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06/09/2022 03:39:01 PM


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


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


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 (, 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


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


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.

01/16/2022 01:38:44 PM


Stacey Hudson

Everything feels so hard these days. It is hard to cancel events, to stay home and to take extra precautions around our family and friends. It is hard to not only keep wearing a mask but to make sure we are now wearing the right kind of mask.
The ReOpen Task Force met and put stricter protocols in place to help us safely get through the Omicron surge in our community. Hopefully, as the doctors ands scientist have predicted, this is a short-term surge that may be over in a matter of weeks, not months. Until then, we have limited the number of people who can attend services, defined the type of mask allowed in the building, postponed events and, following the CDC guidelines, defined fully vaccinated to include the booster. Please see the COVID-19 section of the website for the details and check back as we continue to update it.  
Last week I was going through photographs of events in 2021 for a project Benjamin Singer is working on for the shul. It was great to see again all the things we have done and the programs that brought people together. Since we postponed our January programs and I do not have any new photos, I decided to post photos from the past year knowing that we will get back together and have many new photos for 2022.
If you are home bound and need help getting groceries, if you have read everything on your shelves and want a new book to read, if you want to call and just chat because you feel alone, please call us. Caring for our members is our first priority, and we will muddle through this together.

12/20/2021 08:04:30 AM


Stacey Hudson

Our building is often filled with music. Throughout the week Rabbis Noah and Scott singing with the ECC children on Friday mornings fills the sanctuary with music and laughter; Karen Kern leading the children in new songs fills the 2nd floor and Karen and Rabbi Scott serenading the staff brings a fun break to the day (still waiting for some Bob Dylan!). It was especially memorable hearing the sound of many voices singing as we walked down the stairs from the sanctuary to the early childhood center during a tornado warning. Many agreed that the acoustics in the ECC hallway are excellent. I can’t carry a tune. Even my children asked me to stop singing in the car when they were little. But I love music, and I love hearing music throughout our building.
Our Scholar in Residents weekend with Deborah Sacks Mintz was a success with many people attending in person and through the live stream. Deborah led us in new songs and melodies and offered many valuable insights in her d’vars. A big thank you to Rabbi Arnow, Rabbi Shafrin and the Community Learning committee for organizing the weekend. Also, to the Leo and Sara Wolf Education Fund and the Irvin and Dolores Rubin Music Fund for providing the money to make this possible.
Our Fitness & Flexibility class with Crown Center is a success with 16 people gathering every Tuesday to stretch and exercise together. We are working on plans to continue the class, details to follow.
And although Hanukkah seems like a long time ago, I would be remiss to not mention our celebration of lights in the courtyard with a fire dancer – and of course, music. We had a wonderful turnout and wrapped up that evening with jelly donuts provided by our catering partner, Circle@Crown Center Café & Catering.  
We also successful held our yearly congregational meeting with the option to attend in person or by Zoom. Having figured out how to set up the equipment to do that we can now can plan other programs with both options.
We have held many events in person. As we do, more questions are apparent that we must resolve as it relates to safety with COVID-19. The new variant is in our community and with the holidays and cold weather more people are gathering indoors. Our ReOpen Task Force will meet soon to discuss how we can continue to get together safely. Please watch the e-mail blasts and website for updates on our COVID-19 protocols.


11/14/2021 09:04:11 PM


Stacey Hudson

Wednesday and Thursday our chapel became the workspace for Rabbi Moshe Druin, our Sofer On Site. Rabbi Druin travels the country repairing Torahs. Last week he was in St. Louis. This week he is in Arizona.  I spent some time talking with him and watching him work. His job requires a wealth of knowledge about the text, a skill with ink and a quill pen and the dexterity to repair damaged and worn scrolls. He told me his job is never dull, he learns something new every day and he gets to travel and meet people all over the country. Isn’t that something we all strive for? Using our skills to help others, meeting new people and learning something every day.
One of my favorite things now about Friday mornings is attending the Shabbat celebration with our rabbis and the children from the ECC. It is so much fun, and there is such energy in the sanctuary with everyone singing, Rabbi Shafrin playing the guitar and the rabbis and kids dancing to the songs. It is a joyous way to wrap up the week.
Monroe Ginsburg and Steve Keyser planned the Shabbat service to honor our veterans. Ben Weintraub, a World War II veteran, told stories of his time in uniform. His stories included details of his training, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and being at a concentration camp when it was opened and the prisoners were freed. He told the stories with humor and reverence for the situations he was in and the human cost of the war. My father, 96, also fought in the Battle of the Bulge but did not talk about his experience in the war until he was in his late 80’s. It is so important for us all to hear these stories. If you know a veteran, ask them about their experience. Perhaps they too will open up and tell stories with reverence for the experience, and some humor.
Many people ask me what we are doing in-person with our COVID-19 protections. It is a lot. You can attend Shabbat morning and evening services, sign up for the Fitness & Flexibility class, celebrate Hanukkah with a fire dancer and attend a very special weekend of singing with our scholar in residence Deborah Sachs Mintz. Check the website for all the details on these programs.

10/31/2021 10:25:09 AM


Stacey Hudson

It is a coincidence, but I have attended a few reunions in the past week. I used to play soccer on a women’s adult team and a member of the team got the group back together for her birthday. She said she couldn’t picture another group of people she would rather be with to celebrate turning 60. A friend from high school was in town and several of us had an impromptu reunion over lunch. And the Jewish leadership cohort I participated in for a year met for the first time since the pandemic for a reunion happy hour. All these very different groups of people are so important to me and represent an important part of my life and growth. They are each an example of small groups dedicated to learning or achieving something together that connected us to something much bigger.  
This got me thinking about our congregation. How is each member connected to the whole? Is it through a committee? Lifelong friends who are members? Attending minyan or Shabbat services? What is it that connects us each to the whole congregation? For me it was the facilities committee. Working closely with members of the committee to figure out and make recommendations on how to proceed with our building was my path to feel connected to the whole congregation. Now? It is our fabulous staff that are such a joy to work with every day.
The leadership, led by Gary Kodner and Joel Portman, has been focused on engagement. We are focused on providing opportunities for you to find that group of like-minded people within the congregation who make the shul your Jewish home. As we learn how to live with COVID-19 and what it is safe to do, we are providing more opportunities to gather in person for services, celebrations and other activities.  Watch the website, read the e-mails, see what we are doing and look for that place where you can find your group. And if you don’t see it? Want to try something new? Just call. Let’s talk about it. Chances are someone else is interested too.
My claim to fame playing soccer? I had a pretty mean kick and could send the ball far down the field. Best part of playing? When I get back together with this group of women I know I am with my team.
Last week we hosted a meeting and building tour for the Federation’s JPro Building Managers Affinity Group. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation, this is a group of professionals responsible for managing their buildings that meet throughout the year to share information and update each other on their building projects. It was wonderful to host the first in-person meeting since the pandemic and be the tour guide for this group of knowledgeable professionals. The response was great with questions about lighting and HVAC controls and lots of interest in how we incorporated legacy artwork throughout the building. I love showing people our building as we have such a wonderful story to tell.
Members of the JPro Building Managers Affinity Group

09/20/2021 01:34:44 PM


Stacey Hudson

I have been thinking about all the people attending services in person the past two weeks, many seeing the building for the first time. There have been many first times to a new building in our collective past. When I had some quiet time during services last week, I looked through the volumes of Walter Ehrlich’s Zion in the Valley, about the history of the Jewish communities in St. Louis. Not counting our current building, between our three legacy congregations, Brith Shalom, Knesseth Israel and Shaare Zedek, we have moved approximately eleven times, twice into former churches.
This High Holy Days marks the first time we have opened our doors wide for our members and guests to gather, pray and spend time together since we finished construction and the pandemic began. It felt so good to have the building full of people, to have services in the Sanctuary and Community Hall, to see people reading quietly in the Bill Solomon Gallery and to see so many attending the Young Families service in and around the tent in the courtyard. It showed us how much people want to be together and brought our building to life.
Construction of the early childcare center is complete, and the complex process of county and state inspections is nearly finished as well. Liz Collins, our ECC director, and her staff have worked tirelessly to have the classrooms ready for the kids. We all should give a huge shout-out and thank you to Rhiannon Kaye who has volunteered an overwhelming number of hours working with Liz and our contractor to have the space ready.  Our architects, Patterhn Ives, designed a beautiful, light filled space and thanks to Liz, Rhiannon and many others it will soon be full of energetic kids.
Fri, September 29 2023 14 Tishrei 5784