“Vayeira” Coming Out

November 10, 2014

By Rabbi Kuhn

Last Sunday, Cantor Frankel and I were honored to co-officiate at the wedding of our dear friends Michael Carr and Henry Seigel. Now, I have been to a lot of weddings in my day, but I’ve gotta tell you, this one was off the charts in terms of being exciting, thrilling, emotional and special.

This was the first same-gender wedding Cantor Frankel and I have done since Pennsylvania made it “LEGAL.” Rabbi Freedman officiated at Rich & Rick’s wedding Saturday night and Rabbi Maderer officiated at Steve Mirman and Kenneth Galipeau’s wedding a couple of weeks ago, so we are trying to make up for lost time!

Standing under the chuppah with Michael & Henry was an experience that I will never forget. This was not like the usual couple we marry. Henry & Michael have been together 32 years! They have been living in a monogamous, committed, loving relationship for 32 years! So, why would they feel that they needed to sign a marriage license and have a Jewish ceremony anyway? What possible difference would that little piece of paper make?

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The Work Of Jim Winters as discussed on ReformJudaism.org

June 26, 2014

jim winters new grid hi rez.inddA continuing theme running through the book of Exodus is the coming and going of both Moses and God. After the lengthy drama of the Exodus, Moses disappears up the mountain and reappears to see the chaos of the episode of The Golden Calf. He is God’s corporeal messenger to Pharoah but absent from the discussion in Parashat T’tzaveh of the priestly responsibilities. God, too, is near when displaying signs and wonders in Egypt and splitting the sea, enabling the Israelites to pass to freedom, and also remote to the Israelites while Moses is up on the mountain receiving the law. Indeed, the whole discussion of the building of the Mishkan (tabernacle) through a great proportion of the book of Exodus revolves around the central question of how God will dwell among the people, so the Israelites understand that something that cannot be seen or touched can feel close.

What does it mean to be present? What does it mean to have presence? Perhaps we best consider our most abstract questions through the abstraction of art. Read the rest of this entry »

Counting the Omer: Listening

April 24, 2014

Sometimes, the mitzvah is just to listen.  For this week’s omer counting focused on strength, in reverence for next week’s observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we give thanks for the many survivors who allow us to listen to them.  This Sunday (10:15 am at RS), we’ll welcome survivor Ralph Franklin to tell us his story.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer.  Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom asarah yamim, shehem shavuah echad, ushlosha yamim la-omer.  Today is 10 days which are one week and 3 days of the Omer.

Wishing you a meaningful omer– Your RS Clergy

Israel and the Changing Middle East: Trudy Rubin Speaking at RS

November 18, 2013

Join us to hear Trudy Rubin, the Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, speak on “Israel and the Changing Middle East,” Wed., Nov. 20 at 7:00 pm.   Rubin will lead a provocative discussion about how Iran talks, a crumbling Syria, and a new military in Egypt will have an impact on Israel.  Check out her latest column: Seeking a ‘Good Enough’ Iran Deal.

Thank you to the Joseph J. & Lulu S. Rosenbluth Fund for sponsoring. 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 »

Reflecting on the Gay Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

May 1, 2011

On Friday night, we celebrated the Equality Forum: Philadelphia’s Global LGBT Summit, and we prepared for the observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  At our Shabbat service, we discussed the Gay Holocaust Memorial that was dedicated in Berlin in 2008.  Responses to the design were mixed; there was pride, concern about the symbolism of hiding and confining sexuality, curiosity about whether a memorial should depict people in the time being memorialized.   Read about the Memorial and take a look at the images here; what do you think?  One comment on Friday night described the memorial as transitional.  It was forward-thinking enough that it could not have existed 30 years ago; yet it hides two men kissing, so it hardly seems to be as open as we hope to be.  On this Yom HaShoah, may we pray for and work for the day when every one of us can openly express who we are, when the dignity of every human being is affirmed, and when we truly understand that we are all made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.

Debbie Friedman: A Spiritual Legacy

January 13, 2011

I remember a family car ride to the end of Long Island.  I was 15 years old and my father decided it was his mission for me to become involved in the Jewish youth group.  So he played a cassette tape over and over until I agreed.  My family sat for hours in the boxy red Volvo, listening to the tape of Debbie Friedman, zichrona livracha (of blessed memory) leading a song-session at the 50th anniversary celebration of the North American Federation of Temple Youth.  Indeed, I went on to become involved in the Reform Jewish youth movement.  And, like Jews across the country and even the world, I was spiritually touched and changed by the music of Debbie Friedman and that of so many leaders whom she influenced.  Read the rest of this entry »

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“Wimpel! Wrapped Wishes”– Discuss the Exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art

December 7, 2009

A wimpel is a traditional German-Jewish textile inscribed with prayers and wishes.  The wimpel was created in the first weeks of a child’s life and was used to celebrate the milestone of marriage.  For “Wimpel! Wrapped Wishes,” 12 artists, inspired by examples in the Obermayer Collection at RS, investigate, interpret and celebrate the wimpel.  One of the artists is our RS member, Leslie Sudock!  Join us on Thursday, December 17 for the opening discussion and reception at 6pm and then for the benefit supper at 7pm!  Thank you to currator, Matt Singer, and to PMJA Director Wendi Furman!

Carrie Rickey Discusses: Parallels between the Movie, “A Serious Man” and The Book of Job

November 30, 2009
Film has the power to awaken Jewish identity and to raise questions of fate and faith.  We are blessed to have Carrie Rickey, the Philadelphia Inquirer Film Critic, as a member of RS and as a film-discussion leader for Synaplex Shabbat this Friday, Dec. 4.  Join us at 5:30 pm for a nosh and a choice of 2 Shabbat services.  Then engage in a discussion with Carrie Rickey as she explores the provacative new Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man.  Head out to see A Serious Man now, and check out Carrie Rickey’s review.

Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art’s New Show

July 16, 2009

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

What kinds of questions can Jewish art challenge us to face? This week’s new RS Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art (PMJA) show inspires its curator, Matt Singer, to ask: When, how and where did Judaism begin? When Abraham and Sarah entered a covenant with God and departed for the Promised Land? When Moses and his people—the descendents of Abraham, refugee slaves wandering in the desert—received the Torah at Mount Sinai?

This Friday evening, all of us have the opportunity to ask the artist what she thinks about such foundational questions of the Jewish people.  Zoë Cohen, artist of the PMJA’s new show “What Was Our Vision: Sixteen Scenes from Wandering in the Desert” will visit RS this Friday, July 17, for our 6:00pm service (pre-oneg reception begins 5:30pm). Read the rest of this entry »