April 25, 2017

Old Saybrook Hosts 5th Annual Green-up Day, Saturday

Green-up Day volunteers gather for a photo with some of their collected trash. File photo.

OLD SAYBROOK — In 2013, Old Saybrook resident and runner, Bill Casertano, noticed the mounting litter along the roadside. He decided to do something about it and started the annual event, Old Saybrook Green-up Day.

Join Casertano, friends and neighbors in this effort Saturday, April 29 for the 5th annual Green-up Day. The rain date is Sunday, April 30.

Trash is everywhere …

Volunteers may collect trash individually in their own neighborhoods, or meet up with others at the Green-up Meet-up on the Green, at 8 a.m. before heading out.

Busy weekend? Take a bag along on your rounds, fill it up, and throw it away at one of the event’s convenient locations. It’s a great example for kids to see everyone working together to keep their favorite places, and the roads to them, clean.

Free garbage bags are available at the Town Hall parking lot, Town Park on Schoolhouse Road and the Town Beach parking lot. Full bags may be returned to these locations as well.

Everyone can help in a small way, or a big way, to prevent roadside litter from becoming a town eyesore. Litter is also a threat to inland waterways and Long Island Sound.  Even doing something as simple as walking around one neighborhood, an individual can have a significant impact on the heath of the area’s beaches, rivers, and estuaries.

To volunteer, or for more information about how you can help, visit www.osgreenup.weebly.com, www.facebook.com/OldSaybrookGreenUpDay, or email bcasertano@comcast.net.

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Two Organizations Working for Middle East Peace Co-Sponsor Film Series; See ‘When I Saw You’ on Thursday

Members of the Tree of Life group that traveled to Israel-Palestine in March 2017 stand on the front steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme’s Meetinghouse on the day of their departure. Others would join the travelers from Ohio, Washington DC, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii.

Film Series Aims to Educate, Inspire Dialogue About Peace, Justice in Middle East and Beyond

AREAWIDE — Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)-New Haven and the Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF) are jointly sponsoring a film series titled, ‘From the Jordan to the Sea: Israel-Palestine in Film’ at Westbrook Public Library. The series comprises three feature-length films on successive Thursdays, April 27, May 4 and May 11, and a short film on May 18, which will be followed by a “talk-back” with young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

All four films will have a start time of 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Westbrook Library. The public is welcome to attend these events.

Tree of Life travelers stand on the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem as Dr. Reza Mansoor offered an introduction to Islam to the group of 37 travelers, who incorporated Muslim, Jewish and Christian representation.

The film series strives to educate and inspire dialogue by offering diverse perspectives with dramatic heartfelt storytelling. The selected films offer a human face to the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is  hoped the series raises questions, challenges some common myths and jumpstarts candid discussion about the complexities of working for peace and justice in the Middle East and in the US as well. 

Details of the program are as follows:

When I Saw You (2012)  93 minutes
Thursday, April 27     

It is 1967. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. When I Saw You is the story of people affected by the times around them, in search of something more in their lives. A journey full of adventure, love and the desire to be free. A story of the human spirit that knows no borders. 

Five Broken Cameras (2011)  94 minutes
Thursday,  May 4 
             

 A documentary film co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidii.  It is a first-hand account of protests in Bil’in, a West Bank village affected by the Israel West Bank barrier. The documentary was shot almost entirely by the Palestinian farmer who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. Structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras, it follows one family’s evolution over five years of turmoil. The film won a 2012 Sundance Film Festival award and was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award.         

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (2013)  100 minutes
Thursday  May 11
       

Tal (Agathe Bonitzer) is the 17-year-old daughter of recent French immigrants to Israel who live in Jerusalem. Following a bomb attack on a local café, she throws a bottle into the sea near Gaza with a message asking for an explanation. Naïm (Mahmoud Shalaby), a sensitive but aimless 20-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza, discovers the bottle and tries to answer Tal’s question by initiating an email correspondence. Their mutual suspicion soon develops into a tender friendship.

An Oasis on the Hill (2013)  10 minutes
Thursday May 18  
       

This inspiring documentary follows Omer and Rami, who grew up in Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam, an Israeli village where Jews and Arabs have peacefully coexisted for over 40 years.                                                 Included with this film will be a “talk back” by young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

For more information about the film series, contact TOLEF Coordinator Mary Tomasetti at mary@tolef.org or 860-391-5384 or call Westbrook Library at (860) 399-6422

Directions to Westbrook Library: I-95 to Exit 65. South on Rte. 153 to center of Westbrook, left onto Boston Post Rd (Rte. 1), then left onto Burdick Dr.  Look for the entrance sign to Daniel R. Wren Park. The library will be on your right. The Community Room is located at the back of the Library. Entrance is next to Literacy Volunteers.          

About Jewish Voice for Peace: Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization with over 65 chapter across the United States, including a chapter in the Greater New Haven area.  JVP supports the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinians refugees based on principles established in international law; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.

About Tree of Life Educational Fund: Tree of Life Educational Fund is a non-profit organization that provides travel experience, conferences and educational opportunities to help participants to become more enlightened and engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world. The TOLEF’s latest trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia took place March 8-24, 2017.

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Find Foxtrots, Friendship, Florida Sunsets in ‘Biloxi Blues’ at Ivoryton Playhouse, Opens Wednesday

Cast members of Biloxi Blues in rehearsal: Zal Owen, Conor Hamill, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Alec Silberblatt, Chandler Smith, and Mike Mihm.

ESSEX — The Ivoryton Playhouse is leaving behind the music of Ol’ Blue Eyes and heading south to the steamy bayou country of Biloxi, Miss., with the opening of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues on April 26. This semi-autobiographical play details his experiences as a young man in boot camp before he was shipped off to serve in the Second World War.

Biloxi Blues is the second chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and preceding Broadway Bound, and is the only one in which Eugene is not the central character. Biloxi Blues won the Tony Award when it opened on Broadway in 1985 and ran 524 performances.

Simon’s hit play follows the adventures of Eugene Morris Jerome and his fellow Army inductees as they struggle through basic training near Biloxi, Miss. in 1943. An aspiring writer who sees himself as an outsider observing the craziness around him, Eugene hopes to somehow remain “neutral … like Switzerland,” but finds himself having to make tough choices.

Biloxi Blues is a comedy with real depth about young men growing up, learning about life and how to live together and finally, going off to war. These men are universal soldiers – facing the same fears, anxieties, and loneliness that grip all young recruits about to encounter the ultimate test of combat. Simon brings his great sense of humor and humanity to every word of this play.

A film was also made of the play starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Mike Nichols with screenplay by Neil Simon.

Biloxi Blues is directed by Sasha Bratt and features Zal Owen* as Eugene, Alec Silberblatt* as Arnold and Mike Mihm* as Sergeant Toomey. Cast also includes Andee Buccheri, Conor M. Hamill*, Ethan Kirschbaum, George Mayer, Moira O’Sullivan and Chandler Smith. Set design is by Glenn Bassett, lighting design by Tate R. Burmeister and costume design by Lisa Bebey.

Biloxi Blues opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse on April 26 and runs through May 14.  Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50 for adults; $45 for seniors; $22 for students and $17 for children and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.)

The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

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Essex Meadows Announces Lifelong Learning Affiliation with Wesleyan University, Courses Open to Public Start May 13

Courses Offer Opportunities for Continuing Education, Intellectual Growth and Socialization

ESSEX – Essex Meadows, in affiliation with Wesleyan University, announces a series of lifelong learning sessions hosted by the retirement community. With intellectually stimulating courses geared toward historians, art aficionados and more, these lifelong learning opportunities will promote cultural ties with the community.

Beginning Saturday, May 13, the classes and interactive learning sessions will focus on a host of topics, taught by Wesleyan faculty members. “Research has shown that adults who engage in intellectual and artistic endeavors feel more connected to their local community,” said Susan Carpenter, director of community life services at Essex Meadows.

She continued, “Whether your passion is history, art, or lifelong learning, in general, this affiliation allows us to offer some wonderful opportunities to broaden one’s knowledge base.”

Rick Friswell, associate director of the Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning, says the topics will cover a variety of content. “Learning is limitless and we’re excited about the content we’ll be covering at Essex Meadows,” he said. “We’re exploring these important topics in a way that should spark curiosity and discussion, and we’re really excited about this affiliation.”

The first course will focus on World War I, and will include a 1957 film on the topic, as well as lecture and discussion.

These events are open to the public, with costs associated with some of the courses.

Schedule of Courses

  • Saturday, May 13:
    One Day University – The Great War to End All Wars $125
  • Thursday, June 8:
    Lecture – The Epic of Gilgamesh No Charge
  • Wednesday, July 12:
    Field Trip – Yale Center for British Art $45
  • Thursday, September 7:
    Mini Course – Three Places in New England: A Guided Tour Through 19th Century Art and Literature $100
  • Sunday, October 29:
    Melodrama – Dark and Stormy Nights: Gothic Fiction and Romantic Music No Charge

To register, contact Susan Carpenter, director of community life services, at carpenters@essexmeadows.com or 860-767-4578, ext. 5156. Checks should be made payable to Wesleyan Institute for Lifelong Learning. Visit www.essexmeadows.com/events to learn more.

Essex Meadows is located at 30 Bokum Road, Essex, CT 06426.

Since 1988, Essex Meadows has provided a lifestyle of dignity, freedom, independence and security to older adults from Connecticut and beyond. A community offering full lifecare, Essex Meadows, located conveniently on the Connecticut River near the mouth of Long Island Sound, prides itself on a financially responsible and caring atmosphere.

Essex Meadows is managed by Life Care Services®™, a leading provider in life care, retirement living. For more information on Essex Meadows, visit the community’s website or call 860-767-7201.

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One Weekend, Three New Eagle Scouts for Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13

Chester/Deep River Boy Scout Troop 13 celebrates three new Eagles Scouts. From left to right, James Rutty, Samuel Rutty, Zane Bouregy. Photo by Michael Rutty.

CHESTER/DEEP RIVER — Troop 13 – Boy Scouts of America would like to congratulate two Chester brothers and one Centerbrook resident on earning the rank of Eagle Scout. These Eagle Scouts completed projects in the towns of Chester and Haddam Neck.    All the work completed benefits residents and visitors to both towns.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout must earned 21 merit badges and advance through the seven scout ranks by learning Scout and Life skills while simultaneously providing leadership to his Troop and service to his community.  One of the final requirements for the Eagle Rank is to show leadership in and complete a service project that benefits the Scout’s community, school, or religious institution; all of this work must be completed prior to the young man’s 18th birthday.

James H. Rutty’s  Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to construct a prayer garden patio with benches and peace pole at the United Church of Chester, allowing residents and visitors a place for quiet reflection and prayer. James was awarded the rank at a joint Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony with his brother Samuel on March 18, 2017 at the United Church of Chester.  Since joining Troop 13, James has earned 85 Merit Badges.  James is a junior at Saint Bernard School in Uncasville, CT.

Samuel M. Rutty’s Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to raise funds and construct twenty eight foot wood and concrete memorial benches at the Haddam Neck Fairgrounds, providing attendees a place to rest and enjoy the fair.  Sam was awarded the rank at a joint Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony with his brother James on March 18, 2017 at the United Church of Chester.  Since joining Troop 13, Sam has earned 70 Merit Badges.  Samuel is a freshman at Saint Bernard School in Uncasville, CT.

Zane F. Bouregey’s  Eagle Scout Service Project involved developing and implementing a plan to replace the flagpole, restore the veterans memorial at Cedar Lake and hold a rededication ceremony on December 28, 2016.  Zane was awarded the rank at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor held March 19, 2017 at the Deep River Town Hall.  Since joining Troop 13, Zane has earned 46 Merit Badges.  Zane is a senior at Valley Regional High School in Deep River, CT.

We offer our congratulations to these fine, young men!

Troop 13 Boy Scouts serves the boys ages 11-18 of Chester and Deep River. The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is to help young men develop their character and life skills all while having fun. There is much emphasis placed on assisting these young men to develop into strong healthy citizens who will lead our communities and country in the years ahead. The Boy Scout methods help to promote these ideals through the challenge of putting them into practice with the Troop Program. This is done in a way that is both challenging and fun.

To learn more information about joining Troop 13, contact Scoutmaster Steven Merola at 860-526-9262

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Save the Date for Essex May Market, an Essex Garden Club Extravaganza, May 13

Plants galore for sale at May Market.

ESSEX — You’re in for a treat on Saturday, May 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, when the Essex Garden Club will have a one-day extravaganza in the Town Park on Main Street. 

Just in time for Mother’s Day, there will be herbs and herbal gift creations as well as the Garden Club’s ‘world famous’ garlic salt, made from a closely-guarded secret recipe since 1953.

Always the star of Essex May Market are the ever-popular Members Plants.  People have been coming to Essex on May Market day for years from all over New England to take advantage of the healthy plants dug and nurtured by the Garden Club members.  These plants include perennials, ground covers, grasses and shrubs dug and potted from the garden club members. 

An early sell out in the Members Plants area each year are the many varieties of tomato plants grown from seed and cultivated carefully.  There will be 300 tomato plants, including many heirloom varieties guaranteed to grow in our climate. People start lining up at 8 a.m. to get the finest specimens. 

On the other side of the park, the Annuals Tent will be stocked with the healthiest hanging baskets, and blooming annuals. Knowledgeable Garden Club members will be available to help with any questions on caring for the plants. 

Back by popular demand this year is the all-natural compost available for sale.

Sales of Essex Garden Club’s ‘World Famous’ Garlic Salt are always brisk.

The “Treasures” section is a great place to find gently used pieces of jewelry, garden pieces, planters, books, cnildren’s items, gardening tools and a mix of odds and ends. There will be lots of interesting finds for all ages.

The Silent Auction will have an incredible array of goods and services donated from many generous merchants. And back again this year is the Jewelry Tree.  Here you will find an extensive and superb collection of vintage bangles, earrings, necklaces and pins.

The May Market Café offers donuts and coffee starting in the morning and light lunch fare at midday. Local Connecticut breads and honey will be for sale and make great gifts

May Market is the Garden Club’s only annual fundraising event.  Proceeds support civic improvement projects, such as beautifying town parks and traffic islands in Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton.  Plantings are also purchased for the Essex Town hall, Town Park and for public schools serving Essex students. 

Funds also provide scholarships for high school seniors and college students, summer camper-ships for young students, and educational programs for Essex Elementary school and John Winthrop Middle school

May Market is truly a gardener’s dream.  Come early and you will definitely find something beautiful for your garden or a special gift to take home. It is, after all, the quintessential Essex Event!

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Guilford Savings Bank Supports Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries with ‘Green for Greens’

From left to right, front row, Guilford Saving Bank Branch Manager, Dave Carswell, SSKP Board Member Rick Westbrook, SSKP Executive Director, Patty Dowling, and Guilford Saving Bank Community Development Officer, Lisa La Monte. (back row) Guilford Saving Bank Assistant Branch Manager, Sandra Miller, and Guilford Saving Bank tellers Ryan Donovan and Brandy Reilly.

AREAWIDE — Guilford Savings Bank has awarded a $4,000 grant to Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) to purchase fresh produce for needy residents of the shoreline. The grant, called “Green for Greens”, helps assure that local families who come to SSKP’s food pantries will be provided with fresh fruit and vegetables, in addition to non-perishable foods.

Lisa LeMonte, Marketing and Community Development Officer at Guilford Savings Bank, shared, “I know I speak for everyone at GSB when I say how proud we are to provide “Green for Greens” that allows The Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantries to supplement their budget with funds to purchase additional fresh produce.”

“The support of Guilford Savings Bank and their generous “Green for Greens” is truly a gift to those we serve at our 5 food pantries.  We all know the feeling of eating a fresh crisp apple, or finding a banana in our lunch bag when we are hungry midday.  Because of GSB, those in need will share in that feeling, and on behalf of those we serve, I sincerely thank Guilford Savings Bank for their commitment to providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Patty Dowling, Executive Director.

Founded 28 years ago, The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries provides food and fellowship to people in need and educates the community about hunger and poverty, serving the Connecticut shoreline towns of Essex, Chester, Clinton, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Killingworth, Westbrook and Deep River.

Guilford Savings Bank has been serving the financial needs of the Connecticut shoreline for over 140 years.  Recently named the #1 Community Bank in Connecticut, it is the premier relationship bank, providing banking, lending, wealth management and life insurance solutions for personal, small business and commercial customers. For more information visit www.gsbyourbank.com

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Letter From Paris: Erdogan Wins Presidential Superpower in Turkey’s Rigged(?) Referendum

Nicole Prévost Logan

The good news about the victory of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the April 16 referedum, increasing his constitutional powers to govern, is that  his accession to the European Union (EU) has become more unlikely.  If he wins another referendum on whether to restore the death penalty, that will be “crossing the red line,” French president François Holland said and it will remove permanently his demand for membership from the negotiating table.

The electoral campaign for the referendum took place in a country traumatized by several bomb attacks.  It left little room for the opposition to express its opinions.  Acts of intimidation were observed in many voting booths.

In the Netherlands the campaign to gather votes of Turkish expatriates, was particularly  unwelcome at a time when the country was having its own elections. Unhappy with the decision of the Dutch authorities not to allow the Turkish diplomats off the plane, the Turkish government called The Hague the “Nazi capital of Europe” and their action, “barbarian.”

It pretended to be shocked by Angela Merkel’s violation of freedom of expression because political rallies by the Turks were cancelled in Germany.  The Turkish expats in Europe voted overwhelmingly in favor of the referendum.

On April 13, violent riots took place at a soccer match in Lyon for the Europa League quarter final.  Thirty five hundred Turkish supporters of the Besiktas club had bought tickets. But it turned out that 20,000 more, coming from other European countries, had somehow got into the stadium without disclosing their identity.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the referendum with a 51.3 percent majority.  In the 18 articles of the new constitution, the principle of separation of powers – executive, judiciary and legislative – has disappeared. The president governs by executive orders whenever he wants.  There is no longer a prime minister. The president  designates ministers and high officials, chooses most of the judges. Parliament will be dissolved and all the new deputies will belong to AKP, the islamo-conservator party of “justice and development.” The president could potentially be in power until 2019.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Erdogan lost the support of the middle classes of the three main cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.  A sort of a slap in the face for a man who grew up in Istanbul, was its mayor and considers it as his stronghold, “commented Bernard Guetta, a journalist specializing in geopolitics.  The  European Commission urged Turkey to seek the “broadest possible consensus.”

Anyone who has traveled in Turkey knows that it is made of two different worlds.  The president finds his supporters in the first group:  firstly, poor farmers living in remote areas of the Anatolian plateau without much in common with the population on the coastal regions who have always had contacts  with the West, through trade in the Aegean Sea or the Mediterranean. And secondly, the working class living in the outskirts of the cities.  Their shabby houses are the first ones to collapse during recurrent earthquakes.  The polluted air in industrial areas can reach unbearable levels.

At the other end of the spectrum one finds Roberts College, the oldest American School abroad still in its original location.  It was founded in 1863.  Among its alumni are many of the international elites who have shaped this region of the world .

In the 1950s, Turkey was one of the countries benefiting from the Marshall Plan.  In 1952 it became a valued member of NATO thanks to its strategic geographic location.  This was an invaluable role to play.  But even the relationship of Turkey with NATO is tense to-day.

Dorothee Schmid, head of the Contemporary Turkey program at the Institut Français pour la Recherche Internationale (IFRI), comments: “Turkey advances in the fog.  It is not compatible with international organizations  and its statute at NATO is under question.”

Erdogan  considers himself the heir of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, which  spread as a crescent from central Europe, the Middle East to the Mediterranean shores of North Africa from 1299 to 1922.

The Turkish president may have also be looking  further back in history to the Hittite empire.  In the second milennium BC it was one of the two great powers in the Middle East, competing with Egypt until the decisive battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC against Ramses II.  The cyclopean walls and massive gate flanked by two sitting lions still standing to-day in Hattusas, or modern village of Bogäzköy,  give an idea of the mighty Hittite empire.

The Turkish president  seems to be driven by his thirst for power:  every two years or so there are either general elections or referendums.  The pull toward autocracy provokes an escalade of tension between the ruler and the people.  During the 2011 revolution, the protest on Tahir Square lasted for 18 days and was followed by a tough repression.  Since  the putsch attempt of July 2016, 1,500 military have been put on trial and tens of thousands arrested or lost their jobs.

Megalomania is another trait of the Turkish president.  He lives in a palace 30 times the size of the White House; he is planning to build the longest bridge in the world over the Dardanelles and a mosque so big that it will be seen from any point in Istanbul.

The priority for Erdogan today is to prevent the unification of the Kurds living both in Turkey and Syria.  The ongoing conflict has caused heavy losses in the two camps and much hatred.  The violence has had an impact on the economy.  Tourism has plummeted  down by 30 percent since last year.  “Turkey feels threatened,” says Ahmet Insel, Turkish economist and specialist on that country.

The agreement between Turkey and the EU *regarding the flux of refugees across the Aegean Sea seems to be working out: in 2015, 10,000 migrants crossed the sea as compared to only 43 to-day.  Insel says, “It is in no one’s interest to put an end to this agreement.”  The 3.5 million refugees now living in Turkey seem to be adjusting after going through difficult times.  The Turkish government is even thinking of offering them citizenship.

Marc Pierini, former French ambassador to Turkey comments, “Turkey remains a major actor in the area.”  Nevertheless it is frightening to see the leverage power Erdogan holds over the EU and by way of an almost tangible demonstration of that power, the question discussed by specialists on the France-Culture radio channel on April 8, 2017, was, “How the exacerbated nationalism of Erdogan will impact the geopolitical imbroglio?”

* see “Letter from Paris,” March 19, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Acton Library Celebrates Annual Poetry Contest Winners at ‘Poetry Night,’ Wednesday

AREAWIDE — The Acton Public Library will hold Poetry Night Wednesday, April 26, at 7 p.m. concluding its 23rd Annual Poetry Competition.  Winning poets will read their compositions and receive their awards. The public is invited to attend.

The panel judges for this year’s competition were Barbara Batt of Old Saybrook, Mary Guitar of Lyme, Susan Murphy of Madison, Mary Volk of Old Saybrook, and Jane Ulrich of Guilford. Chief judges were Patricia O’Brien, Old Saybrook’s Poet Laureate, and Nancy Meneely of Essex.

The evening, celebrating National Poetry Month, and the poets’ prizes are sponsored by the Friends of Acton Library. All submitted poems will be on display in the library through May.

The library is open Monday through Thursday 10-8:00, Friday and Saturday 10-5.

Contest winners are:

ADULT PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  My Father by Mike Augusta of Deep River
2nd PRIZE                How She Left by Lorraine Riess of Higganum
3rd PRIZE                Tar by Mike Augusta of Deep River

GRADES 9-12 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  Parental Boogie by Sophie Spaner of Deep River
2nd PRIZE                 Escape by Stefanie Guo of Madison
3rd PRIZE                 Turns Black When Wet by Julia Collins of Old Saybrook

GRADES 7-8 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                    Snowflakes by Mackenzie Kapp of Old Saybrook
2nd PRIZE                  An Alphabet of Self Reflection by Mia Katz of Branford
3rd PRIZE                   Seeds by Sophie Burdick of Deep River

GRADES 4-6 PRIZES

1st  PRIZE               Moon Haikus by Van Lampos of Old Lyme
2nd PRIZE               Rude Awakening by Sheila Northrup of Madison
3rd PRIZE TIE        Time by Margo Katz of Branford
Oak Tree by Philip Warren of Old Saybrook

GRADES 1-3 PRIZES

1st PRIZE                  Butterfly by Hannah Belknap of Old Saybrook
2nd PRIZE                Valentine’s Day by Toyba Barasz of Old Saybrook

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Letter From Paris: Paris, Berlin Need to Work Together as the EU Determines its Future

Nicole Prévost Logan

For the French, Germany can be a source of admiration or of irritation . The Franco-German “couple” has been the pillar of the European Union (EU.)   The couple worked beautifully until the departure respectively of Francois Mitterand in 1995 and Helmut Kohl in 1998.  Today more than ever, the two countries need to spearhead initiatives to bring about a new Europe.

Marcel Fratzscher , president of the German Institute of Economic Research, writes on April 6, “Without a strong France, Europe cannot pull out of the crisis. We need France to play the role of a leader with a vision of the European project.”  Without agreeing on everything, the two countries have a lot to learn from each other.

Angela Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel, head of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), will run for a fourth mandate next September.  Hans Stark, professor of Germany civilization at the Sorbonne, believes  the Germans have not had enough yet of Merkel and will elect her again, possibly for the last time.  Her hold on the people is still strong as showed in the CDU winning 40 percent of the votes in the recent Saarland elections. The Social Democrats (SPD) tried to form a coalition with the Left (die Linke) and the Greens, but failed.

Merkel is pragmatic in her policies.  For instance she moved from the center to the left (stepping on Social Democrats’ turf) by adopting ideas attractive to the left such as the acceptance of same-sex marriage or opposition to nuclear arms.  In a nutshell, she remains in the center but maintains a slight tilt toward the left. 

Her longevity is explained by her ability to create consensus.  She has to be an acrobat to lead a country made up of 19 States  (Länder), six of them having come from East Germany and 13 from West Germany. 

It was the intention of the Allied forces occupying Germany to create a multitude of “checks and balances” in order to decentralize power by adding to the number of Länder already existing before the war.  Sailing on the Danube one can see the splendid architecture left by the powerful Prince-Bishops ruling Wurzburg or Bamberg länder.  The voting system by proportional ballot creates the need for coalitions and hence a fragmentation of power. 

Martin Schulz

The main opponent of Merkel in next September’s election will be Martin Schultz, who has just been elected as the president of  Social Democrats (SPD) with 100 percent of the votes. The SPD plummeted after the unpopular reforms made by Gerard Schroder  but has now bounced back. Today the CDU and SPD are running neck and neck, each with about 33 percent of the electorate.

The right wing populist party “Alternative for Deutschland ” (AfD)  represents  9 percent of the vote.  It was not founded until 2013.  Since the  end of the war, Germany has had to live with certain taboos and one of them, was the aversion  to any political system reminiscent of fascism or communism.  Today the former East Germany is more populist than West Germany.  By way of example, in the last elections in Saxony-Anhalt, AfD received 25 percent of the vote. 

Germany is an economic success story, but at what price?  The system, called Hartz I-IV, implemented by Gerard Schroder in 2003, consisted of tough labor reforms and imposing sacrifices on the work force at a time when Germany was called the “sick man of Europe.”

But the results were indeed striking:  unemployment went down by half and is now only 5.9 percent,  exports have risen by 6 percent creating a trade surplus of 250 billion, and growth is at 1.9 percent.  Alexandra Spitz, a German professor of economics, published an article in the Harvard Business Review on March 13, 2017, titled, “The Real Reasons why the German Labor Market is Booming.”  In summary, she explains these reasons are that wages have not increased as much as  productivity; collective bargaining between employers and employees is decentralized, and workers have accepted lower salaries and flexible labor conditions.

Some of the French, who have a generous (perhaps, too generous?) “social model,” believe Germans have very low unemployment, but also millions of “poor workers” with many part-time, low-paid and short-duration jobs.  Other French people do not agree and are impressed by the German performance and willing to borrow some of their ideas.

Thierry Pech, head of the Terra Nova Think Tank, notes, “There has been an internal devaluation of the cost of labor because of the “poor workers.”  This policy can be called “mercantilism.”  It was used to boost the competitiveness of both industry and exports.  This caused  a problem for the European neighbors.  Germany is preoccupied with its own national interests and has displayed a lack of cooperation with others.  “Professor Hans Stark argues, “In 2004, the Eastern European countries, which joined the EU had low wage-economies.  This time it was Eastern Europe’s turn to practice mercantile policies toward Germany.” 

“Qualified workers have access to professional training at any time,” Professor Stark remarks. “Those persons, less qualified but having completed their “cursus,” can benefit from apprenticeships.  Those, without any qualification, fall to the bottom of the pile.  German industry is always looking for qualified workers.  In the sectors where labor is not qualified – construction, services, agribusiness – the salaries remain low.  This may constitute a problem for French farmers for instance.”  A minimum wage was introduced in 2015.

Sigmar Gabriel

Sigmar Gabriel, former president of SPD and now German minister of foreign affairs, says, “Let us stop thinking we are the cash cow in relation to the European budget.  We have also profited from Europe, particularly when the 1999 introduction of the Euro presented a devaluation from the Deutsch Mark.”

Germany has been cautious not to increase its military power (another taboo.)  The Parliament (Bundestag) has blocked the increase of the army (Bundeswehr.)  The government  abstained from taking part in the  Libyan campaign.  Now the defense of territory is becoming a priority again.  Four brigades have been deployed to defend the Baltic states from Russia.

President François Holland invited the leaders of Germany, Italy and Spain, to a mini-summit in Versailles on March 6 to discuss European defense.  Soon after, during an informal meeting in Malta attended by several EU leaders, Merkel declared, “There will be a European Union at different speeds.”

Clearly, this seems to preview what Europe may become – a number of core countries of the EU, working together on specific projects.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole LoganAbout the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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From Italy, With Love: Dalia Lazar to Perform Beethoven Sonatas in Chester, April 30

Internationally renowned pianist Dalia Lazar, who will give a concert at the Chester synagogue April 30.

CHESTER — Though the internationally renowned pianist Dalia Lazar now lives in Italy, she is always eager to perform thousands of miles away, in the town of Chester, Conn. “I love playing at the synagogue, as it so inspires me,” she says. And so she will play here for the third time in the nine-year history of Music & More at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

On Sunday, April 30, at 5 p.m., Lazar offers her interpretations of four Beethoven sonatas in preparation for a European tour that follows, and during which she will play all 32 of the composer’s works for piano. It is a rare chance for local audiences to see a performer who is described by one of many admiring critics, as that rare combination of charisma, personality and terrific pianistic facility.”

David Zeleznik, the director of the series, says, “She continues to come back every other year because she finds the warmth of our audience, and the wonderful acoustics of our space and our Mason & Hamlin piano to be the perfect match for her expressive playing.  And our audiences appreciate both her generous spirit and virtuosity. This will be a singular opportunity to preview Dalia’s European tour in an intimate setting that she adores. Our audiences respond not only her virtuosity but her enthusiasm and charm.”

Lazar does more than talk about Chester and nearby local towns – she invests in them. The last time she performed, her dress, her shoes, and her jewelry all came from local merchants. When she returns, this spring, she brings with her a long list of accomplishments.

She began studying piano at an early age in her native Zabreb, Croatia, when music “made everything come alive,” she says. “Paintings in my grandmother’s room, the trees outside the window, the courtyard’s balconies, suddenly displayed their own life and movement.   My mother, noticing the effect that music had on me, took me to concerts, where I insisted we sit in the first row from where I experienced feelings of wonder and happiness that have stayed with me since. Her first piano teacher recognized her uncommon talent and pianistic ability, and at the age of sixteen she was admitted to Moscow’s P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory.  During her studies in Moscow, Lazar performed throughout Soviet Union. Immediately after her graduation at the Moscow Conservatory, she decided to continue her career in New York and London where she studied with Karl Urlich Schnabel and Maria Curcio.

Lazar made her New York debut at Rubenstein Hall, followed by her Carnegie Recital Hall debut. Since then she has performed a broad repertoire as a soloist in concerts and recitals worldwide, including the United States, Russia, Venezuela, Israel, Switzerland, Croatia, Mexico and Romania.  Her chamber music repertoire includes the works for violin and piano duo and piano trio, which she performed extensively with her late husband, violinist Lucian Lazar.  Her recent CD includes works by Schumann and Chopin.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester, CT.  For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the cbsrz.org website.

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Legendary Adriaen Block Vessel To Land this Summer at Connecticut River Museum

Onrust under sail. Photo courtesy of the Onrust Project.

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum has announced that the Onrust, a replica of the first European vessel to explore and chart the Connecticut River, will rediscover the River this summer.

Following Henry Hudson’s 1609 expedition, Dutch captain Adriaen Block was hired to explore the northeastern coastline of America with the intent of establishing trade with Native Americans and claiming parts of the territory for the Dutch Republic.  On his fourth and final voyage (1613-1614), Block’s ship the Tiger was destroyed by fire while in New York Bay.  Block and his crew went to work near Manhattan building a new vessel – the Onrust (launched in New York Bay in April 1614).

The Onrust investigated coastal New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. In the course of his travels, Block became the first known European to travel up the Connecticut River to just north of Hartford (a distance of approximately 60 miles from Long Island Sound).  He recorded the conditions, the places that he saw, and the native people he encountered. 

The impacts of Block’s travels were many.  Upon his return to Amsterdam in July 1614, Block’s explorations, along with the collective knowledge from other expeditions, were documented in the “Figurative Map of Capt. Adriaen Block” — an incredibly accurate map of the northeast region given the navigation and survey instruments of the day. 

Connecticut River Museum Executive Director, Christopher Dobbs stated “We cannot be more thrilled to host this remarkable vessel that has such historic relevance to our region.”  In fact, as Dobbs notes, Block’s discoveries ushered in dramatic changes.  Most notably, the cultural interchanges (often leading to calamitous consequences) between Native Americans and Europeans, colonization, the founding of New Netherland, and the ecological impacts due to global trade.  It was “at least in part thanks to Block’s work that a Dutch trading post was established in 1624 in Old Saybrook and that Hartford [House of Hope] became New Netherland’s eastern-most trading post and fort.”

The re-creation of the vessel was spearheaded by New York based nonprofit The Onrust Project. Following extensive research, the rediscovery of traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques, and the efforts of over 250 volunteers, the vessel was launched in 2009 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site, Rotterdam, NY.  Board Chair and Executive Director of The Onrust Project, Greta Wagle said “The Onrust is an extraordinary, floating museum.  We are very pleased to collaborate with the Connecticut River Museum and share her important stories with River Valley residents and tourists.”

The Connecticut River Museum will host the Onrust from June 1 through early October.  During this time they will offer cruises and dockside tours.  To find out more details about the Onrust’s summer cruises, charters, and upcoming programs please visit the Connecticut River Museum’s website at ctrivermuseum.org.  You can also discover the Onrust yourself by going to The Onrust Project’s website at theonrust.com.

Interested in becoming a volunteer guide this summer aboard the ship?  Contact the Museum’s Education Department at jwhitedobbs@ctrivermuseum.org.

The Connecticut River Museum is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The Museum currently has a special exhibition, Connecticut’s Founding Fish, exploring the story of the Shad.

For more information on exhibits and related programs please contact the Connecticut River Museum at 860.767.8269 or visit the website, ctrivermuseum.org.

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Child & Family Agency’s Essex River Valley Auxiliary Hosts Annual Tag Sale’s ‘Intake Day,’ May 4

Everything but the dog! A well-stocked car of donations for Child & Family’s Annual Tag Sale.

ESSEX — For the uninitiated, Intake Day is a spring ritual, marking a time to find, dust off, clean, repair and donate those valued, but little-used clothing and items in your care, to benefit The Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut.

On Thursday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Essex Town Hall on 29 West Avenue, members of the Essex Auxiliary of Child and Family Agency will be standing by to greet and assist with your donated items. Use the Grove Street parking lot entrance. Tax donation letters will be available on site, and specialty art or jewelry items will be appreciated and handled with care. 

If you need assistance with unusual or bulkier items, pick- ups may be able to be arranged in advance by contacting Pat Mackenzie-Thompson at 860-227-7551

The auxiliary will collect, sort, box and then transport your contributions to the New London Armory for a bonanza, three-day fundraiser, which has earned a reputation for being one of the “Largest Tag Sales in New England.” This year’s 62nd Annual Sale will be held May 5, 6, and 7 at a new, yet old  venue – the New London Armory at 249 Bayonet Street New London, CT  06320.

WANTED:  Art work, furniture, decorative items, sporting goods, clothing, jewelry, household items, linens, tools & toys, vintage and antique items, books, food magazines, records & DVDs.

The motto Bring the Best and Leave the Rest has made the town of Essex a standard bearer for “quality” donations which help to provide for an increasingly successful fund raiser. Proceeds go directly to support the many extraordinary services provided by Child & Family Agency, a non-profit organization which has served Connecticut families for over 200 years. 

Today, programs address children’s mental health, physical health care, child abuse prevention, the treatment of family violence, teen pregnancy, childcare, and parent education.  Child-care and out-of-school programs benefit from volunteers who read one-on- one with children, share a hobby, an athletic skill or a special talent with a classroom, are homework buddies or create sets and costumes for their exciting theatre productions.  To join the auxiliary or to volunteer today, please call 860-443-2896.

Your collective donations make a difference every year in the lives of the children and families served, but in times of economic turmoil your support is crucial, helping to stabilize some very fragile lives.  Last year over 18,000 children and their family members from 79 towns were helped by the agency’s staff of 195 dedicated professionals. For more information about the work of Child & Family, visit www.childandfamilyagency.org.

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Register Now to be Listed on the Chester Town Wide Tag Sale Map; Tag Sale is May 27

CHESTER — All Chester Residents who wish to sell what they no longer need can join their neighbors in participating in the annual tradition of the Chester Town-Wide Tag Sale on Saturday, May 27 (Memorial Day weekend), from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.  For the fifth year in a row, the Chester Republican Town Committee is organizing this 25-year event, which brings thousands of people to Chester for a day of tag sale buying, eating and shopping.

It is easy to do—get on the map that directs the traffic to your doorstep.   To be listed on the map, you must be a Chester resident; if you are a business, your sale address must be in Chester.

Listing forms are available through Kris at kris.seifert@gmail.com and at LARK! In the Town Center.  The listing fee is $10 for residences or businesses or $25 for businesses that wish to include a small 1-1/2” by 1-1/2” advertisement.  Deadline for inclusion in the map is May 25 to enable the printing of the map.   But don’t wait, space fills up quickly.   

To everyone who wants to have a fun and adventurous day in Chester, mark May 27 on your calendar and come to the town-wide tag sale—rain or shine.  As you enter town, you will see friendly volunteers selling maps  (at $1) that will give the locations of everyone who wants to see you.  Spend more time with them and less time trying to find them by randomly driving around– although, that is fun,  too.

Make a day of it and enjoy all that the Town of Chester has to offer.

When you are ready to take a break, restaurants will welcome you with coffee, fresh baked treats, and great food any time of day. The downtown merchants – some of them new like Black Leather, The French Hen, Strut the Mutt and The Perfect Pear – will welcome you with open arms, with shelves stocked with specials, and galleries filled with unique objects of desire.  Don’t forget to pick up a loaf or two of Simon’s well-known bread.

The downtown area is revitalized – check out the new bridge (or bridgework) and sidewalks.  If you want to learn about the town, walk into the Chester Historical Society’s Museum at the Mill in the center of town where you can learn about the Life and Industry along the Pattaconk.  Walk up to the Chester Meeting House or simply stroll about and enjoy the day.

Proceeds from listing fees, map sales, and advertising on the map are used to promote the event throughout Connecticut.  Net proceeds from this event benefit the Chester Republican Town Committee’s general fund.

If you have questions or require more information, email kris.seifert@gmail.com or phone 860-526-8440 / 714-878-9658.

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The Very Latest … and Most Important … News to Date on the Proposed High Speed Train Route

Amtrak’s ‘Acela’ passes through Rocky Neck State Park on a recent morning.

AREAWIDE — In a major news story published yesterday in the CT Mirror, veteran journalist Ana Radelat summarizes the significant impact that opposition in Connecticut to the proposed high-speed rail route has already had — and is continuing to have.  Radelat quotes Old Lyme’s Greg Stroud, founder of SECoast and now director of special projects for the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, who has been at the forefront of this opposition, as saying, “Opposition is growing along the entire shoreline.”

Read Radelat’s story titled, CT rebellion against federal rail plan grows — and may have impact, at this link.

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Regional Boat Dealers Prepare for 2nd Annual In-Water CT Spring Boat Show, May 5-7

Aerial view of the Brewer Essex Island Marina where the Connecticut Spring Boat Show will be held.

ESSEX – The Connecticut Spring Boat Show has announced the 2nd Annual 2017 in-water show dates of May 5-7, at Brewer Essex Island Marina located in Essex, Conn.    The boating industry has come together to unveil some of the latest innovations in boating, offer purchase incentives and give consumers an ideal opportunity to compare different boats, dealers and options in one convenient location.

Interested boat buyers will enjoy select opportunities for sea trials throughout the weekend; thus giving prospective buyers a unique ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience.  More than 3000 people are expected to attend the free show, rain or shine.

Visitors attending the boat show will enjoy seeing a wide range of new and brokerage, power and sail models of all sizes, 10ft to larger than 60ft including family cruisers, performance boats, downeast trawlers, day sailers, picnic, center consoles, runabouts, pontoon and inflatables.

Boat lines from American Tug, Beneteau, Bennington, Catalina, Chris Craft, Comitti, Cutwater, Defever, Dufour, Eastbay, Elan, Ferretti, Fortier, Grand Banks, Hinckley, Hunt, Legacy, Nordic Tug, Novatec, Ocean Alexander, Post, Rosborough, Rossiter, Sabre, San Juan, Sea Ray, Southport, Tiara, True North, Velasco,  Windy, X-Yachts, and more will be represented.

In addition to boats on the docks, the show will have SUPs and kayaks, gear, accessories and service companies on site from Action Sports, Boaters Buddy, Boatique USA, Boat Name Gear, Brewer Essex Island Marina, CermaLube, Coolermate Insert, Freedom Boat Club, LeafFilter, NMI-Permateek, Pantaenuis America, Connecticut River Museum, Sails UP for Cancer, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, WindCheck Magazine and more to be announced soon.

Brewer Essex Island Marina is located on a 13-acre private Island, accompanied by a complementary ferry service, and offers 125 slips accommodating vessels up to 200’. The resort marina is family friendly and the popular Marley’s Café will be open for the weekend offering food and beverages with a portion of sales proceeds to be donated to Sails Up 4 Cancer.  In addition to the general event, a lively ‘Cinco de Mayo’ celebration is planned for May 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will feature live Caribbean music and fare.

Historical Downtown Essex is located on the Connecticut River, a few short miles from Long Island Sound.  The small waterfront town is a boating, sailing and tourist destination featuring quaint shops, markets, and restaurants.

The show is a production of WindCheck Magazine and is sponsored by Brewer Essex Island Marina, Essex Boat Works, Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA) and YachtWorld.  Visit www.ctspringboatshow.com for specific event details.  Contact Anne Hannan of WindCheck Magazine at anne@windcheckmagazine.com for dealer and vendor application information.

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Two Organizations Working for Middle East Peace Co-Sponsor Film Series at Westbrook Library; April 27 – May 18   

Members of the Tree of Life group that traveled to Israel-Palestine in March 2017 stand on the front steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme’s Meetinghouse on the day of their departure. Others would join the travelers from Ohio, Washington DC, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii.

Film Series Aims to Educate, Inspire Dialogue About Peace, Justice in Middle East and Beyond

AREAWIDE — Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)-New Haven and the Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF) are jointly sponsoring a film series titled, ‘From the Jordan to the Sea: Israel-Palestine in Film’ at Westbrook Public Library. The series comprises three feature-length films on successive Thursdays, April 27, May 4 and May 11, and a short film on May 18, which will be followed by a “talk-back” with young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

All four films will have a start time of 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Westbrook Library. The public is welcome to attend these events.

Tree of Life travelers stand on the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem as Dr. Reza Mansoor offered an introduction to Islam to the group of 37 travelers, who incorporated Muslim, Jewish and Christian representation.

The film series strives to educate and inspire dialogue by offering diverse perspectives with dramatic heartfelt storytelling. The selected films offer a human face to the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is  hoped the series raises questions, challenges some common myths and jumpstarts candid discussion about the complexities of working for peace and justice in the Middle East and in the US as well. 

Details of the program are as follows:

When I Saw You (2012)  93 minutes
Thursday, April 27     

It is 1967. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in “temporary” refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. When I Saw You is the story of people affected by the times around them, in search of something more in their lives. A journey full of adventure, love and the desire to be free. A story of the human spirit that knows no borders. 

Five Broken Cameras (2011)  94 minutes
Thursday,  May 4 
             

 A documentary film co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidii.  It is a first-hand account of protests in Bil’in, a West Bank village affected by the Israel West Bank barrier. The documentary was shot almost entirely by the Palestinian farmer who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. Structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras, it follows one family’s evolution over five years of turmoil. The film won a 2012 Sundance Film Festival award and was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award.         

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (2013)  100 minutes
Thursday  May 11
       

Tal (Agathe Bonitzer) is the 17-year-old daughter of recent French immigrants to Israel who live in Jerusalem. Following a bomb attack on a local café, she throws a bottle into the sea near Gaza with a message asking for an explanation. Naïm (Mahmoud Shalaby), a sensitive but aimless 20-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza, discovers the bottle and tries to answer Tal’s question by initiating an email correspondence. Their mutual suspicion soon develops into a tender friendship.

An Oasis on the Hill (2013)  10 minutes
Thursday May 18  
       

This inspiring documentary follows Omer and Rami, who grew up in Neve Shalom / Wahat al Salam, an Israeli village where Jews and Arabs have peacefully coexisted for over 40 years.                                                 Included with this film will be a “talk back” by young people recently returned from TOLEF’s  2017 trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia.  

For more information about the film series, contact TOLEF Coordinator Mary Tomasetti at mary@tolef.org or 860-391-5384 or call Westbrook Library at (860) 399-6422

Directions to Westbrook Library: I-95 to Exit 65. South on Rte. 153 to center of Westbrook, left onto Boston Post Rd (Rte. 1), then left onto Burdick Dr.  Look for the entrance sign to Daniel R. Wren Park. The library will be on your right. The Community Room is located at the back of the Library. Entrance is next to Literacy Volunteers.          

About Jewish Voice for Peace: Jewish Voice for Peace is a national organization with over 65 chapter across the United States, including a chapter in the Greater New Haven area.  JVP supports the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestine; self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinians refugees based on principles established in international law; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.

About Tree of Life Educational Fund: Tree of Life Educational Fund is a non-profit organization that provides travel experience, conferences and educational opportunities to help participants to become more enlightened and engaged in making this a more just and peaceful world. The TOLEF’s latest trip to Israel/Palestine and Bosnia took place March 8-24, 2017.

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