What's Happening At Leyv Ha-Ir

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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.

Rabbi Julie's March 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Mar 2, 2021, 9:19 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Mar 8, 2021, 3:07 PM ]

March 2021
Dear Chevre,

If spring is a-springing, Passover must be around the corner. As I write this, with snow and ice still on the ground, feel spring in the air and hear the birds' mating calls. So it must be time for spring cleaning.

How many of you have used some of your COVID isolation time to clean out closets, drawers, boxes or files? Our De-clutter Group continues to lead the way on these orderings and in this season we can all join in the practice. Whether you call it spring cleaning or Passover cleaning, the action of cleaning our physical spaces is intended to mirror and inspire an inner spiritual cleansing. 

So what would you like to cast out as inner chametz or puffed up leaven on this runway to Pesach? For some of us this has been a time of awakening to and rejecting the default assumption that White is right. For some of us, we are getting more conscious of disability access issues and of building a world where everyone truly belongs. What is your inner cleansing going to look like this year?

It's time to find your (possibly symbolic) candle and feather and route out all the dust bunnies inside and out. Then we will be ready for our joyful Passover seder.

All good,

Rabbi Julie

Rabbi Julie's Spring 2021 Education Series: Reconstructing Judaism - Tradition and Change

posted Feb 7, 2021, 1:12 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Feb 8, 2021, 8:18 AM ]

Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir ~Heart of the City~ is part of the dynamic movement called Reconstructing Judaism. Our guiding principle, based on the teachings of founder Dr. Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, is that "Judaism is an evolving civilization."  We inherit the past and we create the future.  How does this work in practice? What does it really look like to be part of this denomination? Rabbi Julie Greenberg will be guiding us on a journey into the heart of Reconstructing Judaism. 
For on-going reference, you might want to purchase the three volume Guide to Jewish Practice by Dr. Rabbi David Teutsch.  It is available from the Reconstructionist Press.

Sessions are on Sunday April 11, Sunday April 25 and Sunday May 2, from Noon to 1:15PM.

You need not attend all sessions to participate.

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 will be sent to you the day before each session.

Session I - Sunday, April 11:  What Does Reconstructing Judaism Mean In the World of Today?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote about the "fierce urgency of now."  We live in a world of great distress and suffering.  How can an ancient religious tradition be relevant to contemporary struggles and experience?  Can a four thousand year old tradition really provide nourishment and guidance for today's crises of loneliness, isolation, climate, white supremacy and extreme economic inequality?How does our denomination, Reconstructing Judaism, face the "fierce urgency of now?" 

Session II - Sunday, April 25:  Bringing God into the Present: A Case Study in Reconstructing a Jewish Relationship

Let's look at an example of Jewish teachings that our Reconstructing Judaism communities are renewing in this generation. In Biblical imagery, God is a supernatural character in the story who is sometimes fierce, sometimes kind, and who doesn't make sense to many modern Jews. What are we doing with God today in our thriving Reconstructing Judaism congregations?

Session III - Sunday, May 2:  How Do We Balance Tradition and Innovation, Diversity and Unity?

We in Reconstructing Judaism are a big, pluralistic tent and yet we also stand for certain values. We disagree within the network of Reconstructing Judaism communities about some issues and yet we have sustained a movement based on respect, inclusion and moving towards justice. How does Reconstructing Judaism manage diversity about how closely to cleave to tradition? What can we create and still be Jewish? How can we unite across lines of difference? We will explore how our movement navigated a divisive issue in the 1980s, the integration of LGBTQ Jews into Judaism. Explore the Reconstructing Judaism website to see what draws you in (link below.) Where do you see yourself in this movement? What more would you like to learn?

         Assigned Reading:   The Reconstructing Judaism Website

Rabbi Julie's February 2021 Letter to Congregation

posted Feb 1, 2021, 7:38 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Feb 1, 2021, 7:40 AM ]

February 2021

Dear Chevre,
Days ago our calendars marked the Jewish holiday of Tu B'shvat, often known as the Birthday of the Trees. In this era, we have a new understanding of trees as the lungs of the world. If we imagine Self as World, these are our very own lungs! Can you imagine a bigger sense of Self that encompasses all of nature? We have been trained to think of ourselves as isolated individuals, but really, we are truly interdependent with a whole web of life. Judaism expresses this idea in our central Shema prayer "God is one."
I am also thinking of the wonderful story of Honi, an old man in ancient Israel who was planting a tree one day when a young fellow approached him. "Why are you planting that tree when you won't live to see it grown?"
"Ah," said Honi, "I am planting this tree not for myself but for future generations."
At the stages of life that many of us have reached, aren't we now planting for future generations? We are sustaining life-giving spiritual traditions, caring practices, teachings and congregation structures, not just for ourselves but also for generations to come. In my own life I feel more and more drawn to teaching, mentoring, training, planting seeds in others who will carry on the work. So glad to be doing this holy planting together.

Happy Tu B'shvat,

Rabbi Julie

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