Tag Archives: The Conservative Synagogue

Roundup: Backpacks, Wings, Rotary …

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Many religious organizations take deserved summer breaks.

The Conservative Synagogue is launching a big Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) project. Their goal is to supply over 100 backpacks, fully stocked with school supplies, to local children in for the start of the school year this coming fall.

The first phase — during July — involves fundraising. Then come packing the backpacks, and delivering. For more information, click here.

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Westporters of a certain age remember fondly their introduction to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Now young Westporters of a certain age — grades kindergarten through 3 — return to the storied theater. “Story Hour with Jenny” — a live, in-person series — presents an interactive reading of the picture book “Wings” on Sunday, July 11 (11 a.m.). It’s about a boy whose appearance makes him the target of bullies.

“Story Hour with Jenny” is a series of readings of social justice picture books written and illustrated by BIPOC artists. Themes center on the 4 pillars of the Playhouse’s education department: empathy, collaboration, activism and literacy.

To register, click here, call 203-227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

Jenny Nelson, Westport Country Playhouse director of education and community engagement.

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Westport Rotary Club has a new president.

Lyla Steenburgen took over from Leslie Roberts at the annual Pass-the-Gavel Lobster Bake, at the Ned Dimes Marina.

“During the pandemic, a lot has been written about happiness and how to find fulfilment in life,” said Lyla, gift advancement officer at Bridgeport Hospital Foundation/Yale New Haven Health.

“Experts all say that it comes from connecting, belonging, being a part of something bigger than yourself, and engaging with and helping others – that’s Rotary. Rotary gives us the opportunity to render some service to the world in return for living in it. We are healthier and better citizens because of it.”

Leslie Roberts (left) hands the gavel to new Rotary Club president Lyla Steenbergen.

The Sunrise Rotary also changed presidents, at the same site. George Masumian will be replaced by Rick Jaffe. Mark Mathias sent along this drone video of the event:

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“06880” has posted plenty of “entitled parking” photos — many of them at Fresh Market.

This driver took up 6 spots (!) yesterday. But big props. If you’re going to park a vehicle that size, this is the way to do it.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows droppings collected by Jay Dirnberger. They’re from a kousa dogwood tree.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … today in 1846, Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone.

(Two questions on the Doors’ song: Why did Robbie Kreiger have an amazing black eye? And did Jim Morrison actually forget his cue, midway through?)

Unsung Heroes #176

The literal meaning of the Hebrew word mitzvah is “commandment.” But it has come to mean “doing a good deed, with empathy and kindness.”

This Sunday (January 31, 4 p.m.), the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County presents its annual Mitzvah Hero Awards. The 12 honorees were selected by their congregations.

Four are from Westport. Each has made positive differences in the lives of others.

Barbara Jay (Congregation for Humanistic Judaism) has been an active volunteer for 45 years. She creates and leads Shabbat services and programs; helps design CHJ’s website and newsletter, and serves on the board.

She is active in social initiatives too. Three years ago she founded the Saul Haffner Jewish Enrichment Fund in memory of her husband. It supports high-quality events with Jewish themes reflecting Saul’s interests in social issues.

One important event was a major symposium on climate change within the context of the Noah story. A panel of scientists and clergy convened at Sacred Heart University. It was broadcast throughout North America.

Dick Kalt (The Conservative Synagogue) oversees transportation for the High Holidays, ensuring a safe and efficient shuttle service. Inside the sanctuary he works with the audio company so that services are heard clearly and well.

Dick is always available for minyans and food drives. He provides thumb drives to students as they study for their bar and bat mitzvahs. He is a member of the cemetery committee — and personally visits it, making sure it is in good shape.

During the pandemic, Dick upgraded TCS’ livestreaming capabilities. Now, as the synagogue’s security chair, he constantly protects the building and congregants.

From left: Barbara Jay, Dick Kalt, Hildy Parks, Cindy Zuckerbrod.

Hildy Parks (Beit Chaverrim) is the synagogue’s treasurer. During COVID she has kept the lights on, and the staff paid. She keeps track of every detail — always with a smile.

When Rabbi Greg Wall was applying for his position, Hildy was his liaison. She arranged meals, coordinated schedules, and made him feel at home. She does everything, he says, with that same spirit.

Just before the High Holidays this fall, Hildy stepped into the role of administrator during an emergency. She made sure every aspect ran smoothly, during the most important and stressful time of the year.

Cindy Zuckerbrod (Temple Israel) works with Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, and serves on their strategy team. She has also led Temple Israel’s anti-racism trainings, and their Two Books/Two Films program addressing racism in America.

Previously Cindy served on Temple Israel’s board of trustees, and taught teens i their high school program.

She also volunteers her time, expertise and care as a guardian ad litem, advocating for youth in Connecticut’s foster care system.

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Congratulations to this week’s Unsung Heroes!

Due to COVID, this Sunday’s Mitzvah Hero Awards ceremony is virtual. It is open to all. Click here to register.

Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations to: dwoog@optonloine.net.

(Traffic) Lights At The End of The Tunnel

Happy Friday!

It’s happier for people living near the Post Road, from the Roseville Road (McDonald’s) light to the Southport line.

Their power is back on. Congrats, guys! Let’s hope the rest of us follow soon.

Eversource says that the “vast majority of customers” will have power restored by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11. Customers in isolated areas or those with issues close to individual homes may be without power for longer.

As of 9 p.m. last night (Thursday), Eversource had restored power to 434,919 customers across the state. It was still out for 480,125 customers.

That includes 10,169 Westport customers. That’s still 80.5% of the town without power.

In Weston, meanwhile, the emergency dispatch center — damaged by fire — has been restored to full capacity. Power is out in that town to 93% of customers.

Evesource says crews arrived yesterday from Massachusetts. We saw some here from Pennsylvania. Others are coming — hopefully soon — to Connecticut from New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Canada.

Drive safely, guys. But quickly!

Valley Forge Road in Weston is still closed. (Photo/Steve Mochel)


This will put a smile on your face — and keep you smiling all day.

Lisa Russ lives in Georgia. Her parents — both in their 90s — live on Rocky Ridge Road, off Valley Road. It’s impassible still, due to a downed tree.

Concerned about ambulance access in case of an emergency, Lisa called Westport’s Department of Human Services. Margaret Pinheiro and Kristen Witt sprang into action.

They worked with the Fire Department to evaluate the situation. They offered to find hotel space, if needed.

Then last night, director of Human Services Elaine Daignault surprised Lisa’s parents with dinner, fruit, water — and toilet paper.

“Their level of care and concern is amazing,” Lisa says. “I can’t thank them enough!”

Rocky Ridge Road is still cut off from the rest of Westport. (Photo/Linda Doyle)


Other Westporters are helping too. The Conservative Synagogue on Hillspoint Road, near the Post Road, now has power and WiFi. Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn says all are welcome!

And Jacques Voris has a generator, which anyone can use to charge devices. Call his cell (203-505-4957) for details.


Some folks have wondered why the Longshore golf course has been closed. Here’s one reason:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


Pippa Bell Ader of Sustainable Westport proudly announced that thousands of food scraps have been recycled since the program began July 6.’

But it’s temporarily suspended. The transfer station employee who oversees the project is helping with other duties after the storm. And not enough volunteers are available to assist either.

The food scraps recycling effort will begin as soon as possible, Pippa promises.


Cynthia Mindell understands this is a First World problem. She empathizes with everyone sitting in a car in a parking lot trying to use WiFi. But, she cautions, please don’t idle! It’s against the law — and it can be harmful to people sitting nearby.


Speaking of free WiFi: Is the Westport Library parking lot, Riverwalk or Jesup too crowded?

Sharon Fiarman reports you can log on at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. That’s where the Farmers’ Market and Remarkable Theater drive-in movies are (in better times).

And speaking of our great (and new) Westport tradition of hanging out on Jesup Green, scarfing up the library’s internet access: With all the folks there, I’m surprised no one has taken it upon him or herself to pick up the many branches and limbs still scattered all over the green.

A big branch lies in the foreground of this peaceful, post-Isaias Jesup Green scene. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)


Need an absentee ballot to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primary elections?

They’re available this Saturday (9 a.m. to noon) at the rear entrance to Town Hall (accessible, if Myrtle Avenue is still closed, via St. John Place).

That’s also where you can return completed ballots — in a secure drop box — any time before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Pick up absentee ballots here on Saturday morning; drop them off here before Tuesday at 8 p.m. (Photo/Pippa Bell Ader)


A warning to art lovers: There will be no “06880” Saturday morning art gallery tomorrow. All the great works I planned to run are locked up on my desktop computer, inaccessible for (hopefully) not too much longer.

A blast from the past: “Mid-July Flowers” (Amy Schneider)

And finally … sure, markets are opening up in town. But this is still an appropriate tune:

Youth Groups’ Hoops

A bunch of Catholics and Jews walked onto a basketball court.

No, it’s not the start of a joke.

It’s what happened last night, at the Westport YMCA.

Full Court for Kindness — an “interfaith basketball tournament” — pitted Staples students (and a few middle schoolers) from Assumption Church, the Conservative Synagogue, St. Luke Church and Temple Israel in a round-robin format. Players came from their respective youth groups.

Play ball!

Play ball!

The event honored Chris Lanni, a Staples High School freshman (and St. Luke’s youth group member) who died last year. A moment of silence was held before the first whistle. All proceeds went to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

The victorious team came from the Conservative Synagogue (with the help of a couple of Israeli Emissaries ringers).

Really though, everyone there was a winner.

(Hat tip: Andres Marmelo)