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Yom Chamishi, 1 Iyyar 5777

Polar Bear Plunge at Compo Beach 10th Anniversary

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Participants charge into the water for the 2017 Temple Israel 10th Anniversary Polar Bear Plunge at Compo Beach in Westport on New Year's Day. Around 100 people took the plunge and have raised, so far, $56,000 for many different charities, including Interfaith Housing, Marfan Foundation, Autisim Speaks, PanCan, Hole in the Wall Gang, Make a Wish and United Cerebral Palsy. Photo galleries from The Stamford Advocate and WestportNow.com.


Westport temple declares itself a gun- safe congregation

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Westport temple says it is taking a strong stance against gun violence.

Temple Israel on Coleytown Road has declared itself a gun-safe congregation.

Rabbi Michael Friedman says he is trying to empower the congregation to make the community safe by standing up to a violation and promoting peace. Read more...


Congregations come together to house Syrian refugee family

Friday, September 23, 2016

WESTPORT - Half a million people have died since the conflict in Syria started five years ago and millions have been displaced in one of the worst refugee crises of our era. The refugee crisis is no just an issue in Syria, but across the globe. According to Secretary of State John kerry in a speech at the United Nations Summit in New York on Mondy, approximately 65 million people have been forced from their homes and upwards of 21 million people have fled internationally.

This past summer the Westport Interfaith Refugee Settlement teamed up to house a family of Syrian refugees in Norwalk. WIRS is an extension of the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council, a group that previously collaborated to resettle a Bosnian family in the late 1990s. Read more...


Rabbi Orkand: Oscar's Was A Link to Westport's "Covenant" End

Monday, August 1, 2016

For 31 years - from 1982 to 2013 - Robert Orkand was Temple Israel's senior rabbi.

He and his wife Joyce now live in Massachusetts, near their son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. But Rabbi Orkand keeps close tabs on Westport, through, "06880."

The closing of Oscar's sparked the same nostalgia and sadness many Westporters feel. But he has a special perspective on the history of downtown's famed delicatessen. Rabbi Orkand writes: The closing of Oscar's is, in many ways, the end of an era. Locally owned businesses such as Oscar's are, sadly, becoming a thing of the past. Read more...


Bringing Camp to Religious School 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I never spent a summer at a Jewish overnight camp as a camper. And I regret not do so.

I was never the overnight camp type of kid. Homesickness spread throughout my veins - sleepovers at friend's houses, overnight field trips for school and even the first weeks of college, were extremely difficult for me. I spent my childhood attending the local day camps, and even served as a counselor and unit head at times. But at the end of the day, I was able to sleep in my own bed, where I felt safe and secure. I was a homebody and was proud if it.

Flash forward to 2016.

Over the past week, I have had the oppourtunity to teach campers of all ages as faculity at URJ Crane Lake Camp. I have always been a believer that Judaism can be brought to life anywhere and in any setting, and there is no doubt that htis summer home for hundreds of campers is where their Judaiam becomes such an essential part of thier identity. Read more...


Justice Department decision moves smart gun technology forward

Saturday, July 16, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The elusive search for a smart gun capable of determining who is -- and who is not -- a legitmate user took a major step forward Friday, with the Justice Department issuing specifications for what law enforcement needs from the technology undergirding it. 

The department's National Institure of Justice released a 20-page listing of what police and federal agents would require in a smart gun.

"A nation that can put a man on the moon also can develop smart guns capable of saving lives," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., after the report's release. Read more...


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

WASHINGTON -- A grassroots organization including religious leaders from Fairfield County is promoting incentives for gun manufacturers to invest in smart-gun technology -- somthing the firearms industry has long resisted. 

"We are in this for the long haul," said Rabbi Micheal Friedman, of Temple Israel in Westport. "We are people of faith. We kno this may take a while, but we are not going to give up."

The effort sponsored by an alliance of religious and civic leaders calling itself Do No Stand Idly By, represents a departure from the norms of gun-violence-prevention advocacy. Instead of an uphill fight against the Republican majority in Congress for expanded background checks and other gun-control measures, the alliance is putting its chips on the purchasing power of federal, state and local governments. Read more...

The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections

The tent of Judaism is expanding. As a result, the ways in which Jews engage in worship and ritual, understand obervances and practices, and relate to God and the Jewish community are in constant flux.

In The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections (Jewish Publications Society), Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan asserts that even in the face of its changing nature, Reform Judaism can be a bridge between tradition and modernity, adn a vehicle through which individuals - by way of informed choice adn thoughtful participation in the Jewish experience - can fulfill their spititual needs. Read more...