Biweekly e-newsletter of Community Day School

23 November 2016

22 Cheshvan 5777

Issue #6

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As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, we’ll be mindful of the blessings of food, the blessings of peace, and the blessings of family, community, and friends. Happy Thanksgiving and Shabbat Shalom!

Reminder: School is closed Monday, November 28 for a Clerical Day.
We look forward to seeing you back at CDS on Tuesday, November 29 … aka #GivingTuesday (see details below).

Photos and writing excerpts from the Kindergarten & 5th Grade Thanksgiving Program with special thanks to music teacher Eileen Freedman, the Kindergarten Team, and 5th Grade Language Arts teacher Charlotte Rakaczky for coordinating this joyous and original program.

A Few Important Traditions -- Jenny J.

My family only has a few traditions, but to us, they are very important. We usually spend Thanksgiving with family and friends. Sometimes we exchange gifts, play the piano, sing Thanksgiving songs, invite friends over, help each other make food, and enjoy a delicious meal together. Everyone just enjoys themselves and has fun. Just what we like it to be! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Stopping to Give Thanks -- Leah H.

We are all here, friends and family, to recognize everything that we should be grateful for―this school, clothing, food on our plates, and a house to live in. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it makes us stop our daily lives and get together with friends and family. There are not many times because of our busy lives to get together and give thanks. I hope all of you do this this year! Have a great Thanksgiving!

It’s A Wonderful Life -- Eli R.

On Thanksgiving, I like to have a feast. My family also invites my aunt, my uncle, and my friends so we always have a lot of people at our house on Thanksgiving. We like to eat corn and turkey and many other kinds of food. On Thanksgiving I try to have as much fun as I can because it’s a special day to celebrate what you’re thankful for. I am thankful that I have a wonderful life. I have food, water, shelter, everything I need. It’s important to remember these things on this holiday. I hope you all have a great thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving Baby -- Gabe E.

Like many families in America, my family will be celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday. But we sometimes celebrate two big events at the exact same time. I was born on November 24, 2005, and that year Thanksgiving was on the 24th, so I’m a Thanksgiving baby. This year, we’ll be celebrating both special events again. Like many families in America, my family has a big feast, plays a game of two-hand touch, and watches the parade and the NFL game at noon with our out-of-town guests. These traditions make my Thanksgiving special for me and my family.

A Day To Let Go -- Katie L.

My Thanksgiving is about a day where we all just take a day to let go and relax. My family’s traditions start in the morning. When I wake up, I go downstairs and my TV is on. We all watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Meanwhile, my mom is in the kitchen cooking. After that, the best part of my day comes...The National Dog show is on! Then I go and help my mommy in the kitchen. I get to make the stuffing, potatoes, chicken soup, and turkey. I love to peel the potatoes best! Once all the cooking is over, I set the table for everyone. Then we sit and dig in! After we eat, we watch a movie together. Because we had such a good dinner, we are always ready for bed early. I love my family’s traditions. Happy Thanksgiving!

When You Are Thankful -- Akiva W.  

When you are thankful, you are rich, filled with love from head to toe. The celebration feels warm inside you like the aroma of apple and cinnamon … The warm smell of pumpkins and turkey lifts spirits … As they come in and hang their coat up, I sit down. My heart racing as if I’ve just run a marathon. When everyone has sat down, I run to my mom’s chair and whisper, “How much longer?” “Just a bit,” she replies … [Finally] my mom calls on me to finally share what I’m thankful for. I am thankful for my brothers, my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandma, my aunts and uncles, my house, my clothes, my food, and for life. Have a good Thanksgiving!

In this issue:

  • Israel Alive!
  • Alumni Happy Hour
  • Giving Tuesday
  • The STEM of Spinning
  • Chanukah Band Concert
  • CDS Book Fair

Weekly Torah Portion:


Light Shabbat candles - 4:38 p.m.

Shabbat ends - 5:29 p.m.

  • Registration is still open for winter after-school programs. We need more children to register for the Clay Exploration and TechShop programs in order to meet the minimum required to offer them. Also, we’ve added a new program to the lineup called “Recorder and Uke Troupe” with Mrs. Freedman. Click here to register

New on the calendar:

  • Join us Friday, December 2 for Full-School Kabbalat Shabbat and Spirit Day from 8-8:35 a.m in the Ulam Sport. Show your Lion’s pride by wearing your favorite CDS shirt/apparel (jeans are welcome, but dress-down rules apply). Parents and special friends are welcome to attend our joyous Kabbalat Shabbat service.

  • Thank you to our Community Day School families for helping Student Council to collect more than 700 pounds of food in our Thanksgiving Food Drive this month to feed the hungry in our community through the critical work of the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry.

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Head of School Message
By Avi Baran Munro, Ed.M.

Dear Friends,


If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll see that I tag almost everything I share about Community Day School with #whyIlovemyjob and #onlyatCDS. Why?


There’s a transformational magic that occurs here in each classroom daily that is unique to CDS. I’m inspired every day when I see the spark kindled within our students as they critically analyze verses of Shakespeare, primary source documents in American history, passages of the Talmud, or lines of computer code. Or perfect their notes with the CDS band program, spring musical, or during morning tefillah. Or compete in interscholastic sports. Or learn about Jewish environmental ethics while working in our campus gardens. Or bring joy to the elderly in our community.


Your ongoing support keeps these flames of learning, discovery, and personal growth burning strong. We value your investment in Pittsburgh’s Jewish children, our passionate and dedicated faculty, and our mission of providing an exceptional education shaped by Jewish values. Parent satisfaction levels at CDS have never been higher, and an overwhelming majority of our families and staff joined our community in helping us to raise more than $1 million in this year’s Annual Campaign.

It is with our deepest gratitude and humility that we recognize your generosity in the 2015-2016 Community Day School Annual Report, which is now available online here (if you want print copies, we also have plenty to share!).

In this report, you’ll learn about the successes you’ve helped to make possible and our steadfast commitment to innovating for continued excellence. You’ll also find stories of CDS students, faculty, alumni, and donors who understand the powerful impact of a Jewish day school education. You’ll understand #whyIlovemyjob and experience the magic that happens #onlyatCDS.

But our success comes at a cost. In order to remain affordable, our full tuition only covers a little more than half of the price of educating each child. More than half of our families are in need of tuition assistance. Funding the gap between the tuition families can afford and the quality school our children deserve is the fundamental challenge for our community today.

Over the past 11 years, thanks to the generosity of parents and community donors, grant funding,
Educational Improvement Tax Credit dollars awarded through the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and Federation allocations, and careful fiscal stewardship, we have managed to invest in quality while also saving money for a rainy day. That rainy day is here.

For the first time in 11 years, 2015-2016 EITC funds were reduced, tuition assistance needs increased, and we used a portion of our reserve funds to meet our costs. We see this moment as a golden opportunity for our community. How many people have a chance in their lifetime to make a lasting difference that can impact the world for generations?

So you might be thinking, what can I do? The answer is simple:
leverage the power of YOU!

  • Support next Tuesday's "Giving Tuesday" and leverage the power of a match for all new and increased gifts!
  • Support next week's Israel Auction event that sends our 8th graders to Israel  (and have fun in the process)!
  • Find two friends, with kids or with connections, and arrange to bring them to the school for a tour. We will take care of the rest!
  • Got EITC? Ask someone you know who pays taxes in PA (your favorite restaurant, bar, clothing shop, etc.) to direct their taxes to cover scholarship dollars for your child’s school!


This Thanksgiving, as we share appreciation for our friends, family, and all of our blessings, we are also filled with gratitude and thank you for being our partner as we carry out our shared vision of changing lives and building an even stronger Jewish future. Your commitment today can make that vision a reality tomorrow.

6th Grade is 1:1

As part of our ongoing commitment to successful technology integration and outstanding student outcomes, we are pleased to announce that we have launched a new 1:1 Chromebook program in our Middle School.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Rabin family, we have made available Chromebooks to every student enrolled in our 6th Grade. These devices were issued to students for them to use both in school and at home to enhance their learning. The launch of this program is the first step toward our goal of making our Middle School fully “1:1,” where every student is provided with a device for individualized learning.

We are grateful for the generosity and vision of the Rabin family as we continue to amplify the CDS experience with educational technology that fully prepares our students for the challenges and opportunities of this exciting century in which they will live and work.

Up Ahead at CDS

Help Send the CDS Class of 2017 to Israel!

The highlight of your child’s Community Day School education will be the 8th Grade Israel trip. To experience firsthand with your closest friends what you have been learning about for years in the classroom is an incredible opportunity. To make this trip financially possible, it is the responsibility of the 8th Grade to help with fundraising. The approximately $17,000 the class must raise this year will be used for group costs, such as entrance fees, snacks, and tips.

This year—in place of the online Israel auction—the 8th Grade families are hosting an event from 7-10 p.m. on Thursday, December 1 here at CDS called “Israel Alive! Bid, Schmooze, and Sip for our 8th Grade Israel Trip” to help raise the bulk of this money. It will be a great evening with wine and light refreshments, an auction, and other small opportunities to win prizes. Fabulous items up for bid include theater and sports tickets, jewelry, lunch dates with City Councilman Corey O'Connor and attorney Edgar Snyder, gift cards, vacation homes, and more. Tickets are available for just $18 at comday.org/israelalive.

Please come to the event, invite your friends, spread the word on social media, and remember that soon it will be your child's turn for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

CDS alumni, we have missed you! Please join us for a CDS Alumni (21+) Happy Hour here at Community Day School before Israel Alive! Bid, Schmooze, and Sip on December 1.
Alcoholic beverages and light refreshments will be served!

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After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, on Tuesday, November 29, it's a global day dedicated to giving back. Our CDS family and friends will come together on Giving Tuesday for a shared purpose: to give back to our school that gives us so much. All new and increased gifts will be matched. Be part of a new worldwide tradition of generosity by clicking here to give to CDS today. Co-chairs are Josh and Meirav Loberant.

Students in Grades 5-8 can have fun with friends, train, eat pizza, get community service hours, and help your school at the Giving Tuesday phone-a-thon from 6 to 8 p.m. People love to hear from the students themselves, and this is your chance to make a difference for CDS. Sign up here

This year, we are celebrating our school’s 45th anniversary on Giving Tuesday with 45 reasons we love CDS …

Show us how you and your family are giving back to CDS by sharing a photo or posting your CDS story on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #45ReasonsToLoveCDS. We will be highlighting special stories that showcase our generous supporters that day on our social networks.

The STEM of Spinning

Children in Kindergarten through Grade 6 are invited to join CDS and PJ Our Way on Sunday, December 4 from 2-3:30 p.m. here at Community Day School for The Stem of Spinning. In this STEM challenge, children will create dreidels from recycled materials. Which design will spin the longest? This is a free CDS admission event, so please bring friends from prospective CDS families. RSVP at comday.org/spin.

Chanukah Band Concert

The CDS Instrumental Music Chanukah Concert is almost here. The concert will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, December 15 in the gym (please note the morning time!). All are welcome to attend.

CDS Book Fair is Back!

The PA Scholastic Book Fair is back! On Thursday December 8 from 4 to 8 p.m. and throughout the day on Friday, December 9, you’ll find a wide range of titles for every level and interest, as well as favorite series and authors that will get kids (and adults!) excited about reading.

Proceeds benefit the CDS Parent Association, so come and shop for a cause. Volunteers are needed for this important PA fundraiser to run cash registers, help students make book selections, and clean up after the event. Please sign up here, and thank you in advance for your help and support!

School Supplies Drive

From December 7-20, CDS kids and parents are encouraged to bring in new school supplies to school to donate to children in need in our community through Repair the World Pittsburgh. Thank you for your support of this Student Council effort!


Race and Parenting Recap

It was standing room only in the Ulam K’lalee on the evening of Wednesday, November 16 for Dr. James Huguley's Community Day School Parent Association Speaker Series event “Race and Parenting: How to Raise Children Who Understand and Actively Promote Justice for All.”

More than 200 people attended the talk and discussion with Dr. Huguley, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems. He spoke about the history and social science of racism in the United States, current research about equity in Pittsburgh, and ways parents can be intentional about talking about race and social justice issues with their children. Event chair was Aviva Lubowsky, and the lecture was made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Thank you to all of those who joined us for this important and timely event. For those who were unable to attend, you can watch the event in its entirety here. You can also read more about the event in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and in this week’s issue of Print. 

If you are interested in joining a task force following up on the discussion from the “Race and Parenting” event, please contact Jennifer Bails. We look forward to continued conversations together―stay tuned for details about upcoming events!

Kol Hakavod to …

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Want to say Kol HaKavod to an employee at CDS? Fill out this online form.

Cara Shuckett

You do so much for Writing Workshop! Thank you for your dedication, commitment, and hard work!

Jordan Hoover

Thank you for always being there to help with tech emergencies!

Elke Cedarholm

Elke is truly a team player. Whenever I ask Elke for help, she always comes through, and with a smile.
Thank you, Elke!

Get Business Tax Credits & Help CDS!

Every year, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh helps us get scholarship 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. If you have a business that pays Pennsylvania taxes, or if you can introduce us to someone who owns such a business, please let Roi Mezare, Senior Manager of Financial Resources Development at the Jewish Federation (and a CDS parent!), know at 412-992-5230 or rmezare@jfedpgh.org. The business will get up to 90% tax credits, and Community Day School will benefit directly through scholarships for students in need.

Due to the sale of a long-time EITC donor’s business last year and the reduced tax liability for several other donors, there will be decreased EITC dollars available for our three day schools this year. Read more about this issue, the EITC program, and how it helps Pittsburgh’s Jewish day schools in this recent article.

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Iton is the Hebrew word for newspaper. Since ours is electronic, we call it an E-ton!

Community Day School
An independent Jewish day school educating children age 3 to Grade 8

6424 Forward Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
412-521-1100 ︱

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