Installation: May We Enter in Thanks

November 9, 2017

In the words inscribed on my tallit, taken from Psalms: Pitchu li sha-arey tzedek, avovam odeh-ya/Open for me the gates of righteousness and I will enter in thanks.  As I have stepped through new gates, I enter with profound gratitude. Read the rest of this entry »


What is Old, Make New; What is New, Make Holy*

June 14, 2017
     I am so pleased to share with our RS congregants: “Lunch with Rabbi Maderer– Engaging with our New Senior Rabbi.” The Rodeph Shalom community and I have shared a brit, a relationship, for a long time. Already for almost 16 years, we have studied Torah, celebrated Shabbat and holidays, and together on Yom Kippur stood before God to ask forgiveness.  I have accompanied you through your lifecycles, and you have turned to me with your joys and your struggles.  We have laughed together and learned together. Yet, this season brings change.
     One of my favorite modern Jewish text comes from *Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel.  He taught: What is old make new, and what is new make holy. Although our relationship has been established many years ago, and remains strong, rooted in such history, our relationship now shifts as I become your senior rabbi.  I am reaching out to engage with you now because I would like to invite you to re-meet me, to get to know me again in my new role.  Together, I welcome you to make our relationship with one another and with Congregation, new and holy.
     I’d like the opportunity to have a renewed encounter with every congregant in our Rodeph Shalom family.  You are invited to please join me for a small-group lunch.  Over the coming weeks and months, I will hold a series of these lunches with small enough groups for us to really share in conversation. There, I intend to share something of myself and my vision, and I intend to do a lot of listening so that I can understand from you what is most meaningful about your connection to Rodeph Shalom.  This engagement effort reflects my vision and priorities and I am grateful for the clergy and senior staff’s support in my pursuit of these encounters.  Please rsvp here for “Lunch with Rabbi Maderer: Engaging with our New Senior Rabbi.”
     Together, what is old we will make new, and what is new we will make holy.

Vision for Our Next Era of Creating Profound Connections

May 31, 2017

What a profoundly moving season we have shared in our celebrations of Rabbi Kuhn, his legacy and his retirement!  As powerful as our community events have been, the more behind-the-scenes transition process has been important as well.  Rabbi Kuhn’s extraordinary generosity as my career-long mentor has guided the path of transition as he has been teaching me, empowering me, and handing over the reigns.

I already am blessed with deep relationships with our congregants and professional team; yet the time has come for us to be reintroduced to one another.  Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month

February 4, 2014

Our congregant and community leader, Judith Creed, shares JChai resources for adults and a message about the importance of inclusion for Jews with disabilities.

When my son, Jonah, was born in 1973 and diagnosed as being disabled, the picture for people with special needs was pretty bleak. There were no social programs, synagogues did not accept special needs children in their schools, and we all were worried about the future of our kids. In 1987 a group of parents and myself got together and we opened our first group home—that would include Shabbat dinners, holidays, keeping  a kosher-style kitchen and would teach our children how to live independently. Read the rest of this entry »


“A Place at The Table” Film Screening and Jewish Values about Hunger

November 1, 2013

A Place at the Table Poster.jpegUnderstand how we are “One Nation, Underfed,” at our Sun, Nov. 3, 10am screening of the Jeff Bridges narrated film about hunger in America, A Place at the Table, followed by a discussion led by The Food Trust executive director, Yael Lehman.  A part of our What is Your Food Worth partnership with Temple University’s Feinstein Center.

When I was in college, I was introduced for the first time to the extended Jewish Grace After Meals blessing recited by traditional Jews.  I thought the Birkat Hamazon version Reform Jews recited was long, but this traditional text at least quadrupled the blessing I had heard in my youth.

As I listened, I noticed that some people at the Brandeis Shabbat dinner, omitted a verse.  Instead of reciting the words, they just hummed the tune when it was time to say the line that reads: “I have not seen a righteous person forsaken, or children begging for bread.”  Read the rest of this entry »


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 »