Tag Archives: Passover

COVID-19 Roundup: Bells, Seders, Easter, Entertainment, Saugatuck Island, More

Yesterday marked one month since the Westport Public Schools closed — and the full impact of the coronavirus hit home.

The original “2-week” period has been doubled. Though there has been no word from the governor, it looks increasingly likely that schools will remain shut through June.

Four weeks ago, we could not imagine being out for 2 weeks. Now, we realize we can do this. And we can do a lot more, in all facets of our lives.

Human beings are remarkably adaptable creatures. But it takes an enormous amount of support and collaboration to adapt. Here’s a shout-out to all who have done whatever they can, to help us through that very tough first month.


It’s still too early to get a handle on the financial impact of COVID-19 crisis on Westport. When Board of Finance chair Brian Stern sat for an interview with Rob Simmelkjaer yesterday, he noted that it is too early to know about its effect on the mill rate, which will be set in mid-May. Click on the app for the full interview; download it here.

Brian Stern and Rob Simmelkjaer.


Yesterday marked Westport’s 2nd Wednesday of bell ringing. Churches, businesses, families — all got together at 5 p.m., to show support for medical personnel and frontline workers.

One of the special ringers was Rebecca Schachter. Her bell came from her dad Seth’s World War II collection. It was used by British wardens during air raids.

Eight decades later, we’re in a different war. But the bell is as important as ever.


Like many Westport families last night, the Aders and Yormarks celebrated Passover — commemorating the Israelites’ escape from slavery when God inflicted 10 plagues upon the Egyptians — in the midst of a plague. Here’s their “virtual” Seder:


Also yesterday, Governor Lamont ordered all flags lowered to half staff statewide, mourning those affected by COVID-19. Flags will remain lowered throughout the emergency.

Reader Brendan Byrne spotted a firefighter at the Saugatuck station responding immediately:


Posted without comment (though there undoubtedly will be some from readers):

“SISTD” is the Saugatuck Island Special Taxing District. It was established in 1984 to tax island property owners on the land just beyond Harbor Road for local costs — mainly road maintenance. (Hat tip: NextDoor)


St. Luke Church will livestream all Holy Week masses and services. That’s Holy Thursday (tonight, 7:30 p.m.); Good Friday (8 a.m., 3 p.m.), Holy Saturday (8 a.m., 8 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (7:30 a.m.).

After livestreaming, they’ll be available on YouTube. Click here for details.

(Photo/Julie Mombello)


Aspetuck Land Trust’s 44 preserves are still open. They’re great places to walk, de-stress, and leave the coronavirus world behind.

But — unless people start obeying the well-marked rules — they won’t be open much longer.

There is a clear “no dogs” policy. The reasons make sense: the COVID-19 virus may be spread on dog fur just like on other surfaces. Plus, the heavy volume of dogs harms wildlife.

Yet people still bring dogs. And recently, people who did not want to follow the rules went further, and ripped up signs.

Beaches and athletic fields have been closed. Aspetuck’s preserves are still open. But some entitled morons may soon put an end to that.


Just in case you haven’t gotten the memo that Westport sports facilities are closed: There are new electronic signs at Staples High School. They rotate 3 messages: “No Trespassing.” “Athletic Fields Closed.” “Area Patrolled.”

(Photo/Jennifer Kobetitsch)


With Westport’s schools and town buildings shut, the Westport Public Art Collections presents 2 new online exhibits. They feature artwork that’s part of the new Learning Galleries — spaces at each school for displays responding to teacher requests.

Click here for “Face to Face: Looking at Portraits from the Westport Public Art Collections.” Click here for “Ties that Bind: Westport and Yangzhou.”  For more, click on the WestPAC website.


If you’ve been de-cluttering your house like crazy: Good news! Goodwill donation centers are open.

Goodwill’s career centers are open too — virtually. That’s a great resource for people looking for work. Click here for more info, and/or to make an appointment with a job counselor.


John Richers spent 40 ears in corporate finance. He owned a couple of guitars and harmonicas that were gathering dust, but for the past 5 years he’s attended a weekly jam group with “musicians of a certain age.” Now also done open mic shows, covering Dylan, Tom Petty, Neil Young and the like.

Now — in the new normal — John has started writing songs. H ejust began posting them on YouTube. Who knows? With a push from “06880” readers (and perhaps a nudge from Weston’s Keith Richards — see why below), the Westporter may soon be a pandemic star.


Richard Epstein — the Westport dentist who moonlights as a WPKN programmer — wants everyone to know that the 89.5 FM station is livestreaming a “Global Dance Party” tomorrow (Friday, April 10) from noon to midnight.

All hosts are live — from their homes. Among them: Talking Heads drummer and Sturges Highway resident Chris Frantz playing disco, house and funk, and Westonite Eric Cocks (surf, garage, psych).

Other genres include big band, swing, bluegrass, American and roots, Middle Eastern, ska, dance hall, hip hop, salsa, Latin, Afrobeat, blues, rockabilly, Bollywood, new wave, punk, and unclassifiable.


Stew Leonard’s has changed their minds. They will be open on Easter: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.


And finally, because this is our new reality:

COVID-19 Roundup: Bell Ringing Tonight; Animals (And The Easter Bunny); Working Out, And More

Last Wednesday, Westport thanked doctors, nurses and all frontline workers during the pandemic with our first “Ringing of the Bells.”

So many people had such a great noisy, community time that we’re doing it again. All Westporters are invited to join in today, from 5 p.m. to 5:02.

Church bells, musical instruments, pots, pans — whatever you’ve got to make noise is joyfully welcome.

Anne Lawton put together this video, featuring Greens Farms Church and many local participants. The former news anchor (Fox 5 New York, News 8 New Haven) appears at the end urging everyone to join in.


Besides bells, Americans are howling.

Staples High School 1979 graduate David Stalling reports from Missoula, Montana, where every night at 8 p.m. he hears large packs of people — and dogs — howling loudly. They (the humans) are doing it for the same reason others ring bells: to honor healthcare and other frontline workers.

“It’s strangely fun and therapeutic,” he says. “Get out and howl!” Here’s a video from Missoula:

Speaking of animals, “06880” readers have noted an increased number out and about. They’ve commented on how many birds are singing too.

Wendy Cusick reminds Westporters to keep all dogs on leashes. There are coyotes and skunks galore!


This may be Easter without filled churches. But kids can still have a bunny and a basket.

Aarti Khosla — the generous owner of Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates — is creating 200 Easter baskets. Thanks to the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, the Easter bunny will stand on Church Lane at the turn-in by the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard. Families can drive by, wave, and do a contactless basket pickup.

It’s 12 to 2 p.m. Sunday — first come, first served!

 


Of all the things I miss about life BC — before coronavirus — my daily swim at the Westport Y is near the top of the list.

I’ve substituted daily walks. In addition to far fewer endorphins, I’m limping around with a severely pulled calf muscle. (I’m not the only one. Several people told me of similar issues. Go figure.)

Normally I’d suck it up (and ice it). But without my daily exercise, I’d go batshit.

So I called EJ Zebro. The owner of TAP Strength Lab, he helps everyone from high school athletes to 80-somethings “move better through life.” I wanted to feel better (fast!), and reduce the likelihood of another idiotic overuse injury.

A guy like EJ is very hands-on. Of course, that’s the last thing he can do now. But he’s pivoted well. We FaceTimed. I showed him my calf; he showed me stretches and exercises, and patiently answered my questions. (Yes, I can bike.)

EJ is one small example of how our world has changed. TAP is one small but important business that’s figuring out how to continue to help, in new ways. It’s not easy — but I am very grateful that EJ is still around.

EJ Zebro


Sydney Newman turned 17 yesterday. The Staples High School student celebrated the new 2020 way: with a few friends, all properly distanced. Happy birthday, Sydney!


Everyone has something they miss about their old lives. Here’s Stephanie Bass’ contribution:


And finally, for all those celebrating Passover — and even those who are not:

(From Wikipedia: ‘”Dayenu’ is a song that is part of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The word ‘dayenu’ means approximately ‘it would have been enough,’ ‘it would have been sufficient’ or ‘it would have sufficed.’ This traditional upbeat Passover song is over 1,000 years old. The song is about being grateful to God for all of the gifts he gave the Jewish people, such as taking them out of slavery, giving them the Torah and Shabbat, and had God only given one of the gifts, it would have still been enough. This is to show much greater appreciation for all of them as a whole.”)

Belief Systems

Happy Easter!

And a belated Happy Passover, too.

Speaking of God, Inklings — the Staples newspaper — recently examined students’ views on religion. Though a survey found far more casual or non-believers than devout students, I was struck by many conversations that same day.

I asked a variety of Stapleites — with a broad range of groups and interests — about their Passover and Easter plans.

Many spoke of services, Seders and spending quality time with family.  They looked forward to nourishing their spiritual sides (along with their stomachs), and discussed the holidays with eagerness and joy.

I enter  synagogues and churches rarely — for weddings, funerals and youth group tag sales.  But I am well aware that one day, in an afterlife or next world I don’t believe in, I may get a rude awakening.  And I am glad that so many students today are thinking hard about their beliefs, trying to figure out where they (and I) fit in this amazing universe.