Tag Archives: ” Conservative Synagogue

Have Faith: Church And Temple Teens In B-Ball Battle

Last week, Easter and Passover coincided. Across the globe, Christians and Jews celebrated important holidays at the same time.

Tomorrow (Sunday, April 28), 2 religions converge again. This time the setting is local. At 6:30 p.m., teenagers from Assumption Church, St. Luke, Temple Israel and the Conservative Synagogue meet on the Westport YMCA basketball court.

They’ll compete in the 4th annual Full Court for Kindness tournament. The round robin event is for bragging rights in the Staples High School cafeteria and on social media, sure.

But it’s also a fundraiser. Proceeds from the player and spectator entry fee of $5 (or more!) go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation (in honor of Christopher Lanni, a St. Luke parishioner who died while at Staples) and the Catch a Lift Fund, which provides physical and mental recovery therapy to wounded veterans.

Captains of the 4 faith youth groups, and organizers,meet before last year’s tournament.

Last year’s event drew a packed house. Staples Orphenian Brody Braunstein sang the national anthem. A priest and rabbi delivered blessings. A moment of silence followed, in memory of Christopher.

Then the 4 teams took the court. They battled hard. This was not Sunday school.

Still, there were tons of smiles. Everyone understood the tournament values: friendship, kindness and tolerance.

Temple Israel won last year’s tournament. Another highlight was St. Luke’s come-from-behind victory over rival Assumption.

Who will win tomorrow?

God only knows.

Defending champs: Temple Israel.

(Hat tip: Michele Harding)

After Pittsburgh, Community Gathers At 1 pm Today

In the wake of yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, the entire Westport community is invited to a gathering this afternoon. It’s set for 1 p.m., at the Conservative Synagogue (30 Hillspoint Road).

First Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and other town officials will attend. This morning, they meet with Jewish leaders of Westport at police headquarters.

The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County says:

This past Shabbat, a day intended for peace and rest, for family and prayer, has been a tragically sad one.

Some of us heard the news as it happened, others as they left morning services, and others not until sundown, of the horrifying shoots at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. The loss of lives due to a blatant and hateful act of anti-Semitism stands as the most fatal act against the Jewish community in American history.

At times of great sadness, we find strength in standing together — in solidarity with the Tree of Life Congregation and the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, and in comfort to each other.

Today, the Jewish Federation and congregations from throughout Fairfield County will come together at The Conservative Synagogue in Westport for a special community gathering at this very difficult time. While no words can erase the tragic loss of life and our sadness because of it, our Jewish tradition shows us the value in being together to share sorrow and to find hope.

In light of yesterday’s incident, we will of course work to ensure sufficient security for this event. We hope that you join us.


“Full Court Kindness”: Every Team Is A Champion

The suicide of a local student a few years ago was tragic.

But out of that darkness came some wonderful light.

The young man’s friends decided that a great way to honor his memory was with a round-robin basketball tournament.

Like any tournament, every player wants to win.  But the organizers also promote the values of kindness, tolerance and fellowship.

“Full Court Kindness” an inter-faith event. Teams come from 4 Westport houses of worship: Church of the Assumption, Temple Israel, St. Luke and the Conservative Synagogue.

One of last year’s Full Court Kindness teams …

All proceeds go to 3 charities, chosen by the teen captains:

The tournament is set for this Sunday (6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Westport Weston Family YMCA).

There’s a $5 admission fee (though of course you can give more). Full Court gear will be on sale.

I’m not sure which team will score the most points. But I know who will win.


(For more information, or to contribute, contact Michele Harding, Assumption Church youth minister, assumptionyouth98@gmail.com, 203-222-8486.)

… and another.

Share The Pie!

Despite an up-and-down year, much of Westport enjoys far more than its share of the economic pie.

Which is why, as Thanksgiving looms, the Conservative Synagogue and Homes With Hope team up to “Share the Pie.”

The annual effort is simple:  Apple, pecan and pumpkin pies sell for $22 each. All are kosher.

Proceeds help Homes With Hope provide permanent affordable housing, casework and support services, emergency shelter, food, meals, and life skills training.

Donations also provide pies for local Thanksgiving feasts in our community (Saugatuck Congregational Church) and to families in need (Carver Center).

Individuals and families order pies.  So do local businesses; they give them to their employees as thanks, while at the same time aiding a great cause.  Last year, 500 pies were ordered. Can Share the Pie beat that record this year?

There is no better — or more nourishing — way to give thanks.

(Deadline for ordering is tomorrow — Monday, November 16.  Order forms are available at www.sharethepie.net. Ordered pies can be picked up on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23 and 24, at the Conservative Synagogue, 30 Hillspoint Road. Corporate orders will be delivered. For more information, call 203-454-4673.)

Anita Schorr’s Story

You should see the press releases I get.  If you want to break through the clutter, you gotta sell me on your event.  Draw me in.  Tell a compelling story.

And please, PLEASE, write intelligently.

Occasionally — and very fortunately — I receive a great press release.  Once in a long while — okay, for the first time ever — I get one that is so good, I want to repeat it verbatim. 

Holocaust survivor Anita Schorr is speaking at a Conservative Synagogue commemoration program this Sunday, May 1 (7 p.m.).  The event is free, open to the community, and includes music and art work from children in the Terezin ghetto, plus participation by second and third-generation survivors.

Here is the press release, by Rose Horowitz:

“I thought my mother didn’t love me,” said 80-year-old Anita Schorr, a Holocaust survivor, as she sat in her light-filled contemporary Westport home.

Anita Schorr (Photo/Andrew Katz)

In 1943 the Nazis sent Schorr and her family from the Jewish ghetto of Terezin to Auschwitz.  At the concentration camp, Nazi guards informed women between the ages of 18 and 50 they could sign up to do forced labor in Germany.  Schorr was not even 14.

“My mother pushed me and told me, ‘you are 18 and you are strong,’” Schorr said. She asked her mother to come, but her mother said she could not leave her brother, who was only 9.  Her mother pushed her into the line with the women, then turned and walked away.

“That’s when she saved my life,” said Schorr — though at that moment she thought her mother didn’t love her.

Schorr was the only survivor in her family.

At Auschwitz, the notorious Dr. Joseph Mengele directed Schorr to line up with the women he considered not fit to work. Schorr, like the others, had been stripped naked for the inspection.  When Dr. Mengele didn’t choose her to be a laborer, Schorr bolted from the line.  That could easily have resulted in her being killed by the Nazi guards, she said.

“My body revolted. I thought I would burst and I ran for the latrines,” Schorr said.  However, Schorr went in line again, putting her arm over her body to hide it since she was not physically developed.  This time, Dr. Mengele selected her to do forced labor in Hamburg.

The rest of her family perished in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

When the women selected to work were preparing for medical exams Schorr started to cry, wanting to return to her mother.  But a Nazi SS guard brought her into her office and offered her hot cocoa.  The SS guard told Schorr not to return to her mother.

“You are going to Germany,” she said.  The guard, like many of the prisoners, knew anyone not selected for forced labor would be exterminated at Auschwitz.

“She had a moment of humanity,” said Schorr, who grew up in a cultured, assimilated family in Czechoslovakia.

Schorr dug trenches in Hamburg for the German soldiers.  “They had lorries next to the trenches.  If you didn’t fill them up, you got beaten or punished,” she said.

“I was helping the people in front of me and behind me and I was obsessed with digging to stay strong and alive.”

When the Allied forces bombed homes in Hamburg, Schorr and the other women sometimes found food when they were sent to sift through the rubble.

“The biggest part of survival was to be able to satisfy the constant need for food,” she said.

In 1937, 7-year-old Anita Schorr played on a Maccabi sports team in Czechoslovakia. She is in the top row, 2nd from left.

After Hamburg Schorr was sent for 6 weeks to Bergen-Belsen, the same camp where Anne Frank was murdered.  After it was liberated in 1945, Schorr lived in Czechoslovakia for 3 years.  She joined the Haganah (underground Jewish defense force), and instructed others Jewish survivors in training for the army.

Thrilled when Israel became a nation in 1948, Schorr moved there.  She lived on a border kibbutz, married and had a son.

She left in 1959 with her first husband and son for the US, and worked in print advertising for many years.  Her son and 3 grandchildren live in Colorado.

Here in Westport she is an avid opera and classical music lover, swims nearly every day in her indoor pool, plays tennis, skis, and helps care for her husband Harold, who is now disabled.

For 30 years, Schorr did not speak about the Holocaust.  But for the past 18 years she has spoken about her experience to thousands in area schools, churches and synagogues.

Her son, who is 54, has told her she is “woman of today and tomorrow,” and questioned why she talks about the past.

In the early years after the war, Schorr said she and other survivors questioned those who became famous telling their stories.  She thought they were weak.  Now she realizes she had to “wear armor” to protect herself, and was too fragile to tell her story.

“It took courage,” she said. “It took most of us 30 years to do that.”

Remembering the Holocaust is not enough, she says in her presentations.  Young people cannot wait for someone else to do the right thing when they see someone doing something wrong.

“Step in. Be a hero,” she tells young people.  “It’s the little things on the bus, in the locker room, on the internet, that could lead to tragedies like the Holocaust.”

She welcomes questions from the young people she meets when she speaks. During the interview, she shared a poem that a teenager wrote after hearing her talk at a church.  Her own “armor is thinner” now, she said.

Pulling up her sleeve, she shows the number 71569, tattooed on her forearm in Auschwitz.

“Children want to touch it,” she said.

“Moms The Word”

Dirty diapers.  Tantrums.  Sibling rivalries.  Useless husbands.  Sagging body parts.

Who knew motherhood was such a riot?

Dana Covey, Amy Mandelbaum and Erika Radin, for 3.

They’re the creators and stars of “Moms the Word,” a comic look at parenting in the 2010s.  The show — based on the trio’s real-life experiences with 6 kids — comes to Westport this Thursday (May 6).  Show time at the Conservative Synagogue is 7 p.m.

Line up your sitters now.

(The performance is preceded by a “mom-friendly boutique, just in time for Mother’s Day.”  Tickets are $36 in advance, $40 at the door.  Call 203-454-4673, or email gbbaker@optonline.net for more information.  For a YouTube preview, click here.)

Amy Mandelbaum, Erika Radin and Dana Covey bring their "Moms the Word" wisdom to Westport May 6.