April 28, 2016
I have been horrified and heartbroken to hear hate speech spoken, and worse, accepted without repercussion, in so many circles of American life. From the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic “scholarship” and responses at my husband’s alma mater, Vassar College, as well as other campuses, to candidates and their followers who scapegoat people of different backgrounds from their own, our society is too slow to see that when someone else’s humanity is sacrificed, so is our own.
Amidst such failures in our world, I am heartened to discover souls who see beyond their own identity, who can lift their eyes to see the humanity in the other. I am grateful to our congregant Susan Friedenberg for introducing me to Holocaust scholar Doug Cervi, who will be our guest this Sunday, May 1, 10:30am, when he facilitates for us a conversation with a Holocaust survivor and that survivor’s liberator.
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March 1, 2016
Did you see or hear Stevie Wonder present an award at the Grammy broadcast last week? He opens the envelope. Then with everyone on the edge of their seats to hear the winner of that category, he turns his opened envelope towards the audience, to show us all the braille, as he chants with a smile, “You can’t read it; you can’t read braille, ah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!” And he takes another second to relish the moment when, he could access information, that the seeing-audience, could not. Stevie Wonder follows with the statement: “We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”
Does Stevie Wonder know that February was Jewish Disability Inclusion Awareness month? Perhaps not. Last month, designed to bring more awareness to disability inclusion in the Jewish community serves as a nice excuse to shed light on some challenges and opportunities we see in our spiritual life here at Rodeph Shalom. Read the rest of this entry »
May 2, 2015
It has been so exciting to see the expansion go up here at Rodeph Shalom. And now here we are, almost complete, with the May 17 Dedication happening this month! In last weekend’s Sunday seminar, our expansion chairperson Michael Hauptman taught that the master planning for the space began in 1992!
The meaning of our new addition is certainly not limited to bricks and mortar. The power of the renovation and expansion has been that, every step of the way, our leadership’s decisions have been mission-driven, fueled by our vision of the people and purpose who will fill its space. Not once has this congregation set out to create a museum; this is a center for living Judaism, where we honor the past, celebrate the present, and shape the future of Jewish life in Philadelphia.
And so it made sense when, about a year ago, a congregant suggested we consider a Jewish text, that might appear on the external Broad Street wall. Read the rest of this entry »
April 11, 2015
by Rabbi Jill Maderer
This week’s Torah portion, Shmini, describes what can serve as a korban–a sacrifice. And when the wrong thing is used as a korban, tragedy results.
Recently, Monica Lewinsky has made the news, because she has begun to speak publicly about the media storm that consumed her identity. Now at the age of 41, the former Whitehouse intern reflects back when she was 22, and made serious and foolish mistakes, when she began a relationship with her older and exceedingly more powerful boss, the then president of the United States. Lewinsky’s boss abused his power and her friend violated her trust. Still, the most painful part of the experience for Lewinsky was the public humiliation she endured.
In 1998, our society allowed the wrong thing to be used as a korban–a sacrifice– when Monica Lewinsky became the first person to be publicly shamed in the age of the internet. Everyone knew her mistakes, many seemed to derive joy from degrading her, ostracizing her, reducing her to her faults, and exaggerating them beyond recognition. Read the rest of this entry »
January 29, 2015
“Can Jewish Texts Expand Our Thinking,” the latest article from “Rabbis Uncensored,” the Philadelphia Board of Rabbis’ blog, includes a response by Rabbi Jill Maderer. Do you find yourself in conversation with others who already share your opinion? In what kinds of interactions do you find your thinking expands? Comments welcome!