Tag Archives: Congregation for Humanistic Judaism

Roundup: “Kim’s Convenience,” Parker Kligerman, Trash …

Last night’s official opening of the Westport Country Playhouse’s new production, “Kim’s Convenience,” was a sellout — and a smash.

Many theater-goers knew it from the Netflix TV show. I’d never seen it, so I had no preconceptions. I was drawn in immediately by its ricocheting storylines of family, love, longing, and — especially relevant today — the immigrant experience, not matter where anyone comes from.

It’s well cast — and much of the production crew is Korean too. Poignant, hilarious and insightful “Kim’s Convenience” should draw large, appreciative audiences through its run, which ends next Sunday.

Click here for more information, and tickets. And if you’re around this afternoon (Sunday, July 10), playwright Ins Choi leads a free Symposium on the show. It’s open to the public; no performance ticket is necessary. Just arrive 80 minutes after the 3 p.m. curtain.

Taking bows after last night’s performance of “Kim’s Convenience (from left): Eric R. Williams, Cindy Im, David Shih, Chuja Seo, Hyunmin Rhee. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Congratulations to Parker Kligerman!

The 2009 Staples High School graduate led for 56 out of 67 laps yesterday, at the NASCAR Truck Series.

He held off points leader Zane Smith to win his race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in Lexington.

It was his 3rd career win in the series, and first in 5 years.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Kligerman told ESPN. “I was pretty emotional on the cooldown lap because this whole team it’s like a team of second chances. Two years ago, I thought my driving days were done. This team gave me a call, wanting to get back racing and it’s just been a steady improvement.”

Also very cool: Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted him congratulations.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Dave Briggs)

Parker Kligerman

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More sports news, but less prideful:

Anyone who spends time on Westport’s fields knows that athletes — and their parents — don’t always pick up after themselves.

But a multi-state lacrosse tournament, run by a private club, brought new levels of garbage across Staples High School and Wakeman yesterday.

Water bottles, fast food wrappers, chairs and all kinds of other trash were strewn in the bleachers, on the Staples hill, and across every turf and grass field. A parent called the amount of garbage “astonishing.”

The event continues today.

One small part of the garbage left on the fields, bleachers and hill, at Staples and Wakeman.

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There’s a new — and important — stop sign at Compo Beach.

David Meth writes:

“Thank you to Carmen Roda, operations manager at Parks & Rec, Department, as well as the Westport Police Department, for installing the new sign just beyond the welcome booth. Drivers now stop for pedestrians and cyclists. It is reassuring that we can all enjoy the summer safely.”

(Photo/David Meth)

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Speaking of Compo: A large crowd attended last night’s Congregation for Humanistic Judaism “Havdalah on the Beach,” at South Beach.

The short service included folk and klezmer music.

Havdalah at the Beach. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

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A few hours later, Pivot Ministries of Norwalk joined Saugatuck Congregational Church in leading this week’s worship service near the cannons.

(Photo/Karen Como)

Meanwhile, a few yards away, Westport Weston Family YMCA officials began setting up for the 43rd annual Point-to-Point Swim.

(Photo/Karen Como)

The sun had just risen. Compo was already buzzing.

It was the start of another wonderful Westport Sunday.

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This week’s Remarkable Theater schedule includes 2 popular films.

“Caddyshack” screens Monday (July 11); “There’s Something About Mary” follows on Wednesday (July 13).

Gates open at 7:30 p.m. for both shows. The movies start at 8:30. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Longtime Westporter, school employee and church volunteer Sandy Atwood died recently, surrounded by her family.

Born Nancy Newton Scrivenor in New Haven, but always called “Sandy” (her father wanted to name her Cassandra), she grew up in Branford. She was a frequent junior tennis champion at the Pine Orchard Club, and played organ in church.

She graduated from Prospect Hill School (now Hopkins) in 1957, then Colby Junior College. Sandy made her debut at the New Haven Assembly.

She met Stan Atwood in Boston, while he was attending Harvard Summer School. They were married in 1960. When he studied at Washington & Lee Law School, she worked at the university as a secretary.

After moving to Westport, where Stan practiced law, Sandy worked for 25 years as an administrative coordinator in Staples High School’s special education department.

Sandy was active in local, state and federal political campaigns; the Greater Bridgeport Junior Hockey Association (including building the Wonderland of Ice), Greens Farms Elementary School PTA, the Green’s Farms Congregational Church, Staples Tuition Grants, the Westport Weston Foundation Trust, Earthplace, the Westport Woman’s Club and PEO.

She and Stan provided housing for high school students in crisis. She also was a regular visitor to elderly and infirm Westport residents.

Sandy was an avid tennis, bridge and bunko player. She enjoyed card and board games, puzzles, reading, gardening, and socializing with the Wine Sisters.

She was predeceased by her husband Stan, brother Arthur, and family dog Henry Aaron. She is survived by her daughter Laura (Tom) Atwood Kottler, and sons Jonathan and Scott (Lisa)l grandchildren Sam, Charlie and Liza Kottler; Finn Atwood, Kirah Kingsland and Alex Robertson, and great-grandchild Bennett.

A celebration of Sandy’s life will be held on Saturday, July 16 (10 a.m., Green’s Farms Congregational Church).

Memorial gifts in her name may be made to Staples Tuition Grants, PO Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881.

Stan and Sandy Atwood.

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There’s a “flock of seagulls.” More strangely, there’s a “murder of crows” and a “parliament of owls.”

What do you call a bunch of turtles?

I have no idea. But Jerry Kuyper spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo near the Levitt Pavilion.

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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And finally … it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to figure out — based on the photo above — what our song of the day is.

Roundup: The Saugatuck, Hook’d, Burying Hill …

Some of the most affordable housing in Westport is hidden in plain sight.

Two 2-bedroom units at The Saugatuck — formerly Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street — will go on the market soon.

The Saugatuck is a senior complex (residents must be at least 62) that caps resale prices to ensure affordability for people with moderate incomes or below. The restriction last year was roughly $105,000 for a single person, and $115,000 for a couple.  There are no asset restrictions.

The property manager maintains a list of interested buyers, for sellers or their agents. For information on how to get on the list, email djallouk@thepropertygroup.net.

The Saugatuck (Photo courtesy of SmartMLS Inc.)

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For the past few weeks, a range of readers have complained to “06880” about the Compo Beach concession stand.

Some emailers are angry. Some acknowledge that this is a First World problem. But there are enough of them that they can’t be ignored.

Hook’d took over as the concessionaire from Joey’s by the Shore in 2020. They did not open that COVID-plagued year. Last year’s opening was delayed too. Many Westporters gave the new operators the benefit of the doubt; replacing a 30-year beloved institution would not be easy.

But patience is wearing thin. Here’s a typical email:

“I was there on Tuesday with grandkids at 4 pm. NO ICE CREAM. The place looked empty of everything.

“One of the workers said there have been lots of complaints about running out of things. It has no atmosphere, and is the exact opposite of Joey’s. And the food is very mediocre. I had a terrible hot dog. Burgers are so so.

“Compo beach needs a great beach stand. Have you heard this from anyone else?”

Yes. Other issues include early and random closures, and no posted operating hours.

There’s this too:

“A little birdie told me when the manager sends his supply list, corporate cuts it to their liking. It’s so not Joey’s. Typical ‘corporate.’ They don’t care about us Westporters. Just their bottom line.”

One reader wonders why, even when no one else is in the place, Hook’d employees insist on taking a customer’s cell phone number, to text when it’s ready.

Readers: What’s your experience with Hook’d? What are they doing well, or poorly? Are there any easy fixes? Click “Comments” below.

Hook’d is open. But customers don’t always know when. (Photo/Karen Como)

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Speaking of beaches: The Burying Hill pier/groin reconstruction job is done. The final construction crew left on Friday.

Before departure they poured a new, low cement wall in the parking lot, to keep vehicles from driving on the sand.

The new construction looks great, and the crew was efficient and engaged. Congratulations to all involved, for bringing this important environmental project to fruition. (Hat tip: Eric Bosch)

Burying Hill Beach pier. (Photo/Eric Bosch)

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The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism hosts “Havdalah on the Beach” next Saturday (July 9, 6 p.m., Compo  Beach).

Everyone is invited for a short service, with folk and klezmer music. Guests can swap Jewish-themed books too.

The CHJ will provide homemade desserts and soft drinks. Bring dinner, adult drinks and a beach chair. There’s no need for a beach pass; tell the gate guard that you are attending the CHJ event, and follow the signs.

Havdalah at Compo Beach.

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The next Westport Country Playhouse “Sunday Symposium” guest is Ins Choi. The writer of “Kim’s Convenience” — the play that inspired the popular Netflix series, and which is the next WCP production — will talk about the show, following the July 10 matinee.

The Sunday Symposium is free and open to the public. No performance ticket is necessary; just arrive 80 minutes after the 3 p.m. curtain.

Perviews for “Kim’s Convenience begin July 5, with opening night on July 9. For information on tickets and special offers, including discounts for students, senior citizens, educators, military, first responders, Indigenous peoples, professional playwrights and groups, click here.

Ins Choi

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“06880” subscription news: Issues continue to plague readers with Optonline.net addresses,

WordPress and Optonline don’t play well together. The great folks at the new Optimum store near Fresh Market are working on the issue, but have not yet solved it.

If you know someone with an Optonline.net address is not receiving “06880,” ask them to email 06880blog@gmail.com. I’ll send a list of troubleshooting steps.

The easiest solution, of course, is to subscribe to “06880” using a different email address.

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The renovation of Longshore may be years away.

But there’s a new addition, near ER Strait Marina.

The Kahuna waterslide popped up the other day. It serves summer campers.

Though plenty of older folks no doubt want to give it a try.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

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MaryLou Bell died peacefully Thursday at her Westport home, surrounded by family. She was 83.

Born to Patsy and Antonette Doddo, she was a life-long Westport resident. She graduated from Staples High School in 1956.

MaryLou was a well-respected local banker. She began with the Westport Bank & Trust Company while in high school. She sun-bathed on her lunch breaks with fellow employees on the roof of the downtown building (now Patagonia).

Loyal customers followed her to newest bank branches in her capacity as branch manager. Through the years she worked with Connecticut Bank & Trust, the Bank of Darien, the Bank of Westport and others. She ended her career in 2012 at Fairfield County Bank.

MaryLou enjoyed New York outings with colleagues, taking in Broadway shows and dinner. Her vacations in North Truro on Cape Cod were special to her. She volunteered at the Sons of Italy Festival Italiano and Westport PAL’s annual golf tournament, and was a member of Westport Sunrise Rotary.

She was active in local politics during the 1970s and ’80s, with the Republican Town Committee and Save Westport Now. Her family says, “She enjoyed spending time at the Westport Senior Center, and sharing laughs with her friends and family. She was fiercely independent, a straight-shooter, and was never afraid to express her thoughts to others. MaryLou lived life her way.”

MaryLou’s family thanks her exceptional caregivers Millie and Thomasine for providing friendship along with compassionate care.

MaryLou is survived by her daughter Kathy )Scott) Santarella of Westport; son Bob (Marybeth) Stephens of Suffolk, Virginia; grandchildren Jordan  and Jamie Santarella, and Wesston, Tyler, Ashley and Will Stephens; sister and brother-in-law Annette & AJ Izzo of Westport; her brother-in-law Ray (Linda) Barry of Fairfield, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

MaryLou was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, William Bell, in 2000, and her youngest sister Angela M. Doddo in 2001.

Friends may greet the family on Wednesday (July 6, 4 to 7 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A mass of Christian Burial will celebrated at Assumption Church on  Thursday (July 7, 10 a.m.). Entombment will follow at Willowbrook Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ­­­­the American Heart Association, or the charity of your choice.

MaryLou Bell

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You’ve got to be carefully taught.

In the case of humans, that covers just about everything.

For tree swallows, it’s how to catch insects

The other day, a few babies awaited their mother’s lessons. She took each out, one at a time, while the others waited.

Nancy Diamond captured the scene, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Nancy Diamond)

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And finally … today marks the halfway point of 2022. (Well, any year actually. But this is the one we care about now.)

183 days are gone; 182 remain. It’s all downhill from here.

(We’re halfway through the year. If you haven’t donated yet to support “06880,” please consider helping. Just click here!)

Unsung Heroes #176

The literal meaning of the Hebrew word mitzvah is “commandment.” But it has come to mean “doing a good deed, with empathy and kindness.”

This Sunday (January 31, 4 p.m.), the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County presents its annual Mitzvah Hero Awards. The 12 honorees were selected by their congregations.

Four are from Westport. Each has made positive differences in the lives of others.

Barbara Jay (Congregation for Humanistic Judaism) has been an active volunteer for 45 years. She creates and leads Shabbat services and programs; helps design CHJ’s website and newsletter, and serves on the board.

She is active in social initiatives too. Three years ago she founded the Saul Haffner Jewish Enrichment Fund in memory of her husband. It supports high-quality events with Jewish themes reflecting Saul’s interests in social issues.

One important event was a major symposium on climate change within the context of the Noah story. A panel of scientists and clergy convened at Sacred Heart University. It was broadcast throughout North America.

Dick Kalt (The Conservative Synagogue) oversees transportation for the High Holidays, ensuring a safe and efficient shuttle service. Inside the sanctuary he works with the audio company so that services are heard clearly and well.

Dick is always available for minyans and food drives. He provides thumb drives to students as they study for their bar and bat mitzvahs. He is a member of the cemetery committee — and personally visits it, making sure it is in good shape.

During the pandemic, Dick upgraded TCS’ livestreaming capabilities. Now, as the synagogue’s security chair, he constantly protects the building and congregants.

From left: Barbara Jay, Dick Kalt, Hildy Parks, Cindy Zuckerbrod.

Hildy Parks (Beit Chaverrim) is the synagogue’s treasurer. During COVID she has kept the lights on, and the staff paid. She keeps track of every detail — always with a smile.

When Rabbi Greg Wall was applying for his position, Hildy was his liaison. She arranged meals, coordinated schedules, and made him feel at home. She does everything, he says, with that same spirit.

Just before the High Holidays this fall, Hildy stepped into the role of administrator during an emergency. She made sure every aspect ran smoothly, during the most important and stressful time of the year.

Cindy Zuckerbrod (Temple Israel) works with Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, and serves on their strategy team. She has also led Temple Israel’s anti-racism trainings, and their Two Books/Two Films program addressing racism in America.

Previously Cindy served on Temple Israel’s board of trustees, and taught teens i their high school program.

She also volunteers her time, expertise and care as a guardian ad litem, advocating for youth in Connecticut’s foster care system.

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Congratulations to this week’s Unsung Heroes!

Due to COVID, this Sunday’s Mitzvah Hero Awards ceremony is virtual. It is open to all. Click here to register.

Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations to: dwoog@optonloine.net.

Saul Haffner’s Legacy Lives On

When Saul Haffner died in November at 87, he left quite a legacy.

He served on the RTM, was a member of the Y’s Men, and taught photography and writing at the Senior Center and Norwalk Community College.

Haffner was a US Army veteran. Professionally, he was an engineer who worked on NASA’s Gemini program, as well as a professor of business and marketing at Sacred Heart University.

He was perhaps best known as a justice of the peace. He may have been the nation’s foremost authority on the subject.

Saul Haffner

His legacy continues. The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism —  where Haffner was a longtime member and former president — has established a memorial fund in his name.

It will organize the types of programs Haffner embraced: those benefiting the CHJ and broader Jewish community, and that bring together people of different faiths.

When he retired, Haffner wrote stories about his life. “Just a Boy from Brighton Beach” was completed by his wife, Barbara Jay. Contributors to the Memorial Fund will receive a complimentary copy.

Contributions made payable to “CHJ,” with “Saul Haffner Fund” on the memo line,  may be sent to the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, PO Box 82, Westport, CT 06880.