Shema Koleinu

reJEWveNation: A Celebration and Innovative B-Mitzvah Showcase Experience

Cantor Debbi Ballard and edjewcation station will reveal the first-ever Jewish education mobile classroom in the country at this ribbon-cutting – reveal – Mitzvah Showcase!



For more information, visit

Our Sponsors:

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Check out these awesome vendors at the showcase!

Chez Gourmet –
Temptations Catering & Event Planning –
Better Party Rentals –
Artisan Foods –
Life of the party –
Dance Heads –
Max Booth –
Florida Photo Booth –
Potions and Motions –
Graffiti Pop –
Party Deco –
Cocktail Hour Entertainment –
Wendy J Studios –
Cold Stone Creamery –
Event Studio Productions –
Cruise Planners (Norweigan) –
Hyatt Place –
Green Capital Realty Advisors/Over the Top Catering – |
Photography by Linzi –
Courtyard by Marriot –
SOR Entertainment –
Origami Owl –
Donut Divas –
Café a la Cart –
Express Café –
Traditions –
Catarina Merlot Macaroons
Mari Salon – Facebook Page
You’re Invited Invitations – Facebook Page

Shema Koleinu announces early bird pricing for High Holy Days, 5775

Dear Shema Koleinu families,

We are so excited to announce that our High Holy Day tickets are now on sale exclusively through Shema Koleinu, and if you purchase before July 31, you can save 10% on all ticket sales, saving a possible $40-50 per family!


We have another amazing year planned already and can’t wait to welcome you back and welcome new families as well, we are sure it’s going to be another amazing year!  Of course, we are excited to return to The Miramar Cultural Center this year, and are already hard at work planning an incredible service for you.

The discount code, good until 7/31/14 is “hihoearly”

You can purchase your tickets here:

Apple Picking for a Sweet New Year 5774

Last weekend, I traveled to Atlanta for a skater-boy themed Bar Mitzvah. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with a couple I married four years ago and meet their beautiful new baby. As if that wasn’t already a perfect weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend some quality bonding time with my sister, Nina Spiegel. One of the highlights of our time together was going apple picking at Mercier Orchards in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Apple picking with my sister brings back joyful memories from my childhood.  It was a timely activity in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, as we eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year. Not only are they inexpensive and good for you, but they are delicious too!

Now that I have all these apples, the only question left is what to do with them. I wanted to share with you a childhood favorite recipe my mom always made for me – Apple Fritters:

If you have any favorite Rosh Hashanah recipes, please feel free to share by emailing We’ll post some of our favorites to the Shema Koleinu Facebook Page as it gets closer to the New Year. Remember to use the hashtag #skhiho13 when you post to Facebook and Twitter about the event.

I’m amazed that Rosh Hashanah is only a week away, but even more surprised that Yom Kippur is also just around the corner. We have a record number of people attending High Holiday Services this year, so if you haven’t yet bought your tickets, please do so as soon as possible. You can purchase tickets through Miramar Cultural Center’s website –

L’Shanah Tovah,

To purchase High Holy Day Services tickets through the Miramar Cultural Center, please visit And be sure to follow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook, and contact Cantor Debbi Ballard directly at with any questions you may have about this year’s High Holy Days and how you can get involved.

And the announcement is…(drum roll please) – EdJEWCation Station has arrived!

As many of you know, I have long been seeking a name for our amazing Jewish education program, that has grown in excess of 200% per year over the last 5 years.  Our curriculum has focused on 5 core areas:  Torah, Mitzvot/Ethics, Food/Culture, Prayer/Tefillah, Judaica/Holidays and Traditions.  In our program, we cook and experience the fun of being Jewish, we sing and learn through music, learn how to build a relationship with G-d, and overall – celebrate Judaism in a fun environment together.


Five  years ago, I began teaching a group of five 5th and 6th graders, in their homes, bi-weekly.   We now have reached almost 100 students, and anticipate a possible enrollment next year of 130-150!  The growth has been phenomenal, however, it has taken us out of family’s homes and clubhouses, and led us to several Dunkin Donuts locations, with (thankfully) private conference rooms. But even the blessing of private conference rooms has its drawbacks… It’s kind of hard to whip out my guitar and have 13 3rd graders belt out a whopping rendition of Jonah and the Whale!


So, given the challenge of needing a classroom that serves multiple locations in any given week (Weston, Davie, Plantation, Miramar, and Parkland)  I kept searching for a solution to a demand that required mobility.

And – that’s where edJEWcation Stationcomes in!


For our first step, we are rebranding our current Jewish education program as edJEWcation Station! But “further down the road”…


Imagine – a coach bus – that has been converted into a clean, comfortable, and above all, functional mobile classroom – with 10 workstations, a teacher station, air conditioning, generator, and satellite!  Yes, that’s right – a mobile classroom Jewish education solution to serving hundreds of students throughout South Florida, WITHOUT the need for real estate and exorbitant building funds!  Your future edJEWcation Station mobile solution will be pulling into a location near you in the coming year!

Now hang on!  There’s still lots of work to do!  And while I am in current negotiations on an already converted bus – it’s not quite ready to go yet…

So we have a name, and we will (hopefully soon), have a bus, and what we have most of is lots of ideas!  The main goal is that edJEWcation Station will continue to serve the unaffiliated Jewish population of South Florida with quality Jewish education programs, observance, and fun/engaging celebrations within our community – without the need for high membership costs.   I am hoping that this idea can not only serve the needs of my current population, but that we can also use it for adult education within our community, serving retirement villages with options for adult ed/Torah Study and more.

For this to come to fruition, I would love YOUR ideas:  How else can we use the bus? What would you like to see? How can I use this concept to serve you, my community?

Please share, ask questions, (help me write a grant or two), and join me in celebrating the naming of our project at our upcoming Shabbat Service, on February 22nd.  We will all say a Shehecheyanu together!


For more information on edJEWcation Station, contact Lauren DelGandio at 954-646-1326 or me at!

Thanks! See you on the bus!


Welcome, 2013!

January 5, 2013Debbi BallardServices0

It’s hard to believe another calendar year has passed us by, and it’s beginning to feel like they are going faster with ever passing year. I would like to wish the Shema Koleinu community a very happy New Year, and thank each and every one of you who have helped us achieve such great success in 2012. We are so excited to make some new additions and server our community in an even greater way in 2013, and we hope you will stay connected, and share us with your friends.

Did you know that 83% of south Florida’s Jewish population is unaffiliated? We have learned that unaffiliated in no way means a lack of interest, it just means that most of those people have not found a warm, welcoming, low cost way to connect with other Jewish families, and so we are doing our best to be thinking of ways to serve our community in the coming year.

Beginning with an Interfaith parenting program, and developing ideas like community events (progressive dinners, poker/girls nights out, book clubs, Sisterhood, and more…) we look forward to more creative ways of connecting with you in South Florida. Can you think of an activity you would like to spearhead? Reach out to us and let us know – we want to hear from you to see how we can make 2013 a banner year for all of our community, together.

I’ve made a new New Year’s resolution. Unfortunately, no, it’s still not taking off these last 20 pesky pounds, like everyone else, but it is to be more in touch, publicly, to bring you more information so you can see what we are up to, and to make being a part of Shema Koleinu more fun, more exciting, and more personal than ever.

So – please share us with your friends. Find someone else who wants to connect, help us with a mitzvah project or two, or just be a part of a vibrant Jewish community that wants to have FUN! Let us know how we can help, and by all means, just drop us a line and say hello! We cannot wait to see you in 2013!

Another Year in Review

October 2, 2012Debbi BallardServices0

Last week, we at Shema Koleinu concluded our 2nd year of High Holy Day services, and well – we just couldn’t have asked for anything better!

We knew it would be a great year, but it was going to be tough to surpass our first year’s efforts. I truly had no idea how we were going to make that happen, but a lot of great opportunities came our way this year that we are so thankful for, and I’m so excited to share this with you.

Last year, we knew we were on to something great. From a feeling deep inside, I created a service that I knew would ring positively in my families’ hearts, and make them feel warm and welcome. I took a huge risk, incorporated some really original ideas that could have gone one way or another, but we were spot on. We really didn’t know how this year could get any better, but by the first night we stepped onto that stage, we knew we would hit a home run for our families who came to worship with us this year.

This year, we made 2 major additions to our worship team that I am so proud of. Rabbi Janie Grackin, a renowned Jewish educator and Storah-Teller joined my team after 2 years of begging! Janie engaged our congregation – adults AND children, by bringing the stories of our people to life. We heard comments like “time flew by so fast, and she left us wanting MORE!” Who says that at a High Holy Day service? Well – if you’re sitting in a service where Rabbi Janie is telling the stories, then YOU will be saying that for sure!

Ms. Teresa Flores – drummer extraordinare joined us this year, on the recommendation of my voice teacher, Katy. Teresa kept the rhythm and passion flowing for all of us this year. She is the most intuitive percussionist I have ever met, and is a permanent member of our team for sure.

But for Doug (my pianist), my Dad, and myself- a year of confidence and accomplishment behind us brought us to our community with full hearts, ready to lead, knowing we had a community who was eager to share the passion of Jewish prayer with us, and trusted us to help them lift their hearts in prayer together as a community. We were overcome with joy as we watched my students come eagerly to the bimah to recite prayers and be honored with an aliyah. And we were humbled by the most incredible, heartfelt expressions of gratitude from our congregants after the services.

But the greatest moment of success, for me, was our first-ever community-wide break the fast. We put it together quickly, and promised anyone who attended a warm, welcoming environment where friends and soon to be friends could come share this moment together in unity, and it was a major success. We had over 60 people, about 20+ of them who had only found out about us a few days prior, and many of them I did not know. But something inside those folks told them that this would be a great place to come break the fast, and – it was. I was so thrilled to say Hamotzi with children I had never seen before, in a warm, open, inclusive place where we could all be ourselves and celebrate a new year together.

Looking back at our services, this year, my heart is full and I am humbled by the feedback of our congregants. I met new families , touched new lives, and they touched mine. My prayer this year for all of my community was formed in my mind, by looking at my own life and knowing what I am most grateful for, and I wish this – truly – for everyone I know.

For 5773, I pray for those around me to wake up every day to a life fulfilled by the role they play in their every day lives. I pray for every person to experience satisfaction by knowing they have made a difference in the world around them. I pray that every person hears the words “thank you for being you”, because that is what G-d has made us, and happiness and holiness exist for us when we are truly being our authentic selves. I greet each day proud of who I am, and what makes me different, and I am so grateful for the love and gratitude I receive in exchange for what I do. There is no greater feeing, and I wish for every person I love to experience that for themselves. I pray for joy, peace and abundance for all of my friends, congregants, and family members, and most of all – I am so looking forward to 5774.

I thank you ALL for giving me the opportunity to lead you in prayer this year. I hope I touched your lives as deeply as you all have touched mine.

L’Shanah Tovah,