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Last October, when I traveled to seek out my family’s roots in Ukraine, I wrote a  travel blog  each day during my trip, and I was gratified to learn that so many of you read it. For those who stopped reading when I returned home, however, there was one final entry nearly two months later that you may have missed.

I share an excerpt of that entry, the closing chapter of my Ukraine journey:
Tomorrow will mark seven weeks since I visited Obodivka, a place where I connected with my Jewish roots but in which I found no Jews. As Dmitriy and I were leaving Obodivka on that memorable Sunday, after we visited my great-grandparents' old neighborhood, after we saw the mass grave to the Obodivka pogrom of 1919 and that old Jewish cemetery in the woods, after we had gathered some dirt from the ground on which my Zayde Charlie walked his milk delivery route, and after I had procured my treasured milk jug, I remembered one final task I wanted to complete, picking up two nice stones and throwing them into my backpack, to be used some time later for a plan I had in mind.
 
That plan, that final epilogue, the closure of my Obodivka journey came today, as my father, Joel (named after his great-grandfather Yussel, who I had said kaddish for at the Obodivka mass grave); his wife, Jill; my brother, Larry; his wife, Rebecca; and I drove to Mount Lebanon Cemetery just outside of Philadelphia to meet cousins Ron and Marsha Kushnier, who I had not seen since I was a small child but had assisted me with essential information before my journey; my cousin Randy Gurak; and Randy's father, my great uncle (and godfather) Howard Gurak - the son of, and only living child of my Bubby Naomi and Zayde Charlie.
 
Today we joined together in front of Naomi and Charlie's graves. As I was surrounded with family, I discovered that so are Naomi and Charlie, as we looked around to see graves of Guraks and Kushniers and Spectors, all part of this family that found its roots in that tiny village in Ukraine. And it was there that I reached into my bag, pulled out the two stones, and handed them to my beloved Uncle Howard, asking him to place those stones on top of the graves of his parents, reconnecting them after a century with the home they had left. With tears in his eyes, he did so, leaning over to kiss his parents' graves.
As we began to walk away from Naomi and Charlie's burial place and towards the place in which our cars were parked, in front of the large section of graves that includes our family's plots among many others, I discovered the stone monument that marked that large area. The monument reads "Obodivka Independent Ferein, Organized March 31, 1935.” Indeed, it wasn't just Naomi and Charlie who moved to Philadelphia from Obodivka. Not just my Uncle Frank, who had invited Charlie to join him in the fur business; and not just Charlie's mother, Adya Gurak, who had come to America after her husband, Yussel, and son, Chaim, were killed in the pogrom. While I connected with my Jewish ancestry in Obodivka, I discovered much of the Obodivka Jewish community - villagers so well-connected that they created their own benefit society in America - at rest together, peacefully, just outside Philadephia, in the new world they called home.

 Just as the Jews of Obodivka had apparently moved, en masse , to build a new community in southeast Pennsylvania, so too is our Upper Fairfield County Jewish community sewn together from countless threads, both common and uncommon. 

This fall, we will be launching a year-long community-wide program entitled Common Threads , with countless congregational and organizational partners, as a platform for exploring our community’s rich and varied heritage.

Indeed, each of us has a story to tell, if not an anthology of family tales and lore.

As part of our Common Threads program, we will be launching a new blog on our shalomct.org website as of September 1 as a platform for members of our Upper Fairfield County family to share their own ancestry and heritage stories. 

We want to you to read others’ stories… but we also want you to share yours. And we’d love to have at least a half-dozen entries by the time we launch the blog in September.

If you are willing to share a story from your family history, please send us an entry - whether a couple paragraphs or a couple pages, along with a photo or two, to cmindell@jewishphilanthropyct.org .

Together, we can begin to weave a beautiful tapestry connecting our rich ancestry to our wonderful community. 

Thank you for reading my story. I can’t wait to read yours!
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, 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 weekly updates.
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
Chaifetz Family Hospice volunteer training
9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 19 & Sunday, Aug. 26

Jewish Senior Services
4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport

Training materials and meals will be provided free of charge. 

To learn more or to sign up, please contact Ellen Ashkins:
(203) 365-6417 / eashkins@jseniors.org
8:30 p.m. Havdalah ~ 8:45 p.m Guest Speaker ~ 9:30 p.m. Service
Congregation Beth El Fairfield, 1200 Fairfield Woods Road, Fairfield

"Repentance & Reconciliation in the Age of Social Media"
with Guest Speaker Rev. Thomas M. Simisky, S.J.
President of Fairfield College Preparatory School