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How the Circle Grows

There’s a painting hanging above the desk in my office called “Our Time to Dance" that belonged to my parents, and which I coveted as a child. The simple piece shows three Jewish children dancing with the Torah on Simchat Torah.

It was at an annual meeting of the Jewish Federation in Harrisburg about 15 years ago, when it was time for me to give my address -- and I (as is typical of me) hadn’t written anything -- that I decided to talk about that picture. My parents were in the audience, and I hoped that part of the end result would be their giving me that artwork, which I had long wanted for my own.

And so I thought about how we, as Jews, dance -- not only with the Torah, but with each other. 

In particular, I thought about the hora, that great Jewish circle dance; and I reflected on the dynamic I have seen consistently at any simcha -- a wedding, a bar- or bat-mitzvah, and so on -- when the hora music is played.

When it first starts up, a small group of people rush to the dance floor to begin dancing -- a somewhat limited circle comprised of the most enthusiastic and typically extroverted dancers. But then, slowly but regularly, the circle grows.

And it grows in two ways.

It grows because there are folks standing on the outside who are anxious to join in, and all it takes is for two of those already dancing to open their hands and create space for them to come in.
And it grows because there are folks standing on the outside who are interested but slightly hesitant -- maybe they are introverted, maybe they aren’t sure they know how to dance, maybe they don’t know anyone -- but two members of the circle reach out and pull them in, and all of a sudden, there they are… dancing.

Our Jewish community leadership -- not only Federation board-members, but committee-members and program volunteers, as well as leaders in congregations and other organizations -- are those hora-dancers… and we have a dancefloor that is almost infinite in size.

If you are not already dancing in that circle as an engagement community-leader or volunteer -- whether you are that person anxiously looking for a space to jump in or that person standing a bit hesitantly, waiting for someone to reach out -- please know that there’s a space for you.

Our Federation staff would be delighted to find a place for your involvement, as we have with many others, and I can only imagine that every rabbi, congregational president, or agency executive would love to hear from you as well.

Because our dancing is even better when it’s all our time to dance.

Please don’t hesitate to email me at
dweisberg@jewishphilanthropyct.org to see how you can join in the hora.
SUMMER MEANS...
SPECIAL SHABBAT SERVICES IN UPPER FAIRFIELD COUNTY!
Celebrate Shabbat in our beautiful outdoor spaces!
Free and open to the community
In case of iffy weather, contact the congregation in advance.

Every Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Aug. 17, 24, 31: 6 p.m.
Beth El Fairfield Musical Kabbalat Shabbat Beach Services
East end of Jennings Beach by the marina -- use Turney Road entrance
Bring dinner, snacks, chairs, and blankets
Parking: A beach parking permit is required and available in the Beth El office
In the event of rain, services will be held at Beth El, 1200 Fairfield Woods Road, Fairfield
Info/parking permit: (203) 374-5544 / office@bethelfairfield.org

Friday, June 29
6:15 p.m.
The Conservative Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat at the Beach
Compo Beach, Westport - west end by the boat launch
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for TCS at the beach entrance and park in designated spots.
Info: (203) 454-4673 / tcs@tcs-westport.org  

Friday, July 6

6:15 p.m.
The Conservative Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat at the Beach
Compo Beach, Westport - west end by the boat launch
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for TCS at the beach entrance and park in designated spots.
Info: (203) 454-4673 / tcs@tcs-westport.org  

8 p.m. 
Temple Shalom Shabbat Under the Stars with campfire and s’mores 
Temple Shalom, 259 Richards Ave., Norwalk
Info: (203) 866-0148 / admin@templeshalomweb.org

Friday, July 13

6 p.m.
Congregation B'nai Israel Summer Services at Lake Mohegan
960 Morehouse Highway, Fairfield
Parking: Parking and admission to the service are free and don't require a lake pass. Park in main parking lot and proceed to the beach area adjacent to the lot. Lake Mohegan is accessible for people with a disability and for people in a wheelchair. There is ramp access directly to the beach.
Please bring a beach chair and everyone is encouraged to bring a picnic Shabbat dinner for your family (or feel free to organize a potluck with friends) for before or after the service. In the case of rain, service will be held at Congregation B'nai Israel, 2710 Park Ave., Bridgeport. Check the synagogue website after 2 p.m. on Friday for a weather update.

6:30 p.m.
Beit Chaverim Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat with live music
Compo Beach, Westport – south beach near the cannons
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for Beit Chaverim at the beach entrance and park in designated spots. 
Info: (203) 227-3333 / office@beitchaverim.com

8 p.m. 
Temple Shalom Shabbat Under the Stars with campfire and s’mores 
Temple Shalom, 259 Richards Ave., Norwalk
Info: (203) 866-0148 / admin@templeshalomweb.org

Friday, July 20
6:15 p.m.
The Conservative Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat at the Beach
Compo Beach, Westport - west end by the boat launch
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for TCS at the beach entrance and park in designated spots.
Info: (203) 454-4673 / tcs@tcs-westport.org  

Friday, July 27
6 p.m.
Temple Shalom Picnic Dinner & Kabbalat Shabbat in the Park
Pinkney Park, 177 Rowayton Ave., Rowayton
Info: (203) 866-0148 / admin@templeshalomweb.org

Friday, Aug. 3

6:15 p.m.
The Conservative Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat at the Beach
Compo Beach, Westport - west end by the boat launch
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for TCS at the beach entrance and park in designated spots.
Info: (203) 454-4673 / tcs@tcs-westport.org  

6:30 p.m.
Congregation Beth El-Norwalk Shabbat Under the Stars
Private home on the shore
RSVP/location: (203) 838-2710 / office@congbethel.org

Friday, Aug. 10
6 p.m.
Congregation B'nai Israel Summer Services at Lake Mohegan
960 Morehouse Highway, Fairfield
Parking: Parking and admission to the service are free and don't require a lake pass. Park in main parking lot and proceed to the beach area adjacent to the lot. Lake Mohegan is accessible for people with a disability and for people in a wheelchair. There is ramp access directly to the beach.
Please bring a beach chair and everyone is encouraged to bring a picnic Shabbat dinner for your family (or feel free to organize a potluck with friends) for before or after the service. In the case of rain, service will be held at Congregation B'nai Israel, 2710 Park Ave., Bridgeport. Check the synagogue website after 2 p.m. on Friday for a weather update.

Friday, Aug. 17
6:15 p.m.
The Conservative Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat at the Beach
Compo Beach, Westport - west end by the boat launch
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for TCS at the beach entrance and park in designated spots.
Info: (203) 454-4673 / tcs@tcs-westport.org  

Saturday, Aug. 18
6 p.m.
Congregation for Humanistic Judaism Annual Havdallah at the Beach
Compo Beach, 60 Compo Beach Road, Westport 
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for Congregation for Humanistic Judaism at the beach entrance and park in designated spots. Look for the CHJ sign. Bring a picnic; desserts provided.  [Rain date: Aug. 25]
Info: (203) 293-8867 / info@humanisticjews.org

Friday, Aug. 31
6:30 p.m.
Beit Chaverim Synagogue Kabbalat Shabbat with live music
Compo Beach, Westport – south beach near the cannons
Parking: A beach sticker is required; if you do not have one, request a parking pass for Beit Chaverim at the beach entrance and park in designated spots. 
Info: (203) 227-3333 / office@beitchaverim.com

If your congregation is not listed, check with them for information!
Watch this space for updates every week.
Looking to make a difference?
Get involved in Jewish education! 

Looking for dynamic, passionate and engaging teachers for Upper Fairfield County Jewish religious schools.
Positions available for weekday and Sunday programs.

with your resume and the days of the week you are available and she will forward your information to the various Religious School directors.
from our community partners
July 11 & 12 and 16-18, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. [closed 1 - 2 p.m.]