Whoever is in Pain, Lead Him to the Physician*

July 2, 2017

The 7-year old boy’s heart begins to beat faster as he listens to the story of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  The boy actually begins to sob with pity for Isaac.  After the service, the rabbi approaches the boy.  “Why were you crying? The rabbi asks, “You know the story; you know that Abraham does not kill Isaac.”  The boy questions the rabbi, “Suppose the angel, had come a second too late?” The rabbi comforts the young boy saying, “angels, do not come late.”

That boy would become the great 20th century scholar, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, of blessed memory.  Years later, Heschel would still be haunted by the same question: Suppose the angel had come, a second too late!  As an adult, Heschel reflected that, while angels do not come late, human beings sometimes do.  “All of history,” Heschel teaches, “has been a dry run for the moment when we can act like the angel; we must not be late.” 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.

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 »


“Praise God, even if God takes your life”

November 15, 2016

Thank you to RS Board member David Mandell, ScD, for offering these words on the post-election world, gratitude, and a congregational learning opportunity.

“Praise God, even if God takes your life”

I am heartbroken by the results of the presidential election. I alternate between deep mourning and rage. Yesterday morning I expressed my anguish to a colleague from Turkey. She said that she too is disappointed but was not experiencing the same depths of despair that I was. She pointed out that living in the United States is still preferable to the violence and unrest in Turkey. A Russian man told me, “so your party lost? At least you have two parties. And you’re not thrown in jail for not being a member.” Another friend listened in on a phone call with President Obama, who gave us permission to mope for a week, and then have to get back to work. We’ve made a huge difference to the country and if 20% of it gets rolled back, 80% is still left.

In these three moments I felt hope. And driving that hope was gratitude. Read the rest of this entry »


Our Concealed Shortcomings: On Bias and Race

October 13, 2016

delivered by Rabbi Jill Maderer, Yom Kippur, Congregation Rodeph Shalom     

A story I love, from Rabbi Nachman of Brazslav.  A young woman visits her family and shares that she has become a master in the art of menorah making. She asks her parents to invite all of the other artisans in town to come see her masterpiece.  So all of the finest crafters come to view the menorah.  Later, the daughter asks her parents, “What did they think?” The parents reply, “We’re sorry to say, all of your fellow lamp-makers described a different flaw.” “Yes,” replies the daughter, “but that is the secret! They all say it was flawed, but what nobody realizes is this: Each sees a different part as blemished, but overlooks the mistakes that he himself would make.  You see, I made the menorah in this way on purpose — replete with deficiencies — in order to demonstrate that all of us have shortcomings.

Rabbi Nachman’s parable is drawn from the Psalmist, who calls to God: “Alumenu limor panecha” (Ps 90). “You can see our concealed darkness; You can see our concealed shortcomings, in the light of Your face.” God can see our shortcomings. Read the rest of this entry »


High Holiday Services for Families with Young Children

September 28, 2016

Rodeph Shalom’s High Holy Days Services Designed for Families with Young Children

Contemporary Multi-generational Morning Services

Requires a “pass”; please contact Catherine Fischer cfischer@rodephshalom.org.

Rosh Hashanah: Monday, October 3, 8:30 am

Yom Kippur: Wednesday, October 12, 8:30 am

A full service for adults; yet a family-friendly atmosphere with children of all ages. Clergy, congregational choir, and guitar lead accessible music, encouraging participants to join in. Designed for all ages, the informality provides a comfortable setting for families with young children and there are activities for the children during the sermon.

 

Tashlich Service at Fairmount Waterworks
Monday, October 3, 1:30-2:00pm
640 Water Works Drive Philadelphia, PA 19130
Cast away your sins with breadcrumbs.  Open to all.

                      

Afternoon Mini-Services for Families

Open to the community; no pass needed, please just bring photo ID for security.

Rosh Hashanah: Monday, October 3, 3:00 pm
Yom Kippur: Wednesday, October 12, 1:30 pm

A very brief service for families of very young children and their parents and grandparents.

 

 


Resources on Mental Illness and Addiction

April 11, 2016

Thank you to our RS teen, Ella Komita Moussa, for creating this great resource sheet on mental illness and addiction for our evening with Patrick Kennedy Tues., April 12, 7:00pm!

file:///C:/Users/Jill/Downloads/RS%20Lecture%20(1).pdf