Dan Sklar is a beloved rabbi, cantor and musician.
Now he’s an author too.
All those identities come together in “Sh*tShow: A Memoir & Mixtape: The Tales of a Reluctant Rabbi.” It’s an insightful, deeply human expression of past and present.
This past year has been challenging for everyone. Sklar was particularly affected. “Reluctant Rabbi” explores how inherited family trauma — and trauma experienced first hand — shape the people we become.
A Spotify playlist of 29 songs that provoke and inspire accompanies the book (you’ll see when and where to play the tracks). Artists include Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, Theodore Bikel, the Indigo Girls, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Rascal Flatts — and Sklar himself.
It’s called “Galentine’s: Wine Night and Bingo Fundraiser.” It’s sponsored by the Westport Young Woman’s League.
But you don’t have to be a woman to participate in this virtual event. All are welcome!
“Galentine’s” (February 4, 7:30 p.m., Zoom) raises funds for local charities. Last year, the WYWL handed out $90,000 to organizations that end hunger, and promote education and health.
The League has partnered with the female-owned vineyard Aquila’s Nest. The $65 ticket price includes 2 bottles of wine, bingo spot and fun surprises. Click here to purchase a ticket, and for more information.
And finally … happy 53rd birthday to rapper/producer/actor/author/ entrepreneur/Kennedy Center honors winner LL Cool J.
Which, I just found out today, stands for Ladies Love Cool James.
The departure of Cantor Dan Sklar from Temple Israel earlier this month surprised members of the congregation.
But, he says, the notion that he resigned — and that officials did all they could to retain him — is “a complete fabrication.”
In a video released yesterday, Sklar — who also earned a dual degree as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College — calls the temple’s version of events “disingenuous.” He says he was threatened with termination because of anger issues.
Cantor and Rabbi Dan Sklar
Sklar does not deny those issues. They are real, he says — and the result of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sklar studied for the cantorate in Jerusalem during a period of intense suicide bombings. He saw their aftermath.
In his years at Temple Israel, Sklar says, he had several “outbursts of emotion.” They were related to issues of building security and COVID-19 — for example, threats by intruders, and unmasked people in the sanctuary. They were directed at colleagues and staff members, not congregants, he says.
In the video, he describes the pain of being barred by the temple from co-officiating at a funeral — and having no contact with the grieving family. He was also prohibited from contact with students he was preparing for bar and bat mitzvahs.
Sklar expresses gratitude to the many families and friends for the support they’ve shown. Despite losing his job — and his family’s health insurance — in the midst of a global pandemic, Sklar smiles a bit at the end.
Recalling Sabbath services on the beach, and “sharing life’s joys and trials,” he notes that being a cantor and rabbi “is not a job. It is who I am.”
Click below to see Dan Sklar’s video:
Last night, Temple Israel’s board of trustees emailed the congregation:
We are heartbroken to have to write this letter this evening.
We all recognize the imprint Cantor Sklar has had on our congregation and will cherish the memories we have of him. We know how important he has been to you and your family in times of celebration and mourning alike. We assure you that he has had a similar role in our own lives. He has deeply enriched the fabric of our community.
We are disappointed that Cantor Sklar has chosen to mischaracterize certain events that culminated in his departure from Temple Israel.
Unfortunately, over the course of recent years, Cantor Sklar exhibited behavior that resulted in a number of documented incidents which unambiguously violated our congregation’s code of conduct.
Last week, we reached a written separation agreement that was approved by Cantor Sklar and his counsel. The agreement would have generously provided for Cantor Sklar and his family. It would have enabled him to move on to the next stage of his career with his reputation intact and provided financial support for his family during a lengthy transition period.
Today Cantor Sklar revoked that agreement and chose to make public a number of hurtful and untrue accusations against Temple Israel.
We do not believe this is the appropriate forum to share the details of the numerous incidents that led to our decision, but we do want to assure you that we did everything we could to accommodate Cantor Sklar both in recent months as well as over the course of a number of years. Sadly, despite the many accommodations we provided, the situation became untenable. It was a painful but necessary decision we had to make despite the pandemic.
We wish Cantor Sklar and his family only the best. We understand this will be an emotional transition for Temple Israel, but our congregation is strong and resilient. Please feel free to reach out to us; we will support one another though this.
Who doesn’t want to escape 2020? The early 1800s sound great!
This Sunday (November 8, 6 p.m.), Staples Players’ radio play series continues with “Pride and Prejudice.” Jane Austen’s tale of romance and matchmaking gone awry is great family entertainment. Just like the old days! (Though there were no radio plays in the 1800s, of course.)
Sophie Rossman plays Elizabeth Bennet. She calls this “unlike anything we’ve done in the last 4 years.” Sophie admires Elizabeth’s “drive to make decisions and defy gender stereotypes to achieve her aspirations.”
Emily Desser adds that “audiences will love all of the characters in each of these shows. Each of them is entertaining in their own way, and cast members find such interesting ways to bring them to life.”
Gruel Brittania joins the fun. The Fairfield restaurant offers Pemberley’s Prime Rib Supper with Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower and broccoli cheese, roasted parsnips and carrots, pan gravy and horseradish sauce, and sticky toffee pudding with custard. To order, click here.
Seniors Sophie Rossman and David Corro rehearse “Pride and Prejudice.” (Photo/Kerry Long)
Temple Israel cantor Dan Sklar, local favorites The Sweet Remains, Staples High School senior Camille Foisie and Camp A Cappella highlight an evening of great music on Saturday, November 14 (7:30 p.m.).
It’s all for a great cause: the Norwalk/Nagarote Sister City Project. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Staples field hockey team celebrated Senior Day in a big way in their last regular season game, scoring against Norwalk within the first minute. The rampage continued, all the way to 6-1.
The undefeated (8-0) Wreckers advance to the Central Division semifinal, Saturday at home.
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