Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kudos to our Own Fredi Cooper on Becoming President of the RRA

Fredi is featured in today's Jewish Exponent.  yasher koach, Fredi!

At 63, Rabbi Starts New Position With Movement

April 27, 2011 Bryan Schwartzman, Staff Writer

In 1985, when the ordination of the first woman rabbi by the Conservative movement coincided with the Bat Mitzvah of Fredi Cooper's eldest daughter, the Wyndmoor resident believed it was a sign. One of her daughters was going to become a rabbi.

In fact, it was Cooper who, at age 46 -- following a career in educational psychology -- entered the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote.

Now, 11 years after her ordination, the 63-year-old has assumed the presidency of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. Cooper said she thinks she may be the oldest rabbi to hold the post since the organization was created in 1974, but stressed that the movement and its leadership has long included clergy members who began their careers in another field. "It's amazing to me that, at age 63, I'm starting this new thing," said Cooper, who teaches practical rabbinics at RRC.

Cooper's election to the post comes at a time of change in Reconstructionist Judaism -- really in all the non-Orthodox denominations. The Reconstructionist College and the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation -- which is made up of congregations from around the country -- have just agreed to merge into one in the hopes of better serving their communities. The RRA is deeply involved in the RRC/JRF merger process, but will remain a separate organization, in part because its focus is different, said Cooper. Rather than directly serving the broader public, it concentrates on being a rabbinical resource for spiritual and professional development, she said.

During a recent interview, Cooper seemed far more eager to discuss her own personal story than get into the nitty-gritty of what she plans to do during her two-year term, asserting that she's still getting her feet wet in the volunteer position. She credited her decision to apply to rabbinical school to the encouragement of her children, as well as Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Melrose Park, where she was a regular Torah reader. (As it turns out, neither daughter entered the rabbinate.)

Though she spent years with the Conservative movement, she said that her thinking eventually grew more in line with the more liberal Reconstructionists. Cooper also pointed out that she considers cooking a major part of her rabbinate and Jewish identity. She offers cooking classes at Germantown Jewish Centre, where she is a member, and recently started baking challahs for the synagogue's Kesher Committee, which delivers food packages to families that are either in mourning or celebrating a birth.
She has also played a key role in the Jewish Family and Children's Service Para-Chaplaincy Program, in which volunteers deliver challah to the hospitalized.

When it comes to her new post, Cooper said her emphasis is going to be about improving communication. Hoping to find out what rabbis are looking for in the RRA, Cooper said that members of the board are currently contacting every rabbi within the organization to solicit thoughts and ideas.
Broadly speaking, she said that she'll be working to implement the strategic plan adopted by the organization just a little more than two years ago. Highlights include a call for the association to better serve nonpulpit rabbis, offer more expansive career counseling and devote greater attention to rabbis who are near the end of their careers or already retired.

Said Cooper: "Retirement is a time of life where you might want to redefine who you are."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ken Cohen will be performing in The Shadow Box

Here's a note from our own Ken Cohen.  You might have missed that he is performing in this play, based on his modest reference to his involvement!

For those of you who asked, and those of you who may be interested, the Pulitzer prize-winning play The Shadow Box will run at Upstairs @ the Adrienne Theater (in Center City) from May 5 through May 21, with a preview night on May 4. The play is set in a hospice, and although it was written in the 70's, it addresses issues still crucially important today: how we deal with terminal illnesses, and the impact of chronic illness on families and caregivers.  I'm told that it was also one of the first plays on Broadway to directly feature a same-sex relationship. 

For tickets and more information, you can go to There's also a brief summary of the play on Wikipedia, at It's a beautifully written play (as a word of caution, there is occasional graphic language), and I'm proud to be a part of this production.

Thanks for your interest, and chag sameach.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pirkei Avot Starts on Saturday, 4/30

Wordle: Pirkei Avot
Germantown Jewish Centre's annual Pirkei Avot six-week series will gear up on the shabbat following Pesach, and continue until the shabbat before Shavuot.

April 30: 1 Rabbi Adam Zeff, teacher, hosted by Betsy & David Teutsch
May 7: 2 Rabbi Dayle Friedman, teacher, hosted by Mindy Shapiro &  Alan Mendelsohn
May 14:  3 Ivan &Judd Kruger Levingston , teachers, hosted by Hillary Kruger &  Judd Levingston
May 21:  4 Shoulson/Sokoloff, teachers, hosted by Jake & Linda Kriger
May 28:  5 Leslie Hilgeman, teacher, hosted by Art & Lynne Ellis
June 4: Zachary & David Hahn, teachers, hosted by David Hahn & Barbara Weiss

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thanks to All our 2011 Mishloach Manot Contributors!

Thanks to all.  Let us know if anyone's name was accidentally omitted. We will be disbursing these Ma'ot Chitim funds shortly - if you meant to contribute but didn't, you still can send $$$ to to our account:

Thank you to ALL the
 Dorshei Derekh Purim Mishloach Manot Contributors! 
Our gross this year was $1,140

Adina Abramowitz and Naomi Klayman 
Alex & Sheila Avelin
Emily Blake & Karen Dunn
Bobbie Breitman
Eleanor Brownstein
Reba Carmel & David Franklin
Ken Cohen & Doug Lerner
Fredi & Heshie Cooper
Mikael Elsila & Dina Pinksky
Sheila Erlbaum
Helen & Michael Feinberg
Dayle Friedman & David Ferleger
Audrey Fingerhood
Mike Gross & Penina Kelberg
Anna Herman & Robert Dudnick
Shulamit Izen
Shira Kamm
Ruth Loew & Bob Tabak
Arnie Lurie and Patricia Lepera
Richard & Alice Mandel
Mitch & Susie Marcus
Steve Masters & Beulah Trey
David & Nahariyah Mosenkis
Neysa Nevins & Melissa Klein
Joyce & Carl Norden
Genie & Ameet Ravital
Joel Schneier
Elana & Brian Shaw
Howard Spodek
Reena Spicehandler & Jeremy Brochin
Jacob Staub & Michael Spitko
Debbie & George Stern
Richard Stern
Betsy & David Teutsch
Carol & Jay Tinkleman
Deborah Waxman & Christina Ager
Abby Weinberg & Nathan Martin
Leah Weisman & Eric Brunner
Adam Zeff & Cheryl Bettigole