Phila City Council Passes Landmark LGBT Equality Bill

April 26, 2013

Proud of last year’s Board resolution for Marriage Equality, Rodeph Shalom and  Beth Ahavah (a historic GLBT congregation housed at RS) have been exploring advocacy opportunities to further civil rights and marriage equality (Save the date, Wednesday, June 5, 7:00 pm, when Ted Martin, exec. director of Equality Pennsylvania, is our guest speaker!).  This week’s progress in the city council is something to celebrate!

Read more about the legislation and its impact here.

Women of the Wall Victory: The Kotel’s Local Custom No Longer Means Orthodox Custom

April 26, 2013

The Jerusalem District Court considered the main grounds that police cite for detaining members of Women of the Wall, the interdenominational feminist group that gathers monthly for prayers a the Western Wall and concluded that there was no justification for the detention of five women earlier this month, and that the police’s request for restraining orders to keep them away from the Wall can’t be granted.

“Today Women of the Wall liberated the Western Wall for all Jewish people. We did it for the eight-year-old girl who can now dream of having her Bat Mitzvah at the Wall, and for the grandmother who cannot climb on a chair in order to see her grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. We did it for the great diversity of Jews in the world, all of whom deserve to pray according to their belief and custom at the Western Wall,” Anat Hoffman, the group’s chair, said in a statement.

Read here for more about the decision and its impact.

Addressing Poverty & Humger

April 26, 2013

From Rabbi Kuhn
A recent study found that Philadelphia has the highest rate of “deep poverty” – people with incomes below half the poverty line – of any of the nations 10 most populous cities (Philadelphia Inquirer and Temple University Sociologist David Elesh analysis of the U.S. Census American Community survey, Inquirer article March 19, 2013).  The study found that Philadelphia’s “deep poverty” rate (individuals living at half the poverty line of $5,700 per year – or a family of 4 of $11,700) is around 12.9%, or 200,000 people. As Jews, we should be troubled by these distressing statistics, and we should be moved to act to solve the problems of poverty and hunger.
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Exploring Hindrance on the Spiritual Path: Join us for Jewish Meditation this Friday, 5:00pm

April 18, 2013

Is God present in our obstacles?  Do hindrances lead us to liberation, growth and insight?  Now in the middle of the Omer, the countdown–or count up–to our Shavuot celebration of revelation, turn back to the Torah reading from the conclusion of Pesach.  In the Song of the Sea, the text tells the story of Egyptians chasing and then the Israelites rescue at the sea.  In this celebration of miracle in Hebrew verse, God’s miracles are described step by step:  God hurled horse and driver into the sea; God is our strength and might; at the blast of G’s nostrils, the waters piled up like a straight wall.

The list is about to be followed by Michamocha–the declaration of God’s wonders, but first a sentence, seemingly out of order–the text brings back a focus on the Egyptians:  “The foe said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, My desire shall have its fill of them. I will bare my sword. My hand shall subdue them.” Read the rest of this entry »

Shine Light into the Darkness of This Week

April 18, 2013

We write with heavy hearts, as we face the shock and sadness of terror and tragedy in Boston.  In a week filled with tragic events, we also grieve for the loss of life in West, Texas, the insecurity in Israel after more rockets were fired, and the insecurity here in the U.S. as we share frustration over legislative inaction in response to gun violence.  Even as our physical and emotional safety are vulnerable, we look to each other for community, support, and hope.

And, as we will pray together tomorrow evening at Shabbat services:
Misheberach avotenu v’imotenu, may the One who blessed our ancestors bless those who were injured with healing, bless their loved ones with strength and bless the healers with wisdom and compassion in the care they deliver.  May all who are broken move toward wholeness.  Amen.

You can learn more here about the Senate’s political and moral failure regarding gun violence legislation.

Jewish Meditation

April 17, 2013

What is Jewish Spirituality?  A recent conversation with a few congregants helped to shine a light on the spiritual quest many in our community are pursuing.  Some of you have shared an interest in Eastern traditions of meditation and mindfulness and asked whether there is a place for such practice in Jewish life.  Absolutely!  We are not the first generation of the Jewish community to contemplate our purpose on earth, our connection with others, the nature of God, and the journey we take.

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Progressive Jewish Values on Israel Independence Day

April 14, 2013

In celebration of Yom Ha-atzme-ut, Israel’s Independence Day, on Monday (4/15/13) Reform Congregation Kehillat Yozma, in Modi’in, Israel will provide a live broadcast of their Havdalah ceremony to conclude Israel’s Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) and begin Yom HaAtzmaut, led by Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon of Kehillat Yozma in Hebrew and English, prayers and songs with the Yozma choir, and remarks (with English translation) by Shlomo Dror of the IDF National Military Museum.  Click here to tune in.

Also take this opportunity to experience MK Dr. Ruth Calderon’s first address to Kenesset.  In the language of the kind of “courageous and inclusive Judaism” she attributes to Rabbi David Hartman, of blessed memory, she boldly brings Torah–both Jewish values and progressive values–to her vision of Israeli leadership for peace.