Talking with Our Children about Pittsburgh

Parents – 

It’s likely you’re struggling, as I am, to find a way to explain to your child the events that occurred in Pittsburgh. As Rabbi Geoff pointed out during this morning’s service, perhaps the best thing we can communicate to our kids is that we should not allow the language and actions of hate to be louder than the language and actions of love.

 We ought to continue to instill a sense of Jewish pride, emphasizing that love and acceptance and compassion is what makes being Jewish so wonderful. Love is what gives us strength and courage to persevere and support each other.

Blessed Yom Kippur

One of the toughest things about Yom Kippur is remembering last year’s broken resolutions. You know the experience I’m talking about.  You’re standing in shul, thinking about the 801 times you lost your patience, wasted time on your phone, or stayed home doing nothing useful. Instead of meditating, working out, budget planning, volunteering, building something with the kids, or basically any of the other useful, aspirational goals you set for yourself, you goofed. It’s really tough to not feel like Yom Kippur isn’t a little bit of a beat down about all the things that went wrong. What is so blessed about starving all day and feeling bad about your blunders? What if this year could be different?  What if you didn’t have to take on 801 tasks to be able to feel the lightness of forgiveness?

In the field of psychology, Dr. Becky Bailey, creator of Conscious Discipline, a teaching technique that is popular at Jewish schools in DFW, likes to help teachers learn to be kinder to their students, but she starts by teaching instructors to first be kind to themselves.  Her position is that you can’t give to others what you, yourself, have not received. In one of her books, she even goes so far as to retell the story of why Mahatma Ghandi renounced sugar. He first had to teach himself to not eat sugar before he could ask a young child to give up the substance. He spent months of imperfect practice until he could declare himself ready to teach the lesson to others. Turns out that the way we treat ourselves, the way we talk to ourselves, the expectations we have for ourselves, and the respect or lack of respect we bestow on ourselves has a huge impact on the way we treat our loved ones.  According to Dr. Bailey, one of the ways to improve our patience and compassion for others is to develop patience and compassion for ourselves and to just keep practicing even if we repeatedly mess up. We need to be gentler on ourselves when we inevitably miss the mark. And then, we need to try again.

What this doesn’t mean is giving up goals and limits.  I remember one year I set a goal of writing down one thing I felt thankful for each day.  Of course, I forgot to write notes some days, but other days, I had so much to feel thankful for that I threw three or four gratitude notes in the jar. Furthermore, I  found it difficult to write something thankful on challenging days, but just sitting down to write those notes made such a difference in how I felt every day. Instead of beating myself up about what went wrong, I actively stopped to consider the many things that went right. Just this one small, daily act made a big difference in my outlook and probably how my year went.

Although the rituals of Yom Kippur ask us to recall the ways that we have erred, what’s more important is that it gives us the opportunity to grow through kindness and forgiveness, both to ourselves and to others. Yom Kippur is a day set aside just for accepting forgiveness from a power greater than ourselves even if we feel less than perfect most of the time.  The communal recitation of sins shows that everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. Finally, the most powerful experiences of Yom Kippur, imagining the gates of Heaven closing and hearing the final redemptive call of the shofar is the spiritual sign that we all deserve kindness and compassion this year and every year. And sometimes, we need a greater power to remind us to let go of that nagging voice and to just accept redemption.

There are many reasons why Yom Kippur tends to be the day of highest attendance at most shuls, and the lightness of being blessed by another chance and a fresh outlook are probably the biggest part of that. I hope your fast is easy and the honey cake extra sweet this year, and remember to join us at Yom Kippur services at Congregation Kol Ami.


An old Yemenite man blowing the shofar.
עברית: תימני קשיש תוקע בשופר.
Date: 1 February 1947.

This is available from National Photo Collection of Israel, Photography dept. Government Press Office (link), under the digital ID D827-015.

It’s that time again!

Register Now

Be sure to get your kiddos registered for the 2018-2019 year – it’s easy to do! We’ll have an iPad available for you to fill out the online registration form when you bring your kids in or pick them up on Sunday, April 22nd.

I know, I know… the year isn’t quite over YET but we’re already thinking about NEXT year. We’re dotting i’s and crossing t’s as we work out the calendar and start to plan fun events for next year and we don’t want anyone to miss out.

If you are ready, don’t hesitate.  Click here to register now!

Hanukkah is coming!

Hanukkah is coming!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and enjoyed time with family and friends.

December 3rd, we’ll resume classes with 5th Grade’s FLEX program and pre-Hanukkah shopping in the gift shop for the 3 youngest grades. Parents are welcome to attend!

Come Learn about Greene Family Camp

Ethan Lane-Miller, Assistant Director for Greene Family Camp, will be here on Sunday, November 12th at 10:00 am (during Religious School) to make a presentation on Greene Family Camp and the opportunities it offers you and your child.

Congregation Kol Ami and our Religious School Program are big believers in Greene and the Jewish Camp experience.  After years of sending campers, we have heard endless positive stories about how Greene has drawn the campers closer to their identities and Judaism.

Over the past 40 years, URJ Greene Family Camp has positively impacted thousands of children, teenagers and adults throughout the Texas and Oklahoma region. The mission of Greene Family Camp is to create a fun, safe, educational friend-filled environment that teaches and practices Judaism. Our camp provides an unforgettable summer experience that is not only tons of fun, but produces independent and successful campers that return year after year. Join us for an interactive presentation to learn why Congregation Kol Ami is proud to send our kids to GFC!

Welcome Back!

As the ‘in-coming’ VP of Education, I wanted to introduce myself and welcome back all our returning students (and parents!) My name is Carey Roberts and  I’m looking forward to being part of the wonderful team that makes CKA’s Religious School such a valuable asset to our congregation and community.

My husband and I have two children enrolled in Religious School so I’ve been on that side of it all for the last 5 years, which makes stepping into the role of VP exciting (and maybe a little daunting!) Thankfully, I’ve got Becky Lennard teaching me all she knows. I think we’ll have a great year!

I hope to meet more of the parents than I already know so please look for me in Onegie Hall while you wait for Jew-U to start or for your kiddos’ classes to let out. See you soon!

We need your help!

Parents –

As you may know, we have an Education Committee that works behind the scenes to brainstorm, organize, and plan each school year.

If you would like to be a part of this committee, please don’t be shy! We’ll be meeting at CKA on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (unless we have to adjust for a holiday), from 6-7:30PM. 

In the meantime, if you have comments, questions, or ideas you’d like to share, feel free to pass them along!

Get Your Religious School Calendar Now

We are getting ready for the new Religious School kick-off on September 10th and excited to think about all the big things coming.  To help get you ready, we have posted the 2017 – 2018 Religious School Calendar.  You can find it here or under the Religious School Menu.  If you want a 1-page paper copy of the calendar for the whole year, you can get it here.

If you haven’t already, you can still register for this school year.  The online registration link is under the Religious School Menu as well.