a Jewish presence in the City of St. Louis
Whether you are a member or a friend, you are welcome at CRC. Please join us at our upcoming services, programs or events.
As one of Central Reform Congregation’s longest community partnerships, we have been helping weatherize in the Grace Hill neighborhood since 1990. Work with a team of other community volunteers to place plastic on interior windows of select area resident homes to keep our neighbors warm this winter. This year we will focus on elderly residents within the Grace Hill service area.
No special skills are needed, so please bring your friends or family (12 and older) and join us for this worthwhile project.
Contact: Marcy Brodsky, (314) 302-8957 or email at email@example.com to volunteer, for questions, or directions (map will be provided).
You can also sign up to volunteer online by clicking here.
For Shabbat Shuvuh, Rabbi Deana delivered a beautiful teaching on Israel. Because it articulates many of the questions we, as a liberal Jewish community, struggle with when we speak about Israel, we wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to read it by clicking here.
After 15 years of dreaming, and two years of working together with artist Siona Benjamin, the privately funded Zodiac Floor of CRC has been installed in the Oneg. Inspired by mosaic floors in the synagogues of ancient Israel our floor takes us through the cycle of the Jewish holidays and connects them to circles of zodiac signs, Hebrew months, and the tribes of Israel.
We hope you enjoy the time lapse video of the installation attached and will come to CRC to explore and discover the many secrets in the teachings and beauty of our floor.
You may have noticed that there has been some construction going on here at CRC. As Rabbi Susan wrote back in May, we struggled for years on a design and process for our floor. The Indian Jewish artist, Siona Benjamin, with input from our architect and original building committee, has worked for a year on a painting that will be transferred to ceramic tile and installed in the Oneg in August. The fifteen foot in diameter artwork takes us through the holidays in an imaginative way that will be a great teaching tool for all ages. There are hidden faces and moons and other symbols that we hope will spark discussion and deepen our understanding of how the holidays are connected and how they can be meaningful in our lives today. The inner circles are based on a teaching from the Talmud that connect the zodiac signs, Hebrew months and tribes. The inner circle evokes both Dina, the daughter of Jacob and Leah who did not get a tribe and the Shechinah, the in dwelling of Godliness that is also depicted on the tzedakah box located at the entrance to the sanctuary.
Rabbi Deana wrote a powerful message about the Sin of Neutrality that truly resonates with our feelings about recent events. Please click here to read her beautiful words.
Rainbow flags were in full force Sunday in many major cities across the U.S. celebrating in annual Gay Pride parades on a particularly historic weekend. St. Louis was no different, and our Jewish Communities brigade was out in full force. Not only we we the largest faith-based group marching in the parade, we very well may have been the largest group overall.
To look at more pictures courtesy of Philip Deitch, please click here!
I knew during our first phone call that David Kaskowitz (pictured right) and I would be a good match in the Blessing Buddy Program. “So David”, I innocently stated, “I’ve heard you’re 90.” “Oh no!,” he emphatically replied, “I’m 89!”
Thus began what has turned out to be a very pleasant relationship which includes a lot of laughter and joking around, exactly the kind of medicine we all need. Learning about David’s life has been a great gift to me, as has been sharing my own with him. We see each other every 2-3 weeks.
David was born in Poland in 1924. When he was 6, he and his mother came to the U.S. to join his father in St. Louis who had been here three years. They lived around North Grand which was a Jewish enclave. An uncle gave them a house to live in, with an apartment they could rent out for added income.
David’s parents were Orthodox and spoke Yiddish, which David can still speak some today. During his early school years a teacher noticed and encouraged his aptitude for art and thus began a lifelong passion. After serving at a posting in New Orleans during WW2, he used the GI Bill to attend Wash U Art School where he met Dorothy, his wife to be. They would often go to Union Station with a couple other students and draw people who were alseep, waiting for their trains the next day.
During art school he was able to go to Paris to study with the French artist Fernand Léger at the famous Folies Begere. But he found his time in Paris weighing on him, so far from home, and it was Dorothy’s letters to him that provided a lifeline. Upon returning to NYC on the Queen Mary, on Valentine’s Day, she was waiting for him at the end of the gangplank in NYC. They married later that year and had two children, Rochelle and Donald.
David held a number of jobs in retail clothing stores, worked as an elevator operator, then got his last job at the Yellow Pages illustrating ads. He was there for 30 years.
His initial connection to CRC was not atypical. When Dorothy died about 15 years ago, Rabbi Talve officiated at the funeral, not even knowing them. She made the experience so meaningful, so personal, that he was drawn to the congregation where he can be seen many Shabbat mornings, often next to his friend Mark Maloney whom he picks up on his way to services…yes, David still drives.
David and I have spent time in each other’s homes (he always has snacks waiting at his). And I once gave him a tour of mural work that my late wife Sarah and I had done around town.
David had a retrospective at the Ethical Society in 2013 and continues to do weekly figure drawing at UMSL. He has also exhibited at Crown Center where he lives. He now prefers to use markers as there is a broad spectrum of colors available and unlike using paint which is always very involving, and messy, “I can just take the top off and draw”, he said with an impish smile.
While our art background is an obvious connection, it is more our willingness to just spend time together that is the value of being in the Blessing Buddy Program. We both know the preciousness of life, how quickly it goes by, how at any moment it can be altered by the greatest losses, and the greatest joys.
Gratitude and acceptance are the keys to moving with life, as is a faith in the Divine. David’s life is a testament to how one can honor this gift we are given. I am blessed to have him as a buddy.
To sign up for the Blessing Buddy Program, or for more information, please contact Wendy Bell at (314) 361-1564, ext. 104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 14, over 100 people joined us last night for an amazing opportunity to get engaged with CRC. We first gathered in the multipurpose room for a delicious pizza dinner and great conversation with our fellow members. We then made our way into the sanctuary, where Rabbi Randy gave us an inspiring teaching about the Erev Rav, the Mixed Multitudes (which was very high tech, so let's give it up to Rabbi Randy!). We then split up into committee meetings where participants learned about the various ways they can get involved at CRC. Be sure and click here to learn about all of our wonderful opportunities for YOU.
Thanks to your dedication, CRC raised over $5,400 from over 100 unique donors, far surpassing our expectations! This was such an incredible day and we truly enjoyed sharing stories about all the wonderful work our rabbis, volunteers, staff, members, not quite members, community partners, and others do to build this world from love. We're so proud to be a part of this community and to call you our supporters and friends. Thank you for everything you do!
The Joint Venture celebration was an extremely moving and important gathering. The sanctuary was filled to the brim with members of both CRC and Christ the King. Our rabbis and Reverend Blackmon spoke beautifully and the dialogues among participants will play a role in helping our city heal. Please enjoy the pictures below, courtesy of Lisa Mandel. Click here to view more pictures.
When you shop on Amazon Smile, Amazon will make a donation to Central Reform Congregation. It is a quick and easy way to help raise money for CRC!
We are now live-streaming our Friday night services. Click the "U" button (USTREAM) on the bottom of the left panel. In the search window (top, center), enter central reform congregation Shabbat, and click on LIVE. We will archive the services and these will be available for later viewing on the site.
In the same panel, you can connect to our Facebook page, our Twitter page, and directly e-mail CRC.
Our recent CRC Engagement event brought out many CRC members and potential members who explored how they could become involved in the life and work of CRC. Didn't make it or are curious? Click here to read the details of our opportunities. Click here to let us know your interests.
Looks like every other link? Yes, but this one is the key to our on-line catalog of books. You can check by author, title or subject matter to see what books we own and which of them are available for check-out, i.e. “IN.” The option to reserve items on-line is not yet available. Try it. See what we have and visit the library when you are here.
Visual artist Christine Ilewski has been making portraits of children and young adults killed by gun violence for five years. Mourning a missionary friend murdered in Guatemala, she made a portrait to process her grief. Then she talked to a Chicago mother whose son had been murdered and painted his portrait. That led to meeting more parents and to more portraits. The project grew; she now has 16 artists helping her. She continues to get overwhelmed by the numbers. They never seem to stop.
Ilewski’s original goes to the family. A copy goes on a handkerchief, “symbolic of grief,” she said. She never contacts the families; if they’re interested, they contact the Faces project. We will not only be hearing from Christine at our December Social Responsibility Shabbat, but we will also have the Faces Not Forgotten exhibit in the Oneg for the rest of December.
We are very fortunate to have a second speaker for our December Social Responsibility Shabbat. In 2008, Lois Schaffer’s daughter Susan was murdered in Creve Coeur by 17-year-old burglars who shot her multiple times. Schaffer, who just turned 80, has since dedicated her life to advocating for stricter gun laws. Schaffer said her tragedy gives her the credibility to speak anyplace that will provide a platform to lobby for stiffer gun control legislation and to contribute to reducing rampant gun violence. Lois so so eager to spread her message that she is flying all the way from New York (on her own dime) to speak to us. She will also be speaking at a gun violence vigil on Sunday, December 13.
For more information, please contact Jennifer Bernstein at (314) 361-1564, ext. 117 or email@example.com.
Click here to learn more.
All Fridays at 7:30 pm
Family Shabbat Service
All Saturdays at 9:30 am (except in July)
All Saturdays at 10:00 am
December 5, 10:00 am
December 12, 10:00 am