Celebrate Shabbat Across America at Temple Beth Ami

Temple Beth Ami invites you to celebrate Shabbat Across America with us Friday, March 9, 2018 at 6:30 PM.  Everyone is welcome.  Please RSVP with payment by Monday, March 5, 2018.

Prices: Members: $12.00; Nonmembers: $15.00; Kids: $10.00 (up to 13).

Payments can be dropped off during office hours Monday-Thursday from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM or sent to Temple Beth Ami at 9201 Old Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19115.  If you have any questions or would like additional information stop by the office, call: 215-673-2511 or email: [email protected].

 

 

Open House Shabbat

Open House Shabbat at Temple Beth Ami

Temple Beth Ami is opening its doors to prospective members for Shabbat Services on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 9:00 AM and Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Arrive as a stranger, leave as a friend, return as a new family member. Everyone is welcome to stay after services for Kiddush, mingle with the congregation, have a meet & greet with Rabbi Mitchell Novitsky and receive a tour of the synagogue. For more information stop by 9201 Old Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19115, call 215-673-2511 or email [email protected].

Open House Shabbat

Open House Shabbat at Temple Beth Ami

Temple Beth Ami is opening its doors to prospective members for Shabbat Services on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 9:00 AM and Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Arrive as a stranger, leave as a friend, return as a new family member. Everyone is welcome to stay after services for Kiddush, mingle with the congregation, have a meet & greet with Rabbi Mitchell Novitsky and receive a tour of the synagogue. For more information stop by 9201 Old Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19115, call 215-673-2511 or email [email protected].

Puzzling Out the American Voter 2016

Donald Trump’s “Locker Room Talk” tape wasn’t released until after this panel discussion, but even based on his other past behavior, it is incredible that Trump outscores Hillary Clinton by far on the question, “does the candidate share your religious beliefs?” Is it possible to make sense of the attitudes and preferences of American voters this year? The National Museum of American Jewish History presented a panel of journalists and academics to explain “Religion, Politics, and the 2016 Election.” [Read more…]

North Carolina State Religion Bill Alarms Jewish Democrats

— by Aaron Keyak

The bill proposed in North Carolina that would assert that states are not bound by the separation of church and state is very alarming to those of us who understand the utmost importance of this constitutional value, including American Jews. If this bill is seriously considered or becomes law, it will have consequences for all Americans and those who believe that government should not be making laws that show preference to some religions over others. We call for this bill to be completely rejected in North Carolina and withdrawn from consideration.

Tomorrow: Multi-Religious Pray-In For Climate At The White House

— by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

The Interfaith Moral Action on Climate will hold tomorrow (Tuesday) a multi-religious Pray-in for the Climate at the White House. The Pray-in will gather at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, three short blocks from the White House. Speakers there will include

  • Jacqueline Patterson, IMAC steering committee and climate point person for the NAACP;
  • Imam Johari Malik, the “Green Imam” of Washington;
  • Diane Randall, exec of the Friends Committee on National Legislation;
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and
  • Rev. Bob Edgar, former Congressman, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and now CEO of Common Cause.

More after the jump.
At the White House Pray-in itself, leaders of various religious communities will speak from their spiritual truth and from diverse Scriptures in a ceremony that will move from Calls to Prayer into three aspects of religious commitment:

  • Celebration of the Sacrednss of Earth
  • Lamentation for the Wounds of Eath
  • Commitment to Healing Action

Some will then choose an act of prayerful civil disobedience, while others will choose a stance of prayerful witness.

For months, various politicians have been warning us of the dire effects on our grandchildren of the federal deficit and insisting that when the Fiscal Cliff arrives this winter we must drastically cut Federal spending on schools, our infrastructure of bridges and sewers and railroads, medic aid, and renewable energy.

For me, grandchildren are not a political abstraction. I have five of them, ranging from three years old to twelve. When I imagine their futures, I am much more worried about how empty-headed education, worsening health, a rotting infrastructure, and especially more disasters like Superstorm Sandy will affect them.  

Much more dangerous than the Fiscal Cliff is the Climate Cliff we are facing, as the growing number of extreme weather events — superstorms, fierce floods, drastic droughts — wound us and warn us.

Our religious communities should join with labor unions, small businesses, PTA’s, coops, neighborhood associations, and our college faculty and students to demand a set of changes that will sow the seeds of greater change, by cutting the power of the Carbon Lords and committing the President and Congress to vigorous action. If we go over the Climate Cliff now, my grandchildren — our grandchildren — will live in misery and suffering.

Florida Jews Say “Feh” To Republican Primary Candidates

— David Streeter

Editorial Note: Florida is one of the most Jewish states thanks in part to the many Jewish retirement communities there. 3.4% of Floridians are Jewish according to the 2011  survey. Historically, Jews are very politically engaged and turnout to vote at higher rates than gentiles. For example, in 2008, Jews represented 4% of the vote in the general election.

Nate Silver wrote in The New York Times’ 538 blog last night that there is little evidence supporting claims that Jewish voters in FL are switching their support to the Republican Party.

There has been some speculation that Democrats could struggle to hold the Jewish vote in 2012….

But there is no sign tonight of Jewish voters switching their registration over to the Republican side in Florida. According to early exit polls, just 1% of voters in tonight’s Republican primary identified as Jewish. That’s down from 3% in the Florida Republican primary in 2008, which also might mean that Jewish Republican voters in the state are not terribly enthusiastic about this group of candidates.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote:

For all the campaign attention paid this past week to Israeli politics and-towards the end-Mitt Romney’s handling of kosher meal budgeting in Massachusetts, few if any Jews appeared to vote in the Florida GOP primary.

According to Fox News exit poll, just 1% of the state’s primary voters identified as Jewish. 31% said they were Catholic and 59% said they were protestant or ‘other Christian.’ 4% said ‘something else.’

The Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner wrote:

A week ago I wrote that the most interesting question about the Florida Jewish vote is that

‘If the percentage of Republican Jews is higher this year than in 2008; if more than 4% to 5% of the Republican Florida voters are Jewish.’

The answer to this question is now clear: a resounding no. According to exit polls only 1% of Republican voters were Jewish – that’s not more but rather less Jewish voters than the number of 2008.

… I don’t know how Tuesday’s results could be interpreted in ways favorable to Jewish Republicans. Clearly, the Jews of Florida aren’t moved by the candidates, they aren’t moved by the party, and they aren’t moved by Obama’s policies – not enough to switch party registration and vote for their candidate of choice.

More after the jump.
The Forward’s Nathan Guttman also explained:

Exit polls could not provide data regarding the split in Jewish votes between Romney and Gingrich but it is largely believed that Romney had a stronger showing among Jewish Republicans. His supporters in Florida put together three events in recent weeks and all were well attended.

What exit polls do show, however, is that only 1% of Republican primary voters identified as being Jewish, down from 3% in 2008.

That means there was no shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.

And Guttman’s Forward colleague Josh Nathan-Kazis — who reported directly from Florida prior to the primary — surmised:

… [F]ewer Jewish voters in the primary could correlate to a lack of enthusiasm among Jews for the Republican field.

Florida Jews Say “Feh” To Republican Primary Candidates

— David Streeter

Editorial Note: Florida is one of the most Jewish states thanks in part to the many Jewish retirement communities there. 3.4% of Floridians are Jewish according to the 2011  survey. Historically, Jews are very politically engaged and turnout to vote at higher rates than gentiles. For example, in 2008, Jews represented 4% of the vote in the general election.

Nate Silver wrote in The New York Times’ 538 blog last night that there is little evidence supporting claims that Jewish voters in FL are switching their support to the Republican Party.

There has been some speculation that Democrats could struggle to hold the Jewish vote in 2012….

But there is no sign tonight of Jewish voters switching their registration over to the Republican side in Florida. According to early exit polls, just 1% of voters in tonight’s Republican primary identified as Jewish. That’s down from 3% in the Florida Republican primary in 2008, which also might mean that Jewish Republican voters in the state are not terribly enthusiastic about this group of candidates.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wrote:

For all the campaign attention paid this past week to Israeli politics and-towards the end-Mitt Romney’s handling of kosher meal budgeting in Massachusetts, few if any Jews appeared to vote in the Florida GOP primary.

According to Fox News exit poll, just 1% of the state’s primary voters identified as Jewish. 31% said they were Catholic and 59% said they were protestant or ‘other Christian.’ 4% said ‘something else.’

The Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner wrote:

A week ago I wrote that the most interesting question about the Florida Jewish vote is that

‘If the percentage of Republican Jews is higher this year than in 2008; if more than 4% to 5% of the Republican Florida voters are Jewish.’

The answer to this question is now clear: a resounding no. According to exit polls only 1% of Republican voters were Jewish – that’s not more but rather less Jewish voters than the number of 2008.

… I don’t know how Tuesday’s results could be interpreted in ways favorable to Jewish Republicans. Clearly, the Jews of Florida aren’t moved by the candidates, they aren’t moved by the party, and they aren’t moved by Obama’s policies – not enough to switch party registration and vote for their candidate of choice.

More after the jump.
The Forward’s Nathan Guttman also explained:

Exit polls could not provide data regarding the split in Jewish votes between Romney and Gingrich but it is largely believed that Romney had a stronger showing among Jewish Republicans. His supporters in Florida put together three events in recent weeks and all were well attended.

What exit polls do show, however, is that only 1% of Republican primary voters identified as being Jewish, down from 3% in 2008.

That means there was no shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.

And Guttman’s Forward colleague Josh Nathan-Kazis — who reported directly from Florida prior to the primary — surmised:

… [F]ewer Jewish voters in the primary could correlate to a lack of enthusiasm among Jews for the Republican field.

A Soul is Like a Play: New Jerusalem at the Lantern Theatre

  • All we get is the poetry of a Jewish fruit peddler and a heap of vanishing figs.  — Baruch Spinoza
  • You will be greater than all of us, but not as a Jew. — Rabbi Mortera


Reminiscent of intellectual dramas like Copenhagen, New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656 is an ambitious new drama by David Ives, known for his evenings of one act comedies called All in the Timing and Time Flies.  Playing through November 6th at the Lantern Theater Company, this heady play directed by Lantern’s Artistic Director Charles McMahon is based on true events in the life of the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza.  This recent off-Broadway hit challenges traditional political and religious thinking with passion and wit.  

The production’s action takes place in the Amsterdam synagogue where the 23 year old stands trial for his revolutionary thoughts about God, nature and human life.  Sam Henderson’s Spinoza, donning a black leather bomber jacket, (costumes beautifully designed by Maggie Baker with lighting by Shon Causer) is arrogant but humble, witty and rakish.   The favorite son of the rabbi’s heir apparent, (played by David Bardeen) Spinoza refuses to remain silent about his revolutionary thoughts, and is accused by political leader and Calvinist Abraham van Valkenburgh ( played by Seth Reichgott) of heresy.   The audience becomes part of this trial as we witness Spinoza refuse to silence his radical beliefs, denying the divine origin of the Torah which sits in the Ark of the Covenant, that provides the effective and sparsely designed backdrop for the action (designed by Nick Embree).

More after the jump.
Accused of atheism, Spinoza protests, “I know a few things about God no one else does.”    Accused of loving a Christian woman, Clara van den Eden (played beautifully by Mary Tuomanen) Spinoza insists she tell the truth when she is questioned, for her “essence will not allow her to lie.”  His petty and vengeful half-sister Rebekah de Spinoza, (played by Kittson O’Neill) who early in the play betrays her brother, marks one of the weaker plot points as later in the play she professes great loyalty.  Her kvetching (from the audience where she glares at her accused brother on trial to be excommunicated) while intended to provide some comic relief, strikes one of the few false notes of the evening.  

The most convincing and moving relationship we witness is that between the Head Rabbi of Amsterdam, Mortera, and Spinoza, whom he considers like a grandson.    While Spinoza is intoxicated “by God and mathematics”, the rabbi must think about the community of faithful Jews whose religious freedom is being threatened.   Will the Rabbi remain faithful to his most gifted student or will he turn his back on him for the sake of the Jewish community’s survival?  

Ives manages to write an engaging courtroom drama full of complex philosophical ideas from Descartes’ dualism to the Mishneh Torah.   If questions like: is there immortality, is there a God, what are the moral implications of a world without God, interest you — you will spend two riveting hours at the Lantern Theater Company.   Remember, when Albert Einstein was asked about his belief in God, he responded, “I believe in Spinoza’s God.”   To find out what he means by this go see New Jerusalem at the Lantern Theater Company.

On Saturday, October 22nd at 2 pm there will be a Panel Discussion on the Lantern Main Stage called Out of Order! Courtrooms as Theatre, Courtrooms in Theatre featuring Vince Regan, Assistant Chief District Attorney of Philadelphia, Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham.  

New Jerusalem runs through November 6th.

  • Lantern Theater Company at St. Stephen’s Theater
  • 10th and Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Adults: $20 – $36, Students: $10 – $26, $10 student rush tickets available 10 minutes before curtain with valid ID; cash only. Special discounts are available for seniors and groups of 10 or more.
  • Phone: (215) 829-0395

Old City Jewish Art Center

   

John O. Mason

The Old City Jewish Art Center, located on 119 North Third Street, is a Jewish-themed art gallery in Old City which hosts Shabbat services, including services and a meal,  during the traditional First Friday exhibits among the galleries in the area.

Artists whose works have been exhibited include Rita Ackert, Steve Belkowitz, Linda Dubin Garfield, Liliana Life, Carla Goodstein, Peter Reich, and Mordechai Rosenstein, Mickie Rosen, Hinda Schuman, Susan Leonard, Kathryn Pannepacker, Else Wachs, Paulette Bensignor, Susan Forbes, Rachel Issac, B.Leah Palmer, and Barbara Rosenzweig.

More after the jump.
Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, founder of the gallery,  was born in Irvington, New Jersey,  and grew up near Highland Park, near Rutgers. “I grew up in a Conservative synagogue,” he says, “and I became involved with Lubavich (or Chabad Hasidism) when I was about twenty. I was a Television and Radio major at Syracuse University, and I (had) a dual major in Art History.” After graduating, Schmidt attained shmicha (rabbinical ordination) and he was asked by Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, regional director of Chabad activities, under the guidance of the Lubavicher Rebbi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to organize the Lubavich House at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is still Executive Director.

The gallery, says Schmidt, ” is a resultant project of a lot of (Lubavich) programs.” Of the center’s mission, he says, “Art is a very valuable expression of  Judaism, it’s a valuable expression in order to express ideas in Judaism, in order to bring people together. It also creates commonality between all kinds of different people.”

The artists featured in the gallery, Schmidt adds, “are al different in terms of their connection to Judaism, in their own personal observance, and to me that’s very exciting.”

As for the gallery’s First Friday programs, Schmidt says, “We live in Center City, and I’m involved in a lot of the projects in center City, and I always have my eye on First Friday. Before we opened, there was never anything Jewish happening on First Friday. It’s not only Jewish, it’s also something that brings people together besides commerce, it’s (also) something that’s creating a community, which is a message of Judaism. We didn’t really know if there would be any interest in it. My daughter lived close by and I asked her to see if she could find any empty art galleries or any empty spaces that we could squat in, and we’ll see how it goes. Yehudi Bork owned this space, and he was happy to let us use it.”

One of the people active with the center is Diane Litten, an artists whose makes jewelry, hats and scarves, which she calls “fine art accessories.” “They needed somebody here(at the center),” she adds, ” and I needed a studio, so we made an arrangement.” Litten takes part in setting up the center for shows; she calls that arrangement “excellent, wonderful.” Her work does not have a religious or Jewish theme, “but it’s an arty theme.”  

Cynthia Blackwood, a member of the Board of Directors of the center, speaks of the theme of the center’s October show, based on the 27th Psalm, which is said on Elul before Rosh Ha-Shona: “This is a show I wanted to put together. Rabbi Schmidt and I worked out a theme, and I called artists in to do a piece relating to the 27th Psalm, and they did, all thirteen artists. I did the calligraphy (with the Psalm in Hebrew), so you’re walking in and that’s the Psalm. I wanted you to feel like you’re wrapped in the Psalm.” The art works in the exhibit, adds Blackwood, “relate to the feelings that the artists have while reading the Psalm.”

Painter Barbara Rosin says of her works in the exhibit, “I’m a professional artist,  and Cynthia (Blackwood) is my framer, and she’s very familiar with my work. She invited me to participate, and she sent me material about the 27th Psalm and the month of Elul. It was extremely interesting, a lot of commentary, it was very interesting for me to work on.

“I’m a landscape painter,” Rosin adds, about her painting her work, “and the psalm made me think of very serene places, sanctuary, (being) free from harm.”