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 »


Rabbi Kuhn’s “Crowdsourced” Sermon (7/4/14)

July 10, 2014

“Have you ever felt that food is sacred? How does food connect you to others? To your family? To Judaism?”

At sunrise on Wednesday mornings in the summer, farmer Phil Stober and his crew pick fresh vegetables and fruit at their farm, Barefoot Organics near Lebanon, PA. and deliver it to Rodeph Shalom every Wednesday afternoon, as part of our Community Supported Agriculture. On Wednesday evenings, RS congregants come in to cook fresh meals, prepared with the produce just-picked that morning and then deliver them (we call them “Mitzvah Meals”) to other RS congregants who are ill, or homebound, or who have recently lost a loved one.

Last Wednesday evening, as I stood in the RS kitchen and watched our team of chefs preparing Mitzvah Meals I was overcome by the feeling that what I was witnessing was the very essence of Judaism.

Can food be sacred? What is the connection between food and Judaism? These are the questions we posed to our congregation this week in our first ever “Crowdsourcing” sermon, where we asked the members of our RS family to offer your thoughts on a different question each week – as our Summer Sermon Series. (As a way to tap into the collective wisdom of our congregation)

This week, we received a lot of very thoughtful responses. Quite a few of the comments focused on the Mitzvah meals, as this has helped provide deeper meaning to the connection between food and Judaism.

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 »


How Do You Light Hanukkah Candles?

November 30, 2010

(Hanukkah blessings and songs, text and audio)

How do you light a Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah?  Jews have disagreed on this throughout the ages.  The controversy surrounding the Hanukkah menorah lighting goes back about 2000 years.  Talmudic rabbis coming from different schools of thought debated ritual practices and two schools that commonly debate one another were that of Hillel and Shammai. The school of Shammai taught that eight candles should be kindled on the first night of Hanukkah and each night, we should decrease a candle.  Makes sense, right?  Decreasing candles would symbolize the fact that remaining oil decreased each night.  Yet, common practice sides with the school of Hillel, which taught us to increase a candle each night. The Maccabees didn’t increase the number of lights the kindled; why should we? Read the rest of this entry »


Hanukkah Candlelighting Blessings

December 9, 2009

As we thank God for the miracles of light and of freedom, have a Happy Hanukkah!  For instructions, text and audio of the Hanukkah blessings, click here.  And please join us for Shabbat Hanukkah Services  on the first night of Hanukkah, this Friday, December 11.


Early Learning Center at RS

October 29, 2009

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

An Early Learning Center at RS:  “From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength” (Psalms 8:3).  Next fall, our “youngest generation” will strengthen our community with its daily presence at a Congregation Rodeph Shalom of Center City Philadelphia Jewish preschool.   The Congregation’s new property across Mt. Vernon Street will open as the starter location for the Rodeph Shalom Buerger Early Learning Center in September 2010.

The Vision: Totally integrated into the life of RS, the ELC will promote the intellectual, physical, social and emotional development of each child while celebrating the rich traditions of Jewish life.  Rodeph Shalom’s rabbis will establish the Jewish content with the goal of preparing students and families for a lifetime of Jewish practice.   Not simply a day-care center, the ELC will offer Philadelphia families a full early learning curriculum while providing child care hours.  Once open, the ELC will be able to work towards current standards of naeyc accreditation and Keystone Stars. Read the rest of this entry »


Returning to the “Empty Nest” after College Drop-off

August 28, 2009

Rabbi Michael G. Holzman

As I drove into the synagogue today, following my usual route down Broad Street, I entered the annual traffic jam called Temple University Drop Off.   What a mess.  But it reminded me of the excitement, anxiety, joy and sadness this day evokes in many families.  It also reminded me of a Jewish text.

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