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03/31/2024 02:20:37 PM

Mar31

Stacey

It seemed a bit quiet around here when the year started, and then we had an outburst of activity. Where to start?
A few months ago, our member, Roza Gossage, told me about crocheting plastic grocery bags into mats to benefit people who are unhoused and sleep outdoors. I connected Roza with Becky Mollet, chair of our Tzedek committee. I figured that if the interest is here among our congregants to take on this project, Tzedek is the right team to lead it.
Roza presented the idea to the committee, and it grew into a well-organized project. We have been collecting plastic bags for several months. This week Roza led a group to learn how to crochet the bags into mats and how to teach others to do it as well. On Mitzvah Day (May 5), we will be set up in the Staenberg Family Community Hall to create the mats with a team of volunteers ready to teach others, The mats will be donated for distribution to the unhoused in our community.
Were you here for Purim? Our celebration started with the Green Purim Bash on March 17. The evening was filled with music, Israeli dancing, special drinks (thank you Barbara!) and colorful costumes. Attendance was lower than we would have liked but those that came had a good time getting together with friends for the evening. We continue to learn what kinds of events and programs our members want to attend. Please let us know if you have ideas. What sparks your interest?The Megillah reading on Sunday was very special, and it would have been hard to squeeze anyone else into the sanctuary. Our Megillah readers did a wonderful job, and the singing and dancing during the spiel was so much fun (and sometimes a bit off-key). Thanks go out to Benjamin Singer for taking the lead on organizing the spiel. If you missed it – or want to see it again – the links to the videos are on our website under the gallery tab.
I hope that everyone enjoyed their Mishloach Manot. Sharon Katz-Weintraub organized a group of volunteers to pack them all. What I enjoyed about the morning we met to pack was the conversations people had while walking in circles to collect all the items in the bags. People caught up on their kids and met members they hadn’t known. I came away thinking this is what engagement is about - having a chance to get to know each other and accomplish something together. Thank you to all that volunteered to pack the Mishloach Manot.
Purim took months to plan but before it was over we were on to planning Passover. Our mailing went out including the information from the Rabbinic Assembly, the chametz sale form, and a flyer about the second seder being held here on April 23. I hope you can join us at the seder.
Verein continues their education programs on Zoom with the upcoming series on Biblical criticism. When you RSVP you will receive the link.
Today feels like Spring filled with flowers blooming, a light breeze and lots of sunshine. I hope you get to enjoy it, and I look forward to seeing everyone soon.

11/30/2023 09:42:11 AM

Nov30

Stacey

This past Monday we hosted a community wide panel on security organized by Jordan Kadosh, our member and the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Jay Greenberg, Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis Field Office for the FBI, Sayler Flemming, United States Attorney and Scott Biondo, Community Security Director for the St. Louis Jewish Federation spoke to about 100 attendees to update us on security and threats in our area. My takeaways from the information they provided are:
  • There are no credible threats in our community targeting our institutions.
  • Jay, Sayler and Scott talk daily to keep each other informed about what they hear and any concerns they have.
  • The police departments, with the police chiefs from Clayton, Ladue, Creve Coeur and University City in attendance, are also in daily communication with each other, Scott and our State and Federal law enforcement.
  • I noted that the synagogue executive directors get updates from Scott and our local police departments. We make adjustments to our security protocols based on the information they provide.
  • Sayler discussed the fine line between free speech and a hate crime. A person may post something we see as horrible and frightening on social media or carry a sign at a rally that we see as threatening but if they do not specially make a threat with the intent to act on the threat it is not a hate crime, it is free speech.
  • If there is a protest by people you do not agree with – stay away, do not counter protest. That is what can elevate a peaceful protest to acts of violence.
  • Many attendees asked about personal safety. Jay and Scott emphasized the importance of being aware of your surroundings, making thoughtful decisions about where you are going and to look for exits when you enter a building.
  • Everyone on the panel welcomed hearing about concerns in the community and said to e-mail or call if you hear something, see something, or receive an e-mail or social media post that is threatening. Let them know so they can check it out and keep a record of anyone they see as a potential threat. The panels contact information is:
  • The FBI provided a handout on hate crime - available here.
Last week Cindy Kalachek, Director of KoREH, attended a workshop for teachers on talking to kids about having conversations in times of crisis led by the Director of Education at the Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. Cindy has some key points from the presentation:
  • Understand the source of the news you read. Focus on credible news outlets.
  • Encourage your kids to unplug from social media and to not share or repost disturbing content.
  • Help your kids understand the difference between criticizing a government and criticizing people.
  • Help your kids understand antisemitism and islamophobia.
Parents, if you have questions and concerns on how to talk to your kids about current issues, please contact Cindy or Rabbi Arnow.
This week the staff held a security training session with Cpl. Jennifer Schwartz of the Clayton police department. We reviewed overall security practices and walked the building to review what to do and where to go in different situations. Jenny provided some recommendations of things we can do to enhance security within the building that we will implement.
We are scheduling security training open to the entire congregation after the first of the year. Please watch the website and Wednesday e-mail in the coming weeks for details.

 

11/05/2023 12:10:53 PM

Nov5

Stacey

Usually when I start writing this blog I have the first sentences in my head before I sit down. This time I have had several starts and stops. With so many things being hard the last month there are also joyous things happening in our congregation.
 
The first day of KoREH children skipped and danced into the building. Two weeks ago, we planted shrubs in front of the building to start creating a pollinator garden. Cynthia Boxerman, through her non-profit Flora for Fauna, helped us write a small grant to receive the plants.  Parents and their kids came out to help plant the shrubs.
We held the groundbreaking for the expansion of the Monica Lynne Neidorff Early Childhood Center. Our speakers, Liz Collins, Rabbi Arnow, Clayton Mayor Michelle Harris and Barbara Shamir celebrated the expansion and honored the Neidorff family in their remarks.
Verein, our adult study group led by Richard Gavatin and Ralph Graff, started a new series focused on music. The first program, presented by Phyllis Hyken, on the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, drew large participation on Zoom. Watch for more on their music series, they have speakers lined up through January.
On Sunday, November 12, we are holding our first craft fair. Twenty artists and vendors are selling their work. We will also have gift wrapping, snacks, and candles for sale. The proceeds benefit KoREH.
I know that security is top of mind for everyone, and it certainly is for me. I speak to Scott Biondo, our community security director, or someone in the Clayton Police department nearly every day. We will continue to hold services, classes and special programs. With each one we assess the security needed for that event. Scott, Clayton police department and representatives of the Anti-Defamation League agree that our current security protocols are what is appropriate, and they will let me know if any changes are warranted.

09/19/2023 06:42:43 PM

Sep19

Stacey

I wish there were a way to let you hear what I heard during Rosh Hashanah: our members expressing joyous greetings when they saw each after not being together in a long time; new members and guests being welcomed as our greeters who didn’t just hand them a name tag but asked them questions and showed an interest in them; kids playing together in the Bill Solomon Gallery,  and the sound of the shofar as it was blown outside in the family service and then echoed off the buildings in Clayton. Our building was filled with people coming together for Rosh Hashanah, and the joy of being together was palatable. I felt so much joy being a part of our community.
 
KoREH is starting a bit late this year because of the High Holiday schedule. We held an open house so parents and students could come and meet their teachers. Each teacher had an activity for the kids, answered questions about their classes and set the tone for the coming year. It was great to see The Staenberg Family Community Hall filled with so much activity as our families prepare for the school year. Cindy Kalachek has easily stepped into her position as director of KoREH as she and Karen Kern prepare for the new school year.
Please continue to read the Wednesday e-blast and check the website for everything happening here. Dinners and services in the sukkah, the groundbreaking for the Monica Lynne Neidorff Early Childhood Center, the Hannukah Pop-Up Craft Fair…this place is hopping every week.
If you are on Facebook and Instagram please follow us and share our posts with your group. Laura Chaise is doing a fabulous job getting our events on social media, and word is getting out about the wonderful things happening here.
   

07/30/2023 01:31:19 PM

Jul30

Stacey

This is the time of year when things appear quiet around the synagogue. There are fewer programs, people are traveling, we take it easy in the heat of the summer. In the office it is another story. We work on what is coming months down the road so now are deep into planning for the High Holy Days.
This week the packet of materials for the High Holy Days goes out in the mail. It includes information on the schedule, parking, learning and babysitting. There is a lot of information and several forms you may fill out and return to us. Please watch for it to arrive later this week or next. In addition to the staff (special shout-out to Nancy Greene!), Barbara Shamir and Gary Kodner, I want to thank some volunteers who helped sort and stuff envelopes including Micki Kingsley (of course!), Fran Kaar, Gail Appleson and Ella Kalachek. Pulling this together is much easier (and much more fun) when more people come together to help.
 
I started this blog to keep everyone up to date on how our programs and activities go and what is happening in our community. It has been a quieter summer with fewer things to report, but there are a couple to tell you about. Every Friday the Monica Lynne Neidorff Early Childhood Center has a Shabbat get together with the rabbis and Karen Kern. The last Friday in June was Rabbi Scott’s last Shabbat with the children. He and Karen led the children in songs, dancing and prayers to wrap up the week. At the end the children honored Rabbi Scott with cards and hugs. The sanctuary was filled with lots of laughter and lots of tears as the kids said good-by. The great thing is, Rabbi Scott hasn’t left. As he said, l’hitra’ot, until we see one another again. We will see him again on Rosh Hashanah, leading the family services with Karen.
I also want to send a special thank you to Richard Gavatin and Ralph Graff for their on-going Verein education programs. Richard and Ralph continue to organize and sponsor programs with excellent speakers and topics that engage people around science, art, law and Jewish studies. They put time into finding the speakers, working on the topics and reaching out to people they think would be interested in attending. There programs continue to be successful because of the thoughtful work they do. Thank you, guys.
So much is coming! Summerfest, Blood Drive, High Holy Days and the Scholar-in-Residence weekend with Dr David Fishman, to name just a few. Please continue to check the website, the Wednesday e-blast, the Friday Bulletin and all of the other communication we send to keep you informed on everything happening here.
The seemingly quiet building is bursting with activity to plan all of these events. I look forward to seeing everyone over the next couple of months.

 

06/05/2023 04:05:13 PM

Jun5

Stacey

There is so much LIFE in and around Kol Rinah. Outside our grounds are green, birds have built homes in our trees and kids are shrieking with joy playing in the water. Inside – Thursday, May 25, our building was full of members from Kol Rinah, Bais Abraham and CRC celebrating Shavuot by learning together late into the night.  Sunday we celebrated Selah Adele Kodash at her beautiful baby naming. Congratulations to Avital and Jordan. I love all the activity and joy running through the building.
      
 To celebrate summer, we have our first Kabbalat Shabbat service in the park on June 16 with others planned for July and August. Join us for services, bring a picnic and play on playground equipment (kids only!). The experience of the service outside feels different. We move around a bit more, hear kids laughing (and yes, traffic), feel the breeze and for me, feel a part of something much bigger. Come join us for the Kabbalat Shabbat in the Park and be a part of this moving experience.
And…some of us are already planning the end of summer celebration with Summerfest. Watch e-mails, newsletters, my blog, our Facebook and Instagram pages and all of the publicity our communications committee will be sending out on this BIG celebration August 21. If you are eager to volunteer please e-mail me (stacey@kolrinahstl.org) – I will get you in touch with all the right people.
Last week Paula Lemmerman helped us by trimming some tree branches causing us problems. You can now walk up the steps to the front door without getting smacked by a branch. Thank you, Paula!

05/16/2023 08:34:04 PM

May16

Stacey

I know – I have been away from my blog for a while. There has been so much going on it makes my head spin but hopefully I can fill you in on some of the highlights and let you know what is coming. All of the activities and celebrations we have had show how dedicated our leadership and volunteers are to the success of our shul.
Many of you attended the gala celebration to honor Michael Staenberg. Michael has generously given his time and money to make significant improvements to our building. It was an honor for us to host that special event and name our community hall The Staenberg Family Community Hall.
 
Mitzvah Day was a huge success. Despite the heat (had not thought that would be an issue!) our members came out to work on projects that benefit our wider community. Potted plants, meals, pet toys, blankets and stress balls all went to people who will benefit from the creativity of our members. One project was personal for me - the blankets donated to BJC Hospice. I know firsthand how special it is for a family to receive a blanket during that time and have no doubt the blankets will stay with the families for a long time.
Lag B’omer! The day we count the 33rd day of the Omer, celebrate the end of a plague and light bonfires. A complicated day to understand? Yes. Does that stop us from celebrating? Not at all. This year we planned our program with Rabbi Brad Horwitz and his team at the J. We had a wonderful turnout at Shaw Park. The rain cooperated, Brotherhood built a beautiful bonfire and we all got see Dave Cooperstein juggle fire. Our partnership with the J allowed us to reach a wider audience and we met many new people as result. I hope that this is the start of a new tradition to partner in this celebration.

Many people ask me if summer is a slow time for executive directors. There are no major holidays to plan for so things must be pretty quiet, right? Not at all. This summer we have Kabbalat Shabbat in the Park, Summerfest (!) and yes, we are gearing up to start planning for the High Holy days. It is never slow and quiet around here. Stay tuned, watch the website and the Wednesday e-blast. We look forward to seeing everyone throughout the summer.
 
 

01/29/2023 08:38:56 PM

Jan29

Stacey

I am musically challenged. I cannot carry a tune or play an instrument. I was the kid in the elementary school choir that was asked to mouth the words, not sing. But I love music. Music can move me emotionally unlike anything else. That is one reason why I love that music is built into the core of our congregation, Kol Rinah, Joyous Voice.
To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday we had a special program with members of the St. Louis Symphony. The program, geared towards the students in religious school, offered something for people of all ages. The quartet of stringed instruments demonstrated how each of their instruments sound by themselves and how much more they can do when they play together. Joined by the symphony's IN UNISON Chorus singer Alayna Epps, they also performed two pieces that had been performed by Marian Anderson at Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The program was led by Maureen Byrne, lower case  all these Vice President of Education and Community Programs for the symphony.  We look forward to working with Maureen and the SLSO on more programs and bringing more of the symphony’s music into our shul.
Yesterday was our Kol Chadash service, New Voice, led by Rabbis’ Arnow and Shafrin, Karen Kern and Will Soll. Our sanctuary was filled with prayers sung in a way that drew me in like no other service. Their voices, accompanied by guitar, percussion and mandolin, raised the joy and depth of the Shabbat service. I cannot speak for others, but for me, the Kol Chadash service is a reflection of what we, Kol Rinah, are about. It takes prayer, music and community to a new level and embodies our name. I encourage everyone to come to our next Kol Chadash service on March 25th and share this special Shabbat with me.

01/08/2023 02:39:37 PM

Jan8

2023. There is something helpful in closing out a year and starting a new one. That feeling of wrapping things up, closing out files and opening new ones is very satisfying.
We closed out the year with a very successful Hanukkah celebration. Karen Kern worked with members across a wide age group to put together an event that included music, games, art and latkes. I especially liked watching kids and adults play the many games set up in the Guller Chapel. How many M&M’s can you balance on a spoon?
In the office we are to planning for Tu-Bishvat, Purim, Passover and Lag B’omer – all the Spring holidays that start coming very quickly. The success of all our programs and events for the holidays come from you, our members. I am so pleased that Randi Mozenter agreed to stay on the board in the important position of VP of Engagement. Randi has some great ideas, and I look forward to working with her, Karen and all of you who volunteer to make our programs special and uniquely Kol Rinah.
We have a very special opportunity to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday on Jan. 15 with musicians from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Although the program is geared towards our KoReh students, it is open to everyone. Please come. Be there with our students and listen to some fabulous music as we honor Dr. Martin Luther King.
Finally, I want to add a personal note of thanks to everyone that sent notes, provided food and attended the funeral or shiva for my father. For me the end of year was hard, but I am very grateful for the support from our Kol Rinah family. This is why our community is so important: We are there for each other when that support is needed most. Thank you.

11/20/2022 08:47:13 PM

Nov20

Stacey Hudson

I have heard people say,” I don’t need to pay to pray.” That is true. What they do not understand or acknowledge is that there is a cost to having a building, having the lights on, the temperature right, the grounds well kept, the services led, the classes taught and most important, the people who make all that happen. All of those things give us a sense of place, a safeguard for our heritage and build our community.
This week our members will receive the letter asking for their 2023 Fair Share Member Support pledge.
When Kol Rinah was founded, our board decided to forgo a traditional dues structure and have a fair share honor system for membership donations. When someone calls me to ask about becoming a member, they usually ask what they will have to pay in dues. I tell them this: We provide a guide with recommendations for the yearly pledge based on household income but the amount they donate is up to them.
I am not going to ask them to tell me their income. They may have a substantial income but are putting three children through college. They may be supporting an elderly parent. Or they may be a young couple getting started and paying for early childcare. It is not my place to know the details of their financial circumstances.
The Fair Share Member Support donation is an honor system. We ask that you pay what you can, ideally within your recommended household range. The key to success with our honor system is that everyone participates to the best of their ability. If you haven’t pledged before, please do. If you have donated a minimal amount previously, can you increase it? And to those who generously donate more than the recommended amount, we are grateful.
This past week our board members were presented with a deficit budget. It was a difficult discussion as they reviewed our anticipated expenses knowing that, based on our recent history of member support, we will fall short of matching it with member donations. Let’s all work together to change that and put the shul on a solid financial path.
One of things we do with your member support is care for our Torahs. This past week Rabbi Moshe Druin, with Sofer on Site, spent time repairing our scrolls. It was special for me to watch him work as he used a quill pen to repair letters and see that the Torahs we use each week are kosher.
Our team of volunteers is completing the installation of our memorial plaques. This has been a month’s long process led by Ralph Graff and Gary Kodner. Over 3,000 of our legacy plaques, and the new ones many of you ordered, are installed on the walls in the Boxerman Memorial Alcove, Guller Chapel and third floor hallway. On December 17 there will be a special kiddush to thank all the volunteers that worked on this project. I hope you can come.
I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing you all soon.
Stacey
Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784