The recent national surge in anti-Semitic acts — including the New York area — has rattled many local Jews.
Then there was one right here in Westport.
A congregant of Beit Chaverim — born in Israel, but a longtime Westporter — arrived home to find eggs splattered on her front door.
In his sermon last weekend, Beit Chaverim’s Rabbi Greg Wall told his Post Road West congregation that the only way to fight what’s happening is to be more visible.
“Keep your yarmulke on,” he said. “If you’re intimidated, the anti-Semites win.”
Rabbi Greg Wall
Noting the importance of community involvement, he adds, “Anti-Semitism is a communal issue. As Jews, we have stood with any group that’s been denied their rights — other religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations. Now we need them to stand publicly with us.”
“On behalf of the Town of Westport, I want to reiterate that acts of discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in our community. Over the past year, as a country, we witnessed the murder of George Floyd, terrifying attacks against the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, and countless other acts of hatred and discrimination. And in recent days, we have seen acts of anti-Semitism strikingly close to us in New York City.
Let there be no doubt, anti-Semitism has no place in our community. We respect our Jewish neighbors and visitors. Westport is an inclusive community that embraces diversity and has always celebrated all cultures and religious beliefs. We must continue to respect everyone regardless of their race, creed or ethnic origin. I encourage all in the community to reaffirm these values during this challenging period.
I stand with our friends and neighbors who feel threatened by these terrible activities. Make no mistake, Westport is focused on protecting all residents and visitors. We have stepped up security in and around our synagogues and temples and will do everything necessary to keep our community safe and free from discrimination and hate.
Congratulations to the Staples High School girls track team. They won the FCIAC championship yesterday.
Individual winners for coach Jesse McCray’s team include Ava Harvey (long jump, 16′ 9.5″; triple jump, 34′ 3/4″) and Tatum Havemann (800 meters, 2:17.56, personal record), and Isabelle Blend (pole vault, 8′).
The 4×400 meter relay team of Francine Stevens, Olivia Bollo, Hannah Murphy and Samantha Dewitt blazed to a school record 4:01.52, winning gold.
The 4×100 meter relay squad (Molly Liles, Bollo, Murphy, Laura Spheeris) also set a school record, placing 2nd in 50.13.
The 4×800 meter team (Leigh Foran, Josie Dolan, Nicole Holmes, Lyah Muktavaram) took silver in 9:48.98. Also second: Francine Stevens (100, 12.41; 200, 25.05) and Dewitt (400, 59.68, personal record).
Francine Stevens won her 100 meter heat. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)
Beechwood Arts’ 2nd of 3 “Classical Smackdown Concerts is set for Thursday (May 27, 7 p.m.). Pianist Frederic Chiu will perform Bach vs. Glass — and an international audience will vote for their favorite.
Frederic’s first of 3 Classical Smackdown Concerts “Heart & Soul” was very exciting with interesting results from the first ever Global Smackdown Vote! The audience was truly global with people from Australia, China, Europe and all over the US!
Westport Business Networking International (BNI) will sponsor a “Discover Your Well Being Expo” on June 16 (6 to 9 p.m., Salon Paul Michael, Westport).
The free event includes informational booths from a chiropractor, personal trainer, functional medicine specialist, organizer, clean crafted wine distributor, counseling service, plus beverages, hors d’oeuvres and interactive demonstrations.
BNI is a networking group of business professionals. They seek one new members in each of these categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.
And finally … I can’t believe I missed Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday yesterday. (I also can’t believe he is 80.)
I could link to dozens of his songs that have impacted my life. I could make an entire list of those with I’m-still-discovering-more-there lyrics (“Memphis Blues Again,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “Desolation Row”), those with political power (“The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Hurricane”), and those whose studio musicians are vastly underrated (“Like a Rolling Stone,” “Jokerman,” “Changing of the Guards”).
But I’ll narrow today’s selection down to 4 that, to me, define Bob Dylan. What are yours?
Do you know a person, business or organizations in Connecticut dedicated to environmental protection and sustainability?
Connecticut’s water utility wants to honor them, with an Aquarion Environmental Champion Award.
Winners will join previous honorees, including Sikorsky, Bigelow Tea, Pratt & Whitney, the Trust for Public Land and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition.
Winners in the Adult, Non-Profit Organization, Large Business, Small Business, and Communications categories can select an environmental non-profit to receive a $2,500 grant. The winner of the Student category (grades 9-12) will receive a $1,000 award.
People with disabilities face many challenges. So do their siblings.
Abilis — the non-profit that helps hundreds of special needs families — holds a “Sibshops” workshop on May 19 (5 to 6:30 p.m., Zoom). It’s open to area children ages 10 to 14 whose brother or sister has a disability.
Sibshops are “high-spirited, fun workshops that combine recreation, discussion and information.” They provide safe spaces for siblings to share thoughts and feelings, while meeting others in similar circumstances and learning about the services their brother or sister receives. Click here to register. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Weisberger’s novel The Devil Wears Prada, offered a devastating view of fashion publishing. Her 6 books have sold over 13 million copies.
Her newest — Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Pretty — goes on sale May 18. The night before (May 17, 7 p.m., Zoom), she’ll chat virtually with Westporter Jennifer Blankfein about her latest book, and the women — a TV anchor with everything, and her stay-at-home supermom sister — in it.
The conversation is sponsored by the Westport Library. Click here to register.
This year’s New York Board of Rabbis’ Humanitarian Awards will honor first responders and essential workers.
Dr. Anthony Fauci will be feted. So will the Greater New York Hospital Association.
And … Westport’s own Avi Kaner.
The co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets (and former Board of Finance chair and 2nd selectman) will be cited for the work his family-owned business did during the pandemic.
Morton Williams stores never closed. Employees kept working; senior executives ensured that the supply chain continued.
The company became a lifeline to New York. They worked with the CDC to adjust trucking regulations so that truckers would be comfortable making deliveries. They were among the first in the nation to set aside special hours for seniors and immunocompromised customers; they lobbied aggressively for mask use, and ensured that supermarket workers were included in phase 1B of the state’s vaccinations.
There’s one more Westport connection to the May 10 event: Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue is president of the New York Board of Rabbis.
Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)
Business Networking International does exactly what its name says.
But there’s a twist: Only one person per profession is allowed to join a chapter. For example, there is one CPA, one architect, one insurance agent.
BNI’s Westport chapter is strong and active. They’ve got 48 members. Last year, they conducted nearly $2 million in business.
There are openings now in a few categories: interior designer, home inspector, developer, heating and air conditioning contractor, fitness club or personal trainer, chef, and attorneys who practice estate and elder law.
Weekly BNI meetings are now held over Zoom. They’ll transition to a hybrid or in-person format this summer or fall. Click here for information, or email email@example.com.
Carolyn Doan reports that the Fresh Market ospreys had a busy week rebuilding and freshening up their nest.
Sometimes when they’re not at home, Carolyn and her son head over to Gray’s Creek. Those birds are usually eating. “The male’s chest is more white, while the female has tan markings,” she says. She took this photo of one finishing a fish.
Meanwhile, a group of Y’s Men strolled past this osprey at Longshore:
Five Wreckers are Staples High School’s Students of the Month.
Senior Henrik Hovstadius, junior Bruno Guiduli, sophomores Leo Fielding and Ari Lerner, and freshman Domenic Petrosinelli were nominated by their teachers.
Principal Stafford Thomas called the honorees “the glue of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place that is.
Staples High School students of the month (from left): Henrik Hovstadius, Domenic Petrosinelli and Ari Lerner. Missing: Bruno Guiduli and Leo Fielding.
The 2021 Music at MoCA Concert Series features a diverse range of jazz, pop and classical outdoor concerts, from April through October. Highlights include performers from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight series.
Multi-instrumentalist and soulful pop artist Matt Nakoa opens the series on Friday, April 30 (7 p.m). Click here for the full schedule, and tickets.
Season passes are available for all 13 concerts, along with jazz, pop or classical packages and individual concert tickets. MoCA members receive discounts. Food and drinks are available at each event.
Saugatuck Church’s 1st-ever Easter drive-in worship service was — well, if not a miracle, then still pretty cool.
The back parking lot was filled with 45 cars (that’s around 13o people). The FM radio broadcast worked flawlessly, thanks to Mark Mathias. The service was punctuated with plenty of cheerful horn honks.
Dozens more watched the livestream on Facebook and YouTube. But that photo isn’t as interesting as the one below:
Westport Book Shop Artist of the Month is Katherine Ross. Her watercolors will be on display throughout April at the Drew Friedman Art Place, in Westport’s popular used book store on Jesup Road.
Ross is a well-known artist and art teacher. She conceived the children’s mosaic wall at the Longshore pool, with work from over 1,000 middle schoolers. She has served on the Arts Advisory Committee and Westport Cultural Arts Committee, and co-chaired the Westport public schools’ Art Smarts program.
The exhibit is open during the Book Shop’s business hours: Tuesdays through Fridays (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sundays (noon to 5 p.m.
Tonight (Monday, April 5, 7:30 p.m., Zoom), the Democratic Women of Westport and Staples Young Democrats host a virtual session called “The Anti-Racist Policy Agenda: Connecticut Voter Protection.”
State Representative Stephanie Thomas — who represents part of Westport, and serves as vice chair of the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee — will discuss the 2020 election in the state, possible expansion of access for voting, and building support for voter protection laws.
To get the link for the talk, or more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking of nature: Here’s an osprey update from the indefatigable Carolyn Doan.
“Our lovely osprey couple has been making their nest near Fresh Mart a little more comfortable. They’ve resorted to using what looks like a knit hat or glove. The female has taken matters into her own talons, and is getting sticks herself.”
During the pandemic, families have spent more time than ever. For some, it’s a wonderful way to reconnect. For others, it’s caused tension.
Dr. Bob Selverstone — a much-admired Westport psychologist in private practice for over 40 years, former Staples High School educator and counselor, and noted TV and radio guest — recently taped a session for the Westport Library.
It’s called “Making Marriage Even Better.” He should know: Bob and his high school sweetheart, Harriett, have been married for nearly 60 years!
For over 20 years, Joseph Oyebog has taught tennis all over Westport.
The former Cameroon Davis Cup player retains strong ties to his homeland. In 1999 he founded the Oyebog Tennis Academy. Westporters have been strong supporters of the project, which provides Cameroonian children with coaching, education and life values.
John McEnroe is a supporter too. He called his friend Yannick Noah. After the French star visited OTA in February, a video went viral.
But money is tight. The annual fundraiser at Intensity was canceled by COVID — for the second straight year.
Board members — many of whom live in Westport — are searching for a corporate sponsor, as well as donations of any amount. Click here to help.
And finally … on this day in 1964, Beatlemania had taken over America. The lads from Liverpool had the top 5 — five! — songs on Billboard’s Top 100. From #1 on down: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me.”
But that’s not all. The Beatles had 7 — seven! — other songs on the list: “I Saw Her Standing There” (#31), “From Me to You” (#41), “Do You Want to Know a Secret” (#46), “All My Loving” (#58), “You Can’t Do That” (#65), “Roll Over Beethoven” (#68) and “Thank You Girl” (#79).
A few dozen Westporters celebrated Good Friday yesterday through a marking of the Stations of the Cross. The walk was a call to dismantle racism, and pursue racial justice.
“Give us eyes to see how the past has shaped the complex present,” said Rev. John Betit of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Participants stopped at several sites related to Black history in Westport. Christ & Holy Trinity, Saugatuck Congregational Church and the Westport Museum of History & Culture collaborated for the event.
After an initial prayer in the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard, the group headed to the entrance of the church parking lot on Elm Street.
Rev. John Betis, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church: the first Station of the Cross. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)
They looked across at Bedford Square. In the 1940s, it was the back of a boarding house — accessible through an alley at 22 1/2 Main Street (later the entrance to Bobby Q’s) — that was the hub of a thriving Black community.
By 1949 though, it was considered a slum. The town would not grant permits for improvements. In December, residents asked the RTM to be considered for the affordable housing being built at Hales Court. They were denied.
In January 1950 — 8 days after a newspaper wondered what would happen if a fire broke out there — that is exactly what happened. Unable to obtain housing anywhere else in town, the Black community scattered — and disappeared forever.
Heading to the next Station of the Cross. (Photo courtesy of Christ & Holy Trinity Church)
The next station was the site of the former Ebenezer Coley general store, at the Main Street entrance to Parker Harding Plaza. The original outline of that saltbox building remains; it’s the former Remarkable Book Shop and (later) Talbots.
The river came up to the back of the store. Enslaved people loaded grain grown at the Coley farm onto ships bound for New York. There it was loaded onto larger ships, which sailed to the West Indies where it fed other enslaved Blacks.
The group then walked a few steps to the Museum of History & Culture. Ebenezer Coley’s son Michael owned the home at the corner of Avery Place and Myrtle Avenue. He managed the Coley store, and oversaw the enslaved people.
Bricks bear the names of over 240 enslaved and 20 free people of color, part of the parish of Greens Farms Congregational Church. They appear in the church log book as births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.
Owners brought their enslaved people into church for services, though they — and freemen — had to stand in the balcony above the sanctuary.
Bricks at the Westport Museum of History & Culture honor more than 200 Black men, women and children from the 18th and 19th centuries. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)
A short walk up Evergreen Avenue brought the group to the Saugatuck Church cemetery. Cyrus Brown — who, like many others affecte by racism and legal bias, went from being a landowner and farmer to a servant of the Gorham family — is buried there.
Brown’s relationship with the Gorhams was evidently strong. He is buried in the family’s plot, with a high quality headstone of his own.
A stop at Evergreen Cemetery. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)
After that final station, worshipers walked through the woods to the Saugatuck Church property. The labyrinth on the lawn provided space and time for final Good Friday reflections.
Walking through the woods, to Saugatuck Church. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)
A final stop at Saugatuck Church. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)
(Historical background provided by the Westport Museum for History & Culture.)
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