Tu B’shvat and a World Tour of Sustainability

January 29, 2010

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

Tonight and tomorrow, we celebrate Tu B’shvat.  This Jewish new year for the trees functions as Jewish Earth Day. As you taste the fruits of the holiday (dates, almonds…) and contemplate what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, check out what our members Amy and Keith Sutter are up to!  Amy and Keith are spending the year traveling around the world and documenting sustainability; keep up with their discovery of sustainability worldwide, on their blog: Green Around the Globe.

Israel and Haiti

January 21, 2010

by Frederick D. Strober
Rodeph Shalom President

When I was 25, I wound up in a unique place, doing my best to help. In October, 1973, I visited Israel for the first time. I was staying with an aunt in Jerusalem, scheduled to return home after the High Holidays, and experiencing a Yom Kippur morning literally without a car on the road. Suddenly, sirens started wailing and cars quickly began to appear—at noon on Yom Kippur! The Yom Kippur War had begun and I got to see a country mobilize in a matter of hours. It was controlled chaos, and I was amazed how calm the Israelis stayed as hundreds of young men raced to collection points and sped away in army vehicles. It’s a day I’ll never forget.

The men were away at war and the kibbutzim needed workers to finish the harvest. Once the actual fighting ended, my plans laid aside, I headed to Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, in the far north, to do what I could to help.

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The Women of the Wall’s Struggle for Religious Liberty in Israel

January 19, 2010

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

When I prayed with Women of the Wall (WOW) in 1996, I never imagined that in 2010, women would still be prohibited from raising their voices in prayer at the Kotel—the Western Wall, the remaining wall from the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Yet, as much as ever before, the religious extremism of ultra-orthodoxy continues to hold authority and power over all Jews in the State of Israel–from school funding to liberal rabbinic recognition– and over all activity at the Kotel.  In November, WOW member Nofrat Frankel was arrested for wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) and for holding a Torah scroll. Two weeks ago, WOW leader Anat Hoffman (who spoke at RS a few years ago at our Joseph W. Rosenbluth Shabbat), executive director of the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, was interrogated and fingerprinted by police. Her crime? Wearing a tallit, not at the Wall, but at a previously designated alternative overlooking the wall, where WOW has been holding services for years. Read the rest of this entry »

Full-time Jewish Preschool in Center City

January 14, 2010

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

Check out this week’s Jewish Exponent article  about the Buerger Early Learning Center: A Joint Project between Congregation Rodeph Shalom and Federation Early Learning Services!  The piece includes a rendering by our architects from KieranTimberlake.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Shabbat

January 7, 2010

By Rabbi Bill Kuhn

On Friday evening, January 15, 2010 at our 7:30 p.m. Shabbat Service, we will celebrate the national holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.  In what has become an annual event at Rodeph Shalom, we will share one of the most meaningful interfaith services of our calendar year as we welcome Reverend Kevin Johnson and the Bright Hope Baptist Church.  Reverend Johnson will give the sermon that evening as we also welcome many members of his congregation and his choir.  Those of you who have heard him speak and have heard their magnificent choir know what an unforgettable experience this is.  Read the rest of this entry »

Open Tent Initiative

January 5, 2010

The “Open Tent Initiative” is a wonderful way to build a strong sense of community.

Congregation Rodeph Shalom (RS) recently won an award given by the Union for Reform Judaism (the umbrella organization for all of the Reform Jewish congregations in North America) for our “Open Tent Initiative.” This initiative asks every member of the congregation to do one (or more) of the following five acts:

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