom room!

With much love,

Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's August 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Aug 19, 2021, 9:56 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Aug 19, 2021, 2:13 PM ]

August 2021

Dear Chevre,

Let me quote the potent Batya Levine song, "We Rise" by saying, "In hope and prayer, we find ourselves HERE." We Rise - Batya Levine

Here we are, ready once again to enter the journey of the Jewish holy days: Selichot, Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Our community will surge in size and in spirit as we welcome our annual guests in. And once again we will face the exact moment of now, just as we are required to do throughout life.

I have gratitude for our congregation leaders who had to make decisions months in advance about how to hold our holy day services: in person? on Zoom? some of each? Not knowing what would be true months in the future, our leadership decided to plan for maximum health protection and to be on Zoom once again. With the current state of the pandemic, it turns out that this was a wise choice.

I hope each of you will join in as much of this holy journey as possible. I echo our long term member Maria Mackey in saying that there is something special about Zoom where we can be face to face rather than looking at the back of other worshippers' heads in our large room. Let's be face to face and celebrate our New Year.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Julie

One Book, One Congregation Discussion

posted Jun 6, 2021, 2:43 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jun 6, 2021, 2:48 PM ]

For this year's One Book, One Congregation discussion we will actually be discussing two books.  The books are an intense pairing:  a deep exploration into the past of one Jewish family's experience in the Holocaust, alongside a compelling narrative co-authored by the daughter of an American Rabbi and a Palestinian activist about current co-liberation work in the holy land of Israel/Palestine. 
These books offer a wealth of material for us to process together.  Please read whatever you can between now and our gathering on Thursday, August 19 at 7 PM. The books are:

When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann

In This Place Together by Penina Eilberg-Scwartz with Sulaiman Khatib

Both are available on Amazon and likely also at your independent bookstore.

Let's look forward to continuing learning together. 
Information for this and all virtual 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  to request the remote access information.

Rabbi Julie's June 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Jun 1, 2021, 10:26 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir

June 2021

Dear Chevre,

I am so looking forward to our Annual Meeting. In my own learning with my chevruta (study buddy partnership) we are learning Mishna. Today we reviewed the Mishna about how the Rabbis, after the destruction of the Second Temple, spent many hours discussing and establishing specific times for spiritual practice, starting with the question "When should we say the Shema?" Clearly setting a rhythm for the spiritual life of the community was of the essence. I think of our Annual Meeting as an essential part of the rhythm of our congregation's sacred journey through the year.

For newcomers, at our Annual Meeting we review the past year, choose leadership for the next year, celebrate each other and learn the big reveal of the One Book, One Congregation selection that we will read over the summer and discuss at a gathering in August. When we are in person, we also share a delicious brunch.

In lieu of the communal brunch this year, we have a delightful alternative planned. Every member's name will be put into a lottery and at the Annual Meeting three names will be drawn. We have three really cool prizes. You have to be present to win!

Looking forward to seeing all of us in the Zoom room on Sunday, June 6, at 11:00 AM.


Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's May 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted May 3, 2021, 2:07 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir

May 2021

Dear Chevre,

The Jewish community is well into the counting of the Omer, ascending day by day towards standing together in spirit at Sinai. The Holy Days of Shavuot will mark the culmination of this spiritual journey. We will have come through 7 x 7 weeks, 49 days, since leaving the stuck narrow place of mitzrayim, crossing the Red Sea, and facing the wilderness.

Shavuot is a celebration of Torah and, by extension, a celebration of all learning. What have you learned in this past year? What are you curious about learning now? 

Judaism proudly manifests the value of life-long learning and I proudly affirm our community for having numerous learning opportunities, including: our fall and spring education series; our One Book One Congregation program; all of our small group learning spaces including the Anti-Racism Study Group that just concluded a course of study, and our on-going Declutterers Group that continues to provide guidance, support and insight to its members. This year, we also had a guest poetry teacher, Ross Weissman, who was much appreciated by his students.

To all of you life-long learners, Col haKavod, keep it up!


Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's April 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Apr 1, 2021, 10:02 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Apr 1, 2021, 10:09 AM ]

April 2021

Dear Chevre,

In some ways this past year has felt to me exactly as I imagine our ancestors felt right at the edge of the Red Sea:  Pharoah's army behind us, the raging waters in front of us. We have faced so many unknowns and pressures and witnessed or experienced so much suffering. But now in the mythic cycle of our year, we have crossed the Red Sea. We are marching toward Sinai. 

How do you relate to that journey of our ancestors? Does it feel to you that things are opening up and looking better? The renewal of spring and the spread of vaccinations, new leadership above and a growing movement of people working for the common good now inform the next stage of our journey. If we are following the map of our ancestors' experience, we know it will not all be easy. They still had to contend with many challenges, including finding shelter, water, food and leadership. Most of all, they had to learn how to be a community.

Having inherited so much of their legacy, one thing we don't need to re-invent is the value of community! We are blessed with already being in community -- a living, learning community. Of course we each have to keep living into our aspirations for caring and connection. In some ways community is always an evolving process of giving and receiving, forgiving and growing. So we carry on the legacy. I feel blessed and grateful to be doing this together.

Warm wishes,

Rabbi Julie

P.S. We have some special April birthdays, including our beloved Beverly Hayden turning 90, Pat Wisch's first birthday in her new state and a big one for Joanne Perilstein too! We will celebrate together at our April 16 Rabbi-led Shabbat service. Please join the Shabbat zoom.

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