Biweekly e-newsletter of Community Day School

7 December 2017

19 Kislev 5778

Issue #7

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In this issue:

Weekly Torah Portion (Parasha Vayeshev):


Candle Lighting Times:

Light Shabbat candles - 4:35 p.m.

Shabbat ends - 5:43 p.m.

New on the calendar:

  • The menschy students in Shevatim Asher and Benjamin have earned the most Mensch Cards in the past several weeks, and they will celebrate with a dress-down day tomorrow, Friday, December 8. Kol HaKavod! Normal dress-down rules apply.

  • We’ve added another Full-School Kabbalat Shabbat date to our calendar on this coming Friday, December 15 from 8-8:30 a.m. Please join your children for this joyous and uplifting way to welcome Shabbat together as a school community, with a special Chanukah celebration.

Don’t tell their parents, but Kindergarten is hard at work making beautiful mosaic Hanukkiot with Morah Michal as special Chanukah gifts to bring home and treasure in one of everyone’s favorite CDS traditions (read more below)!

Head of School Message

By Avi Baran Munro, Ed.M.

Dear Friends,

This week, I have joined five CDS staff members in heading west to a second Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life Retreat at the American Jewish University, Brandeis-Bardin Campus in Simi Valley, California. In an ultimate metaphor for the work we’re doing, we are within view of the plumes of smoke rising from the terrifying fires around us, yet where we are, the skies are brilliant blue, the air is soft and sweet, and we are working to build our muscles, both physical and mental, to learn, for ourselves and for our CDS students and colleagues, how to find and keep equanimity in hard times. While we are thankful to be sheltered from the devastation that surrounds us, we are keenly mindful of those who are suffering nearby, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those in the Los Angeles area affected by this disaster.

Mindfulness took root at CDS four years ago when then CDS parent volunteer Kristie Lindblom joined forces with Bob Helfer and our 3rd Grade to introduce mindful practices as part of 3rd Grade’s IGNITE exploration. What followed was a grassroots surge of interest which led to nearly one-third of our staff requesting training in Mindful Schools’ Mindfulness Fundamentals course. When we learned about Education for a Jewish Spiritual Life, a program that integrates mindfulness practices with Jewish spiritual life, we eagerly signed on. We already make time and space for Jewish prayer and reflection, and here was an opportunity to root our mindfulness practices in a Jewish context, and get closer than ever to the original intent of spiritual time.

Because of our genuine interest and grassroots efforts taking hold, CDS was selected, along with five other Jewish schools/camps, to participate in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s (IJS) Educating for a Jewish Spiritual Life pilot. As a participant, CDS works closely with IJS staff to infuse Jewish mindfulness-based practices throughout all aspects of our school. Small teams of leaders from each of the six pilot communities are currently engaged personally in an intensive program of integrating a personal Jewish mindfulness meditation practice with tefillah (Jewish prayer), text study, embodied practices such as yoga and chanting, and the cultivation of core middot (qualities of character) that make for optional human flourishing, effective nurturing, and discerning leadership (including lovingkindness, restraint, balance, grit, gratitude, humility, sustained non-judgmental attention, and mindful speech).  

This is a groundbreaking initiative to integrate mindfulness practice in a Jewish framework to support greater spiritual engagement, social and emotional learning, and much-needed mind-body wellness for ourselves and our children.
You can read more here, and our team looks forward to reporting back after this gift of time to deepen our own personal Jewish mindfulness practice and to learn how to better teach the Institute’s core practices to our students and colleagues at CDS.

Our EJSL team practices mindful meditation and movement and qigong during our retreat

#GivingTuesday Gratitude

There’s an unwritten rule in fundraising that you should thank a donor at least seven times for each gift. We simply can’t say thank you enough for the extraordinary generosity shown by our CDS family and the greater community last week toward in support of Community Day School on Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving back after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Throughout the day and right up until the midnight deadline, you helped us strengthen and improve CDS by making donations online and through Facebook. All new and increased gifts will be matched to multiply the power of your generosity. Also, a group of Middle School students, board members, alumni families, and parents came together that evening to give back to the school through a Giving Tuesday Phone-A-Thon. You could feel the gratitude in the room! One 3rd grader turning 9 that evening even chose to forgo her family birthday dinner to make calls in support of the school she loves so much.

Altogether, you helped us to raise more than $25,000 on Giving Tuesday to support our educational programs and to help more of Pittsburgh’s Jewish children experience the transformational power of a day school education. On behalf of all of the CDS students, teachers, and staff … Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To give back to the school they love, more than 30 students in Grades 5-8 (plus a 3rd Grade birthday girl!) participated in our Giving Tuesday Phone-A-Thon

Up Ahead at CDS

Winter Lunch Registration

We are excited to share our winter lunch menu with you that extends from January until the end of March and we are introducing a new online sign-up system called EZ Parent Center that makes ordering lunches easy. The deadline for sign-up is by Friday, December 15. Click here to begin registration 

S.T.E.A.M. Festival of Light

This Sunday, December 10, children in Kindergarten through 5th Grade are invited with their families for an illuminating afternoon of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (S.T.E.A.M.) as we gear up for Chanukah.

At various activity stations, families will build modular robots using Cubelets, explore light through prisms, build Lego/K’NEX dreidels, see a menorah being created using a 3D printer, and design light-generating circuits using the Arduino electronics platform. Participants will then come together in a candlelight-building competition, where they will be challenged to design a 4-foot-tall candle that ignites using simple circuitry and recycled materials. Their work will be judged by engineers from Argo AI, Carnegie Robotics, Uber, Ingmar Medical, and other leading tech-sector companies in the Pittsburgh area.

This event is free and open to the community—please bring friends or family who might be interested in learning more about CDS. It is being held in partnership with PJ Library Pittsburgh and made possible through the generous support of the SteelTree Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation. RSVP at

High School Police Academy

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police is offering a free opportunity for high school students to become closely acquainted with the roles and responsibilities of the Police Bureau. The Pittsburgh Student Police Academy (SPA) will bring the Pittsburgh Police and the school’s youth together to offer a sample of police training to each student. The Spring 2018 session of the SPA will begin on Wednesday, March 14 at CDS and will continue each Wednesday evening from 6-8:30 p.m. for 10 weeks. Click here for an application

Fill The Gala Treasure Chest

You should have received an envelope in your child’s backpack for the collection of gift cards for the Sun & Schmooze Tropical Gala Treasure Chest raffle prize. The CDS Parent Association would like your help in filling this chest with gift cards and certificates from your favorite stores, restaurants, and more. Please place cards in the envelope and return it to your child’s homeroom teacher. Thank you in advance for your generosity that helps to make our gala fundraiser a huge success!

Chanukah Band Concert

The CDS Instrumental Music Chanukah Concert is almost here. The concert will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, December 14 in the gym (please note the morning time!). It is an opportunity to enjoy the results of the hard work of our band students over the past several months and get into the Chanukah spirit! No beginner groups will perform in the winter concert, and a dress rehearsal will be held next Wednesday, December 13 (details here). All are welcome to attend.

Chanukah Festival at the Waterfront

CDS Kindergarten will be performing Chanukah favorites at this community event at 5 p.m. to kick off the first night of Chanukah sponsored by Community Day School. Let’s celebrate together!

Snaps, Sexts, Selfies, and Self-Esteem: The Tongue-Twisting World of Girls and Social Media

Join us here at CDS for a special parent presentation by Lisa Hinkelman, Ph.D. on Wednesday, December 13 at 7 p.m. sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh. Dr. Hinkelman is the researcher & author of the 2017 groundbreaking report ‘The Girls Index: New Insights Into the Complex World of Today’s Girls.’ She has spent years working with girls, parents, and educators in educational and counseling settings and has been researching the experiences of girls for the past decade.

Her presentation will share original research from this first-of-its-kind, nationwide survey of nearly 11,000 girls unveiling compelling data on the topics and issues they face. It will provide insights and strategies for adults who are working to help girls effectively traverse their digital environments. RSVP to

Israel Connections

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

As educators and Jews, we know that connection with Israel is core to being Jewish. Our graduates tell us time and again that their CDS education and 8th Grade trip prepared them to be resilient, confident, and informed Jews who love Israel and can articulate Israel's place in the world and in their lives.

When teaching students about Israel, holidays provide an ideal opportunity to connect students to our historical ties, and of course, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Yerushalayim are the perfect time to explore the more recent past and present. But to truly understand and learn about Israel, these studies must be interwoven throughout our life and learning here at Community Day School.

Toward that end, we turned to the Center for Israel Education in Atlanta. Three of our teachers spent a week during summer vacation being trained and learning what was available through the CIE that could help us do a better integrate Israel education within our school. The center provided us with curriculum that effectively engages our students in conversation and activities about Israel, enabling them to develop a connection to the people, the land, its history, and its future.  

The teachers who were trained met with their fellow faculty members, and the idea of “Shevet Rotation” was born, where students in their Shevatim (“Tribes”) on Friday mornings participate in hands-on activities to help build a relationship with Israel in fun, thoughtful, and exciting ways. Twelve teachers volunteered to plan and develop these activity stations, each centered around a big essential question. Developing these lesson plans was especially challenging because our Shevatim include students in Pre-K to Grade 8, as our educators had to find ways to engage students meaningfully across all grade levels.

By the end of a two-year rotation, our students will be exposed to topics such as the immigration, Israeli institutions, food, technology, music, and more. For example, in a recent session, Middle School teacher Jackie Goldblum dressed as Theodor Herzl to teach about the birth of modern political Zionism, and then younger students explore the subject through puzzles and matching games, while older students participated in more advanced learning challenges. Through these rotations, we hope to enrich the Israel experience that we offer to our students, building their connections to the land of Israel—and each other.

Students in all grades are building their connection to Israel and each other through their Shevet rotations

Is This A Sevivon?

By Sarah Glascom Morris, Early Childhood Co-Director and Lead Teacher, 3-Year-Old Room

Chanukah is in the air here in the 3-Year-Old Room! Last week, we asked the children what they knew about the holiday and we were intrigued when Morgan claimed she wasn’t sure, but used a small toy horse to demonstrate spinning. She said, “It’s ice skating spinning and the horse can do a tailspin. It looks like this!” The next day, we set out a variety of sevivonim (dreidels) and spinning tops and posed the question, “I wonder if all things that spin are dreidels?”

Reagan attempted to spin a small plastic pink dreidel. When asked why she thought it was a dreidel, she replied, “Cause it’s for Chanukah.” Ethan chose a large wooden dreidel because it was decorated with dinosaur stickers. He watched Reagan place her dreidel on its side and make circles on the table, then did the same thing with the dinosaur dreidel. They decided that their dreidels could spin in a different way.

Michal joined the table, picked up a simple top and began to play with it. She declared that it was also a dreidel “because it spins!” Then she turned it upside down, which prompted Reagan to say that it was no longer a dreidel because “it looks like a mushroom.” Eitan, Isaac, and Max brought over other plastic animals and mimicked Morgan’s initial horse spin. When asked if the toys were dreidels because the boys were spinning them, Isaac said, “No, they’re cheetahs!”

The next day, we tested a few other items in the classroom, still trying to determine if all things that spin are dreidels. The educators set out different coins and jar lids along with the dreidels and tops. Molly picked up a top and a dreidel and announced that they were the same because “this is orange and this is orange.” Morgan declared that the quarter is not a dreidel, even though it spins, because it doesn’t have a handle “or a bumpy part,” referring to the point at the bottom. Some children equated that to a tail, and returned to the idea of spinning animal toys by their tails. Michal announced, “My guinea pigs are not dreidels. They don’t spin because they don’t have tails.” She was asked if they would spin if they did have tails, but she said they’d be too scared to spin. She also said that if they had tails and weren’t afraid, they would be cute and silly, but still wouldn’t be dreidels.

Ava attempted spinning a large wooden dreidel. When asked, “how do you know what’s a dreidel and what isn’t?” she thought about it for a second, then announced that dreidels have Hebrew letters. As our exploration continues, we’ll talk about those letters and how they refer to the great miracles of Chanukah!

Are all things that spin dreidels? Just ask a CDS 3-year-old!

Book Fair Lessons

By Jessica Pindzola, Pre-K teacher

We love reading books and telling stories in the Pre-K, so it came as no surprise that everyone was excited to see that the Scholastic Book Fair had come to CDS. After school, some families visited the book fair, and the students browsed the books. Some found new books to explore and some recommended their favorite books to their friends. “Some are for me and some are for my brother,” Neta said of the selection. “It was really fun because there was lots of books with real stories in them,” Aviva added. Thank you to the families that picked out books for the Pre-K classroom!

On Friday morning, each student got a chance to visit the Book Fair to look at the books and to see how money and being a customer work. “We have to give back library books. We can keep the Book Fair books because we give money to them and they sell it to us,” Eliana explained.  

So, how do you know what money to pay and what you can buy with how much you have? Konnor explained, “The book has to be lesser money,” than how much money you give them. “I saw a book that I liked, and I took 8 money, and the book was 3, so I could buy it,” Aviva said, demonstrating the math. “I wanted this book and so then I buy it with my money. I had 9 money and the book was 4-9,” Arbel explained ($4.99). Felix explained how the person made change for him at the register, “I gave them the book. Then I gave them the money, and then they gave me money back, but it was different money and more pieces. And they gave me a receive that said it.”

Everyone had fun discussing the interesting and exciting things they saw at the book fair, and we enjoyed looking at the books we brought back. Some books were about emergency responders, some were about animals, some were about characters we love. It was great to see how much we can connect over books and how they can teach us about the world and each other… and even being a responsible consumer!

The Book Fair provided Pre-K with lessons in everyday math and how to be a smart consumer

Mosaic Hanukkiot

By Michal Schachter, Kindergarten teacher

For the last two weeks, our Kindergarten students have been hard at work making mosaic Hanukkiot. Each child was given a piece of wood and different shapes and colors of mosaic tiles. The students then had the opportunity to design their own very unique Hanukkiot using these materials. Through this experience, the students were engaged in an activity that stimulated hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. They were able to use a variety of patterns to get the look that they wanted. They also learned that there was a process to making the Hanukkiot. Each day they followed a step-by-step procedure and found out that only certain types of glue work on ceramic tiles. They discovered that the last step was the grouting and loved getting their hands dirty in the process. The children learned to solve problems and to work together as a group. Each child will be taking home a one-of-a-kind original design.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and tomorrow our picture will be that of a group of kindergarteners walking out of the building proudly holding their Hanukkiot, eager to show them to their families.

Hour of Code

By Vanessa Pfendler, Integrated Technology Facilitator

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week, CDS students this week participated in the Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries. Organized by, Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer programming designed to demystify computer science and show students that anybody can learn the basics of coding.

During the Hour of Code, Pre-K and 1st Grade began working with Kodable, which provides an introduction to the logic and concepts needed in computer programming. With Kodable, kids can learn to code before they even learn to read! 2nd graders participated in self-guided coding tutorials with the characters from the hit Disney movie “Moana” along to help them “find the way.” They teamed up with a virtual village of young computer scientists to stop the Kakamora coconut pirates from wrecking the Internet. 3rd and 4th Grade students took the Minecraft: Hero’s Journey, using blocks of code to adventure through a Minecraft world with challenges that teach core concepts like loops, debugging, and functions.

In 5th Grade, students learned about Google Doodles. Teaching kids how to code has a surprisingly long history, going all the way back to the 1960s and the first programming language designed for children—Logo. This week’s Google Doodle—the first coding Doodle ever—celebrates 50 years of coding languages for kids by “Coding for Carrots.” In the interactive Doodle, students program and help a furry friend across six levels in a quest to gather its favorite food by snapping together coding blocks based on the Scratch programming language. After having fun with this Doodle, 5th graders tried the new CS First activity built on Scratch where they can create your own Google logo (see an example below!).

Hour of Code is a fun jumping off point for our computer science curriculum, which builds throughout our students’ years at Community Day School. Stay tuned for more news from the computer lab!

Disney’s Moana took 2nd graders on a wayfinding adventure during the Hour of Code, while 3rd and 4th graders learn programming basics through a Minecraft journey and 5th Grade built Google Doodles

1st Grade IGNITE

By Amy Matthews, 1st Grade teacher

IGNITE—the CDS experiential learning program—is not a new term to our 1st graders. Many of the friends in our classroom fondly remember “Invention Time” from kindergarten and all the creativity involved in their artistic IGNITE projects last year. 1st Grade has now embarked on a new IGNITE adventure filled with creative ideas, exploration, and cooperative learning.


The combined 1st Grade classes meet on the Mirpeset (the outdoor classroom), and our first weeks of our IGNITE time were spent outdoors collecting recyclable materials from nature with help from CDS sustainability coordinator and 1st Grade parent Molly Muffet. We pruned the Havdalah garden and observed the compost pile. We have collected onions and garlic for planting. We will be seed sorting and journaling our lessons as we go.


Each week we will delve deeper into our lessons that include invited guests from the Green Team and a special guest artist from the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Our classes are working to create a project both meaningful for our families and school community. We can’t wait to share the end result with you! Keep checking back for updates on our project and ways in which you can help.

CDS 1st graders are getting outdoors as they embark on their IGNITE journey

Mindful IS Students Go Beyond Thanksgiving
The IS Mindfulness Team

Feelings of gratitude abound leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. However, Intermediate School students had the opportunity to reflect after Thanksgiving last week in a Mindfulness lesson intended to extend the focus of the holiday. Ms. R challenged the students to think about what specifically made them thankful for their numerous blessings. With peaceful music setting the mood of the space, Intermediate School students spread out throughout the U’lam K’lalee to engage in personal reflections. Each student created a “gratitude wheel” that named what they feel most thankful for. Some listed items included:

  • “a comfortable place to sleep”
  • “supportive family”
  • “making my own decisions”
  • “my friends that always have my back”
  • “having the confidence to push myself”
  • “balanced emotions”
  • “the amazing food Ms. Carole makes”
  • “a school where everyone is accepted”

In an effort to continue these feelings of gratitude into the new year, students posted their wheels in their lockers as a daily reminder of all of the blessings we should be aware of and thankful for each day.

Gratitude wheels created by the 4th and 5th graders now hang in their lockers as daily reminders of all the blessings we should be aware of and thankful for each day

Building a Better Pittsburgh in IGNITE

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School


Noun: the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.


Noun: avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Every Wednesday, 12 Intermediate School students go to Mrs. Arden’s room to engage in some very important work. In the Engineering/Sustainability IS IGNITE group, the students are learning how to build simple machines, attack engineering challenges, do research, and apply what they have learned to real-world problems. So far this year, the students have built two simple pneumatic machines and a mini-robot. Just this week, the students built rubber-band rockets to demonstrate how the potential energy from the rubber band is converted to kinetic energy to cause the rocket to fly.

In Pittsburgh we have hills and we have water. Of course the speed at which that water moves from one place to another can cause erosion, the loss of natural resources, and even some damage to our homes and roads. The students experimented with different types of materials (sand, dirt, pebbles, and flour) and measured the rate of flow of the water. Using the formula speed = distance/time, they were able to determine the best materials to slow down and divert the flow of water. Just what we need in Pittsburgh!

It will be interesting to watch these students continue to solve engineering and sustainability problems throughout the rest of the year. Someday, maybe one of them will be responsible for designing the newest building to dot the Pittsburgh skyline or making sure that Mount Washington stays right where it belongs.

These IS engineers are honing their problem-solving and collaboration skills and using their creativity and ingenuity to solve design challenges

Keeping Tabs 2.0

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

If you walked into Mrs. Goldblum’s classroom last Thursday afternoon, you would’ve heard 8th grader Ben T. deep in conversation with a university professor talking about the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality. Are our middle schoolers now taking college courses?

Not quite, but a new partnership with Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) is giving CDS students the opportunity to use the latest in interactive storytelling technology to develop an immersive virtual reality experience for the Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt Keeping Tabs: A Holocaust Sculpture.

CDS Middle School students who participate in the Keeping Tabs 2.0 Exploratory in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters will work in conjunction with undergraduate students from Notre Dame College under the leadership and creative direction of Elizabeth Keegan, Assistant Professor of Game Design and Interactive Technology. As part of our IGNITE program, the Exploratory will be taught by CDS Facing History and Ourselves teacher Jackie Goldblum and Learning Innovation Coach Emily Wittenstein. For the first session last Thursday, Prof. Keegan met our students in a video conference, learning about their interests and sharing background about her work and the technology they would be using together.

Together, the CDS and Notre Dame teams will design and build a digital immersive experience to tell the remarkable story of the Keeping Tabs Sculpture for visitors both on site and around the world. The virtual reality experience the students create will also capture the voices and stories of Holocaust survivors and provide a forum for education and dialogue around contemporary issues of social justice, racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and immigration.

The project will be developed using a new technology platform called SocialVR, launched by the CMU educational technology spinoff IRL Labs. Social VR is a browser-based VR authoring tool to document lived experiences, build virtual worlds, and engage youth voices.

This collaboration was born from our Technology Visioning Task Force meetings last year, inspired by CDS alumni parents Andy and Rita Rabin, with a discussion about how technology could be used to enhance our storytelling about the Keeping Tabs Sculpture and how to reach more people with its critical message.

The middle schoolers who participate in the Keeping Tabs 2.0 Exploratory will work as artists, writers, technologists, project managers, musicians, Web, UX, and graphic designers, journalists, and more to bring this project to life. They will use their creativity, voice, agency, and skills to leave a lasting legacy at Community Day School with worldwide impact. Their work will also be hosted at a major spring showcase event on Notre Dame’s campus in the spring of 2018; the student team will be presenting their role in the project alongside a live demonstration.

Meantime, we can’t wait to see what our students create with these extraordinary resources to support their work and to document and share their story as it unfolds!

The Keeping Tabs 2.0 Exploratory kicked off with a video conference with Notre Dame College game design professor Elizabeth Keegan, and yesterday, Learning Innovation Coach Emily Wittenstein attended the ETC Festival at CMU, an incredible showcase of the projects created by the ETC students in their Building Virtual Worlds course, where they are challenged in two weeks to create a new virtual world.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

In just two months, thousands of athletes will arrive in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the Winter Olympics. If you’re like me, you will make time to put on your sweats, drink some hot chocolate, and watch the U.S. team skate, ski, and slide their way to the medal stand. However, if you just can’t wait until February to scratch that Olympic itch, just stop by Mrs. Frischman’s room!

Recently, her Pre-Algebra students engaged in an annual CDS tradition: The Metric Olympics. Our 7th Grade Olympians engaged in the Paper Plate Discus, Cotton Ball Shot Put, Right-Handed Marble Grab, Sponge Squeeze, and Straw Javelin Throw. The students had to first estimate the distance an object would travel in centimeters or the weight of marbles and water in grams and milliliters, respectively. Our mathematicians were then required to convert centimeters to millimeters, kilometers or decameters, grams to centigrams and milliliters to liters. Whew, I’m getting tired just typing that!

The students received “medals” based on how close their estimates were to the actual measurements and how accurate they were with their conversions. Mrs. Frischman always finds a way to make learning fun and memorable for her students. So, when you are watching the ski jump or biathlon in February, just remember that CDS math students also follow the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”!

Everyone took home gold in the 7th Grade Metric Olympics

7th Grade & JAA Better Together

By Mark Minkus, Head of Intermediate School and Middle School

When CDS students from Mr. Dalfen’s Jewish Studies class walk into the Charles Morris Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, there is something that they are guaranteed to see—the wide smiles on the faces of the residents upon their arrival. Last week, the 7th Grade traveled just down the hill to spend some quality time with some very mature friends. It is always a delight to see how our students interact so effortlessly with the residents and how much fun they have together. During this visit, the 7th Graders led each table in Chanukah Bingo. One student spun the wheel and called out the pictures on the squares, whether it was an orange dreidel or a box of Chanukah candles. This trip is part of the Better Together program in partnership with the Jewish Association on Aging. I know that our 7th graders and the JAA residents are looking forward to future visits, where there will certainly be stories, snacks, and lots of smiles!

CDS 7th graders and JAA residents are better together

Tefillah Council Update

By Daniel L. and Lilah S., Historians

In Tefillah Council this week, we talked about how we don't say the full Birkat Ha'Mazon. We want to have more time during lunch to teach the full prayer, so we thought about ways to make more time to do that. Have a Happy Chanukah! 

Student Council: Winter Dance

By Gabriella N., Historian

Student Council has been hard at work on the Middle School Winter Dance—a Pajama Jam! All of the committees (decorations, music, food, invitations) have worked diligently to ensure the Middle School has an incredible Winter Dance. There will be games, a limbo contest, kosher snacks, a DJ, and more. We encourage all middle schoolers to attend on Thursday, December 14 from 7-9 p.m.; it is a great opportunity to bond with other students while having an awesome time. The dance is “device free,” so students interact with each other instead of devices and don’t have to worry about unwanted photos and recordings. Dress is casual. If your child/ren choose to wear something warm (like a onesie), please make sure they have a school-appropriate option to change into. See Mr. Minkus’ Winter Dance Details! e-mail for more specific guidelines.

The Tipping Point

By David Thyberg, Assistant Athletic Director

After a full month of rigorous practices, the Lions basketball teams have finally reached the tipping point. Games commenced this week with matchups versus Aquinas Academy (including a big win for the Girls JV squad) and Falk School. Our student athletes have been hard at work learning the ins and outs of the sport, drilling for everything from layup lines and boxouts to zone defense and full court press.

Once again, Coach Amy is leading both girls teams. Howard Valinsky graciously returns as an assistant, this time for the Girls JV. As usual, I am heading up the Boys Varsity squad. Newcomer Coach Paul Pagoda has enthusiastically taken up the helm for the Boys JV. The kids have been listening and practicing well, and it’s time to put everything together in our official contests. These players can’t wait to hit the hardwood and give it their all, so make sure to come catch a game with your very own courtside seat.

Speaking of courtside action, we are pleased to feature the Little Lions Cheer Team as an after-school offering again this year. Students in Grades 3-5 will be rehearsing dance routines and showing their school spirit as part of the ensemble. There will be a few home game halftime performances throughout the season, and the squad will also take the lead when it comes time to cheer in support of the annual Student vs. Faculty game in February.

Even as the weather turns cold, things continue to heat up in the gym. We look forward to a great winter season with lots of baskets, lots of pom-poms, and lots of fun. We’ll see you there. Let’s go Lions! Follow the latest CDS sports action on Twitter @CDS_Sports.

CDS Lions Basketball season has officially tipped off!

Parent Campaign: 73%

As of today, 73% of Community Day School parents have donated to the CDS Annual 2018 Parent Campaign—amazing!

With net tuition making up only 51% of our revenue, your gifts to the school are more important than ever to cover our expenses and ensure CDS remains affordable. Together, we can ensure the continuity of the exceptional education that our children receive and continue to send CDS graduates to the front lines of repairing the world.  

Your generous donations allow us to say “yes” to impactful and innovative education programs for our children. Perhaps even more importantly, when we can share the story that all of our parents are invested in CDS, we can inspire larger gifts from community donors.


No gift is too small, and it’s your participation that counts the most. Please click here to make your tax-deductible year-end contribution to the CDS Parent Campaign. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support of CDS!

Sun & Schmooze: A Tropical Gala


Get ready to beat the winter blues and party like you’re on vacation at Community Day School’s Sun & Schmooze: A Tropical Gala on Saturday, January 20, 2018. The 8th annual gala will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the August Wilson Center at 980 Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The gala is the school’s largest fundraising event of the year, and it is expected to bring together more than 400 community members in celebration and support of CDS. All money raised will go directly to support educational programs at Community Day School and to provide tuition assistance for families in need. Guests will enjoy tropical gourmet dinner stations and the island-style sounds of DJ Sosa. The focus of the evening will be on three CDS honorees:

  • Community Leadership Award winners and CDS alumni parents State Rep. Dan and Debbie Frankel will be recognized for their tireless work on behalf of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.
  • CDS Volunteer of the Year and alumni parent Dana Himmel will be honored for her years of service and dedication to Community Day School.

A luxury raffle at the gala will include a basket of fine spirits, a gift card-filled treasure chest worth more than $1,500, and a fabulous tropical package with a cooler, margarita mix, beach items, and more. Raffle tickets are on sale in advance at, and gala attendance is not required for purchase.

Tickets can be purchased online at For questions or sponsorship information, please contact Jenny Jones at 412-521-1000, Ext. 3207 or

Alumni Profile: Phil Gelman

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: Phil Gelman

What year did you graduate? 2005

What are you doing now? I am working at Emma Kaufmann Camp as the Program Coordinator.

Favorite CDS memory: My favorite memory was playing lacrosse with all my friends and becoming the captain. My grandmother was a teacher at CDS, and everyone had to call her Ms. Newman, but I was able to call her “Grandma.” Another favorite memory was filling up all those blocks with the pop tabs.

What is the biggest impact from having a CDS education?
 One of the biggest impacts from CDS was the Jewish education we received. Without that, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

What do you want to do next as a CDS alum?  I am looking forward to going back and visiting.

Tell us something silly about you! I just like to make people laugh and feel good.

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

Your organization and dedication to CDS on Giving Tuesday was a shining example of how much passion, commitment, fundraising expertise, and energy you bring to your work every day and how lucky we are to have you working tirelessly on behalf of all the students and faculty at Community Day School. Thank you for everything you do every day to make our school better and stronger for generations of CDS students!

Eileen Freedman

Your hard work and dedication to the Thanksgiving Program was showcased today. The songs and music that the Kindergarten and 5th graders performed were beautiful. This was my fourth and final Thanksgiving Program to attend as a parent, and it reminded me why Community Day School is so special. Thank you!

Thank you to Mrs. Freedman for designing a truly special Thanksgiving program, including singing, instrumentals, and readings on the essential value of kindness. We not only enjoyed the performance, but we are also thrilled to see how our child is learning about this holiday from diverse multicultural perspectives.

Nancy Wilson

The way you taught addition and subtraction last year really clicked for me.  I can now add and subtract really quickly and correctly. You are the best, and I miss you! - Yehudah (current 3rd grader)

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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