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08/24/2021 10:26:04 AM

Aug24

Stacey Hudson

This past week the ReOpen Task Force met and after a lengthy, in-depth discussion made changes to our COVID-19 protocols. The biggest change is that we now require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 36 hours to attend services or an event. This also applies to the staff. We have seen firsthand how contagious the Delta variant is and must take more precautions to keep our members, guests, and staff safe from the virus.
Masks are required at all times in the building and anyone not properly wearing a mask will be asked to do if they do not comply will be asked to leave.
All of the protocols are posted under the COVID-19 section of the website and can be seen here.
So much is happening in the building. Many projects designed to make the building our home are being completed in anticipation of the High Holidays. The furniture is installed in the Bill Solomon Gallery, so we now have a place to sit, gather or read quietly. Panels are installed in the lobby to improve the acoustics and tomorrow, some of our legacy stained glass is being installed.
Our contractor, BSI, is working to complete the ECC in anticipation of it opening on September 1st. The ECC furniture is coming out of storage, new equipment is being delivered and the staff is preparing for the children.
On Sunday the Tzedek team hosted a meeting in the courtyard where we learned from members of the Sierra Club about the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy project. We also gave guided tours of the building so our members and their guests could see, many for the first time, the results of the hard work and many hours our volunteers have put in to make our building a realty.
With the new protocols we will continue to figure out how we can come together safely and enjoy this wonderful spiritual space we have worked so hard to create.
 

08/02/2021 10:15:00 AM

Aug2

Stacey Hudson

Planning, writing, editing, printing, folding, stuffing and stamping.  The office has been buzzing the past two weeks preparing for the High Holidays. There are many details to figure out as we plan for celebrating these important holy days in our new building as the concerns about the COVID-19 virus rise.
We are having services in-person. Masks are required and we will ask anyone not properly wearing a mask to do so.
We also are asking that you RSVP. This helps us to plan for the numbers of people attending and for parking. You will not be turned away if you do not RSVP, but it is a big help us to know you are coming.
For parking, we are reserving our lot for those who require accessible parking due to health restrictions. The lot is reserved for that purpose, but we do not have individual reserved spaces. It is first come – first serve.
We also have arranged with Pierre Laclede Center for parking on the surface lot across Maryland Avenue and in the garage with the entrance on Forsyth.
We are handling name tags differently this year. Included in the information you received in the mail are blank name tags to use for several services. Please fill them out at home. Include your name, note if you are on the board or a committee, decorate it, tell us something about yourself. We look forward to seeing your creativity!
All the information about the High Holiday’s was mailed to our members and is on the website. This time, unlike the Passover packet that arrived for many two months after the holiday,  the mail was delivered after two days. I encourage everyone to check the website often as we continue to add information or, if needed, make changes due to the virus.
I am writing this on Sunday afternoon. Earlier today we sent a text message to all our members with a link to the High Holiday page on the website. We are using text messages as another way to reach our members about upcoming events. Please let me know if this is helpful as we continue to look for ways to keep everyone informed about the activities at the synagogue.
The ECC construction is proceeding quickly. Liz Collins, our ECC director, has been coming in several times a week to work out of the administration office in preparation for opening in September. It has been wonderful getting to spend time with Liz as we work out details on shared areas of the building, security and parking. We look forward to having all the kids and activity in the building.
 
 

07/19/2021 09:59:58 AM

Jul19

Stacey Hudson

Justice, Justice you shall pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20). I love that. It goes to the core of why I love being a Jew – justice is central to how we treat each other and people in the broader community. And I love being a part of a synagogue that takes that idea to heart in its words and actions.
This past week Benjamin Singer gave a presentation at the board meeting on what Tzedek, our social justice team, is doing and its plans for future activities. They have several projects underway, including writing cards for seniors at Brentmoor and Crown Center (pick up blank cards at the office and Young Families programs) and the Reverse Tashlich stream clean in August.
In June some of the members participated in a training program with JOIN for Justice. They continue to look for issues important to our community and align with our mission. During the High Holy Days, members of Tzedek will lead a breakout discussion group on renewing our approach to helping others and building a better world.
Please watch for information on their programs. Call Benjamin Singer (or the office, 314-727-1747) if you are interested in the important work they are doing. And on August 8 come get your hands dirty and join our second stream clean, the Reverse Tashlich, when we take things out of the water. See the website for details. 
 
 
 
Stream Clean Fall 2021
We are finalizing the details for the High Holy Days. The packets with information on the schedule of services, parking and COVID-19 protocols will soon be in the mail, posted on the website and sent by e-mail.

 

 

07/12/2021 09:20:01 AM

Jul12

Stacey Hudson

With an eye towards the High Holy Days when more of us will gather in the synagogue, the building has been hopping with activity. In addition to the ECC construction other projects are being completed:
The acoustical panels are installed in the sanctuary, completing the original plan our architects designed. They improve the sound quality throughout the room.
The panels designed to mount the memorial plaques are installed. The plaque sorting is still in process and when that is completed, we are ready to install them.
Other items such as acoustical panels in the lobby and furniture for the Bill Solomon Gallery are on order and should be installed before the holidays. Every day something new is happening to turn our building into our spiritual home.
The Federation just launched a new social media platform to help people throughout our Jewish community be informed and connected. It’s called JBuzzSTL. You set up an account, follow Kol Rinah and other St. Louis organizations to register for events, get book recommendations, view fitness videos and much more. It is our private social media platform to stay connected. Please download the app or view it online and set up your own account. https://www.jbuzzstl.com/

06/28/2021 08:00:00 PM

Jun28

Stacey Hudson

I have been thinking a lot about my family lately. Two weeks ago, we spent a long weekend in Dallas with my stepdaughter, her husband and our grandchildren. My son and his girlfriend drove down with us. It was the first we all got together since COVID-19 shut everything down and it was so much fun to be together.
This weekend it was wonderful to have my sister, Joan Levinson, and our children, Elie and Daniel here. Joan came in town for a closing reception of her artwork at the Kranzberg Foundation High Low Gallery (https://stljewishlight.org/news/news-local/st-louis-artist-explores-intersection-of-literary-and-visual-arts/) and then to take down the show and prepare it for shipping. Many hands came together to get the job done. Elie, Daniel, Daniel’s girlfriend Sarah, Joan and I worked together to wrap and protect all the pieces being shipped and to prep the pieces sold to go to their new owners. We held things for each other, cut tape, wrapped corners, resolved problems, chatted, and listened to Joan’s selected playlist (Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits and Terry Allen [I included him]) which brought out a bit of foot tapping and lip syncing while we worked. I kept thinking about how much I loved it – helping each other, having a good time and enjoying each other’s company. I am grateful for the day we spent together.
I have been asked over the years why I stayed in St. Louis, why I didn’t move somewhere else. My answer quite simply is family and friends. I love seeing people I have known most of my life and having family connections to people and places going back several generations. A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Paul Flotken. Paul didn’t realize he was e-mailing me; it went to the general office e-mail. I first met Paul when I was in high school and worked for his brother John. Paul let me know he had two chairs from the original Knesseth Israel building in DeMun, did I want them? Absolutely. Paul told me that after being used by Knesseth Israel the chairs belonged to his wife Terry’s great-grandparents, Morris and Ida Berin. They were likely purchased as a fundraiser when the congregation moved to South Hanley. Morris lived from 1879 to 1956 and was the Shammas of the synagogue. The chairs are now in our chapel. I don’t know yet what we will do with them, but I love having that physical connection in the building going back generations to one of our founding legacy shuls.
 
 
 
Throughout the summer we are having outdoor services in the courtyard. Last week we held a service for Young Families. It was a hot day, and the turnout was low but those who came had a great time. The sanctuary shades the courtyard in the evening and the breeze kept everyone comfortable. Please don’t let the weather keep you away - come to our outdoor services.
We have increased attendance in the sanctuary to 60 people. Please look at the new COVID-19 protocols on the website - we would love to see you at services.
Finally, our softball teams are making up in spirit what they are missing in wins. I am happy to say that the Ball Mitzvahs won their game last week against B’nai Amoona. Grab a chair, wear your Kol Rinah swag and head out to watch a game!

06/21/2021 08:30:00 AM

Jun21

Stacey Hudson

We are getting settled in our new offices at Maryland Avenue. We have room to spread out and we’re putting away the files and supplies. There are a few glitches we must work out. Our phone system was not programmed properly so if you called the main number and no one answered it was transferred to a man’s voice mail box in Westchester County, New York.  No doubt a surprise for him but it is now fixed.
Our copier prints (black & white and color!) but doesn’t scan yet (another programming error) and one new filing cabinet is locked with no key (key is on order) so we can’t fill it yet.
The biggest issue is that right before the move the air conditioner went out. It is an older unit and replacing it was not part of the office renovation. We thought it was working but unfortunately it is not. We have many fans going, we take breaks and go downstairs (which feels very cold to me now) and are getting by pretty well. A big thanks to Dan Rosenthal who stepped up to manage the bids for the new air conditioner.
The new building-use protocols are posted on the website and shown below. These are designed to get us through the summer with the added restrictions of the construction. The biggest change is that we have increased the number of people that can attend Shabbat morning services and no longer require that you arrive at 9:30. We are able to do with a greeter in the lobby through the entire service. The greeter gets to see everyone, welcome them to the building and still hear the entire service through the speakers in the lobby. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Micki Kingsley (314-727-1747, michele_kingsley@yahoo.com) as she is coordinating the schedule.
For parking, we can use the Pierre Laclede Center lot (enter from Maryland Ave) from 6PM on Friday through 10PM Sunday. We have parking tags for your dashboard available on the website, at the greeters table in the lobby, in the office and here:
 
 

06/07/2021 01:30:00 PM

Jun7

Stacey Hudson

I launch the blog on Monday so if you are reading this on Monday, June 7th, the office move is in process. On Tuesday we will be open at Maryland Avenue, phones and computers working and many moving crates to unpack. It is both a sad milestone to be leaving 829 S. Hanley and a very exciting next step as we continue to complete construction projects in the new building.  
 As you can see from the photo, Rabbis Arnow and Shafrin, Nancy, Meir and Micki have been doing their jobs in tight quarters. The need to social distance this past year has only added to the challenge. I have been working out of Maryland Ave since September and am so happy to have everyone together. We will hold our first in-person staff meeting on Wednesday. Give us time to get settled and unpacked, then give us a call that you would like to come visit.
 
Construction continues in the building. The construction fence will remain through the end of August, we have limited restrooms for the next two months, and work is being done on all three floors. With all of that in mind the ReOpen Task Force met last week to discuss our next steps as more people are vaccinated and the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. We will be posting the new protocols on the website soon, and I will include them in my next blog. I greatly appreciate the thoughtful discussion the task force had weighing the science available, the feedback we get from members on what they are ready and comfortable to do and the added limitations we have with the construction. The revised protocols are designed to get us through the summer and the completion of this phase of construction.
Finally, we sent all our members a letter a couple weeks ago about the member directory available through the website. If the information we have on file is not correct, please use the directions included in the letter to log in make corrections. If you have trouble with that you may note the corrections on the letter and mail it back for us to update.
The letter includes a second and equally important request. On the back we have listed several topics and want to know which of these interest you. We want to connect you with others who have the same interests, start small groups around things you want to learn or do and invite speakers to discuss topics you want to learn about. The best way for us to do that is for you tell us what interests and excites you. Please go to the back side of the letter, circle your topics, add others we missed and mail it back. You may also e-mail me, stacey@kolrinahst.org, with your preferences. Then watch for new programs developed around your interests.
 
 
 

05/24/2021 09:30:00 AM

May24

Stacey Hudson

Construction for the Monica Lynne Neidorff Early Childcare Center is progressing quickly. The drywall on the aluminum studs shows the room sizes and shapes, and the electrical and plumbing are clearly visible. That’s why it was so much fun to take Liz Collins, our ECC director, on a tour this past week. Rhiannon Kaye, who is volunteering her time to manage the project for us, led the tour showing Liz her office and classrooms and where the equipment and appliances will be located. I could picture the finishes and colors to come and the kids playing on the floor. There is excitement and stress as we anticipate moving the ECC. We will all be to help Liz with this big change.
 
Speaking of moving: the long-awaited office move is June 7th. Furniture is being installed, packing materials are being delivered and training on our new phone system is schedule.  On June 8th we officially open the office at Maryland Avenue. Give us a few days to get boxes unpacked and to settle in, then give us a call to arrange a time to come visit. We look forward to showing you around.
Verein’s Jews in Science series continued with a presentation this week by Howard Granok on Rosalind Franklin, a largely unrecognized scientist who was instrumental in understanding the structure of DNA. Each month a member of the congregation presents information on someone who made a significant contribution to science. We have reached a wide audience with the series with both members and non-members attending each presentation.
Our website is updated weekly with the programs and activities our volunteers plan and host as well as the times for services and information about building use. Please check it out to see the most up to date information.  

05/18/2021 06:55:02 PM

May18

Stacey Hudson

Gathering. A word we used to take for granted and now get so excited to hear and think about. Last week I attended two very different but very joyful gatherings.
On Friday evening we held our first Kol Bachootz - outdoor Kabballat Shabbat - services in the courtyard with the Clayton skyline in the background. The young families service with kids and parents spread out on blankets, balls sailing through the air, adults and children dancing with Karen and lots of music was fabulous.
A short time later the adults gathered for an equally joyous, musical service, minus the blankets and balls. Throughout both services I kept thinking, this is why we choose this building, in this spot. We have a wonderful courtyard that will be the gathering place for so many events – services, Sukkot, classes, games and events we have not dreamed of yet. I can’t wait.
 
Softball anyone? The only thing missing from the games on Sunday were the fans cheering for our teams. The Kol Rinah Maccabees played United Hebrew (10-30) and the Kol Rinah/Traditional Ball Mitzvahs played Shaare Emeth (7-24). Neither team brought home a win, but no one got hurt, so that’s good, right? Check the schedule on our website and head on out to the ballpark.
A quick update on our building use. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey asking about attending in-person events. The ReOpen Task Force will meet soon to evaluate and discuss the results. We also must take into consideration the building construction and the shut-down of most of the restrooms for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Please check the website in the next few weeks for updates on protocols and building use.
 

05/10/2021 11:00:00 AM

May10

by Stacey Hudson

Driving by the building this past week I saw a woman out walking with her young daughter looking at our sculptures. Another evening I drove by and saw two women helping an elderly woman with a walker strolling along the garden path.
It is wonderful to see people in the neighborhood connecting with our synagogue. As the trees are blooming and the grass is turning a bright green, our grounds are coming to life. The courtyard will be a beautiful setting for our outdoor Shabbat service on Friday, May 14th. Please register to attend.
One of things I love about this job is having the support and resources of Jewish organizations in our local community and throughout the country. There is a large network of professional organizations that connect people in leadership so we can help each other.
A highlight of last week was a meeting with the leaders of our Sisterhood, Susan Brown, Joyce Gang and Linda Carton and the leaders of the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Ellen Wolintz-Fields, Debbie Kaner Goldich and Renee Ravich. The WLCJ is the national organization for Sisterhoods. Rabbi Wolintz-Fields offered the services of her organization to any Sisterhood wanting to revitalize their chapters on an e-mail exchange we both use. I wrote immediately and jumped at the opportunity. Our Sisterhood is an important part of the shul sponsoring programs, providing kiddushes and raising money that they donate to support many of our programs. They are working with the WLCJ on ways to energize our chapter, so they continue to attract new members and be a vital part of the shul.
Another benefit in our community is the security consulting provided by Scott Biondo, Community Security Director for the Jewish Federation. This past week Scott led the first training we will hold on security in our new building. Over the summer we will hold additional training for members of the board, committee chairs and anyone who wants to learn best practices for the security of our members, guests, and staff. Please let me know if you would like to join the training sessions (stacey@kolrinahstl.org).
Our softball teams were off this week for Mother’s Day. Check back here for scores and highlights throughout the season.
Until next week - Stacey
Fri, September 17 2021 11 Tishrei 5782