We Want Answers: Naomi Adler, the First Female CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

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Photography by Stefan Radtke

You’re moving here from Westchester County, New York, to take this job. Philly can be frosty to outsiders. Are you worried? Oh no, I’ve already received hundreds of emails, phone calls, letters of welcome.

I guess you don’t need a neighborhood recommendation, then. I think we’re going to end up taking a poll. You can follow up with me in a year and I’ll tell you what happened.

Federation is still the leading Jewish philanthropic organization in the region, but has switched leaders four times since the 1990s. And your predecessor was not exactly beloved by everyone. How do you correct the turnover problem? Well, this is the third time, maybe fourth time, I’ve come into an area where I was a newbie. I’ve learned you need to be listening to all perspectives and be very attuned to building relationships. I think that you become a part of the fabric of the community if you listen and respond to what people need. I can’t comment on Ira Schwartz or the other predecessors. All I can say is that my style is to incorporate the best management practices with really loving what you do.

Given the turmoil in Federation ranks, do you think your selection as the first female CEO was a statement that it’s starting fresh in some way? The fact that I’m a woman was not really a focus. I’m not blind to the fact that I’m blazing a trail in this community. However, it’s not the reason they hired me.

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I’m Agnostic, and I’m Hoping Pope Francis Comes to Philadelphia

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Shutterstock

Let’s get something straight: I know the Pope is Catholic.

This means a few things: I never expect him to adopt the conventional American Liberal positions l hold. There will be no embrace of gay marriage by the church, there will be no permission for abortion, and Pope Francis’s term will not end with the ascension of Pope Mary I. We’re never going to agree on those things. It is what it is.

Still: I find that I’m increasingly a fan of this pope. That’s a bit weird to admit. I grew up among Mennonites who pretty explicitly traced their theological heritage to the Reformation; more recently I’ve simply been agnostic: God’s not really part of my life anymore. Catholicism doesn’t hold much appeal for me, generally. Pope Francis does, however — and so I am rooting for him to visit Philadelphia next year.

Why? His humility. And his attempts to bring the church in line with that quality.

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ICE BREAKERS: Son of God Stars
Roma Downey and Diogo Morgado,
and Producer Mark Burnett

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Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in “Son of God.”

Before interviewing movie stars in town for press junkets, Philly film critic Piers Marchant warms them up with a list of themed, rapid-fire questions. This week he chats with three of the names behind the new Jesus of Nazareth bio-pic Son of God: stars Diogo Morgado (Jesus) and Roma Downey (Mary), and the film’s financial backer, mega-producer Mark Burnett, (who’s also Downey’s husband.) The theme? The Seven Deadly Sins.

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DISPATCHES FROM PENNSYLTUCKY: PA Church Kicks Out Young Member for Being Gay

Bobbie Pierce, 20, was kicked out of his church in Newberry Township, Pa., for being gay.

Bobbie Pierce, 20, was kicked out of his church in Newberry Township, Pa., for being gay.

Here we go again. Ambassador’s Bible Chapel in Manchester, Pa., is making headlines this week for revoking the membership of a longtime worshiper because he’s gay. The York Daily Record reports that 20-year-old Bobbie Pierce was removed from the church and denied communion by the establishment’s elders. His renunciation was announced during church service last Sunday. How embarrassing. More from the York Daily Record:

“Pastor David Slautterback said Friday that he and the other elders want Pierce to repent for his sin and to return to fellowship at the church, where he is still welcome to attend as long as he does not cause division or speak contrary to scripture. ‘We placed Bobbie under church discipline out of love for Bobbie and regard for his soul,’ Slautterback said.”

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Broad Street Ministry Ordains City’s First Openly Gay Minister

The Inquirer reports that David Norse, 27, has been ordained by Broad Street Ministry as the city’s first openly gay minister. ”While David’s sexual orientation is an important part of his identity, he sees himself first and foremost as someone called to pastor God’s people,” said the Rev. Bill Golderer, the church’s senior pastor. “He is very much into this being a dimension of who he is, but not the sum total.” The congregation is part of Presbyterian Church USA, which in 2011 voted to allow ordination of openly gay and lesbian members.

Previously: Local Church to Ordain Philly’s First Openly Gay Presbyterian Minister

Defrocked PA Pastor Offered Job in California

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Rev. Frank Schaefer — the man who was defrocked by the Methodist Church last week after officiating the marriage of his gay son — has been offered a job Bishop Minerva G. Carcano to join the Church’s California-Pacific Annual Conference. If he accepts, he would serve over an area that covers California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. LGBTQ Nation reports:

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The Dilemmas of an Agnostic Christmas: What Do We Tell Our Son About a Faith We no Longer Share?

Photo | Shutterstock.com

Photo | Shutterstock.com

“Daddy,” my 5-year-old son asked me on Friday. “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”

This was a question I’d been expecting for a few weeks — and even for a few years. My wife and I both have long since taken the Christ out of our personal Christmases (we’d both had our crises of faith before we met each other) but continued, like so many people do, to celebrate a holiday packed with family traditions, and to renew them when T was born.

Just, you know, without the churchy stuff.

So probably the easiest thing to do, when T posed his question, would’ve been to take the advice of my colleague Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “Just talk about Santa. I don’t think I learned who Jesus was till I was 18.”

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