Staying Engaged Year Round

This Jewish year 5778 is moving into the last quarter. Despite the sometimes daily assaults on Jewish and universal core values we hold dear, many of us have continued to engage in vital issues of our day --whether it is taking a stand for racial justice and challenging the undermining of our American institutions, or seeking ways of responding to the ever growing and appalling humanitarian crisis in Gaza and issues related to Israel and Palestine.

In the midst of these personal, local, national and global challenges, our sacred community continues to grow and be a sanctuary for us to renew our spirits, educate our minds, reinvigorate our commitments to act for justice in the world, and deepen the bonds between us in times of joy and loss. Each of us can find our place in reflective and song-filled spiritual moments, programs for justice, learning across our various ages and interest areas , artistic and creative explorations across the spectrum, school, Teen program, and many more areas of member activity that you create and organize together beyond the calendar of official events.

As we enter the summer months, I want to thank our Executive Committee: President Ellen Tichenor, Vice-President Barry Dornfeld, new Treasurer Ellen Steiker, Secretary Ros Spigel and the rest of the committed and thoughtful board for their leadership and tireless commitment to our community’s thriving. I especially want to offer hoda’ot/gratitude to David Piver, Barry Dornfeld, Ilene Burak and Alan Tuttle who are cycling off the board after guiding us through many of our most profound challenges as a community, and helped lead us to a new place of stability and thriving.

You will soon vote for new leaders at our community meeting. There are issue and program areas that require your volunteer energy to help our community continue to grow and sustain the high level of current offerings and work in justice- program areas and committees.

A deep bow in gratitude to Rivka Jarosh, our retiring Education Director with whom I have worked closely these years and whom we honored lovingly this spring. Claire Brunhild, our rabbinic intern and teen coordinator this year, is also moving to a new position in another synagogue, having blessed us with her presence and added so much to our musical, spiritual, family educational, teen and life-long learning communal lives. Supported in addition by Gabby Kaplan Meyer, we were able to keep growing our teen program. We say shalom to you both with sadness at your departure and abundant blessings and - kol hakavod (all power to you!) for the future.

Simultaneously I am excited that we are welcoming in Rabbi Joysa Winter as our new Education Director and Teen Coordinator. Joysa is a gifted educator, youth worker, journalist, activist, ritual leader and much more as you will discover after July 15, when she officially starts.

Thank these people- and others I may have not been thoughtful enough to mention- when you see them! Hoda’ah- gratitude is an ancient and core Jewish practice! It is from this Hebrew word that Yehudah or Jew comes from- we are the Grateful People not only Yisrael/God-Wrestlers through our lineage.

I look forward to seeing you in the weeks ahead inside our Mishkan or under heaven’s canopy

Shabbat under the stars. We, who are Mishkan Shalom have a mission and direction which I am passionate about. I know there are many more Jews and non-Jewish partners and allies who would thrive here if they knew about us and experienced us. We need continued and increased involvement from all our membership to be able to sustain the level of intense offerings we have been generating. Invite a friend or neighbor to a service or program and let’s keep growing together. We are all members of the in-reach/outreach team- it is in one-to-one relationship building that community happens, that social change occurs and true transformation is possible. This is why we have continued to grow over 3% the last three years in a row to our 230 member households today. It is by continuing to be strong through engagement in hope, not fear that we will continue to meet the intense challenges ahead for us all.

“The kind of hope I think about…a state of mind, not a state of the world…it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well…but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good...” Vaclav Havel

Let us continue to work for the common good here at Mishkan Shalom, our greater Philadelphia community and world in the months ahead. Kayitz tov- have a wonderful summer, (a.k.a. Tammuz, Av and Elul!). See you under the stars for Shabbat and elsewhere soon!

“For the sake of the Oneness of all Life, I stand here, ready in body and mind, to take upon myself the mitzvah, “You shall love your fellow human being as yourself (Lev. 19),” and may I love and be open to all people, beings and the earth itself- and by this merit may I live each day.” (Kavannah introduced by the Kabbalists of Sfat, to be said before formal prayer and adapted by Rabbi Shawn Zevit)

Note: If you have read this and have thoughts or reflections, please let me know at or call 215-508-0226 ex. 1, and set up a time to talk and get to know each other better over the summer. It would mean a great deal to me to know your thoughts and reflections as we look to a new year ahead. Please also note as the summer is upon us that Slihot is September 1, and Erev Rosh Hashanah Sunday evening September 9 this year.

4101 Freeland Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19128 - ph: (215) 508-0226 / Site map