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 »


Leia’s Bikini or Rey’s Shmata: Gender Bias in Society and in Us

January 22, 2017

rey-1449242_960_720Princess Leia, actually Carrie Fisher, of blessed memory, recalls an outraged father challenging her, because she agreed to wear the skimpy iron bikini, in the scene with Jabba the Hutt, in The Return of the Jedi movie.  Fisher’s response? A giant slug captured me, and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him, because I didn’t like it. And then I changed my clothes, back stage!

Decades later when the newest episode, The Force Awakens was produced, Fisher observed : the female protagonist Rey shows no cleavage, wears baggie pants, and is essentially wrapped in what we might call, a shmata.  Progress.  Read the rest of this entry »


Post-Election Complacency or Anxiety: An Alternative Path in the Stairway to Heaven

December 12, 2016

 

artwork-797_960_720(delivered by Rabbi Maderer in Shabbat Service 12/9/16)

Years ago when I lived in suburban NJ, there was a break-in in our neighborhood.  We already had a burglar alarm in our house, so we added to the front porch the only extra security measure we could think of: a big dog-food bowl.  We did not have a dog.  But we were going to scare those intruders away!  To make it seem real, we painted onto the bowl the name of our fake dog: Shomer, Hebrew for “guard.” Once guarded by Shomer, in our alarm-shielded house, we proceeded to protect ourselves with a light-timer, for evenings when we were out…

How much worry is too much worry?  Some of our concerns and precautions are well-founded.  But there is a point when our energy is so channeled into the worry that we are at risk of losing our focus and our purpose.  Meanwhile, the anxiety reduces us, to wasted grief.

As we think about our roles in civic life, teaching, parenting, business, politics, it is important to consider: where do I have control and what is beyond my control? Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


Rodeph Shalom Statement to Speak Out Against Hate and Object to the Appointment of Steve Bannon

November 16, 2016
     We the clergy and president of Congregation Rodeph Shalom raise our voices in concern for the hateful rhetoric that has become a part of our nation’s recent discourse. As faith leaders we affirm the equality of all human beings, and speaking to the importance of this moment in our history, we recall the teaching from our tradition: “The first person was created alone for the sake of peace among people, so that no one could say to another, ‘My ancestor was greater than yours’” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).
     We object to the appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist to the President-Elect. We echo the statement of the Anti-Defamation League: “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the Alt Right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.'”
     We call upon leaders of the next administration to speak out against the acts of hate we have seen in our Philadelphia community, including anti-semitic graffiti and messages of hate directed at students of color.
     We promise to continue to make our voices heard if other groups are targeted with hateful rhetoric for their religion, their race, their gender, their sexuality, their disability, or their country of origin.
     We urge all who wish to speak out against hate to contact your government representatives, and urge all those who wish to act to promote love of their fellow human beings to join us in mitzvah opportunities to come. Our tradition instructs us how to follow paths of righteousness, and we will continue to listen and respond.

“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 »


Opening for Daylight: Seeing Difference this Krystallnacht

November 6, 2016

et1Last month, I had the opportunity to watch the movie E.T. as the Philadelphia Orchestra performed the John Williams score live with the screening of the film at the Kimmel Center.  It had been years since I had seen Steven Spielberg’s imaginative masterpiece about a lost alien who is befriended a 10 year old boy.

When I saw the movie as a child, I understood the message to be one of friendship.  Although friendship was still present, this time, I saw something different.  All of these years later, it was clear to me: the movie about the extra-terrestrial is an allegory.  When faced with difference, children are driven by curiosity and love.  Whereas many of the adults in the story see difference, and respond with fear, self-protection and even attack.

What is our inclination when we encounter something outside of ourselves?  Do we open our eyes to see?  Or do we remain covered, protected, in the dark?   Read the rest of this entry »