The Power of a Spiritual Foundation in Our Quest for Wholeness

May 31, 2015

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

Last week, at my annual physical, I brought the health forms my doctor is required to complete, so that I may serve on faculty for two weeks this summer at our Reform Movement’s Jewish camp, Harlam.  The camp does not provide a different version of the health form for faculty, so it can be humorously confusing for the doctor to complete questions that were clearly created for an adolescent.  You can imagine.  As the doctor continues to read down the list of possible ailments, there’s this: does the camper have a problem with eating disorders?  With cutting? The doctor looks up at me.  “What kind of camp is this?!  A place for troubled teens?”  “No,” I reply, “it’s just Jewish camp.  We worry a lot.”

And truth– there is a lot to worry about.   When I think of what it means to raise children and adolescents or to exist as adults in our world, the challenges to a healthy and whole life are overwhelming.  Yet there are real resources in our quest for wholeness. Read the rest of this entry »

Parashat B’midbar – Being Counted

May 28, 2015

There’s an old expression from the great city of Chicago – vote early and vote often.   The first part of the saying is good advice.  We actually have a similar idea in Judaism.  We should be so excited to do a mitzvah that we do it first thing – early in the day; this is why brises are often done in the morning.  The second part of this saying is obviously a tongue-in-cheek reference to the corrupt practice of voter fraud, for as we know so well, every person is entitled to one vote and one vote only.

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#rsgrows: A Building Expansion Fueled by Purpose

May 2, 2015

It has been so exciting to see the expansion go up here at Rodeph Shalom.  And now here we are, almost complete, with the May 17 Dedication happening this month!  In last weekend’s Sunday seminar, our expansion chairperson Michael Hauptman taught that the master planning for the space began in 1992!

The meaning of our new addition is certainly not limited to bricks and mortar.  The power of the renovation and expansion has been that, every step of the way, our leadership’s decisions have been mission-driven, fueled by our vision of the people and purpose who will fill its space.  Not once has this congregation set out to create a museum; this is a center for living Judaism, where we honor the past, celebrate the present, and shape the future of Jewish life in Philadelphia.

And so it made sense when, about a year ago, a congregant suggested we consider a Jewish text, that might appear on the external Broad Street wall.   Read the rest of this entry »