Dear KE Community



Dear KE Community:


KE celebrated its 10th anniversary at our annual fundraiser Expect the Unexpected on May 5th at the Space Gallery. We keep counting UP as we become a more sustainable and vibrant organization. Here are some Unexpected highlights from this year and important announcements for the coming year.


• KE surpassed for the first time 150 students attending weekly classes
• KE faculty taught an average of 18 classes per semester
• KE welcomed new faculty member Rabbi Jamie Arnold
• KE received major grants from Rose Community Foundation to re-brand KE
• KE was the beneficiary of its largest one-time donation to create a KE Reserve Account
• KE donors increased their support by 33%
• KE launched its Strategic Planning Committee to plan for our future


The only constant is change and change will be reflected in our new identity (brand) as we head into our 11th year. We are indebted and thankful to Hebrew Educational Alliance for providing us a home for the past 5 years that has truly served as an “Area of Refuge” (that is the signage over the exit doors). HEA now needs the building to expand its youth programs and so we will be re-locating. We are currently exploring options.


Stay tuned! The new KE will feature the same times (Monday- Wednesday classes) but not the same channels. As part of our new identity and new location expect to find innovations to our curriculum, additions to our faculty, publications, new programs and our first community weekend retreat.


This summer I will be taking a mini-sabbatical to work on the KE curriculum and to research and write—I am very grateful to the Goldberg Family Foundation for providing me a writing grant. As a result of my writing sabbatical and our re-location we will be offering a few workshops this summer in lieu of regular classes. We will send out that schedule on June 10th.


As the Jewish holidays in the fall are on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we plan to start our fall semester in early October—our BRAND launch, OPEN HOUSE and FREE FALL FESTIVAL will all occur in September. You will be hearing from us soon and often about the new KE, our summer schedule and our fall plans.


Your input is always welcome, informally and well as formally—interviews and surveys were essential in the re-branding process so far—email me with any and all questions, suggestions and comments.


Wishing you all a wonderful summer and stay tuned!


David Sanders
Executive Director


Body Worn Cameras

body-worn-cameras-policeThose familiar with Malcom Gladwell’s book Tipping Point might recognize that technological advances are now tipping the scales of justice. It is a matter of time before every police officer in this country will be outfitted with a body camera.


Statistics do not tell a personal story but they do tell a collective story. Have you ever called one of those 1-800 numbers emblazoned on the rear of a vehicle to report your observations of HOW AM I DRIVING? The statistics are clear. Stickers on company vehicles significantly reduce traffic accidents. There are three components and potential explanations:


1. When you know you are being watched your behavior changes.
2. When companies receive feedback on a specific driver they can:
a. counsel them to improve their driving
b. terminate their employ as drivers


In a 92 page report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice similar points are made regarding the employ of body-worn cameras for police officers (click here to read the report). Two studies, conducted with control groups (officers wearing and not wearing cameras) provide convincing evidence that body cameras significantly reduce police use of force (up to 60% in these studies) and significantly reduce citizen complaints (up to an 88%) against police officer behavior.


The report concludes that:


“Providing a video record of police activity has made police operations more transparent to the public and has helped resolve questions following an encounter between officers and members of the public. Body-worn cameras are helping to prevent problems from arising in the first place by increasing officer professionalism, helping agencies evaluate and improve officer performance, and allowing agencies to identify and correct larger structural problems within the department.”


Body-cameras also impact those people the police are encountering. Ron Miller, Chief of Police, of the Topeka Police Department, puts it this way: “Everyone is on their best behavior when the cameras are running. The officers, the public—everyone.”


The tipping point for body-cameras comes from converging directions—reason and emotion. The logic is borne out by the studies and the statistics, the emotion is conveyed through the ongoing and more public scrutiny of the use of force by police, particularly with people of color.
As a spiritual learning community what lessons can we learn and what can we advocate for from a deeper reflection on body-cameras for police (and How’s My Driving stickers on vehicles)?


First is a powerful reflection on the body-camera we already have on, the one we wear every day—our eyes (and other senses). Imagine if at the end of each day we download the video of our day—we would clearly see our every move. We would see what we spend time on, who we spend time with, how others are reacting to us.


Second is a reflection on actually wearing a body camera—would that change our behavior? My guess is it would have a radical impact if we knew someone (whose opinion we care about) would be reviewing the tape. One of my teachers in High School used to try and quiet the class down by reminding us that we were all being filmed—his point was that we were being filmed by God. It was not very effective, but he did draw my attention to a greater awareness of how my behavior might look to others.


Third, and this gets to a layer of awareness that goes deeper than just behavior is how behavior is a product of our thoughts and emotions. For this the “camera” would not just be filming our actions, it would, if possible, be recording our thoughts and feelings. Imagine the review of that video/audio/sensation recording for police officers and for ourselves. Would we not discover our prejudices, our (over) reaction to things and our incessant internal chatter?


A final point: Will the use of body-cameras for police officers not only impact behavior but also impact beliefs and attitudes? Whatever the answer is does not detract from the validity of using cameras to reduce police force when not necessary and to perhaps create a more civil interaction from those the police are engaging with. It does though point to a needed ancillary “program” to accompany body-cameras (this in addition to reviewing behavior and providing feedback to police officers).


Would it be useful for a recording to go off as a police officer turns on his or her camera—an audio reminder prior to every engagement that spoke to the dignity of human beings, to the value of each life. Perhaps in the current milieu it could be the voice of Martin Luther King’s voice reverberating his message, “I have a dream.”




The Depth of Forgiveness

unnamedForgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side effects.


The day I forgave the Nazis, privately I forgave my parents whom I hated all my life for not having saved me from Auschwitz. Children expect their parents to protect them; mine couldn’t. And then I forgave myself for hating my parents.


Eva Kor, now 81, is a survivor of Auschwitz with her twin sister Miriam, both were held hostage for experimentation by Dr. Josef Mengele. Eva and Miriam’s two older sisters and their father and mother were murdered at Auschwitz; the twins survived the selection on the platform off the cattle cars, they were a prized commodity.


There is a rather lengthy back story to my personal interest in Mrs. Kor so I was pleased and surprised that she agreed to meet to discuss forgiveness with a small group of KE students. She had a very busy agenda during her visit last week to Denver, she was the keynote speaker at the ADL sponsored Governor’s Holocaust Memorial program and gave a number of local press interviews. Mrs. Kor does not have an entourage; she travels alone and travels a lot, speaking as often as she can about her experiences and about forgiveness.


Many are incredulous hearing Mrs. Kor speak about her forgiving the Nazis and specifically, forgiving Josef Mengele, the infamous “Angel of Death” [see her documentary Forgiving Dr. Mengele:] Mrs. Kor states clearly that she is not speaking for or on behalf of anyone else. Her forgiving Mengele, which she struggled with for many years, is a private decision. “At first I was adamant that I could never forgive him but then I realized I had the power now, the power to forgive. It was my right to use it. No one could take it away.” She finds freedom in forgiveness and encourages others to find freedom as well. Her method is simple: write a letter to those that hurt you and then close the letter by forgiving them. She wrote such a letter addressed to Dr. Mengle. She wrote such a letter to each of her parents.


When I asked Eva about her parents whom she hated she initially gave the same answer that is the more public answer—they did not protect her and her sisters from the Nazis, they did not survive to take care of her and Miriam after the war was over. She then shared with candor that her Rumanian childhood was abuse filled, among the Mozes sisters, Eva was singled out by her father for harsh treatment. Her father’s abuse, and the lack of intervention by her mother or other adults led to both a smoldering hatred of her father and the development of a defiant child who would either outsmart him and avoid corporal punishment or stand up to him and exacerbate the beatings. She could not know that her father’s mistreatment would harden her resolve to defy and outsmart her Nazi captors; that she could only understand much later in life, and it still did not alleviate her hurt and anger toward her father. That is until she forgave Dr. Mengele. The wisdom in forgiveness she discovered is not about forgiving the other; it is about releasing the self.


Eva’s father never forgave her for being a girl. Mr. Mozes was blessed with two healthy girls, but he wanted a boy. Eva narrates about her birth: “When the midwife delivered Miriam she tried to lift my father’s spirits, ‘Don’t despair Mr. Mozes there is another one!’ He never forgave me for not being a boy.” Forgiveness has been and continues to be her theme—from her first breath to present ones. Eva Mozes Kor did not die in Auschwitz. She breathes on with a message so worthy of our attention: We can forgive even those that are unable or unwilling to forgive us. It is a freedom she wrested by writing a letter—and engraving the wisdom of forgiveness in her heart.


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