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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

10/11/2022 06:30:48 PM

Oct11

Stacey Hudson

Time to stop and breath for a few minutes. It’s been a while since I last wrote and so much has happened. It’s been a whirlwind. The staff and volunteers planned for two to three months for the High Holy Day services. So many people came together for it to be a success and to make sure we had ushers (thank you, Max Brown!), greeters, readers, arc openers, gabbais, babysitters and more. The goal of everyone was for the experience of our members and guests to be meaningful and hassle free. I know – this is where you raise your eyebrows about the parking. I am already thinking about how to make that easier next year.
Last week we met for our Tashlich service at Oak Knoll Park in Clayton. It was hard to count with so many people there, but no doubt we topped a hundred families and friends of all ages. I recently made a pledge to do something positive for myself or others every day. It felt good to write something negative I had been doing and send it on its way to dissolve in the water.
Tashlich was followed by KoREH’s Maccabiah Games! Teams competed in forming Hebrew letters and words using their bodies, following our shinshin, Guy Dobrin’s military commands and concluded with a relay race. There was lots of energy in the park as the kids worked together to solve the challenges of the competition.
I attended the service and kiddush honoring Ralph Graff’s 90th birthday and his years of dedication to the synagogue. It was so fitting to have so many people there for the special occasion and great to see Ralph’s family.
Come Join Us in the Sukkah!
Throughout the holiday we have so many events in the sukkah. Please join us for services and dinners, check the website for details.
Steak and Scotch in the Sukkah, sponsored by Brotherhood, 2022
And on October 15th, please come hear the klezmer band, The San Francisco Yiddish Combo, for a concert in the Community Hall. If you are wondering how we made a connection to this terrific klezmer band, the leader, Rebecca Roudman, is Pat Cohen’s long-lost cousin (Ask Pat, she can tell you the story). Rebecca’s family has a long history with our legacy congregation, BSKI.
One hope I have for the new year is to revitalize our KR Circles. Our movie circle got off to a great start but participation is falling, we are looking for someone to take the lead with our fiber arts circle and I look forward to seeing the plans the Lawn and Garden Circle has for plantings in the Spring. If you have an idea for a new circle or want to join an existing one, please let me know.
Take a look at the website and the e-mail each Wednesday. There is so much going with our congregation it makes my head spin. And I love it.

08/21/2022 05:03:44 PM

Aug21

Stacey Hudson

The past few weeks have been a time of making plans, saying good-bye and preparing to welcome many people to the building.
The staff set a goal of when to have the High Holy Day packet in the mail and with contributions from everyone (including my child, Elie) we met that goal. Nancy delivered all 360 packets to the post office on time.
We spent a lot of time thinking about the experience of the High Holy Days; parking, checking in, name tags, and services. We spent time discussing how things went last year, what went well and, most importantly, what we needed to improve (yes, we included name tags in your packet this year). We want you to feel welcome and your time in services to be meaningful. We look forward to seeing you at the High Holy Days and every week for Shabbat.
Several of the children in the Starfish room had their last day of classes and their last Shabbat with our rabbis.  Some were excited about their new adventures, and some had tears as they said good-bye. I felt a lot of admiration and gratitude for Liz Collins and her staff as the children they have cared for and taught for several years graduated from our early childhood center and moved on to kindergarten. I look forward to getting to know our new students. Nothing makes my day more than a young person shouting, “Hi, Miss Stacey!”.
I sat down with Karen Kern and Octavio Vargas, our head of maintenance, to go over the schedule for the next several weeks. We were exhausted after discussing the details of all the events coming in August, September and October. Please check the Wednesday e-blast and the website for the services, kiddushes, learning, music and dining we are hosting. In case there is any doubt – we are back, and we are open!
On a personal note, I want to thank everyone that helped me the past few weeks as my family suffered a very sad loss with the death of my sister-in-law, Ginnie Toone. The staff picked up the slack when I needed to be away, Rabbis Arnow and Shafrin were there for me to talk to when I needed; Gary and Randi understood when I could not attend a meeting and Barbara Bianco made sure we had dinner on Shabbat after getting home from the funeral. Ginnie was a fire brand – an electrical engineer with several patents to her name, a stained-glass artist, weaver, photographer, and wood worker. She lived in a small town in western Missouri and was on the board of the library, YMCA and cemetery. She made a point of giving both her time and money locally to organizations that benefited her community. I have learned so much from her, have had many lively, spirited conversations and will miss her very much.
 
 

07/18/2022 12:53:42 PM

Jul18

Stacey Hudson

As Rabbi Arnow said in his Friday e-mail; we heard you. We have removed the request to RSVP to attend Shabbat services. In conversations and a survey, we learned that the biggest reason people do not attend services was the request to RSVP. The ReOpen Task Force agreed to lift that request for members and regular attendees. We do ask that first-time visitors RSVP either online or by calling the office. So, please come. This Saturday is a Kol Chadash service and a wonderful time to return.
As more people join us for services the need for greeters is greater. As a greeter you get see friends and meet new people. The greeter is the first person people see when they come to the building. That welcome sets the tone for their experience.
We held our third intruder training with Cpl. Jenny Schwartz of the Clayton Police Department and her dog, Jade. This training is so important, and I appreciate the strong response to learn best practices if something happens and we must act. If there is enough interest, we can schedule another presentation. Please let me know. And, if you did participate in the training, please call the office and volunteer to be a greeter.
With the high rate of COVID-19 in the community (we are in the CDC red zone), the task force also agreed to continue our mask requirement. Please continue to check the COVID-19 page on the website for the latest protocols.
We held our second Shabbat in the Park with a wonderful turnout of all ages. Rabbi Shafrin and Karen Kern led us in songs and prayers that mingled with the birds, kids laughing, traffic and at the end, a loud clap of thunder as a big storm rolled in. Our next Shabbat in the Park is August 12, see the website for details.
I have said this before and am happy to say it again: I love having the early childhood center in the building. Nothing brightens a day more than hearing the children singing with Karen, laughing as they play in the water in the front playground or, for me on Friday, joining a football game in the courtyard. The children bring so much life to the building and the center contributes so much to our congregation.
I would be remiss to not mention our softball team. I watched their game last week and had a great time. What they are missing is people to cheer them on. The schedule is on the website. Head out to the J and watch the Kol Rinah Maccabees play with spirit, humor and lots of athletic skill.

06/09/2022 03:39:01 PM

Jun9

Stacey Hudson

Several people have asked me why we continue to request that attendees RSVP for services and events. Some have told me they hesitate to attend because they decide at the last minute if they want to come or not and then don’t because they didn’t register. There are several reasons we ask you to RSVP:
 
First, with COVID-19 still prevalent in the community, we do limit attendance in the sanctuary to 50% of capacity. Registration allows us to manage the capacity but, that said, we can hold many more than have been coming. Please don’t let that keep you away.
 
Second, we now are having more kiddushes. It is very helpful to know how many people are attending so we can plan and purchase food for the right number of people. Registering gives us a good idea of how many to plan for each time we have a kiddush.
 
Third, and this one is more sobering, in the event of an emergency where we need to evacuate or take cover, knowing who is in the building assists the first responders in knowing what they need to do. Did everyone get out? Is there anyone they need to go in and find? We only know that if people RSVP.
 
I realize that registering feels unwelcoming to some and we will not turn you away if don’t register. Please understand that we make this request for several reasons – to serve you better and to help keep you safe.
 
We held two intruder training presentation and discussion sessions with a representative of the Clayton Police Department. After receiving several inquiries as to whether we will do this again, we scheduled a third for July 11, 7PM. I encourage everyone to attend as you learn what to do in the event of an emergency if you are at the synagogue, the store or at home. We will follow this with situation training in August. Those dates will be announced soon.
                                                                                                                                 
I want to welcome Karen Kern to her new role as engagement coordinator. Karen will be instrumental in developing programs that serve all our members. Karen will work with our committees, volunteers and staff on the planning and implementation of events. I am very excited to work with Karen in her new role on the staff. And fear not: Karen will still be adding her wonderful music to our services and leading singing with our early childhood center children.
 
With the increase in COVID-19 cases in our area and the CDC high or red designation, we have reinstituted the mask requirement. None of wanted to go back to this, but for the health and safety of all it is best that we keep our masks on when we are together.
 
We continue to collect vaccination cards and encourage parents to submit the cards of their children that are vaccinated. Everyone 12 and older is required to present their card at the door or send it to the office through the website so we have it on record.
 
We have many outdoor services this summer. Please check the calendar for Tot Shabbat, First Families Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat in the Park. Our courtyard is shaded in the early evening and often catches a nice breeze. Shabbat in the Park offers a chance to attend services, get together for dinner and play. I look forward to seeing everyone this summer.

05/22/2022 01:45:20 PM

May22

Stacey Hudson

I usually write this on a Sunday afternoon.  I find quiet time at home, away from the activity of the office, to think about the past week or two to find a way to keep you all informed. The past several Sundays I have not had that needed time and each week miss keeping up with this blog I enjoy writing so much. So much has happened since I last wrote.
 
Our Passover Haiku contest was great fun with over 60 submissions. I included some of the haikus in our family seder. If you were a winner and have not claimed your prize, please come by the office, we have something for you.
 
I was so moved during New Member Shabbat when Rabbi Arnow blessed the members that have joined within the past two years. Seeing this wonderful group of people together - many of whom jumped right in when they joined and are involved in our programs and events – I know we will live up to our mission and be the vibrant congregation we strive to be.
 
It was so great to have Mitzvah Day back! The building and courtyard were filled with people learning and working on projects to benefit others in our community. Thank you to Denise Field, Benj Singer and everyone that worked so hard to bring it together.
 
 
So many came out for our Lag B’omer celebration. Thank you to Melissa Bellows for bringing together a group of people from throughout the congregation to plan the event. Max Brown and Jim Singman prepared the bonfire, which was spectacular.
 
KR Circles. This is the umbrella name we have given to all our small interest groups. Please check the website if you are interested in book clubs, movies, fiber arts, softball and fitness to learn more about our KR Circles. And if you are interested in something you want to teach, learn or do with a group in our shul, please call me. We will continue to grow our KR Circles so all of our members find their community within the congregation.
 
I think Melissa has magical powers to keep the rain away. Both Mitzvah Day and Lag B’omer were under threat of bad weather but Melissa was confident the sky would clear, and it did. This is Melissa’s last week as our Young Families Coordinator. We have planned many events together, throwing out ideas, setting a game plan and figuring out the details. So many of our programs the past few years were a success because of Melissa’s creativity and fearlessness at on taking something new. I will miss working with her, talking with her and hearing about her kids at staff meetings. I wish Melissa, Adam, Max, Lila and Jonah all the best on their new adventure in West Lafayette, Indiana, where Adam will be the rabbi at Temple Israel. And I will miss Melissa’s ability to keep the rain away.

03/14/2022 11:14:06 AM

Mar14

Stacey Hudson

Many people ask me why we still have the mask requirement since so the federal and local government agencies no longer require it. The ReOpen Task Force discussed this at great length when we last met and agreed that masks are still important part of keeping people safe when in the building. The reason is simply that we have vulnerable people in our community. We have children too young to be vaccinated, we have parents of children too young to vaccinated, we have people that are immunocompromised and people that care for the elderly or immunocompromised. The task force agreed when we first met that we would make recommendations based on national and local guidelines, the advice of our own medical experts and our Jewish values of saving a life, not endangering a life, meeting this extraordinary moment with wisdom being responsible for each other and kindness. We are at a point now where our values are so important to remember as the task force navigates the way to open further and reduce some of our restrictions. I understand we may not drop our protocols as quickly as some may want but the task force, that meets every two weeks, will continue to make decisions based on our guiding principles.
 
I didn’t understand how vital the early childhood center is to our congregation until they moved into the building. Having the children here brings the building to life with laugher and singing throughout the day. I recently had the privilege (and fun) of the being the judge of the Dr. Seuss Week Door Decorating Contest. The creativity of the teachers came through in so many fabulous door decorations. Congratulations to the Starfish room for taking first place.
The early childhood center not only benefits our community, but its financial success is tied directly to the synagogue’s financial success. Just as I had not understood it until I was with the staff and children of the ecc every day, many of you may not see the value and gift we have by having them in the building. Please contact our ecc director, Liz Collins (collinse@kolrinahstl.org), to arrange to take a tour and see them in action.
 
So much has been happening in the building the past few weeks. We had many people come in last Sunday to pack the Mishloach Manot and this week so many of you are out delivering them throughout the community. Thank you all.
Last Sunday Howard Granok held a tzitzit tying workshop for those wanting to learn how to repair a tallit. We also held the first meeting (on Zoom) of the movie club. Our fitness class, co-sponsored with Crown Center, continues and a third session will start on March 22nd. Our programming with Crown Center is so successful we are branding the events under a new logo, Kol Rinah and Crown Center Presents. Look for more programs, including a discussion series led by Rabbi Arnow on food, on the website.
 
This week we celebrate Purim with a reading of the Megillah on Wednesday evening at 8 and Thursday morning at 7 in the sanctuary. Please come, participate in the mitzvah of hearing the Megillah, wear your costumes, and be ready to make some noise!
 
 
 
 

02/07/2022 09:32:28 AM

Feb7

Stacey Hudson

We held our first blood drive in many years. Many thanks to Katherine Tynan and the Tzedek team for organizing this successful event. We had 21 donors with 16 units of blood collected. According to Impact Life, the organization that conducted the drive, this had the potential to save 48 lives. A very big THANK YOU to all our donors for making this possible during a time when there is a huge need in our community for blood donations. Look for the details of our next blood drive, June 12, noon-3:00PM on the home page of our website.
For over a year we have had an engagement committee whose mission is to facilitate improved coordination among committees, help and encourage greater participation and enjoyment of our services, programs and activities and to improve membership retention and recruitment. That is a big task, and we have a few false starts.
The committee met last week with new members and a renewed energy to make this work. Gary talked about the need to take what we have learned from our success and apply that to other programs. Randi spoke about the importance of being on committees and being an ambassador, both internally and to the wider community. I spoke about building micro-communities around things our members are interested in doing so people can join a like-minded group to learn or create something together. Rabbi Shafrin spoke about the importance of connecting our programs to our mission, so we do not lose sight of why we are putting on the program.
There is an art and a science to getting this right. To start, we need to hear from you. What are you interested in doing that aligns with our mission? Please call or e-mail me – tell me what interests you. Do you know of others with a similar interest? Will you take a leadership role to plan an activity? Will you bring some friends along to join you?
Let’s take engagement to a whole new level and create a place where every member has a community of people that connects them to the whole congregation.

01/23/2022 08:56:43 PM

Jan23

Stacey Hudson

I did not realize when I took this position how much of my time would be devoted to safety. Safety from a deadly virus and safety from possible intruders. Please know that both issues are at the top of my mind every day.
The ReOpen Task force is meeting every two weeks so we can adjust our protocols as needed with the rapid changes with COVID-19. We are watching the St. Louis County COVID-19 website for changes that indicate it is safe to loosen our protocols. The county’s website shows we are in a dangerous red zone with the high number of cases. When the number of cases goes down, and the county’s dashboard shows that we are in the yellow zone, we will loosen our protocols. Until then, we will keep the number of attendees at services to 20, require proof of vaccination and specify the type of mask we will allow. Please see our COVID-19 safety page for details.
I was sitting at my desk writing the section of our emergency response manual on how we determine who we let into the building when a book I ordered, Warm and Welcoming, How the Jewish Community Can Become Truly Diverse and Inclusive in the 21st Century (edited by Warren Hoffman and Miriam Steinberg-Egeth) arrived. I had to stop and think: That moment illustrated our challenge. How do we balance being warm and welcoming and being careful to keep ourselves safe? That is what we need to figure out.
On Friday I met with Cpl. Jennifer Schwartz, Clayton Police Department Community Services and Public Information Officer. We had a lengthy discussion about safety training for our staff, teachers and members. We will start the training on dealing with intruders with meetings open to the congregation that will include a presentation given by Cpl. Schwartz and an opportunity for us all to ask questions.
We will also schedule times for smaller groups to participate in situational training so we learn what we need to do in the event of an intruder. I will let you know as soon as we have those scheduled so you can sign up to attend. I encourage everyone to come to a meeting and the situation training. The more people who know what do to in the event of an intruder the safer we will be.
Please check the website, e-mails and my blog for updates on these issues that are critical to our safety. And, if you would like to read the book Warm and Welcoming, please let me know. It is a wonderful book and we have copies you may borrow.
Fri, January 27 2023 5 Shevat 5783