April 2013 Events

When this list is compiled, there are always events not included. Either the organization has not gotten the word out, or something is a bit too mainstream, like a wedding expo. Or, the event is too unaffordable for too many readers. This calendar is created with Hartford residents in mind, primarily those who live in neighborhoods like mine. Something pricey will slip through from time-to-time, but if an event costs as much as groceries for the week, it probably is not going to be included here.

Don’t forget to check with the venue to confirm that times and prices remain accurate.

April 1

The Hartford Jazz Orchestra gives a free performance on Monday evenings at the Arch Street Tavern. Music begins at 8pm.

April 2

Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia, The  Monsters  of  Templeton, and Delicate Edible Birds will be taking part in the Allan K. Smith Reading Series at Trinity College. A reception and book signing will follow the reading, held in the Alumni Lounge of Mather Hall. 4:30-6:30pm. This is free and open to the public; books will be available for purchase.

April 3

All are welcome to participate in a learning charrette (fancy word that just means looking at maps and talking about plans) for the Albany/Homestead Avenue corridor. This goes from 3-7pm, but people are invited to drop in whenever they can. The meeting will be held in the community room of the University of Hartford Handel Performing Arts Center, located on the corner of Albany Avenue and Westbourne Parkway. The parking lot is accessible from Albany Avenue. Free. (more…)

Hartford Pew Review: Congregation Beth Israel

Part of a coloring/activity book made available to Seder participants. Bad coloring technique, all mine.

One block over the line in West Hartford, Congregation Beth Israel’s presence announces itself much like the Unitarian Society of Hartford and the Cathedral of Saint Joseph do. There’s no quietly blending in with the neighborhood; no way to pass without noticing.

Before the synagogue was here, it was in Hartford. The structure did not move, just the congregation. The original Congregation Beth Israel congregation worshiped at the former North Baptist Church, located at 942 Main Street. After twenty years in that spot, the community moved into a building constructed as a synagogue — Connecticut’s oldest one, actually — and remained there on 21 Charter Oak Avenue until 1936.

As Hartford’s Jewish community moved to the suburbs, the synagogues, one-by-one, followed.

Now, Congregation Beth Israel is the second notable establishment on Farmington Avenue (first, Tangiers) to greet folks as they venture into West Hartford.

Our two most recent visits fall into the category of “special events” rather than that of “routine service,” but no matter. Over the years we have been to CBI for regular services, special events, and going farther back, Music Together.

Many places of worship in this area seem to have embraced the obnoxious trend of bolting front doors, having everyone enter through a door closest to the parking lot. Thankfully, CBI breaks from this by admitting visitors through both the parking lot door and that which faces of main avenue. If the door is locked, ring the bell. “Security measures” seem drastic, but antisemitism is a thing. I’ve personally never had any trouble getting buzzed in.

This is possibly the least flattering view of Congregation Beth Israel, but it’s what you see if entering from the parking lot. The better view is from Farmington Avenue.

Inside, there is a long hall with plenty of doors to choose from. Services have been held in the sanctuary, chapel, and a courtyard outside. For special events, it might not be immediately obvious where to go, since there’s likely lots of activity including children zooming around. Look for a sign or ask.

The restrooms are near the large coatroom.

Visiting a new place can create some anxieties for those who don’t want to stand out as the person doing everything wrong. So, here goes:

CBI asks people to dress respectfully, but I have seen every variation on an outfit show up, from suits to micro mini skirts with Uggs. The latter will get you talked about, but not thrown out. One step up from jeans is always a safe bet.

Nobody is forced to wear a yarmulke. For services, most men do wear them, but this is a Reform synagogue. In other words, there is a lot of tolerance about personal choices. A basket of kippot are near the entrance for anyone — male or female — who chooses to participate in this custom.

Men and women sit together, in case you were wondering.

So, back in February, on one of those cold days that came with a bonus side of drizzle, we headed to CBI for the annual Purim Schpiel. The serious message of Purim is to embrace one’s (Jewish) identity, but mostly, it’s a day for costumes, drinking, eating Hamantaschen, and in this case, watching a campy play.

Friends had been raving about the “new rabbi.” After some prodding I learned that for some this meant the Senior Rabbi, and for others, the Assistant Rabbi. Both are on the younger side. The Assistant Rabbi is a woman.

There have definitely been changes. (more…)

“Cuban Five” Cartoonist Exhibit

Cartoonist Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, one of the “Cuban Five,” was given two life terms in the United States for “conspiracy to commit espionage” and other various charges, while gathering information about groups possibly planning terrorism against Cuba.

On Thursday, March 28th the Broad Street Gallery (1283 Broad Street) will host an opening reception for “Humor from My Pen,” an exhibit of this artist’s political cartoons. The opening reception will be from 4:30-7:30pm.

March 30th offers another viewing time, from 1-5pm.

This is free and open to the public.


Current and Former Politicians Want More Women in Power

Marilyn Rossetti, Evelyn Mantilla, Susan Bysiewicz, and Beth Bye

To encourage younger generations of women to embrace feminism, Susan Bysiewicz suggested adults “be an example and not afraid to speak up when you see inequalities.”

That’s some real talk right there.

Last week, during Boob B-Rollgate, there was such an opportunity, but according to State Senator Beth Bye, the media squandered this chance to take a strong stance. Not a shocker, given how Bysiewicz described the appearance of the Capitol press room: almost all white, middle-aged men, and, Christine Stuart. Bye, herself, does a daily count while watching Morning Joe— how many male vs. female guests. The results are too predictable to bother typing up.

Here in Hartford, opportunities seem to have presented themselves in local politics (more…)