Dan Sklar is a beloved rabbi, cantor and musician.
Now he’s an author too.
All those identities come together in “Sh*tShow: A Memoir & Mixtape: The Tales of a Reluctant Rabbi.” It’s an insightful, deeply human expression of past and present.
This past year has been challenging for everyone. Sklar was particularly affected. “Reluctant Rabbi” explores how inherited family trauma — and trauma experienced first hand — shape the people we become.
A Spotify playlist of 29 songs that provoke and inspire accompanies the book (you’ll see when and where to play the tracks). Artists include Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, Theodore Bikel, the Indigo Girls, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Rascal Flatts — and Sklar himself.
It’s called “Galentine’s: Wine Night and Bingo Fundraiser.” It’s sponsored by the Westport Young Woman’s League.
But you don’t have to be a woman to participate in this virtual event. All are welcome!
“Galentine’s” (February 4, 7:30 p.m., Zoom) raises funds for local charities. Last year, the WYWL handed out $90,000 to organizations that end hunger, and promote education and health.
The League has partnered with the female-owned vineyard Aquila’s Nest. The $65 ticket price includes 2 bottles of wine, bingo spot and fun surprises. Click here to purchase a ticket, and for more information.
And finally … happy 53rd birthday to rapper/producer/actor/author/ entrepreneur/Kennedy Center honors winner LL Cool J.
Which, I just found out today, stands for Ladies Love Cool James.
In a first for Staples High School sports — and perhaps for any team anywhere in the country — the boys soccer team broadcast last night’s match at Norwalk on a drive-in movie screen.
With a limited number of spectators allowed due to COVID at most schools — and Norwalk banning even parents — the Wreckers have livestreamed all their games this year.
GKess Films of Cheshire provide high-def quality video. WWPT-FM students provide play-by-play; alumni athletes, former coaches and other soccer aficionados add color commentary.
Cars filled with parents, siblings, younger players and random soccer fans headed to the Remarkable Theater Imperial Avenue parking lot for tailgating, and the game. They honked their horns and flashed their lights when Haydn Siroka and Alan Fiore scored early goals, and when Sebi Montoulieu saved a penalty kick.
Staples won 2-1 — their 3rd consecutive victory — and perhaps a new tradition was born.
A scene from the big screen at the Remarkable Theater. (Photo/Neil Brickley)
Good news from the Westport Library!
Starting Monday, November 9, they’ll expand hours, institute cart-side pick-up, and will offer access to the media studios, Maker Space and Children’s Department (by appointment).
New hours are Monday through Friday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The Library will remain closed on Sunday.
Patrons can browse for materials in the Library, place them on hold remotely, or do so by calling 203-291-4807. Items placed on hold can be picked up in the tent outside the building at any time during operating hours. This replaces the current curbside pick-up arrangement.
Delivery services will continue for residents who are homebound or in a high-risk category that prevents them from visiting the Library.
The Library is also adding printing services to its 3 Express computers. and will reintroduce loans from in-state Libraries.
Shopping in the Library store will continue in person or virtually by appointment. Click here to schedule.
The Library will continue to limit the number of people in the building to 100 at any time.
Tony Award-winning actor and noted director James Naughton is also a noted animal advocate. He writes:
Having lived in Weston for 43 years, and been raised in Connecticut, I count myself very lucky to have shared this wonderful, woodsy environment with nature’s creatures.
Just in the last 6 months while sequestered, we were entertained daily by a couple of foxes raising their 5 little kits in our yard, then a family of groundhogs and a raccoon family. Owls hoot in the woods , hawks circle overhead, and we watch out for fawns crossing the roads.
When some of these animals aren’t so lucky — hey are orphaned or encounter an automobile they (and we) are lucky to have a place to take them right here.
Dara and Peter Reid created Wildlife in Crisis, and have been its stewards for over 30 years.
Normally, they take in 5,000 animals a year. This year they’ve taken in an unusually large number of creatures–and they need our help.
They’re a 501C3, and depend on charitable contributions. Click here, and watch a 10-minute video of them releasing back into the wild some of the animals they’ve raised or rehabilitated.
It’s inspiring, and a delight to show to your children and grandchildren. Then please: Make a donation.
Jim Naughton with a baby possum.
Speaking of famous Weston residents: This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. The other day, singer-songwriter Jose Feliciano popped into a Norwalk TV studio to talk with Telemundo about the jazzy, jangly classic.
Click here to see. The interview is in Spanish. But if you don’t speak it: no hay problema.
The song — and Jose’s exubertant personality — are universal.
Saturday (October 31) is the deadline to apply for a Westport Young Woman’s League Super Grant.
They’re awarded to local organizations working in areas like food insecurity, education, and health and wellness.
Despite the impact of COVID on fundraising, the WYWL continues to support our community. For a grant application, click here. To learn more, click here.
Halloween is not yet here.
But Christmas is, at Anthropologie downtown.
Can spring be far behind?
And finally … thanks to Jose Feliciano and Anthropologie, “06880” officially kicks off the holiday season:
As gyms, playgrounds and recreational facilities remain closed, the driveway basketball hoop looks better than ever. There are tons in Westport. Some get plenty of use. Others sit idle; the basketball players have moved away.
Full Court Peace is a Norwalk-based charity that collects unwanted portable basketball hoops, cleans them up, then gives them to boys and girls in Norwalk, Bridgeport and Stamford.
The organization was started by Mike Evans, a Weston native who played basketball at Hamilton College and semi-professionally in Belfast. In Northern Ireland he brought Protestant and Catholic boys together to play as one team.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, and a picture of the hoop you hope to donate. Evans will pick it up at your house, and set it up in a driveway a few miles away. Then he’ll send you a photo of the boy or girl who gets it.
Financial help is welcome to keep this effort going; it requires a U-Haul and manual labor. Click here to help.
But there’s good news. The VFW says: “We are honored and extends our deepest appreciation to the Westport Young Woman’s League for awarding us a generous Super Grant of $20,000. Throughout the past 100 years, VFW Post 399 has been the heart and soul of the veteran community and a Westport institution.
The Super Grant will make a huge difference in helping with our much needed roof repairs and allowing us to continue in our support for both veterans and community. We look forward in partnering with the WYWL to help the community and provide affordable meal programs.”
Stones bearing inspirational messages pop up all over town. This one at Grace Salmon Park caught Marc Frankel’s eye.
I’m guessing whoever painted this was young. If I were an art teacher, I’d give him or her an “A” for creativity. An English teacher would give it an “F.”
And finally … a little Spirit. “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong …”
Longtime Westport volunteer Sona Current died yesterday. She was 91, and had battled dementia for 11 years.
She met her future husband Bob in 9th grade, in their home town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Sona received a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Oral Hygiene at Temple University, and also attended Penn State College.
Sona and Bob moved to Westport in 1961. They raised their 3 children on Canterbury Close off Park Lane, and spent 35 years with their closest friends in that neighborhood. Those friends followed the Currents to Naples, Florida, where they enjoyed many more years of fun and happiness.
Sona was very active in the Westport Young Woman’s League, which she served as president; the Fairfield County American Cancer Society, for which she co-edited the very successful “Connecticut Cooks” cookbook, and the Westport Garden Club. She was a longtime member of the Green’s Farms Church.
She was also a member of the Patterson Club in Fairfield, and the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples. She was an avid gardener, water colorist and bridge player, and enjoyed playing golf with family and friends.
Sona is survived by her devoted children, Deborah C. Burns and husband James of Fairfield, and grandchildren, Shea, Cory and Kiara Burns; her son Darrell S. Current and wife Jodine of Louisville, Kentucky and grandchildren,Ashley (Eschenbach) Current and Tyler Current and great- grandchildren, Addison and Avery Eschenbach and Camden Current; and her son Dana Current and wife Jane of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and grandchildren Emily Current and Robert Charles (Charlie) Current.
Sona was preceded in death by her parents, Kevork and Virginia Aznavorian, one brother, George S. Aznavorian and her cherished husband, Robert Charles Current, Jr.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, a gift in her memory may be sent to the Women’s Alzheimers Movement, 11440 San Vicente Boulevard., Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90049.
Each year, Craft Westport brings over 175 artisans from a variety of genres to town.
The 44th annual event is set for this weekend at Staples High School. It kicks off the holiday shopping season — and all funds raised by the sponsoring Westport Young Woman’s League go to local charities.
The other day, WYWL president Lauren Bromberg sat with Persona’s Rob Simmelkjaer to preview the event. They talk about WYWL’s mission, and its work in and around Westport.
(Craft Westport will be held tomorrow — Saturday, November 9 — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, including tickets, click here.)
Last week’s Photo Challenge was fairly easy. Plenty of women — and men — knew that the gazebo photographed by Tracy Porosoff can be found at 44 Imperial Avenue. (Click here for the photo.)
That’s the site of Bedford Hall, the Curio Cottage, the Yankee Doodle Fair, and the handsome white home of the Westport Woman’s Club.
But only Rosalie Kaye, Diane Bosch, Bobbie Herman, Carla Foster, Linda Amos, Amy Schneider, Lynn Untermeyer Miller and Barbara Raffel called it that. Linda added, “The gazebo was donated in 2000, in memory of long-time member Ronnie Kennedy by her family. It continues to be a lovely addition to the beautiful grounds.”
Many other readers got the name almost correct. Fred Cantor, Diane Silfen, Robert Mitchell, Andrew Colabella, Will Luedke, Jonathan McClure, Michelle Saunders, Seth Braunstein, Wendy Cusick, Shirlee Gordon. Kaye Leong and Bruce Salvo all said it was the Westport Women’s Club.
That actually makes more sense. It’s a club — and since 1907, a great and important one — for Westport women.
Not just one “woman.”
But Westport Woman’s Club it is. If anyone — woman or man — knows the story behind the name, please click “Comments” below.
Click “Comments” too if you know where you would find this week’s Photo Challenge.
(Hint: This morning, the Westport Young Woman’s (ahem) League — a different organization altogether, though its roots were in the Westport Woman’s Club — held its 41st annual Minute Man Race. This photo has nothing to do with that. But it’s a nice tie-in.)
The weather was great in 1989, when during one glorious late April weekend hundreds of volunteers — including many from the Westport Young Woman’s League — constructed the Compo Beach playground.
The weather will not be great this evening, when veterans of that wonderful project (and anyone else who worked on subsequent maintenance days, plus their kids, and all other Westporters who enjoy a good party) planned to celebrate the playground’s 30th anniversary.
So the event is postponed to tomorrow (Saturday, April 27). All are invited to South Beach (the area nearest the cannons).
It’s BYO food and drinks.
And don’t forget that old souvenir t-shirt you’ve held on to for all these years.
Which makes this a perfect opportunity to highlight the Westport Young Woman’s League’s $20,000 Super Grant recipient: the Rowan Center.
Formerly known as the Center for Sexual Assault Crisis and Counseling Education, the Stamford-based organization empowers clients to find strength, resilience and courage — while educating Fairfield County communities to help change social norms.
In Westport, the Rowan Center puts the WYWL’s grant toward programs in the elementary schools, and Staples High.
In addition, the Young Woman’s League is partnering with the Rowan Center and Westport Library to screen the documentary “Roll Red Roll” (Tuesday, April 30, 6:30 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church). A panel discussion follows.
The film uncovers the “rape culture” in Steubenville, Ohio, brought to light at a high school football party. Teenage social media bullying ran rampant, as adults looked away.
The Rowan Center grant is just part of what the Westport Young Woman’s League does. Last year they gave over $80,000 to local and education-based charitable organization. Recipients include A Better Chance of Westport, the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, Caroline House, CLASP Homes, Homes with Hope, Family & Children’s Agency, Mercy Learning Center and Positive Directions.
But that money does not fall from the sky.
One of the WYWL’s major fundraising events is the Minute Man Race.
Actually, “races.” This year there are 10K and 5K runs, a 5K walk, and a Kids Fun Run with Kids Zone.
The 41st annual Minute Man Race is set for Sunday, April 28. It starts and ends at Compo Beach.
The start of a Minute Man race is always exciting.
It’s 4 decades old, but there are always new twists. For the first time this year, there’s a “corporate and small business team” category. The WYWL encourages local businesses to sign up and compete together, for a fun team-builder that helps good causes.
You’ve seen the signs. You know the Minute Man Race.
Now that you know the back story — where the money goes — there’s even more incentive to run. Or walk.
Or just donate and cheer.
(For more information on the Minute Man Race — including registration and sponsorships — click here.)
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to: Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Thanks!)