Loyalty: To Bigotry No Sanction, Washington’s Slave Quarters, and the Holy Ground of Our Nation’s Struggle

August 25, 2019

Rabbi Maderer delivered this D’var Torah on Shabbat, 8/23                  

Two days ago, the Reform Movement’s rabbinic arm released the following statement:

“The Central Conference of American Rabbis is dismayed by President Donald J. Trump’s politically charged and divisive statement referring to Jews who vote for Democrats: ‘I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge, or great disloyalty.’ The deployment of this classic antisemitic trope should raise serious concerns for every member of the Jewish community, regardless of one’s political party.  Throughout our history, Jews have been maligned by the dangerous, antisemitic speech of individuals in positions of power who accused us of placing loyalty to Israel or Judaism over loyalty to the lands of our sojourn. Often, those accusations have contributed to violence against Jews and expulsion.  American Jews are well informed voters—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—who are deeply devoted to American values, including bipartisan support for Israel. The suggestion that Jews, or any religious group, should be affiliated with any one political party is un-American and should be challenged directly and unequivocally.”

As our Rodeph Shalom clergy and leadership affirmed in our congregational email yesterday, we stand with those words.

Furthermore, I’d like to briefly comment on the most recent events, that led to the absurd disloyalty accusation. As most of you know, I am committed to Israel and believe Israel’s security is critical to the Jewish people.  And I care deeply about a Two-State Solution that would offer dignity to the Palestinians. Read the rest of this entry »


Staying at the Table: The Women’s March and Anti-Semitism

January 13, 2019

This week’s Torah portion, Bo, includes a text from the Passover seder.  Through my family’s seder table ruckus, I always hear the special emphasis my family reads in this part.

“And you shall explain it to your child on that day: ‘It is because of what the Eternal did for me when I went free from Egypt.’

They always emphasize Me. I.  “It is because of what the Eternal did for me when I went free from Egypt” (Ex 13:8). What is the point of the emphasis—me, I?  It’s personal! Our story of redemption, and the redemption we bring into this world with social justice—it’s personal.

This Shabbat brings the 3rd Women’s March, another step on the road to redemption—a road that for me, feels personal.  The ongoing and heightened dilemmas surrounding the March also feel personal. Read the rest of this entry »


We Are Crossing to the Other Side: Rabbi Maderer’s Message at the Philadelphia Women’s March 2018

January 20, 2018

Rodeph Shalom members at the Women’s March

Shabbat shalom!  Today, I am grateful to gather—we who call God many different names, and we who choose not to call to God at all—I am grateful to gather together with you!

This season, in our sacred text, the Jewish community reads the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

Our redemption story begins with women. Midwives birth our redemption.  Overworked, underpaid; but powerful      and brave.  How do we know redemption has begun?  We see the courage of women.

And our redemption story culminates with women.  When we cross the Sea of Reeds to freedom on the other side,    “Miriam the prophet takes her timbrel in her hand, and all the women go out with her in song.” How do we know redemption has come?  We hear the voice of women.

In our own time, brave women have birthed the next wave of the movement.

Women’s courage and women’s voice are leading; women and men are following in partnership.

We are marching to the other side, and there is no turning back. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


Rabbi Maderer’s Benediction at Mayoral Inauguration

January 4, 2016

mayor blessing looking downDelivered by Rabbi Jill Maderer, Inauguration of Mayor and City Council, The Academy of Music, 1/4/16.  

Today, we who call God many different names, and we who choose not to call to God at all, we Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, Philadelphians of diverse neighborhoods, races, sexual orientations and languages – today, we do not take for granted this peaceful transfer of power we call democracy.  Grateful for the past leaders who have renewed our city, and for the incoming leaders who are dedicated to the promise of our city’s future, we rejoice in a Philadelphia whose murals open our hearts, whose culture stimulates our minds, whose food delights our palate, whose diversity inspires our souls and whose history deepens our roots.

This week, the Jewish community read in our sacred text the story of Moses’ call to leadership. Tending the flock in the wilderness, Moses notices the bush that burns, but is not consumed.  When Moses sees that he is standing on holy ground, God charges him to lead the Israelites, saying: “Now go, I am sending you.”  Humble yet courageous, strong yet compassionate, sensitive yet visionary, Moses heeds the call.  He cares for and empowers the poor, uplifts the degraded, and sees dignity in the eyes of every human being.

Holy One of Blessing, as we go forth from this investiture, we ask your blessing on Mayor Kenny, Council President Clarke, our Councilpersons, city commissioners, sheriff, register of wills and members of the judiciary.  As they dedicate themselves to lead our city, to solve our common problems and to lift up all Philadelphians, God we ask you to:

Fortify and inspire our leaders with humility and courage, strength and compassion, sensitivity and vision, that they may care for and empower the poor, uplift the degraded, and see dignity in the eyes of every human being.

Ignite within our leaders fires – fires for justice and for mercy – ignite within them fires that burn, but are not consumed, that their actions may bear witness to the holy ground on which we all stand.

Amen.


Can a Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Light the Menorah Together? Hanukkah Candlelighting in Rittenhouse Square

December 4, 2015

Join us for the Center City Kehillah Hanukkah Candlelighting in Rittenhouse Square, Tues., Dec 8, 5:15pm!      

“Since when is Hanukkah so important?” I once heard someone ask a rabbi. “Sukkot is important, Pesach is important, Shabbat is important, but Hanukkah is such a minor holiday!  Why do we give in to the Christmas culture that identifies December as the time for an important holiday?!”

“Well,” the rabbi responded, “it’s true that Hanukkah is not particularly important compared to other Jewish festivals.  It’s a minor holiday that gets a whole lot of attention.  But, if Jews are creating happy Jewish memories and experiences around a Jewish holiday, who are we to take that away?”  Read the rest of this entry »


An Inscription for the Building Expansion

November 20, 2013
  • In addition to the name Congregation Rodeph Shalom, the front of the building expansion will include a purpose-driven quotation from Jewish tradition.  We value your ideas and hope you will participate!  Please submit your suggestion to the clergy and leadership through Charlene McDonald at cmcdonald@rodephshalom.org.