What's Happening At Leyv Ha-Ir

Keep your members up to date on your synagogue blog.

The Shamanu Sessions

posted Mar 17, 2020, 3:45 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated ]

Rabbi Dayle Friedman invites all to join for the Shamanu Sessions. Every Wednesday, Rabbi Dayle will offer a brief teaching, and we will have a chance to share our experiences in this extraordinary time.

They start at 11 AM and run for about 45 minutes.

The sessions are available through Zoom.  Information for this and all virtual events will automatically be sent to 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.

Here is a YouTube video on how to connect to a Zoom meeting, for those who have not done it before:

Please remember to MUTE yourself except when you are speaking to the group, so there is no background noise on the call.

REMOTE LEARNING: Rabbi Dayle's Spring 2020/5780 Education Series

posted Mar 8, 2020, 3:45 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated ]

The LHI Education Committee presents Rabbi Dayle Friedman's spring 2020 Education Series. Join us for an engaging discussion led by Rabbi Dayle on the very important topic: Grit and Grace - A Spiritual Framework For Growing Old.

“Aging is not for sissies,” Bette Davis famously observed. More and more of us are blessed with the gift of increased longevity—more years, more adventures, and more challenges, as well. Together we will explore tools and perspectives from Jewish tradition as well as our own experiences, to help us grow deeper, wiser and more resilient as we grow beyond midlife.

Session I: March 22, 2020 – From Brokenness to Repair: A Spiritual Vision For the Path Beyond Midlife

Drawing on the Kabbalistic creation myth, we’ll consider the ways that we are continually beginning again, and how each stage of aging provides an opportunity for birth out of brokenness. We will explore the constant choice between seeking sparks of goodness and holiness or succumbing to darkness in the wake of loss and change.

Suggested Reading:  Dayle Friedman. Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife. Jewish Lights Publishing. 2015, pp. 3-13.

Session II: April 19, 2020 – Doing Our Own Work of Tikkun/Repair

We will investigate how we can approach unfinished business of the past so that we can approach the future with open hearts. We will look at practices for finding forgiveness and healing regrets, so that we can clear the way to be available for new callings

Suggested Reading:  Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older, pp. 71-76.

Session III: May 3, 2020 – Answering the Call: Becoming True Elders

We will look into the role of elder in traditional Judaism, and how we might reclaim this for our lives and time. We’ll explore how we can discern our own elder callings, as mentors, peacemakers, activists, and models.

Suggested Reading:  Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older, pp. 113-122

Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older
is available on Amazon here.  Reading is suggested, not a requirement for attending the classes.

You need not attend all sessions to participate.


Information for this and all virtual events will automatically be sent to 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.

No RSVP required.  No charge to call in.

Rabbi Dayle's April 2020 Letter to the Congregation

posted Mar 1, 2020, 10:26 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Apr 1, 2020, 6:47 AM ]

Dear Leyv Ha-Ir hevre (friends),

It is hard to believe that Pesach is coming so soon. In this time of quarantine and social isolation, with Coronavirus hovering menacingly around us and our dear ones, it certainly feels like we are in Mitzrayim/Egypt/the narrow place. It is a bit challenging to imagine that we will be leaving Egypt together, at least ritually, on April 9, with our Virtual Community Seder.

It is likely that the externals of our reality will not have greatly changed by then. We will undoubtedly still be on lockdown in our homes, unable to do so many things we had previously taken for granted, and still be watching the grip of Coronavirus intensifying on our nation and the world. But…we will nonetheless leave Egypt together.

Like our ancestors who found themselves celebrating Pesach in shtetls besieged by pogroms, in urban ghettos immersed in poverty and want, in concentration camps as well as in times of plenty and ease, we will go forth from Egypt. We will commemorate enslavement and redemption, suffering and relief. We will sing and eat and remember. We’ll remember that at our people’s moment of hopeless despair, with Pharoah’s army behind us and the wide sea ahead, a way opened, and we were saved.

We will treasure our freedom, which is great even when restricted, our tradition, and our community. We will take comfort and hope from this narrative of hope. And we will sing Dayenu: it will be enough.

I look forward to dancing out of Egypt with you as we join virtually for our congregational Seder, and I wish you a zissen Pesach, a sweet and liberating and healthy Passover.

In blessing and affection,

Rabbi Dayle

Rabbi Dayle's March 2020 Letter to the Congregation

posted Mar 1, 2020, 10:06 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Mar 1, 2020, 10:12 AM ]

March 2020-Adar 5780

Dear Leyv Ha-Ir hevre (friends),

This month on the Hebrew calendar is Adar, which is the subject of a very special rabbinic saying: “Once Adar arrives, we increase our joy” – mi-shenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha. This teaching could be simply a description, but my sense is that it is an imperative. We are obligated to cultivate joy in this month because of what we learn from the story of Purim, which falls on the 14th of Adar.

On its face, Purim seems to be a kind of Mardi Gras, inviting silliness, disguise, noisemaking and even intoxication. Beneath all of that, however, is a deep and comforting message. The Purim story is, at base, about transformation, or, in Hebrew, v’nahafoch hu “it was reversed.” The Jewish people are rescued from persecution by Mordechai and Esther. Mordechai and Esther cease being closeted Jews (their names are taken from Persian deities, Marduk and Astarte) and instead courageously stand up and bring “light, joy and preciousness” to the Jewish people. Esther is transformed from a passive sex object to an empowered person with a voice and inner worth and strength.

This message of transformation is more powerful than ever in our challenging times. Amid darkness and injustice, we are reminded that things don’t stay the way they are. We are inspired by Mordechai and Esther to find our own voices, to live with hope, to say NO to injustice, and to foster transformation and repair of our broken world. And, I would suggest, cultivating joy is a critical bolster to the work of transformation. I encourage all of us to find opportunities of delight—in the small moments of our lives, in special treats, and in the richness of our community.

I am looking forward to celebrating Purim with the Leyv Ha-Ir community on Sunday, March 15. We will engage in revelry and take courage from the deepest teachings of the holiday.

I’m excited to lead Kabbalat Shabbat on March 13, when our worship will be enhanced by the accompaniment of jazz pianist, Peter Simpkins, Team Shira and drumming by Sue Frank.

Finally, I hope you will join us for the first session of our upcoming education series, Grit and Grace, on Sunday, March 22. We will explore Jewish tools for growing wiser and deeper as we grow older.

May your Adar be filled with joy.

With abundant blessing,

Rabbi Dayle

Sunday Series Salon: Center City Before Moses

posted Feb 9, 2020, 9:36 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Feb 24, 2020, 12:15 PM ]

Come join us on Sunday, March 8, 2020, for LHI Education Committee's Sunday Salon Series.  We are delighted that at this salon, Kenneth D. Frank, M.D., husband of Leyv Ha-Ir member Sue Frank, will present Center City Before Moses

In 1931 workers digging a subway tunnel at 8th and Locust Streets discovered subterranean tree stumps that were more than 36,000 years old. The stumps were buried 38 feet underground, and the wood was well preserved. The trees were bald cypress, a southern species whose native range does not extend this far north. How scientists cracked the mystery of this discovery is an intriguing tale. The story offers clues to Center City’s prehistoric past and potential future.

Kenneth D. Frank, M.D. is a retired physician with a life-long interest in natural history. He has recently focused on the ecology of Center City, and in 2015 published a magnificent book titled Ecology of Center City, Philadelphia which examines the flora and fauna just beyond our front stoops, and elucidates in a most approachable way Center City’s dynamic and resilient ecology.

It promises to be a very enlightening session.  

Very light noshes will be served. 

RSVP BY THURSDAY, MARCH 5, 2020.  SEATING IS LIMITED TO 18 PEOPLE.  Please contact Beverly by email at hayden15@verizon.net or at 215-557-3777 to RSVP and for her address.

Sunday Salon Series: Moments of Mindfulness

posted Feb 2, 2020, 3:19 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Feb 9, 2020, 9:39 AM ]

Come join us on Sunday, February 23, 2020 for LHI Education Committee's Sunday Salon Series.  We are delighted that at this salon, LHI member Edwin Greenlee will present on Moments of MindfulnessLHI member Beverly Hayden is graciously hosting at her home, and it will run from 2pm to 4pm.

Mindfulness is a term we encounter daily while watching television or listening to radio, at the bookstore, and at nearly every magazine rack.  But what is it?  And how can it help us to live more fulfilling lives as we experience the discomfort, pain, loss and social and political upheaval that is unfolding all around us?  In this Sunday Salon, Ed Greenlee, a trained mindfulness facilitator, will present the history of today's Mindfulness movement and let us sample a few "moments of mindfulness."  We will do several exercises and there will be an opportunity for questions and discussion.  No experience necessary!

Ed Greenlee, J.D., Ph.D. has taught for over twenty years at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and in the graduate program in Information Studies at Drexel University. He has studied Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the Penn Center for Mindfulness and the Mindfulness Center at Jefferson. Ed has completed the teacher training program at Penn Center for Mindfulness, and has taught Mindfulness workshops at various locales including the Penn Law School, First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and at community locales. 

It promises to be a very enlightening session.  
Very light noshes will be served.

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

Rabbi Dayle's February 2020 Letter to the Congregation

posted Feb 2, 2020, 3:07 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir

February-Shevat 2020-5780

Dear Leyv Ha-Ir Hevre/Community,

I am writing to you in the heart of winter, gazing out my window at the bare branches of the trees. The shades I can see are mostly brown, grey and black. There is a beauty to the starkness of twigs and limbs, standing in dramatic contrast to the almost colorless sky.

Many people imagine this time of year as a fallow period, when the fecundity of the earth is on pause. Yet, in our Jewish calendar, it is precisely now that we celebrate the New Year of the Trees, Tu Bishvat (the 15th day of the month of Shevat, which began this week). Tu Bishvat, according to our sages, is the time when the sap begins to rise in the trees, when nature is re-awakened and the promise of renewed flowering is at hand.

In the land of Israel, it is easy to see that the earth’s energy is alive and flowing at this season. When my husband David and I spent a week there last winter, I had the opportunity to hike all over the country. Every week, I went with my buddies to a place where wildflowers had just begun to bloom. It was inspiring to see the huge enthusiasm that people of all sorts—Orthodox, secular, Muslim, Christian, elders and schoolchildren—flocked to witness the parade of color and vibrancy of the season. Of course, it made sense to observe a holiday celebrating the Earth and her fruits at that time!

Here in North America, we have to take it on faith that Spring will be here in some number of weeks. We need to cheer ourselves up in times that can be discouraging, both in nature and in our social and political world. The festival of Tu Bishvat reminds us that more is going on than is apparent on the surface. The sap is rising! Within each of us, there is potential waiting to be fulfilled—perhaps our intentions toward kindness are available to be carried out in our daily interactions. Perhaps our desire to give back is calling out to move us to volunteer within Leyv Ha-Ir, or the larger community. And…when ideals dear to us are challenged, perhaps the possibility of coming together in activism is being born.

During this month, may we be reminded that though the trees look barren, the sap is rising, and new growth and beauty are developing.Bivracha–with abundant blessing,

In blessing–bivracha,

Rabbi Dayle

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: The Jews of Shanghai

posted Dec 20, 2019, 1:52 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Feb 2, 2020, 3:21 PM ]

Come join us 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

1-10 of 21