Tag Archives: Saul Haffner

Saul Haffner’s Legacy Lives On

When Saul Haffner died in November at 87, he left quite a legacy.

He served on the RTM, was a member of the Y’s Men, and taught photography and writing at the Senior Center and Norwalk Community College.

Haffner was a US Army veteran. Professionally, he was an engineer who worked on NASA’s Gemini program, as well as a professor of business and marketing at Sacred Heart University.

He was perhaps best known as a justice of the peace. He may have been the nation’s foremost authority on the subject.

Saul Haffner

His legacy continues. The Congregation for Humanistic Judaism —  where Haffner was a longtime member and former president — has established a memorial fund in his name.

It will organize the types of programs Haffner embraced: those benefiting the CHJ and broader Jewish community, and that bring together people of different faiths.

When he retired, Haffner wrote stories about his life. “Just a Boy from Brighton Beach” was completed by his wife, Barbara Jay. Contributors to the Memorial Fund will receive a complimentary copy.

Contributions made payable to “CHJ,” with “Saul Haffner Fund” on the memo line,  may be sent to the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, PO Box 82, Westport, CT 06880.

Remembering Saul Haffner

Saul Haffner died Tuesday, after a brief illness. He was 87.

He served on the RTM, was a member of the Y’s Men, and taught photography and writing at the Senior Center and Norwalk Community College.

Haffner was a US Army veteran. Professionally, he was an engineer who worked on NASA’s Gemini program, as well as a professor of business and marketing at Sacred Heart University.

But he is perhaps best known as a justice of the peace. In fact, he may have been the nation’s foremost authority on the subject. In 2009, I profiled Haffner for “06880.” Here’s that story:

“In the beginning of time,” Haffner says — back when he worked for the Congregation of Humanistic Judaism, not 1362 (the first time time “Justice of the Peace” appeared in English law) — he fielded calls from couples looking for rabbis to perform interfaith weddings. They were hard to find — so he vowed that when he retired, he would become a JP and do those ceremonies.

Fun fact: Every Connecticut town is allocated a certain number of JPs, based on the number of registered voters. Westport has 60 — equally divided between Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Saul Haffner (left) and a couple he married on Compo Beach.

After becoming a Justice of the Peace in 2001, Haffner wondered how anyone would find him. He looked around for a national JP organization. There was none. So he and his wife, Barbara Jay, formed one.

Their website — JPUS.org — is now the go-to source for JPs around the country. The site offers a registry (JPs can include their political affiliation, ethnicity, religion and languages spoken); resources and guides for personalizing weddings; an interactive forum (with topics like “code of ethics,” “same-sex ceremonies” and “how the economy is affecting the JP business”), and discounts on JP merchandise (certificates, embossing seals, chuppas, etc.).

Haffner performs 10 or so weddings a year. That’s low, he admits. But the JP does not want to compete with members of his own JP association.

Saul’s motto is “Your wedding, your way.” He’s married couples on motorcycles, on a boat that sailed into the sunset (Haffner returned to shore via rowboat), and in Scottish clothing (the bride and groom gave him a kilt).

“Weddings are such a happy occasion,” he says.  “I come away from each one on a real high.”

Not bad for a job with no requirements, no entry fees, and no experience needed.

(Hat tip: Jessica Bram)

The DL On JPs

There are no qualifications for being named a Justice of the Peace.  Nor do you have to pay a fee to become a JP.

It’s the perfect job, laughs Saul Haffner.

The retired Westporter should know.  He’s a JP himself — and perhaps the country’s foremost expert on that unique position.

“In the beginning of time,” Saul says — back when he worked for the Congregation of Humanistic Judaism, not 1362 (the first time time “Justice of the Peace” appeared in English law) — he fielded calls from couples looking for rabbis to perform interfaith weddings.  They were hard to find — so Saul vowed that when he retired, he would become a JP and do those ceremonies.

Fun fact:  Every Connecticut town is allocated a certain number of JPs, based on the number of registered voters.  Westport has 60 — equally divided between Democrats, Republicans and independents.

After becoming a Justice of the Peace in 2001, Saul wondered how anyone would find him.  He looked around for a national JP organization.  There was none.  So he and his wife formed one. 

Their website — JPUS.org — is now the go-to source for JPs around the country.  The site  offers a registry (JPs can include their political affiliation, ethnicity, religion and languages spoken); resources and guides for personalizing weddings; an interactive forum (with topics like “code of ethics,” “same-sex ceremonies” and “how the economy is affecting the JP business”), and discounts on JP merchandise (certificates, embossing seals, chuppas, etc.).

Saul Haffner (left) and a newly married couple on Compo Beach

Saul Haffner (left) and a newly married couple on Compo Beach

Saul performs 10 or so weddings a year.  That’s low, he admits.  But the JP does not want to compete with members of his own JP association.

Saul’s motto is “Your wedding, your way.”  He’s married couples on motorcycles, on a boat that sailed into the sunset (Saul returned to shore via rowboat), and in Scottish clothing (the bride and groom gave Saul a kilt). 

“Weddings are such a happy occasion,” he says.  “I come away from each one on a real high.”

Not bad for a job with no requirements, no entry fees, and no experience needed.