Resolution of the Board of Trustees of Congregation Rodeph Shalom concerning Egalitarian Prayer at the Western Wall and Conversion in the State of Israel – June 27, 2017

June 28, 2017

Resolution of the Board of Trustees of Congregation Rodeph Shalom concerning Egalitarian Prayer at the Western Wall and Conversion in the State of Israel – June 27, 2017

Background:

This week in Israel, the Netanyahu government made two major decisions affecting most of the Diaspora, decisions which are especially hurtful because, as Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism put it, North American Jews have a “deep and unshakeable commitment to Israel.” Like we see our fellow Rodeph Shalom members as family, we see the Israeli people as family. We feel joy and pride with each Israeli accomplishment and we mourn each Israeli loss. Read the rest of this entry »


Pull the Next Woman Up*: Eager to Welcome Naomi Chazan

June 25, 2017

Have you seen the new Wonder Woman movie?

I have been thinking about Wonder Woman this week, because of some recent news commentary.  The Israeli Woman who sued El Al airlines for sexism won her landmark case.  She had been told to change her seat because an Orthodox man wanted to ensure that he would not inadvertently be touched by a woman.  The Israeli court found the gender-based seat-changing coercion practice, violates Israel’s anti-discrimination codes.

The woman, Renee Rabinowitz, was represented by the Israel Religious Action Center, the public advocacy and legal arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. The head of the Israel Religious Action Center, Anat Hoffman, described the 83-year old plaintiff Renee Rabinowitz as Wonder Woman.  Funny, because Anat Hoffman might herself be called a Wonder Woman.  From the courtroom to the Women of the Wall, Anat Hoffman has for years advocated for civil rights, women’s rights, state separation from Orthodox authority, and democracy in Israel. 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.

Reconsecrating Your Covenant with Each Other, My Covenant with You

June 4, 2017

Delivered by Rabbi Maderer Friday night when we offered Renewal of Marriage Vows, and it was also Rabbi Maderer’s first Shabbat as senior rabbi.  

When Cantor Frankel chants the 7 Blessings/the Sheva Brachot in the vows renewal ceremony, we will hear a list of almost every word the Hebrew dictionary knows for joy.  And what a joy it is to celebrate the bond of love and commitment!  The conclusions of the final two of the blessings ask God to cause the couple to rejoice.  Traditionally text says chatan and kallah, groom and bride; we are a community that thankfully includes LGBTQ couples and so we make a change to: reh-im and ahuvim, two words for beloved.  If you listen closely, you will hear that in the 6th blessing, we ask God to cause one beloved and (in Hebrew v’) the other beloved, to rejoice together.  In the 7th blessing, we ask God to cause one beloved with (in Hebrew im) the other beloved to rejoice together.  By the time we reach the 7th blessing, the couple is not only one and the other, but one with the other, bound together in covenant. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


There is No Hiding from Difference

December 25, 2016

chanukiya-1584A rabbi named Francine Green Roston recently moved with her family from New Jersey to Whitefish, Montana, in search of a slower pace of life.  As you can imagine, there are not many Jews in their new small town (although with a name like “Whitefish,” you’d think…) but Rabbi Roston has found a small Jewish community.

She also discovered that her neighbors include the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.  Last week, ignited by the emerging white supremacy movement, a neo-Nazi website issued a call to take action against the Jews of Whitefish.  The site listed the names, pictures, contact information, and addresses of alleged Jews in town, and photo-shopped pictures of Rabbi Roston with a Nazi-era yellow star. Read the rest of this entry »


To Raise Dust with Our Feet: Opening Up Our Definition of Spirituality

December 18, 2016

wrestling-image(delivered by Rabbi Maderer at Shabbat service 12/18/16)  Last week I shared with you a time when I lived in the suburbs and my family overdid it in the area of home security.  I made fun of the way that, even with a burglar alarm in our house, we added to the front porch, an extra security measure: a big dog-food bowl.  Even though we did not have a dog.  I went on to make fun of — and to be clear, I was making fun of my mother– I went on to make fun of the way that, to make it seem real, we painted onto the bowl the name of our fake dog: Shomer, Hebrew for “guard.”

Funny story:  Last week, here in Philadelphia… you guessed it.  My garage was broken into.  Who here believes in karma?

Now, seriously, do you think there is a connection?  One week I am making fun of my mother for over-securing our house all those years ago, and days after I write those words, a break-in.  Coincidence?  Karma?  God? There was a time I would have said: there is no such thing as coincidence.  I believed God influenced the details of our lives.  Yet as my life and rabbinate move forward, I find my response to the world changes:  more questions, less certainty of God’s role, judgment, or expectation. Read the rest of this entry »