The Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art Opening “Mis/Constructed Identities: Exploring Jewish Stereotypes” and our Jewish Path

May 28, 2013

Is Judaism an ethnicity? A faith? A family?  A few years ago, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman visited as our scholar and guide for our congregation’s vision.  He taught us that modern Jewish life has experienced immigrations, the additions of majors groups that bring a new voice and have an impact of Judaism.  Immigrations include women in leadership, interfaith families and Jews by choice.  Such immigrations and the transformations they bring are powerful reminders that Judaism is not a race and can no longer truly be understood as an ethnicity.  Judaism is a spiritual path that, unlike ethnicity, can be joined.  And Jews are and have always come from many different ethnicities. Read the rest of this entry »

Rules to Live By?

May 23, 2013

It’s graduation season. Those of us who have the opportunity to address a group of college graduates, high school graduates or Confirmation students consider how to reduce all of life’s lessons down to a few simple rules.  While it may be a trite endeavor, it’s a powerful opportunity to remind ourselves of a central question: What is the ikar, the central point, the most meaningful essence, of life? Read the rest of this entry »

Call-In Day for Immigration Reform

May 17, 2013

On Tuesday, May 21, lift up your voices together and call your Senators and tell them that you support comprehensive immigration reform to address our nation’s broken system. Along with others across the country, tell Congress that you demand reform that does justice to our American and Reform Jewish values.  To get a reminder text about the call-in day, text “GESHER” to 877-877.  On Tuesday, call your Senators at 877-897-0174.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ani Kinor: The Rodeph Shalom Orchestra

May 17, 2013

Cantor Erin Frankel

Back in October, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a profile of Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the new music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I was amazed to learn in the article that Nezet-Seguin spends a lot of his free time listening to music that is not classical. He talked about having a period when he devoured Ella Fitzgerald recordings and then moved on to Sarah Vaughan and Joe Pass. He unwinds by listening to R&B, he loves Jill Scott, and he is able to compare Usher’s early and later music. He described a concert he led in the Netherlands with the Rotterdam Philharmonic where he juxtaposed classical music and techno music for a crowd of 2,500 young people between the ages of 25-35. And the audience couldn’t get enough of the orchestra.
This experience taught Nezet-Seguin that his goal is to “get out of our comfort zone, as long as we play in the best quality possible and the real music that we know. Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Bittman, Cheesecake and Shavuot Celebration

May 13, 2013

We were freed from the slavery of Egypt, not to wander aimlessly, but to discover our people’s purpose through Torah.  Tues. evening and Wed., we celebrate the gift of the revelation of Torah.  Learn about the festival of Shavuot with this great new Jewish content website from a Reform perspective, and participate in our RS celebrations:

Tuesday, May 14, 7:00-9:00 pm, Shavuot Night of Study: Without the sleep deprivation of the all-night study tradition, we will engage in a discussion about what our “What is Our Food Worth?” conversation that was started with Mark Bittman spoke at RS in March.  Nourish the soul with intellectual and spiritual search and nourish the body with some traditional dairy treats. Read the rest of this entry »

Shabbat: A Metaphor for Meditation

May 8, 2013

At our congregation’s Jewish Meditation just before Shabbat 2 weeks ago, Moshe (Mel) Seligsohn shared this intention (join us for our final week of this series of Meditation this Friday, 5:00-5:30 pm, and please contact me to share whether you’d be interested in more meditation opportunities in the future):

How Is Jewish meditation different from other forms of meditation, especially the “still” forms we think of as those from India, Tibet and the East?

Any prayer is a meditation, so if you’re praying, you’re meditating and vice versa. This is true in all faiths. And the intention is universal–the desire to create an intimate relationship to the Devine Realm. Perhaps what makes Jewish prayer somewhat distinctive is verbalization…”Hear (listen!), Oh, Israel…” and its communal expression…”the Lord OUR G-d, the Lord is One.”  Our silent prayers are also invoked communally. Read the rest of this entry »

All That I Am, I Will Not Deny: Women’s Voice and Sheryl Sandberg

May 7, 2013

Rabbi Laura Geller, the third female rabbi ordained in the United States, shared these reflections on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique:

“In 1979, I had been a rabbi for three years. The Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention was scheduled to take place in Arizona, a non-ERA state. There were just a handful of women rabbis. It felt important that women rabbis be at the convention, but we wanted to honor the boycott of non-ERA states. Not knowing what to do, I called Betty [Friedan]. She not only took the call, but her advice was clear: “Go to the convention and invite me to speak!” We did, and that speech was the first time Betty Friedan made a public connection between her feminism and her Judaism. Read the rest of this entry »