Biweekly e-newsletter of

Community Day School

25 January 2018

9 Sh’vat 5778

Issue #9

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In this issue:

Weekly Torah Portion (Parashat Beshalach):


Candle Lighting Times:

Light Shabbat candles - 5:13 p.m.

Shabbat ends - 6:22 p.m.

New on the calendar:

  • All students in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will participate in a winter tree ID hike in celebration of Tu B’Shevat on Tuesday, January 30 led by a naturalist educator and Green Team volunteers. Please be sure your child has proper outerwear and shoes for cold winter weather on that day.

  • There will be no Extended Day on Tuesday, January 30 due to an annual CDS staff party. We apologize for any inconvenience.

  • Next, Friday, February 2 is Full-School Kabbalat Shabbat and Spirit Day, as well as Bike/Walk/Rideshare to School Day. Students can show their school pride by wearing their favorite CDS shirt/apparel (jeans are welcome, but dress-down rules apply). Parents and friends are invited to join our Kabbalat Shabbat service at 8 a.m. Don't miss sharing this inspiring and joyous experience with your children and the school.

  • Reminder: Community Day School will be closed on both Friday, February 16 for a Professional Development Day and on Monday, February 19 for Presidents Day.

Head of School Message

By Avi Baran Munro, Ed.M.

More than 400 of our CDS family and friends partied like they were on a beach vacation last Saturday at Sun & Schmooze: A Tropical Gala, which was the perfect escape from the winter blues. The August Wilson Center in Downtown was transformed into a lush tropical paradise.  

Each Sun & Schmooze attendee received a lei, and there were aloha shirts galore, plenty of flip-flops, and even a shark and mermaid floating around the party with live tropical fish on every table. Partygoers enjoyed the signature cocktail "Ruach Rum Punch" and other fruity concoctions at the tiki bar, delicious tropical bites like Hawaiian meatballs and jerk chicken, and dancing to the island beats of DJ Sosa.

Special shout-out to alumni who were in attendance and to our youngest alumni from the Class of 2017, who sold raffle tickets with characteristic CDS ruach that could not be refused.

While basking in the tropical glow, we celebrated Community Leadership Award winners State Rep. Dan and Debbie Frankel and Volunteer of the Year Dana Himmel, all three CDS alumni parents. We recognized the Frankels, with deep appreciation for Dan’s unflagging and vocal support of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. Administered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh on behalf of Pittsburgh’s Jewish day schools, the EITC program distributes nearly a million dollars annually to fund tuition assistance that helps ensure a CDS education is affordable to the widest diversity of Jewish families.

And we applauded Dana Himmel’s million hours as team parent and general do-gooder, whose presence and effort graced our after-school sports programs, Israel auctions, and countless other moments in the school (including weekly doughnut and bagel deliveries, which should not be underestimated in their importance!).

Beyond the palm trees and hula dancing was an important cause. We raised more than $190,000 to support educational programs at CDS and to provide tuition assistance for families in need.

To inspire investments in—and naches (pride and joy) from—Community Day School, I was thrilled to announce, from the Sun & Schmooze stage, a new and significant gift to CDS. Robbin Steif, founder, CEO, and sole owner of Lunametrics, recently sold her company and decided to make a leadership gift to Community Day School in the amount of $100,000.

Robbin’s gift will multiply, leveraging close to $100,000 more in matching funds in recognition of more than $400,000 in new and increased donations this year, with many of those gifts coming from many of you who are reading this right now. We are supremely grateful to Robbin and also so grateful to our past Match donors, many of whom were in attendance at the Gala as well!

Everything we celebrated at Sun & Shmooze, and everyday, is made possible through the superhuman efforts of our singularly talented, highly qualified, caring faculty of educators, administrators, and staff members and the volunteer efforts of our dedicated lay leaders, Executive Committee, and Board of Trustees. Our community’s continued support has enabled us to build a strong, vibrant, dynamic, innovative, and inclusive Jewish learning community here in Pittsburgh that is creating a better world every day, one child a time. We thank all of our guests, passionate volunteers, generous sponsors, and extraordinary honorees who made the gala a tropical night to remember!

Shabbat Shalom!


Photos: Joe Appel Photography

See more photos from the CDS Gala in the
Pittsburgh-Post-Gazette SEEN column and on our Facebook page

MLK Day 2018

Worldwide, race remains a barrier to access, opportunity, and peace. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we helped our students begin to unpack some of the systems and institutions that have produced this disparity over centuries. With the guiding theme of “Borders,” we used the opportunity of our third “day on” for MLK Day to both celebrate—and complicate—Dr. King’s legacy.

After a keynote address by Pittsburgh theater director Adil Mansoor, this program looked very different across grade levels here at CDS, but one thing was constant—the students approached this day of learning and reflection with open minds and open hearts, filled with joy and energy and curiosity and compassion.

  • Intermediate School and Middle School: Dr. King taught that our nation’s need for racial justice was intertwined with a need for global peace—and that work of tikkun olam, or repairing the world—continues today. Students in Grades 4-8 participated in a series of college-style seminars around this idea (Intermediate School seminar overview and Middle School seminar overview), with topics such as “Civil Rights are Human Rights,” “Rethinking Islamophobia,” and “Water is Life: Indigenous Americans Today.” They also heard from Dr. Joe Charny about his fight to help MLK Day be recognized appropriately in a synagogue shortly after the holiday was instituted.

  • Lower School: In Kindergarten to Grade 3, students built a foundation of knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and about immigration and refugees. Lessons were selected with the following investigative questions in mind: Who was Dr. King? What did he teach us about being an upstander? What is global peace? What is life like for children around the world? Why do people come to America and how can we be welcoming to newcomers?

  • Early Childhood Program: Our three-year-olds took on a kindness challenge; they were invited by Jewish Family and Community Services to create greeting cards for elderly people in need of a friendly outreach. Our Pre-K students were inspired by our morning speaker’s discussion of identity to create self-portraits to help them see who they are. They also embarked on a “kindness hunt” in our building see what acts of kindness other CDS students are sharing.


We are grateful for the vision and passion of CDS Librarian Whitney Philipps, who created this transformational experience for our students. Together with Jackie Goldblum and the Facing History team, Whitney and all our CDS educators and guests brought it it to life. We are also thankful for the generosity and support of Facing History and Ourselves, the Alfred M. Oppenheimer Memorial Fund, and the Sylvia and Martin Snow Charitable Foundation for making this day possible. We are also gratified that we’ve created a day that brought a dozen alumni back for a warm visit with their teachers and friends.

At times, we’re asked why a Jewish day school like ours chooses to spend the day doing this kind of work. In response, we can only ask “how can we not?” as our students become part of an intergenerational conversation that has the power to bend the universe toward justice and kindness.

The students and teachers of CDS spent MLK Day “on” instead of taking the day off

Up Ahead At CDS

The Big Game & Spirit Days!

Mark your calendars! The 8th Grade vs. Faculty Basketball Game has been scheduled for Friday, February 9 from 1:30-2:35 p.m. The “Big Game” is one of the best events of the year at CDS, as the entire school comes together for this (mostly) friendly competition, with a special halftime performance by the Little Lions Cheer Team. Don’t forget to wear your blue and gold for this ultimate of Spirit Days!—and Go Lions!

Student Council is also sponsoring themed Spirit Days leading up to the Big Game. Wednesday, February 7 will be a Rainbow Day (wear every color that you wish), and on Thursday, February 8, come dressed as your favorite Olympic athlete, past or present, winter or summer. More details to follow in your e-mail!

PA Ice Skating Party

Join the fun at the CDS Parent Association Presidents Day Ice Skating Party on Monday, February 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Schenley Ice Rink. This event is FREE to attend. Skate rental is $3/pair; wear your own skates if you have them. Hot chocolate and fruit will be provided, and additional snacks will be available for purchase.

Remember to bring your ski or bike helmets to keep those brilliant Community Day School heads safe! Children in Grade 5 and under must be accompanied by an adult. For questions, contact Eva Gelman. Please RSVP by February 16 at

Alice In Wonderland Jr. Poster Contest

All CDS students are invited to participate in the Alice in Wonderland Jr. Musical Poster Contest! The winning poster design will be used to advertise the CDS Middle School spring musical across our community and in the playbill for the show. The winner will also receive two tickets to any performance of the show and a framed poster of their artwork signed by the cast and presented during the musical “Sneak Peek.” The deadline is Friday, February 2, and important contest rules were sent by e-mail. Contact Jennifer Bails with any questions, and good luck!

Adult Jewish Learning With Rabbi Schiff

Back by popular demand, beginning next Thursday, February 1, Rabbi Dr. Danny Schiff will be continuing his adult learning program at CDS with another seven-part series titled “The Commandments That Frame Our Lives.”

This course is made possible through a partnership between the CDS Parent Association and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh. Rabbi Dr. Schiff is the Foundation Scholar and a noted teacher and researcher in Jewish ethics.

In this course, he will explore a selection of The Ten Commandments that have day-to-day relevance in our regular Jewish lives. While all the commandments are required of Jews, some of them feature more prominently in our daily behaviors than others. Rabbi Schiff will focus on the better-known commandments and how they are understood through the prism of Judaism. The cost is $49 to participate. Register here

Kids’ Mega Matzah Event

Take the opportunity with your children (Pre-K to Grade 5) to join hundreds of families from across Pittsburgh for an afternoon of fun, matzah-making, and Egyptian music.

Community Day School is proud to sponsor this Passover celebration, which will be held Sunday, March 18 from 1-2:15 p.m. To register, please visit The cost is $10 per child. Teen volunteers are also needed to help with the event (sign up here).

It’s Not Mindfulness Without Kindness

By Oriyah Sandefur, 3-Year-Old Teacher

A major component of the 3s classroom is mindfulness, which we have been working on since the beginning of the year. One form of mindfulness we practice is being in control of our bodies. During meeting times, we sometimes try an exercise using a rain stick. The children have to carefully pass it to the child next to them without it making a sound. If the child makes a sound, the rain stick goes back to the first person, and we start again. Once the children mastered passing the rain stick, we tried passing hand bells, which is a more challenging instrument.

Another form of mindfulness we practice is respecting one another’s time to speak. The children are in the beginning stages of understanding what it means to have a conversation. They are learning that there is a time when one person speaks and then another person can respond to what they are saying. When one of the teachers is talking to someone else, they have learned to place a hand on their shoulder or arm to indicate that they are waiting to speak to them. Recently, Morah Sarah was asking friends about Tu B’Shevat. They’re learning to raise their hands to share their ideas and to listen to their peers.

The most important part of mindfulness, or as Morah Sarah says, the “Number One Rule,” is kindness. Each day the children engage in activities that encourage them to think of another person instead of themselves. One day a child was playing in the natural playground and tripped and fell. Another child came over, unprompted, and asked, “Are you OK?” During clean up time in the classroom, children will often help each other put away toys, instead of one of them cleaning up alone. Some of the older children help the younger ones zip up their jackets before going outside. In the last few weeks during nap time, some of the older children have been rubbing some of their friends’ backs to help them go to sleep.

We are continuing to be mindful of ourselves and one another throughout the year, and each Jewish holiday also helps to reaffirm different aspects of mindfulness.

The number one rule of mindfulness in the 3-year-old classroom is kindness

Atelier In Action

By Jessica Pindzola, Pre-K teacher

The teacher, parent, and environment are all teachers in a Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom. As an important part of our environment, the atelier, or art studio, plays an especially transformational role enhancing and guiding our Pre-K community.

The Pre-K students love working with different materials to create inventive art projects in the classroom. We have a “Mini Atelier” in the classroom, an assortment of supplies and materials to be used for art projects. The materials range from necessities like scissors, glue, markers, paper, or yarn, to interesting found objects and recycled items such as cardboard tubes, buttons, or bottle caps.

The students take initiative in helping to collect items, such as saving our applesauce cups and patterned cardboard from tissue boxes. However, when we need more supplies, they remind us to head down the tunnel to the larger Atelier in the Annex. This art studio has more supplies, many of which were donated by people who collected recycled materials, such as corks, sample tiles, and nature items. With all the unique supplies in there, this is a great space to find inspiration, so we use this room for small group work.

In order to explore trees to help us learn about Tu B’Shevat, we went down to the Atelier in small groups to do a seed investigation. We used the space to help us explore, using shiny wallpaper samples as a backdrop for temporary art. The students enjoyed arranging the various seeds in different techniques such as making patterns, creating shapes, making letters, and sorting the seeds into different piles.

The Atelier in the Annex is also used by other classes for various activities: the Kindergarten for Invention Time, the 3-Year-Old class for art projects and explorative activities, and the Intermediate School for the IGNITE Art in Action group. Everyone who uses the Atelier helps take care of it and enjoys maintaining the space so that it can support our students’ learning through exploration and creativity.

The Atelier in the Annex is always busy!

1st Grade Habitat Explorers

By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies

As part of their science curriculum, our 1st Grade classes participate in the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Habitat Explorers program. In three different seasons, our students walk to the Frick Environmental Center to explore Frick Park. Part of our winter exploration is to learn about woods in the winter, and the students learn how plants and animals adapt to winter conditions. This year, our 1st graders learned that sometimes we must adapt to winter conditions as well.

Unfortunately, our students were scheduled to go to Frick Park last week, when the weather was bitterly cold and the sidewalks were icy and slippery. With conditions not ideal for taking a walk to the park or exploring the woods, there was only one thing to do...the park had to come to us.

The wonderful Conservancy staff who normally meet us at the park came to Community Day School. Our students completed a stewardship project by making bagel bird feeders, now hanging outside the CDS front entrance. They learned about the need of local birds to eat all day long to stay warm in the winter; the birds are able to find seeds on plants all over Pittsburgh to help keep them full.

Luckily, the third session will take place in the spring, and the students will be able to explore the park’s woodlands and look for birds. Learning outdoors with nature as their guide cultivates discovery and curiosity in our students, and we are so fortunate to have all of this available to us so close to home.

Due to bitter cold, the park had to come to CDS for the winter session of Habitat Explorers instead of vice versa—but that didn’t stop our 1st graders from exploring

Community, In And Out

By Tzippy Mazer, Head of Lower School and Hebrew and Jewish Studies

One of the things that we love about Community Day School is the feel of community—our students get involved in our school community as well as the Jewish community at large. One great example of this is our Minyan Makers. Students in 7th and 8th Grade join one of our local synagogues to help make sure that they have a morning minyan. We have partnered with Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha for many years, and this year, we are happy to also partner with Congregation Beth Shalom.

On Monday mornings, approximately 18 8th Grade students volunteer to join the early morning minyan at Beth Shalom. On Wednesday mornings, approximately 20 7th Grade students join the early morning minyan at Tree of Life Or L’Simcha. Not all of our students choose to go every week, and some of you may wonder what happens to those students who are not going.

The students who are not attending Minyan Makers are given the opportunity to help with our own school community. This year, our 7th graders have partnered with our 2nd graders on Wednesday mornings. As the 2nd Grade goes into the Music room to work on their Tefillah skills, they are joined by these helpful middle schoolers, who arrive wearing tefillin and act as role models and partners.

2nd graders see that learning tefillah is a process, and even in 7th Grade, there are things that you can still learn. Sometimes you even get lucky enough to have a sibling join you!

Different age groups coming together during morning tefillah is a wonderful way for us to continue that warm sense of community that makes CDS so special

Cracking The Case

By David Harris-Gershon, Intermediate School Jewish Studies

Since the beginning of the year, 4th Grade students have been learning how to use deductive reasoning when analyzing complicated works of biblical commentary in Jewish Studies. However, if you asked these students, “How’s the deductive reasoning going?” you’d likely be met with puzzled stares or curious looks.

Try reworking that question, though, and inquire instead about their F.B.I. agencies or cases, and you’ll likely be met with boisterous explanations and jumping from a good many students. Such is the power of simulated learning environments, when used effectively, to enhance student engagement and learning.

In 4th Grade Jewish Studies, the children have been working extremely hard on cracking simulated “F.B.I. cases.” These cases, which I mold from curricular materials into analytical tasks that incorporate Rabbinic commentaries, have sharpened students' textual skills and use of deductive reasoning.

When the year began, very few students were able to successfully use deductive reasoning when trying to tease out the implied question from a biblical commentary (פירוש) using contextual clues and the narrative in Exodus (שמות). Now? Students are successfully doing so on average at a 50 percent rate.

As for how we’re teaching students to use a growth mindset in order to positively approach, and view, those moments when they fail? That’s another discussion entirely. 

Turn, Turn, Turn

In 4th Grade Hebrew, the theme that we are exploring now around Tu B’shevat—the New Year for the trees—is cycles in the world. After exploring natural cycles (e.g., water, trees, months of the year), the children were able to apply what they learned by creating their own cycle and labeling the appropriate stages in Hebrew.

-- Ronit Schulman, Intermediate School Hebrew

Watch the 4th graders bring their cycles to life

All The CDS News That’s Fit To Print

By Nicole Lewis, Intermediate School Language Arts and Social Studies

The CDS 4th Grade was inspired to write articles for their own class newspaper after a recent visit from Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Bails. Mrs. Bails shared her experiences as a former reporter with our class, and her passion for writing was clear when she spoke.

One of the highlights of her visit was when Mrs. Bails shared samples of the published articles she wrote as a general assignment reporter for the Valley News Dispatch, a science and medical writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and as a freelance science writer. Mrs. Bails explained how her dad used to clip out and save every article she wrote, which she continued to also do. She saved the published articles in giant binders, and she brought them in for students to look through.

Mrs. Bails had a lot of valuable information and advice to offer to students. Students learned to include the most important information in the lead of a news article. In the lead, writers try to include the who, what, where, when, and why information. After, students practiced interviewing one another about their winter vacations. She also showed how to follow the lead with supporting details in something called the inverted pyramid, which looks just like a vertical slice of cheese pizza. 4th Grade really enjoyed her visit, and then got hard to work on publishing their own newspaper.

The result is an inaugural issue that is not to be missed! Among some of the top headlines: Authors in Intermediate School, Kindergarten and 5th Grade share stage, and Differences between 4th Grade and 5th Grade. You can pick up your complimentary copy of the IS Gazette at your nearest newsstand, in the CDS lobby, or wherever books and magazines are sold. Or since print newspapers seem to be becoming a thing of the past, you can simply click here to read your free copy online!

Breaking news: Inspired 4th Grade writers publish a newspaper

From Hypothesis To Conclusion

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

Albert Einstein once said: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” Well, our Middle School students are showing a tremendous amount of knowledge and imagination as they prepare for next week’s CDS Science Fair. I’ve been perusing the titles of the projects and I really can’t wait to see these in person: “The Reaction of Acidic Liquids on Sodium Bicarbonate,” ”Evaluating The Caloric Concentration Of Foods Using A Calorimeter,” “Designing a Multifunctional Travel Neck Pillow,” “Food Grade Chemical Spherification,” and my personal favorite, “Can Essential Oils Increase Focus?”

Each student will be interviewed by at least two judges and will be required to explain their hypothesis, independent variable, dependent variable, and conclusion. Our Middle Schoolers will be more confident next week when they present their projects, partly because of the high-quality projects that they will be presenting and because of the mock interviews that they did this week.

Each grade will have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finisher, as well as an honorable mention. These students will then go on to the Pittsurgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held at Heinz Field on March 23. Our Science Fair winners will be looking to improve on the many ribbons CDS won at Regionals last year. Every year, Middle School science teacher Ms. Kyle Ison puts forth a monumental effort to make our Science Fair a huge success. From countless hours of helping students in and out of the classroom to arranging judges and creating rubrics, Ms. Ison is the motor that keeps our Science Fair running smoothly.

Good luck to all of our MS students next Thursday and at Regionals in March!

Be sure to stop by our Science Fair next Thursday evening or Friday morning

Teaching Responsible Citizens

By Chaim Steinberg, Middle School Social Studies

As teachers we spend a lot of time trying to think about the goal of education. Every week there seems to be a new list or article or opinion on what the classroom should look like, what skills should be taught, and what employers are looking for. We are all biased in some way towards our own subject. Language Arts is necessary to help us be strong communicators, Math teaches us problem-solving skills. Science gives us a window into how the world works. Hebrew and Spanish literally rewire our brains to make them better. All of these statements are true and education should be approached holistically, and as a school I think we do a great job trying to balance the many different types of learning. However, we all know that Social Studies is actually the most important, super-bestest, undeniably crucial subject in school.

Whenever prospective parents comes to CDS, Sarah DeWitt goes out of her way to make sure they have the chance talk to educators about the whats and whys of the school curriculum. When I talk to these parents, I always say is that whatever path we end up following in life, we will always be citizens. Social Studies is not just about memorizing dates and names and places on the map. Social Studies is about studying the society in which we live, and these days that’s more important than ever. As a society we are increasingly polarized; we don’t listen to each other and we have an all-or-nothing approach to politics, religion, class, you name it.

But not (hopefully) in Social Studies. I encourage my students to disagree (respectfully) with me and with their classmates. Any viewpoint is welcome, as long as a student can support it. If students disagree with me, great. If they can argue convincingly and respectfully, that’s the best. The goal is not to change minds. The goal is to create minds that can think for themselves, support their conclusions, and recognize that there is no zero-sum game. Everyone of us has a right to our opinions. History is useful because it lets us see how those disagreements have played out in the past, and I promise you, every single argument that comes up these days has come up before.

When students leave CDS, I hope that they remember a few dates..the signing of the Constitution, the Civil War, FF Bang Bang (ask your 8th graders), Pearl Harbor, the March on Washington, etc. because these dates help us to be literate about our society. More than anything, however, I hope that they remember how to have a discussion, how to agree and disagree, how to find those times in history that can teach us lessons for today. In other words, how to be a citizen.

In CDS Social Studies, students learn that civil, respectful discourse is vital to being a good citizen

Down The Stretch

By David Thyberg, Assistant Athletic Director

Winter basketball season rolls on at full speed for the Lions of CDS. All four teams have been running the court and hitting the boards hard for the last few months. As February approaches, our student athletes prepare to make a run down the stretch in their last handful of games.

Time flies in our sports programs. We have so much fun competing and sharing experiences with our teammates, sometimes it seems like the weeks blend together and the first tip-off turns into the final buzzer before we even realize where the season went. Thankfully, it’s not over yet! The boys and girls have plenty more home and away matchups over the next few weeks. And then, of course, comes the highlight of the sporting year: the annual Student vs. Faculty game!

Stay tuned for news and updates regarding the big game. See which teachers will feature in this year’s contest, and get started on your signs and posters to wave in the crowd section. Energetic students square off against the wily old faculty for an afternoon of fun and fanfare in early February. Who will you root for?

Follow all the Lions action on Twitter at @CDS_Sports 

Tefillah Council Update
By Daniel L. and Lilah S., historians

This year Tu B'Shevat starts on Tuesday, January 30 or the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat. The word "Tu" is not a word; it is the number 15 in Hebrew. Tu B'shevat is the new year for the trees, and a Tu B'shevat Seder is a celebration of nature and the world. Some customs are eating fruit or the Seven Species/שבעת המינים (wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranates, olive, and date), and planting trees. Students will have a Tu B’shevat seder in class while they learn about the holiday.

Student Council Update

By Gabriella N., Historian

This week during Student Council we addressed the key issue of spirit dress-down days. On February 7 and 8, CDS students and faculty will have a spirit day leading up to the Student vs. Faculty Basketball Game on Friday, February 9. February 7 is Rainbow Day. Deck yourself out in every color of the rainbow you own! Next, in celebration of the upcoming Winter Olympics, February 8 is dress up as a past or present, summer or winter Olympian. Remember, school dress-down rules still apply! We also are very excited to announce that the next Region B Board meeting will be held at CDS in February.

High School Bound

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

What is five-years-old, lives in the Annex, helps people leave CDS, and can calm down a frantic parent in less than 60 seconds? No, it isn’t a magical kindergartener or some kind of yoga class. It is our Destination High School Program! Led by Mr. Allan Dalfen, Destination High School has helped to guide parents and more than 100 CDS graduates to their high school of choice over the past five years.

Mr. Dalfen helps parents navigate the many outstanding options for their first day of freshman year. If you are thinking public school, you will learn about the CAS program at Allderdice and many other fine options like CAPA, SciTech, Obama, and City Charter High. If your family is curious about the private schools in the region, Mr. Dalfen has sat in on classes and developed relationships with the admissions directors at Shady Side Academy, The Kiski School, Winchester Thurston, Ellis, and The University School. During the 7th Grade year, Mr. Dalfen meets individually with each family to personalize your path to 9th Grade. If you have a question, Mr. Dalfen has the answer, or he will have it for you in under 24 hours.

With our Destination HS program, we try to take all of the guesswork and potential stress out of this process and equip your family with facts. One example is tonight’s High School Information Night. Mr. Dalfen explains the many services that we provide to help your family choose the right high school for your child. Additionally, Kashif Henderson, Pittsburgh Public Schools Gifted and Talented Education Coordinator, returns to CDS as our special guest to talk about the Center for Advanced Study (CAS) program, gifted identification in PPS, and the process of going from CDS to a PPS high school.

This wonderful, scary, amazing thing called high school is on the near horizon for our Middle School students, and at CDS, we stand ready to help our students with what’s next, wherever that road may lead.

Parents attended High School Information Night to prepare for their children’s next educational journey

Count. Honor. Remember.

With deep gratitude to Jane and Bob Bukk, who are raising awareness about the Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt Keeping Tabs: A Holocaust Sculpture and continuing the conversation about the lessons of the Holocaust through the generous donation of hundreds of beautifully designed lapel pins that serve as a reminder to "Count, Honor, Remember."

GRANTED! Awards Announced

By Sarah DeWitt, Parent Association staff liaison

The CDS Parent Association GRANTED! program enhances the CDS educational experience by affording all teachers, students, and families the opportunity to apply for grants to fund projects that will enrich the school community. Our first GRANTED! cycle for the year ended on October 31. We received 10 applications and granted close to $7,500 for the following initiatives:

  • 2nd Annual Pittsburgh Jewish Day School Odyssey of the Mind Competition
  • Della stainless steel commercial ice machine
  • Pittsburgh Filmmakers & Pittsburgh Center for the Arts IGNITE teaching artists
  • Standing desks for 1st Grade
  • Dairy kitchen supplies for special events
  • Musical appreciation and inspiration with a cello rock band
  • Lab coats for Lower School science classes
  • Clay extruder for the Art Room
  • New folding tables for the Gym

We look forward to seeing how these projects come to life and enrich our classrooms, campus, and students’ learning experiences. If you have a great idea to enrich a classroom, students’ education, the school grounds, an extracurricular activity, or anything else related to the CDS experience, the GRANTED! program is a great way to move that idea to a reality. The next GRANTED! cycle is ending soon.

Visit and get your application in by February 28 to have your application reviewed before the end of the school year.

Mishloach Manot: Over The Rainbow

Purim is coming soon!

We hope that you will join our school celebration by taking part in the CDS Parent Association's Mishloach Manot Project. This year, our theme will be: Somewhere Over The Rainbow!

The custom of sending Mishloach Manot, or Purim baskets, is an expression of joy for the victory and triumph of Queen Esther, who ruined Haman's plot to annihilate the Jews of Persia in the 5th century B.C.E. On Wednesday, February 28, everyone in the Community Day School family will receive identical baskets, featuring a variety of movie-themed novelties and kosher food items.

Support of this project not only fosters community and festive celebration, but it is also a major fundraiser for the CDS Parent Association, including the GRANTED! Program.

In the past, through the GRANTED! program, the Parent Association donated a light table for the 3-year-old classroom, staff gender equity training, desk-cycles for 3rd Grade, a video recorder for Middle School, an artist-in-residence in 1st Grade, Facing History and Ourselves books, and more.

Attached to each Mishloach Manot will be a brochure listing the names of those who so generously made a contribution. Thank you for your support, and Chag Purim Sameach!

Donate here to our Mishloach Manot Project by Thursday, February 15

Alumni Profile: Erin (Asman) Herman

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.

Name: Erin (Asman) Herman

What year did you graduate? 1998

What are you doing now? I am the Marketing Director at Amazing Journeys, a travel company that specializes in group travel for Jewish Singles.

Favorite CDS memory: I loved being in the musicals and the Zimriyah … putting in all the hours and hard work as a group and having the productions come together as a show that we were proud to put on.

What is the biggest impact from having a CDS education?
 Having a strong Jewish identity that has been present for as long as I can remember.  I have never had to search for my Judaism—it has always been there, and I have been able to grow as an adult with a strong foundation of knowing what role religion plays in my life.

What do you want to do next as a CDS alum? I am proud of the school that CDS is and how it keeps changing to stay in the forefront of education—I am happy to tell people that I went there and recommend it to others.


Tell us something silly about you! I am the spontaneous dance party leader both at work and when leading groups around the world!

Amazon Smile

Looking for an easy way to earn “free” money to support Community Day School. Every time you shop on Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchases to CDS. Make it even more of a “no-brainer” by installing this Google Chrome extension that redirects you from to, so you have no excuses!

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.

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 The business will get up to 90% tax credits, and CDS will benefit directly through scholarships for students in need.

For more information about how to benefit from the EITC program, visit

Kol Hakavod to …

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

Jenny Jones

Kol HaKavod to Jenny Jones on throwing one heck of a gala to celebrate and support CDS. Your vision, organization, tireless work, and attention to detail created a tropical night to remember that was very nearly perfect and tons of fun for more than 400 people … oh, and raised a ton of money in the process. You are magic, and we are so lucky to have you here at Community Day School!

Sarya Samuels

Sayra was a huge part of the team at CDS. Her honestly, dedication, and work ethic has been incredible over the past few months and I am going to miss her.

Vanessa Pfendler

She dropped everything to help me when a colleague was out. The significant amount of time she put in to help me made all the difference to my sanity. She is my hero!

Tekla Hilton

Tekla put the time into sending a very sweet thank you e-mail for the effort I put into teaching her classes while she was away. She made me feel appreciated and acknowledged the effort I put into teaching. She made my day with her kind words and knowledge that she has my back as a teacher here at CDS.  

Elke Cedarholm and Lissa Scearce

Kindness is important. Thanks for teaching our 3rd Grade to be ambassadors of the school, showing how important it is for us all to be nice to one another in school and in our community through their posters displayed on our walls.

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 ︱

Watch our promotional video to Discover CDS!

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