There is No Hiding from Difference

December 25, 2016

chanukiya-1584A rabbi named Francine Green Roston recently moved with her family from New Jersey to Whitefish, Montana, in search of a slower pace of life.  As you can imagine, there are not many Jews in their new small town (although with a name like “Whitefish,” you’d think…) but Rabbi Roston has found a small Jewish community.

She also discovered that her neighbors include the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.  Last week, ignited by the emerging white supremacy movement, a neo-Nazi website issued a call to take action against the Jews of Whitefish.  The site listed the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of alleged Jews in town, and photo-shopped pictures of Rabbi Roston with a Nazi-era yellow star. Read the rest of this entry »


To Raise Dust with Our Feet: Opening Up Our Definition of Spirituality

December 18, 2016

wrestling-image(delivered by Rabbi Maderer at Shabbat service 12/18/16)  Last week I shared with you a time when I lived in the suburbs and my family overdid it in the area of home security.  I made fun of the way that, even with a burglar alarm in our house, we added to the front porch, an extra security measure: a big dog-food bowl.  Even though we did not have a dog.  I went on to make fun of — and to be clear, I was making fun of my mother– I went on to make fun of the way that, to make it seem real, we painted onto the bowl the name of our fake dog: Shomer, Hebrew for “guard.”

Funny story:  Last week, here in Philadelphia… you guessed it.  My garage was broken into.  Who here believes in karma?

Now, seriously, do you think there is a connection?  One week I am making fun of my mother for over-securing our house all those years ago, and days after I write those words, a break-in.  Coincidence?  Karma?  God? There was a time I would have said: there is no such thing as coincidence.  I believed God influenced the details of our lives.  Yet as my life and rabbinate move forward, I find my response to the world changes:  more questions, less certainty of God’s role, judgment, or expectation. Read the rest of this entry »


Post-Election Complacency or Anxiety: An Alternative Path in the Stairway to Heaven

December 12, 2016

 

artwork-797_960_720(delivered by Rabbi Maderer in Shabbat Service 12/9/16)

Years ago when I lived in suburban NJ, there was a break-in in our neighborhood.  We already had a burglar alarm in our house, so we added to the front porch the only extra security measure we could think of: a big dog-food bowl.  We did not have a dog.  But we were going to scare those intruders away!  To make it seem real, we painted onto the bowl the name of our fake dog: Shomer, Hebrew for “guard.” Once guarded by Shomer, in our alarm-shielded house, we proceeded to protect ourselves with a light-timer, for evenings when we were out…

How much worry is too much worry?  Some of our concerns and precautions are well-founded.  But there is a point when our energy is so channeled into the worry that we are at risk of losing our focus and our purpose.  Meanwhile, the anxiety reduces us, to wasted grief.

As we think about our roles in civic life, teaching, parenting, business, politics, it is important to consider: where do I have control and what is beyond my control? Read the rest of this entry »


Shabbat With Noah Aronson

November 30, 2016

Shabbat with Renowned Composer & Musician, Noah Aronson, on Friday, December 2 @ 6pm
Sponsored by the Miles Jellinek Memorial Fund

“Noah Aronson performs with joy, passion and a rich musicality that connects with audiences, heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul”(Anita Diamant)
We are priviledged to have the extrememly talented composer and vocalist, Noah Aronson, join us for a Shabbat Service.   He will enhance our service by collaborating with Makheilah: The RS Choir and our Youth Choir, and by sharing his music.

Join us for a community dinner following the service (RSVP) and a cafe style concert with Noah Aronson.

Listen to Noah’s beautiful “Eileh Chambdah Libi

 


HaKarat HaTov: Jewish Thanksgiving and Jewish Living

November 24, 2016

Discover more Jewish values on raising kids who are responsible, grateful and menschy with money on Tues., Nov 29, when NY Times money columnist Ron Lieber speaks.

When this year’s Slichot speaker, Dr. Dan Gottleib of WHYY hosted his final weekly Voices in the Family last year, he focused the show on gratitude.  As callers thanked Dr. Dan for giving them something– courage or patience or thanks…  he responded (paraphrased) “I don’t give anyone anything that isn’t already there.  It’s about seeing what’s already there.”

Seeing what’s already there– this is Judaism’s approach to Thanksgiving.  One Hebrew term for gratitude is “hakarat hatov.” Read the rest of this entry »


Rodeph Shalom Statement to Speak Out Against Hate and Object to the Appointment of Steve Bannon

November 16, 2016
     We the clergy and president of Congregation Rodeph Shalom raise our voices in concern for the hateful rhetoric that has become a part of our nation’s recent discourse. As faith leaders we affirm the equality of all human beings, and speaking to the importance of this moment in our history, we recall the teaching from our tradition: “The first person was created alone for the sake of peace among people, so that no one could say to another, ‘My ancestor was greater than yours’” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).
     We object to the appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist to the President-Elect. We echo the statement of the Anti-Defamation League: “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the Alt Right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.'”
     We call upon leaders of the next administration to speak out against the acts of hate we have seen in our Philadelphia community, including anti-semitic graffiti and messages of hate directed at students of color.
     We promise to continue to make our voices heard if other groups are targeted with hateful rhetoric for their religion, their race, their gender, their sexuality, their disability, or their country of origin.
     We urge all who wish to speak out against hate to contact your government representatives, and urge all those who wish to act to promote love of their fellow human beings to join us in mitzvah opportunities to come. Our tradition instructs us how to follow paths of righteousness, and we will continue to listen and respond.

“Praise God, even if God takes your life”

November 15, 2016

Thank you to RS Board member David Mandell, ScD, for offering these words on the post-election world, gratitude, and a congregational learning opportunity.

“Praise God, even if God takes your life”

I am heartbroken by the results of the presidential election. I alternate between deep mourning and rage. Yesterday morning I expressed my anguish to a colleague from Turkey. She said that she too is disappointed but was not experiencing the same depths of despair that I was. She pointed out that living in the United States is still preferable to the violence and unrest in Turkey. A Russian man told me, “so your party lost? At least you have two parties. And you’re not thrown in jail for not being a member.” Another friend listened in on a phone call with President Obama, who gave us permission to mope for a week, and then have to get back to work. We’ve made a huge difference to the country and if 20% of it gets rolled back, 80% is still left.

In these three moments I felt hope. And driving that hope was gratitude. Read the rest of this entry »