Tag Archives: ” Hanukkah

Roundup: Environment And Social Justice, Pop-Up Art, Pop-Up Menorah, More

At first glance, environmentalism and social justice might seem to be different issues.

But they intersect powerfully. One example: petrochemical facilities — with all their toxic byproducts — are often located in predominantly minority, economically disadvantaged communities.

Wanjiku Gatheru wrote a provocative piece for Glamour: “Want to be an Environmentalist? Start With Antiracism.”

The 21-year old is the first Black person in history to receive the Rhodes, Truman and Udall scholarships. A recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, she’s now studying in Oxford, England.

That’s where she’ll join the Westport Library on Wednesday, December 16 (7 p.m.), for a virtual event. She’ll discuss the intersection of those 2 movements. The event is co-sponsored by TEAM Westport, Sustainable Westport and Earthplace. Click here to register.

Wanjiku Gatheru (Photo/Sean Glynn, UConn)

The Greens Farms Elementary School PTA has organized a fundraiser.

They not only want everyone to help — they want to help other PTAs and organizations too.

When you buy a gift card from a participating local retailer or locally owned online brand — click here! — the store donates a portion of proceeds to the GFS PTA.

But GFS wants to spread the wealth. If your PTA wants to be considered — as part of a dropdown menu at checkout — email contact@payitforward.co.

Participants include ASF Sports & Outdoors, BD Provisions, Club Pilates, Dojo Westport, Posh Nail Salon, Shelala, Skin by Kataryna, Olive & Linen, Organic Krush, Posh Nail Salon, Romanacci Pizza Bar, Splatz by OneFun, Stew Leonard’s, Westport Masks and 3Dux.

New brands are being added all the time. If your business would like to join, email contact@payitfwrd.co.

Westport artist Michael Chait will sponsor another of his popular pop-up photo shows on the Saugatuck River this Sunday (December 13, 12:30 to 3 p.m., 11 Riverside Avenue).

It’s all outdoors. Smooth jazz/R&B music starts at 1:30 p.m., with the Dave Kardas Band. Pop by for the pop-up!

Michael Chait’s flag over the Saugatuck River.

Anthropologie’s Christmas decorations bring a bit of light to downtown Westport.

Now they’re joined by a menorah.

Happy holidays to all!

(Photo/Arlene Yolles)

As of yesterday, Westport had 786 cases of COVID-19 since March (722 confirmed, 64 probable). That’s up 87 total cases since last Thursday.

There have been 25 deaths, up 1 from last week. Click here for full statistics.

And finally … happy 89th birthday to Rita Moreno. In 1961 she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Anita, in the film version of “West Side Story.”

Nobody knows in America
Puerto Rico’s in America!

Pic Of The Day #243

Happy Hanukkah! (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Not Your Father’s YMCA

Despite this morning’s post, there are some holiday decorations downtown.

But they’re not Christmas lights.

And they’re not where you might expect them.

Alert “06880” reader Jeff Giannone sent along this shot:

Y menorah

A menorah stands ready for tonight’s celebration of Hanukkah — the “Festival of Lights.” Set for 6:30 p.m., it’s sponsored by the 4 synagogues in town. All Westporters — of all faiths — are invited.

So head down to the site of the recently vacated Y.

Or — as it was once known — the Young Men’s Christian Association.



Away In A (Burr Farms) Manger

This Wednesday (December 14, 8 p.m.), Temple Israel hosts a forum on the challenges of “the holiday season” for Jewish and interfaith families.


The event comes a few days after Staples’ Candlelight Concert. A tradition for over 70 years, the event opens — as it always has — with the haunting hymn “Sing We Noel.” It ends — as always — with the “Hallelujah Chorus,” as ebullient and glorious a paean to “the Lord God omnipotent” as you’ll find anywhere.

But traditions change. The Candlelight Concert now includes Hanukkah and African songs, plus other evocative music.  (There’s also a production number filled with schmaltzy Christmas tunes, Santa Claus, reindeer, and the occasional dreidel.)

Georg Friedrich Handel wrote the "Hallelujah Chorus" -- not Hanukkah music.

In fact, for over 2 decades Staples’ choral director was Alice Lipson — whose husband and daughter are rabbis and cantors. Alice conducted the “Hallelujah Chorus” as lustily as anyone — and made certain that, while her students knew they were singing pieces rich in history and beauty, they could opt out if they so chose. None did.

Back at Burr Farms Elementary School in the 1960s, it was all-Christmas, all the time. In music class, we sang only Christmas songs. There was “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph,” sure — but also heavy-duty carols: “Adeste Fidelis.” “Away in a Manger.” “The First Noel.”

I had no idea what I was singing, but no matter. It was beautiful music.

And I got more than a music education at Burr Farms. Our classrooms had Advent calendars. Every kid — Catholics, Christians, Jews and Muslims (just kidding) — thrust hands in the air, begging to be the one to open the window that day.

A big part of my elementary school education.

The big event was a nighttime Christmas concert. Parents, students, younger and older siblings stood outside, in the cold air — around an evergreen tree, decorated with ornaments and topped with an angel — singing carols. I even remember someone pointing out where the Star of Bethlehem might have been, though perhaps that is pushing it.

When the Christmas carols were over we all went into the “cafetorium” for hot chocolate, the only secular part of the night.

I didn’t think twice about any of that. For one thing, I was in 1st or 2nd grade.

For another, we started every day with the Lord’s Prayer.

Over the loudspeaker.

That ended in 1963, when the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in school. I have no idea if there was any discussion about that in Westport — if, in fact, parents knew it was going on, or thought anything about it.

The Westport of my childhood was a multi-religious place. Temple Israel was built in 1959, with a membership of 250 families. We were certainly not Darien, and even at a young age I recall my parents being proud of our town’s pluralism.

But you’d be hard pressed to find any evidence at Burr Farms Elementary School, back in the early ’60s.

Not that anyone noticed. We were too busy exchanging Christmas cards and presents in class.

(For more information on Wednesday’s Temple Israel “celebrating the holidays” event, email amendelson@tiwestport.org, or call 203-227-1293. “Drinks and a nosh” will be provided.)

A Heartfelt Merry Christmas

Not to get all Grinchy here on Christmas morning, but one thing really frosts my butt:  “Happy Holidays!”

This is not the “holiday season.”  It’s Christmas.

For millennia Hanukkah, Chanukah, or however you spell it, was a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar.  It’s been elevated to an absurd position of importance  in America — kind of like English-Americans celebrating King George’s birthday right around the 4th of July, because, well, why not?

Besides, Chanukka — even at 8 days long — is long gone by the time Christmas rolls around.

And don’t get me started on Kwanzaa.  I’ve got a lot of some a few black friends, and they all celebrate Christmas.

This is Christmastime.  The Christmas season.

And today is Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good yontiff.