Biweekly e-newsletter of Community Day School
20 September 2017
29 Elul 5777
In this issue:
Shabbat and Holiday Candle Lighting Times
Erev Rosh Hashanah - 7 p.m. September 20
Rosh Hashanah - 8:07 p.m. September 21
Shabbat Shuva - 6:57 p.m.
Havdalah - 8:03 p.m.
New on the calendar:
It is with great humility and deep appreciation that I give my Head of School space in this week’s ETON to Mark Minkus, our Head of Intermediate School and Middle School. He speaks for all of us. Read his reflection on the High Holidays, and you will see why. ― Avi Munro
Looking Through The Windshield
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School
One day, several years ago, I was driving home from work when something very unusual happened to me. I reached up to adjust the rearview mirror of my truck, and it just came off in my hand. Three days later, I used a little superglue to repair the mirror and quickly forgot about the whole thing.
What I didn’t forget was how strange it was to drive around for three days without a rearview mirror. Of course, we know that when we drive we should spend most of our time looking forward, but you never actually realize how much you use that little mirror until you don’t have it for a few days. This may sound strange, but windshields and rearview mirrors can teach us a lot about ourselves, especially as we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
One of the many things that I love about working in a Jewish Day School is that I get to say “Happy New Year” three times a year: the first day of school, Rosh Hashanah, and January 1. I may be in the minority on this, but I love the first day of school. The kids are the reason that we do what we do, and it is so exciting and fun for me to see them come back, hear about their summer adventures, and talk about what they are looking forward to in their new grades. For me, the first day of school is all about looking ahead to the many things that we have planned with the students and teachers and finally digging into the real challenges and opportunities of the new academic year.
Of course, January 1 usually means that it is time to make New Year’s resolutions. Many of us try to shed some bad habits and a few pounds in an effort to “make this the best year ever.” New Year’s Day always feels so focused on the beginning of something as we hang our brand-new calendars, start to figure out all of the things that we have to do get done, and wonder aloud how we can possibly fit it all into our schedules. To me, the first day of school and New Year’s Day can come and go by just looking forward through the windshield, without the need for that tiny little rearview mirror. Rosh Hashanah is different.
As this holiday marks the beginning of a solemn period of 10 days of repentance and reflection (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah) leading up to Yom Kippur, looking back is a necessity. “Who have I wronged?” “Have I asked for forgiveness?” “How can I repair that relationship?” Looking back is often uncomfortable. We prefer to remember all of the good things from the past year, not the times that we lashed out in anger or repeated gossip or hurt someone’s feelings. Reflecting on the past is essential for moving forward. Rosh Hashanah reminds us that to enter the Jewish New Year, that we must look through the windshield while, at the same time, carefully study everything in the rearview mirror.
The Italian philosopher and poet George Santayana is famous for saying: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But, he also said something in his Little Essays in 1921 that may actually be just as important: “Truth is cruel, but it can be loved and it makes free those who have loved it.” When we look back on the past year, there are some ugly truths about our own actions that we really don’t want to face. However, Rosh Hashanah gives us all an opportunity to be intentional, to remember that if we are truthful with ourselves, if we take responsibility for our behavior and if we ask for forgiveness, that we can then focus forward and walk boldly into the new year.
We need to always remember why the windshield is so big, but also remember why the rearview mirror is so important. Shana Tova!
Up Ahead At CDS
A Good And Sweet New Year
By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Throughout the school, the signs of the coming of Rosh Hashanah have been evident since we first began blowing the shofar during professional development week in August. The students have honed their own shofar-blowing skills throughout the month of Elul, and on any given morning, you could hear these joyous blasts from any floor in which the students were participating in morning tefillah. We have been preparing our students to join Jews throughout the world as they celebrate the arrival of a new year tonight.
Here’s a glance at Rosh Hashanah at CDS:
In the 3-year-old room, Mr. Lerner came into our room every morning during the month of Elul to blow the shofar. At first, the children were scared by the loud sounds, but they came to love it. Our new favorite song is “Shofar Blast” by Peter and Ellen Allard, and after listening to it regularly, we could help Mr. Lerner with the commands. We also have dance moves for each of them, so don't be surprised if your child shimmies upon hearing "teruah-ah-ah-ah-ah"! Last week, Eden wondered if Moana celebrated Rosh Hashanah. After talking it over with friends, she decided that Moana does, but doesn't blow the shofar “because only Mr. Lerner can.” We also found out that there's something else we can do with honey for Rosh Hashanah: play with it! We covered the art table with foil, but asked the children why. Molly said, “so when we are playing with honey, the table doesn't get messy.” While this is true, it's also a very cool surface for the honey because it's shiny. Shiri watched curiously as Rachel patted her palms in the honey and then squished them together, slowly pulling them apart and exclaiming, “Look at me, I'm dirty!”
In Pre-K, teachers asked, “What do you know about Rosh Hashanah?” The students shared, “You have apples and honey” and “We blow the shofar.” This is an example of how the class begins many of its explorations—by listening to what the students know and reflecting on what else would enrich their experience. The children explored Rosh Hashanah items as provocations to engage their curiosity, including shofarot of different sizes and colors on the light table, holiday cards, and colorful honey dishes. We asked the class to draw something about Rosh Hashanah that was important to them; some sketched an image of a shofar, while others sketched honey pots and talked about the details they added. Every school day we listened to sounds of the shofar blasts, “Tikia, Shevarim, Teruah, Tikiah Gedolah.” The children cued Mr. Lerner with the calls prior to the shofar blasts. They have learned to stop and listen to the calls of the shofar and hear its reminder for the coming new year.
Morah Michal’s Famous Honey Cake Recipe
4 large eggs (room temperature)
1½ cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coffee mixed with 2 tsp baking soda
3½ cups of flour with ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp clove (spices are optional, but I don't recommend to skip the cinnamon)
In a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the oil and then the honey (Use the same dish for the oil and then the honey so the honey won’t stick). Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and alternate with the coffee mixture. Always start and finish with the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture into 3 greased loaf pans. Bake at 325F for 50 minutes.
In Lower School, students reflected on the past year and thought about their resolutions for the 5778. 1st Grade learned the blessings for the traditional foods we eat on Rosh Hashanah and holiday songs, and the students made beautiful cards to bring home; there was even a visit from the “New Year Grandmother.” In 2nd Grade, the students focused on the differences and similarities of prayer on Yom Tov instead of Shabbat, explored the concept of slicha (forgiveness), and looked at why we eat pomegranate for Rosh Hashanah. They even made the shape of “5778” with their bodies that provided a real lesson in listening and teamwork! In 3rd Grade, students made Rosh Hashanah cards and explored the meaning of the different sounds of the shofar.
In Intermediate School, 4th Grade students looked at the traditional foods that we eat for Rosh Hashana (do you know why we eat the head of a fish?) and celebrated with the joyous songs and greetings of the holiday. They learned about the three steps of repentance―Teshuva, Tzedaka, and Tefillah―and what is involved in each of the steps. 5th Grade also added a component from the Mishnah, exploring aspects of the holiday through the rabbis’ textual discussions.
In Middle School, students found the relevant passages in the Tanach and then decided what they are biblically commanded to do for Rosh Hashanah based on these passages alone. Then they added what they know about the holiday aside from what the Torah states. They discovered the basis for some of these traditions in the Mishnah and Gemara, which we used as an opportunity to discuss the difference between halacha (Jewish law) and minhag (custom). Students looked at the meanings of the Rosh Hashanah symbols (e.g., Why do we blow shofar? Why do we eat apples and honey?) and discussed some of the holiday’s legends. We also discussed one or two tefillot that are unique to the holiday.
Welcome, Emily Wittenstein
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman To Speak At CDS
It is only the beginning of the year, but Student Council is hard at work! Through the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils (PASC), Student Council will be hosting a Middle Level Mini Conference for all of District 3. On October 27, all Middle School Student Councils registered in PASC District 3 will join us for a morning of leadership and fun at CDS. Our theme is Putting the “Trophy” in Catastrophe: Last Minute Problem Solving.
We are also very excited to announce that Mayor John Fetterman of Braddock will be joining us as our keynote speaker! He is an activist for social change and for the renewal of Braddock. In the spirit of giving back to the community, we are hosting a drive for his wife Gisele Fetterman’s Free Store 15104. Her free store collects perfectly good items that are no use to others anymore and offers them to a community in need. Click here to learn more about Gisele Fetterman and Free Store 15104. Please go through your closets and house for items in good condition that you do not need anymore. Some examples of needed items are socks, toys, clothes, shoes, accessories, new diapers, etc. When you come to Parent-Teacher conferences on October 26 and 27, bring your items in some kind of container or bag. Drop them off on the big blue table labeled “Free Store 15104 Drive.”
Thank you to all of those who purchased a “To Life” pink T-shirt this week; all proceeds go to support breast cancer research. On October 2 and 31, your child can wear their pink T-shirt (or other pink dress-down attire!) so that we can show our school spirit and unity in the fight against breast cancer.
It is going to be an exciting year in MS STUCO, and we are just getting started!
Just Mercy: Community Book Read
CDS Farm Stand Goes To Market
By Jennifer Bails, Director of Marketing and Communications
The students have had an educational visit from wild edibles expert Adam Haritan, who taught them which weeds on our campus are especially delicious, and they have spent plenty of time getting their hands dirty outside! Next Sunday, they will set up a stand at the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market to sell kosher smoothies they prepared using a bike-powered blender built by Josh and Dan Gelman. The students will work together as a team to come up with marketing strategies to drum up sales and master the physical challenge of pedaling a bike to make smoothies. They will hone their knife skills and learn about the costs of running a business. And they will learn that there are alternative forms of energy that can power equipment without harming our planet and experience the joy of fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedakah (all proceeds will be donated to charities of the children’s choice).
Stop by from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or until supplies and/or demand run out) to buy your bike-powered smoothie and support these young entrepreneurs and environmentalists in training.
Stop by the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market on October 1 for the CDS Farm Stand Smoothie Sale!
GRANTED! Program Now Open
Do you have a fabulous idea that would make Community Day School an even better place? The CDS Parent Association wants to transform your idea into reality.
The GRANTED! program is back, and it's even better than before. GRANTED! affords all teachers, students, and families the opportunity to apply for grants up to $2,000 to fund projects to enrich the school. If you have a great idea to enrich a classroom, students’ education, our campus, an extracurricular activity, or anything else related to the CDS experience, the GRANTED! program can make it happen.
Since its inception, the program has awarded more than $50,000 for projects such as submersible ROV kits, robotics equipment, an artist-in-residence, standing desks, and garden beds.
Prayer In The Park
By Bob Helfer, Physical Education and Health
What's Jewish about a walk in the park? Yesterday the entire 6th Grade headed up to Frick Park during tefillah to “pray in the park.” After walking in mostly mindful silence (a feat almost impossible for 28 6th graders), we found an overlook to begin our prayers. After the Barchu, I read a quote from Rabbi Naomi Levy's powerful book, Einstein and the Rabbi. It says: “Meditation is a time where you are allowing the soul’s voice to be heard.”
Then followed a short discussion about how things are interconnected, asking the students to fill in the blanks: If there is a north, there is a _______. If there are students, there are _______. If there are flower, there are _______. If people expel carbon dioxide, then we know that trees give off _______. Now the most interesting relationship I asked them to think about was “God's out breath is our _________.” The students were then asked to say the Shema in a quiet whisper and stand silently with the Amidah.
Being outdoors in the beautiful park elevated our collective and personal prayer experience and felt especially meaningful as we approach this time of reflection during the High Holidays. Here are some of the comments from our students regarding this experience:
“I felt at peace and ready to start my day.”
“I felt part of a community and part of G-d’s creations.”
“I felt like this wasn’t even real life.”
“My mindful moment was when we saw the big part of grass, and it was really calming.”
“I felt calm with no worries in my mind.”
“I felt like nature is so beautiful and that it’s important to value things.”
“I felt like I was in my own world.”
“I felt calm because we were looking at that hill with the sunrise.”
“When I saw the view I stopped thinking of school and just looked.”
“I thought of every word [in the prayers] and what it meant.”
“I had a feeling of leadership because it felt like I was the only one singing.”
“I heard the quietness in the air.”
CDS Teachers Recognized By IMSE
Destination High School
By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School
Next Wednesday morning, September 27, our 8th graders and many CDS parents will come together in the Ulam K’lalee for our annual High School Information Morning. Nearly a dozen area schools and organizations will be in attendance, and the audience will be treated to presentations from each representative. Everyone will then have the opportunity to visit their tables, ask questions, and further refine the important process of selecting just the right high school for their 8th grader. At last year’s event, we welcomed Pittsburgh Allderdice, PPS Centers for Advanced Studies (CAS), Hillel Academy, J-Site, The Ellis School, The American Hebrew Academy, Obama Academy for International Studies, Shady Side Academy, The Kiski School, The University School, and Winchester Thurston School to CDS. This event is part of our Destination High School program that helps guide CDS parents through the important process of choosing the right high school. We are proud of our 8th graders and know they will be successful wherever they begin their freshman year!
8th Grade students & parents will learn more about their high school options next Wednesday
“I Didn’t Want To Give Up”
New Board Begins Its Work
On Monday, September 11, the 2017-2018 Community Day School Board of Trustees held its first meeting in the home of Board President Debbie Resnick. This year, we welcome new board members Bob Whitehill and Andrea Glickman, and we look forward to a productive year as the trustees work to advance the CDS mission in both the school and the broader community. Click here for a complete list of CDS trustees
Alumni Profile: Adam Danenberg
We love nothing better than to hear from our alumni! Send news about your whereabouts, families, simchas, and career and education accomplishments to Jenny Jones, Director of Institutional Advancement.
Get Business Tax Credits & Help CDS!
Every year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh helps us get vital tuition assistance money through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC). We are partnering with the Jewish Federation to identify companies willing to participate in this program and we need your help.
For more information about how to benefit from the EITC program, visit comday.org/giving/eitc.
Kol Hakavod to …
Angela has come into our school community and is inspiring, dedicated, and warm! We love you here at CDS! Thank you for all you do!
Sarah DeWitt and Carol Beth Yoffee
Back To School Night was a great success, in no small part due to your all of your hard work behind the scenes to pull off what is a huge logistical challenge. Thank you for your dedication to making sure the parents at CDS have a positive experience and for giving our teachers an opportunity to shine.
Thank you for bringing your sense of humor, expertise, and love for children to the CDS Pre-K everyday. Your students are truly blessed to have someone who listens to them so intently and allows them to take part in joyfully creating their own authentic learning experiences.
Iton is the Hebrew word for newspaper. Since ours is electronic, we call it an E-ton!
Community Day School
6424 Forward Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
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