A community of communities

January 2016

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 4:02pm -- Rabbi


Hazak Tu B'Shevat TreeTu biSh'vat, the birthday of the trees, will be observed this Sunday night, just as our region is being blanketed with snow.  On Tu biSh'vat, we honor the many gifts that trees and the natural world give to us and the way they enrich our lives.  But, especially as we face the oncoming storm this Shabbat, we can't forget to also acknowledge the awesome power that the natural world holds over us.  It is we who must alter our lives to deal with what the natural world provides us, not the other way around, whether we are encountering storm or harvest, harshness or beauty.  We depend on nature at least as much it depends on us.  As we face dire issues like climate change that affect all life on this planet, we must learn to respect the power of the earth and change our actions accordingly.  Only then can the promise of the gifts nature provides be fulfilled through us.

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Fri, 01/15/2016 - 4:00pm -- Rabbi

Shabbat morning in the Charry Service: Dedication of Portrait of Rabbi Hahn z"l
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This Shabbat morning in the Charry Sanctuary we will honor the memory of Rabbi Sanford Hahn z"l, Rabbi of this congregation for 16 years, by dedicating a portrait of him that will hang in the Charry Lobby. We are very grateful to Linda Hahn for so generously commissioning this portrait and donating it to GJC.  Rabbi Hahn served this community with kindness and thoughtfulness during a crucial point in our history, and he was also an important leader in the Northwest Philadelphia community and across the city, active in many struggles for justice and equity in his time.  To honor his memory, we will invite three of those who worked with him to speak about his influence:  Judge Abraham Gafni, Past President of GJC; Reverend Richard Fernandez, former Executive Director of the Northwest Interfaith Movement; and Reverend William Moore of 10th Memorial Baptist Church, who served with Rabbi Hahn as co-chair of the Black-Jewish Clergy group. Please come and be inspired by Rabbi Hahn's life and work and by the many ways in which he still affects us today.  The service begins at 10:00 AM in the Charry Sanctuary, and it will be followed by a congregational kiddush in the Marcus Auditorium at 12:30 PM and then the Granger Program (also in the Marcus Auditorium) at about 1:30 PM.  All are welcome.

 

Shabbat afternoon: Ralph Granger Memorial Program - Working for Racial Justice

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On this Shabbat, we honor the memory of Ralph Granger (pictured at left), our long-time head of maintenance who became such a huge part of the life of this community and developed close relationships that still affect those who knew and loved him.  Ralph was a wonderful model of reaching out to people regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion.  In his honor, we will welcome a panel of distinguished speakers after services and lunch (about 1:30 PM) in the Marcus Auditorium to address the central and timely problem of racial justice and how we can work to achieve it.  We are honored to have with us speakers Reverend Robin Hynicka from Arch Street United Methodist Church and Reverend Gregory Holston from New Visions United Methodist Church, and Reverends Fernandez and Moore will serve as respondents, sharing their experience and knowledge. These wonderful speakers will inspire us to think about the history of the struggle for racial justice and what we can do in our time.  I urge all of you to join me for this very important program.

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Fri, 01/08/2016 - 10:01am -- Rabbi

children and torahThis Shabbat begins our Saturday morning Beit Midrash program, which will continue for the next 8 weeks.  Our Religious School and day school children will have special programming on these Shabbatot, and we will have a study session for adults each Shabbat morning before services from 9:30 to 10:00 AM.  This year, our study will focus on how we teach Jewish values to our children, both our own children and those whom we nurture together in our community.  Each week we will discuss a value, a story about that value from the weekly Torah portion, and methods by which we can inculcate that value in children, and in ourselves.  This week, we will focus on the value of rachamim - compassion.  Please join us to learn and teach each other!

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Mon, 01/04/2016 - 2:26pm -- Rabbi

This Shabbat, as we begin a new year we also begin a new book in the Torah. In the Book of Shemot, we tell the story of our redemption from Egypt. This week, we read about the birth of Moses. The Torah's description of that fateful moment echoes the moment of the birth of the world. Upon his birth, Moses' mother, Yocheved, "sees that he is good"- "vatereh oto ki tov hu"- just as God sees the light of creation and affirms, "this is good."

Moses enters the world at a time when the Children of Israel are living under Pharaoh's ruthless decree that all Israelite baby boys born in Egypt are to be put to death. Courageous midwives Shifra and Puah defy the orders of Pharaoh and allow the babies to live, at the risk of their own lives. Yocheved sees the goodness in her newborn baby. She dares to imagine a bright future for her youngest child; she dares to hope.

Moving into 2016, I am grateful for the new souls who have entered the world in the past year. And my heart is heavy for the souls lost- those dear to us and to others; lives stolen by violence, terror, racism and injustice- in the United States, in Israel and around the world. Moses, Yocheved, Shifra and Puah are beacons of light in dark times. May their stories remind us of the goodness that is already around us and within us, and the goodness that is yet to be born. May their actions inspire us to step into this new year with moral courage and with hope.

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