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.”
Single tickets for Westport Country Playhouse’s all-virtual 2021 season go on sale Tuesday (May 4, noon).
The Playhouse’s 2021 season — from June 15 through December 19 — has been reconceived as diverse entertainment, tailored for digital enjoyment. All content will be available on the Playhouse website, on-demand for patrons’ convenience. Single tickets, starting at $25 for staged productions and $20 for Script in Hand play readings, may be purchased by phone (203-227-4177) or online.
The first of 3 new virtual productions is “Tiny House,” a comedy (June 29- July 18). The second virtual production, “Doubt: A Parable” — a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama runs November 2-21.
Two HD video productions from Playhouse archives will stream on-demand: “Man of La Mancha” (August 23-September 5), and another (to be announced, September 13-26).
Three Script in Hand play readings include “The Savannah Disputation” (June 15-20). The others are October 19 – 24, and December 14 – 19.
Special pre- and post-show events are planned, including virtual LGBT Night Out cocktail parties, and interactive talkbacks.
For the 2nd year in a row, there will be no audiences in the Westport Country Playhouse. But the show(s) will go on.(Photo/Robert Benson)
If you missed it — no problem. The Westport Arts Advisory Committee has created 2 displays of lawn signs, featuring inspiring art and words from elementary and high school artists. They’re outside Town Hall and on Jesup Green, through May 5.
Student artwork on Jesup Green (Photo/Amy Schneider)
As the number of COVID cases rises in Connecticut, so does testing demand.
This was the scene today before 7 a.m., at the St. Vincent’s Health Center site. The line of cars stretched far down Long Lots Road.
Remember that “VOTE” sculpture that went up right before Election Day on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge?
It was created by Westporter Mark Yurkiw.
On Tuesday morning — as voters headed to the polls — this was all that remained:
Mark collected the pieces. He realized the damage did not come from the wind. If that was the culprit, they’d be scattered on the river. Instead, Mark says, all the letters were there on the ground.
He collected them, brought them home, and took this photo:
He calls this tryptic “Battered Not Broken.”
“Rock Paper Scissors” — the sculpture, not the game — was officially dedicated yesterday on Jesup Green. now that the official ribbon cutting has taken place.
Ann Sheffer — who with her husband Bill Scheffler dedicated the work — eloquently described how the influence of her Westport family encouraged her longtime support of the Westport Library, and how her desire to keep the arts thriving in Westport led to the establishment of the Arts Advisory Committee and the position of town curator (now filled by Kathie Motes Bennewitz.)
Dedicating “Rock Paper Scissors” yesterday (from left): Westport Library director Bill Harmer, town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Westport Arts Advisory committee co-chair Nancy Diamond, donors Bill Scheffler and Ann Sheffer, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. (Photo/Randa Trivisonno)
And one more election-related photo…
Anne Lowrie sent this along. The flag is in her back yard. It struck her as “appropriate for the current times: beat up but still flying.”
The other day my dentist emailed me, requesting confirmation of an upcoming appointment. It prominently noted I’d be charged $50 if I canceled less than 24 hours in advance.
Then — less than 24 hours before my appointment — he emailed again. He had to cancel; his hygienist would not be in the next day.
I assume I’ll get $50 off my next visit. Right?
In early March, “06880” profiled Vivek Kanthan. The 10-year-old Westporter had just launched his (very successful) kart racing career.
A few days later, COVID-19 struck. Suddenly, his spring and summer plans were on hold.
When competition resumed, Vivek was ready. All told this year he competed in 16 races, and reached the podium 12 times.
Next year the young racer moves up a class, and faces even fiercer competition. it begins with 2 national events in Miami. Good luck, Vivek!
Jaime Bairaktaris is a multi-talented, community-minded Westporter. On Monday the 2016 Staples High School graduate, current Sacred Heart University student and 2020 Connecticut Paraeducator of the Year witnessed something disturbing downtown. He writes:
I’ve heard about hatred in our community. I’ve heard stories from friends, neighbors, social media and news sources. But I had not seen it myself.
This week, I think I saw it. It was ugly and deliberate, in the form of 3 middle school boys with their opinion to display, or partially formed frontal lobes to blame, or a sense of common respect to try to gain.
But there it was, plain as day.
I paused while tutoring another middle schooler. We watched the boys pull up a sign for a national political candidate from Jesup Green. They broke it into pieces, threw it in a trash bin, then took turns spitting on it before walking away, screaming to each other.
Spitting on it!
We were confused. So were the many other kids and adults sharing Jesup Green and Riverwalk tables. My student and I talked about respect, hatred, and why — regardless of opinion — we respect all things, and all people.
A nice day, marred.
We talked about better ways to share our own opinions, and how everyone’s opinion matters in one way or another.
Then we talked about how we never spit. Not during a pandemic, not on a sign, not at another person. Not ever.
As we talked, a group of middle school girls retrieved the sign from the trash. They placed it back on the lawn.
My student and I talked about how there are helpers everywhere. We talked about why we need to restore the good that is sometimes taken from a community, and how sometimes it is taken by people who may not realize they’re doing it — or may not care.
I wish I could have thanked those girls. Not just for putting back the sign, but for caring. For teaching us a positive lesson. And for reminding us that the majority of kids who hang out downtown do care.
But then the boys returned. They ripped the sign from the ground again, threw it onto Jesup Road, and took turns jumping on it. Then they flung it onto the middle of Jesup Green, before finally leaving.
Those boys did not care.
I wish I could have said something to my student, to everyone around us, to the girls who tried to help — something that could have made the situation better.
But I was at a loss. So I went back to our social studies. The hum of conversation and COVID-era working returned to the green.
I reported the incident to the police, so it’s on record. But I don’t know who those 3 boys are. I only know they don’t care. I don’t know their names, their families, their hobbies, their strengths, who they’ve helped in their lives, or who looks up to them.
I don’t know any good things about them. I only know that they destroyed a sign on Jesup Green.
Is this bigotry? Impulsivity? Stress? Lack of education? Too much media? Am I a snowflake? Or a Karen? Do I care too much? Did I not care enough to stop them? Is this a non-issue? Or is this a real probme.
This is not a case of “kids being kids.” The majority of those I see on their skateboards, scooters or bikes, in the deli or on the green, are energetic, loud, and — most importantly — respectful.
They’re doing what they should be doing: having fun, while learning how to make their own choices.
After thousands of Westporters spent hundreds of hours squatting on Jesup Green and the Westport Library steps after Tropical Storm Isaias, conducting essential business or watching movies thanks to the library’s free WiFi, I thought more readers would recognize last week’s Photo Challenge.
Seth Schachter’s shot showed a sculpture resembling 3 bowling balls. It’s actually part of the Westport Library’s logo — and it sits, appropriately, at the top of Jesup Green, adjacent to the police station parking lot and a few yards from the library. (Click here for the image.)
Susan Iseman, Pat Saviano, Valerie Smith-Malin, Jo Ann Flaum and Amy Schneider were the 5 who nailed the challenge.
FUN FACT: The 3-dot logo is replicated on the clock that hangs outside the children’s section, visible from just about everywhere on the main floor.
Today’s Photo Challenge is our first ever two-fer. The images are both gorgeous — but they show different spots. If you know where in Westport you’d see both scenes, click “Comments” below. You must correctly identify the 2 sites, in order to “win” our non-existent prize.
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