Yerushalayim Shel Barzel (Jerusalem of Iron)

December 12, 2017

Naomi Shemer, hailed as the “first lady of Israeli song and poetry” is perhaps most famous for her song “Yerushlayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) written in 1967 and often called an unofficial second national anthem. Shemer wrote the song for the Israeli Song Festival held on 15 May 1967, the night after Israel’s nineteenth Independence Day.

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Multi-faith in Morocco

November 14, 2017

Yesterday and today marked the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, when ordinary Germans demonized their Jewish neighbors and lashed out against them in violence and hate. Soon after, once Hitler had control over France, the Vichy government there sent a message to King Mohammed V of Morocco: help us deport your country’s 250,000 Jews to Nazi concentration camps. As the story goes, the king responded saying, “We have no Jews, we only have Moroccans.”

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Tochecha: The Courage to Give Honest Criticism

October 3, 2017

Anyone notice that stunning tapestry in the lobby when they walked in this morning? How could you not?! The tapestry was hand stitched in 1972 by a group of 49 women at the congregation, led by Evelyn Keyser, and recently restored through the generous support of RS Women. When I first walked in and saw it, I noticed the beauty, the bright burst of color, the craftsmanship. But what really wowed me were the words. At the top, it says, “Ohev shalom v’rodeph shalom – Love peace and pursue peace.” These same words appear on our new addition, looking out on Broad Street. This quote, from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Ancestors) was written almost 2000 years ago and still remains at our core today.

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High Holy Day Services for Families with Young Children

September 6, 2017

We invite you and your children to celebrate the High Holy Days with us this year. See the service schedule for Families with Young Children. L’Shana Tovah!

High Holy Day Services for Families with Young Children

Contemporary “Multi-generational” Morning Services:
Requires a “pass;” please contact Catherine Fischer (cfischer@rodephshalom.org).

Rosh Hashanah: Thursday, September 21, 8:30 am
Yom Kippur: Saturday, September 30, 8:30 am

A full service for adults with a family-friendly atmosphere for children of all ages. Clergy, congregational choir, and guitar lead accessible music, encouraging participants to join in. Designed for all ages, the informality provides a comfortable setting for families with young children, and there are activities for the children during the sermon.

Tashlich Service at Fairmount Waterworks:
Thursday, September 21, 1:30pm
640 Water Works Drive Philadelphia, PA 19130
Join us as we cast away our sins with breadcrumbs. This service is open to all.

Afternoon Mini-Service for Families:
Open to the community; no pass needed, please just bring photo ID for security.

Rosh Hashanah: Thursday, September 21, 3:00 pm
Yom Kippur: Saturday, September 30, 1:30 pm
A very brief service for families with very young children.


Do Not Remain Indifferent

September 5, 2017

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Teitzei, contains quite a few seemingly random, disconnected commandments. One especially striking commandment found in this week’s portion is:

If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. (Deuteronomy 22:6-7)

Most commentators believe this commandment is an important statement against animal cruelty, akin to the prohibition of boiling a kid in it’s mothers milk. Also, modern scholars point to an early ecological message of sustainability in this passage. However, there is another powerful message that our rabbis draw from this text in the Talmud; it lays the foundation for tale of Judaism first apostate, Rabbi Elisha Ben Abuya.

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Tochecha: How We Rebuke

August 9, 2017

Picture the scene: The Israelites have been wandering for 40 years in the desert and are finally on the banks of the Jordan river just mere miles from the Holy Land. Moses, knowing that his time as their leader is coming to end, offers one final speech to his people. This not-so-short speech, which is basically the entire book of Deuteronomy, is a look back at their shared history and words of advice for their future. Specifically in this first portion of Deuteronomy, D’varim, Moses does not mince words and offers a harsh rebuke of his people. He says:

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Breaking Bread on Broad: Helping Our Community by Jeremy Schmidt, congregant

July 18, 2017

One woman and her reticent seven year old child came in because she saw the chalk and balloons from the street. We invited her in, and gave her daughter a meal, and after she devoured a bagel, we gave her more. The way they ate said they hadn’t eaten in a while. When I told her she could have more, her eyes brightened. Then, we sat and played Penny Pack with the deck of cards, and then the teen leaders taught her Rummy, which I had taught them. She asked her young daughter to decide whether she wants to stay for a bit. After some food in her belly, the daughter was more social and said, “I’ve made my decision.” Then she pulled up a chair next to me. We sat and played the card game that her mother had been playing with the interns. I invited both of them into the library, and had her take books to read for herself, or for her child. She said under her breath, “thank God, this program exists, something positive like this exists, because I would have gone somewhere else I shouldn’t have gone today.
But I’m here.” I welcomed her back and said the doors are always open.

A Latino family came in clutching a flyer that I had passed out at Spring Garden Elementary, and the hands of two kids. The parents didn’t speak any English. We had the interns effortlessly include the kids and involve them in their games. I speak Spanish, so I managed to learn from the parents that they were just on their way to receive social security benefits and figured they’d stop in for the kids’ breakfast before a long day. Eric, the chairperson of Breaking Bread on Broad, put on Bachata music, and the parents’ faces morphed from a glazed-over look to two happy smiles.