Community News For The West Hartford Edition

Solomon Schechter Students Grow Food For Area Shelters

WEST HARTFORD — What started as a simple potato experiment has grown into a project with a much deeper value: to help people in the greater Hartford community become nourished with healthy, delicious vegetables. Students at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford are growing healthy vegetables to feed homeless and people with food insecurities in an inter-faith effort with two different community organizations. Schechter is currently raising money through a campaign to enable them to increase the amount of food they can grow and donate.

In a collaboration between different faiths, members of the Schechter garden club work with congregants and parishioners of the nearby Westminster Church, tending to the church's garden during the school year. Students plant, weed, and water during the spring and then help to collect the harvest in the fall. Because this garden is part of the Jesse's Community Garden initiative, the harvested vegetables are donated to Loaves and Fishes in Hartford.

At the same time, the Schechter garden club also raises their own seed plants in the spring. When the plants reach a viable size, they are donated to the BOTS Pots program, where individuals from shelters are trained to take care of these plants, and are paid for their work; the ripe vegetables are available for anyone who needs them.

To learn more about Schechter's fundraising campaign, visit

Get Into The Holiday Spirit

WEST HARTFORD — Mandell JCC is ready to celebrate Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, with a Chanukah Fair: Eight Days of Fun Rolled into One, on Sunday, Dec. 18, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Ave. Families will celebrate Chanukah by creating their own Chanukah crafts and enjoying special Chanukah snacks and spin dreidels. Also in observance of Chanukah, daily candle lightings will take place in the Chase Family Gallery beginning Monday, Dec. 26 through Friday, Dec. 30, at 4:30 p.m. The Chanukah Fair is free with a suggested donation of unwrapped children's pajamas for Jewish Family Services. Registration is requested by contacting the Member Services Center, 860-236-4571.

Judaism And Gender Talk

WEST HARTFORD — Writer and comedian Hannah Simpson, a transgender woman and an advocate for LGBTQ Americans, has just returned from Israel to share with us her story of gender transition and how it challenged and shaped her faith. She's headed back to Israel for another Birthright trip during Hanukkah. Hannah will discuss the obstacles she faced as Clinton's LGBTQ organizer for North Carolina, and offer her perspective on the election on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m., at Congregation Beth Israel's Feldman Hall, 701 Farmington Ave. Call 860-233-8215 for details.

Grant Awards Recycling Bins To University

WEST HARTFORD — Keep America Beautiful and the Coca-Cola Company recently announced that they will be awarding 60 recycling bins to the University of Saint Joseph, making more bins available. The bins will be placed in classrooms, laboratories, and office spaces in McDonough Hall on the University's West Hartford campus. Kirsten Martin, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology, who applied for the grant, will assemble a team of students and faculty members to monitor the use of the bins.

In total, the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Public Space Recycling Bin Grant Program will provide 3,522 recycling bins to colleges and universities, along with 996 bins to local governments and nonprofit organizations. The recycling bins are made possible through a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation.

Chase Family Gallery

WEST HARTFORD — "Random Acts of Color," a contemporary abstract art exhibit presented by C. Dianne Zweig, will be held at the Chase Family Gallery at the Mandell Jewish Community Center, 335 Bloomfield Ave., through January 15, 2017. An opening reception with the artist C. Dianne Zweig's will be held on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Israeli Chanukah Party

WEST HARTFORD — Beit Modechai, 1137 Trout Brook Drive, will be holding its annual Israeli Chanukah Party on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 6 p.m. The party will include prizes, music and food. Cost is $10 per person with a maximum $30 per family.

West Hartford Symphony Orchestra

WEST HARTFORD — The West Hartford Symphony Orchestra will perform a Holiday Concert at the West Hartford Town Hall, 50 South Main St., on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. For tickets call 860-521-4362 or order online from

'American St. Nick – A True Story'

WEST HARTFORD — The American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96, 45 Raymond Road, will host a screening and book signing of American St. Nick – A True Story, by Producer Peter Lion at the Noah Webster Library, 20 South Main St., Thursday, Dec. 15, at 6:30 pm. "American St. Nick" is the true story of American soldiers who, during the darkest days of WWII bring Christmas back to the children of a small Luxembourg town, and in doing so, unknowingly create a holiday tradition that continues to this day.

Peter Lion's book, is the story behind the Emmy winning "American St. Nick" documentary film and was awarded Luxembourg's highest military honor in July, "The Military Medal".

Toys For Tots Toy Drive

WEST HARTFORD — The Elmwood Senior Center, 1106 New Britain Ave., is conducting a Toys for Tots toy drive in conjunction with U.S. Marines Corps with new, unwrapped toys being collected through December 16. On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the Center will have their "Stuff the Express" day. If participants bring a toy on that day, they will be treated to hot cocoa and treats!

Chanukah Auction

WEST HARTFORD — Dozens of goods and services will be up for bid at Beth David Synagogue's Chanukah Auction on Sunday, Dec. 18. The fundraiser is intended to help reinvigorate the congregation's aging building, the first Modern Orthodox shul built at 20 Dover Road in West Hartford more than seventy years ago. The 5 p.m. event includes a kosher wine tasting, dinner and a live auction beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $36 and may be purchased at or by calling the synagogue office at 860-236-1241.

Fire On Ice

WEST HARTFORD — "Fire on Ice," the free community Chanukah celebration hosted by Chabad of Greater Hartford, will be held on Sunday, Dec. 25, at 4 p.m., at Blue Back Square, with a giant ice menorah, a chocolate gelt drop and a fire show. A Canorah will also be constructed with contribute cans of food, which will then be donated to local food pantries.

A Chanukah essay contest is a new initiative this year. Children, up to age 13, are encouraged to write an essay on "What Chanukah Means to Me", the winner will read their essay at the lighting ceremony. The essay has a 300 word max and should be submitted to with subject line "Essay Contest" by Tuesday, Dec. 20. Prizes include a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, a Garmin Vivo fit Fitness Band and a Mini-Drone.

For more information, call 860-232-1116 or log on to

Let It Snow!

WEST HARTFORD — The holiday planetarium show, "Let It Snow: A Christmas Musical Journey," will be shown in the Travelers Science Dome at the Gengras Planetarium, 950 Trout Brook Drive. Let It Snow, a limited engagement holiday show, combines animated holiday images with classic Christmas music. For a detailed list seasonal activities and a schedule of planetarium shows at The Children's Museum and at the Roaring Nature Center, please visit

Let It Snow is and has a cost of $1.50 per ticket for Museum Member and $3 per ticket in addition to the cost of general admission for Non-Members. Visitors can receive a free Planetarium ticket for a same day showing when they donate an item to the Museum's Mitten Tree, through December 23. All other Planetarium shows are free for Museum members and $2.50 for non-members.

Farmer Fizz Champagne Tasting

WEST HARTFORD — Grower Champagne, or Farmer Fizz, crafted using grapes from the winemakers' own vineyards, is honestly priced and comes from an artisanal winemaking approach which allows winemakers to protect and plan for their land's environmental factors, essential to developing a wine's flavor.

Enjoy complimentary samples of grower champagne at West Side Wines & Spirits' ninth annual Champagne tasting event on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. There will be a tasting room and classroom with eight champagne brands. Established in 1979, West Side Wines & Spirits has been a pioneer in providing quality wines and spirits from around the world.

Book Drive For At Risk Youth

WEST HARTFORD — Children's Reading Partners, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the West Hartford Rotary Club are teaming up this holiday season to get books into the hands of preschool and elementary school students. The Greater Hartford Holiday Book Drive, formerly the West Hartford Book Drive, is taking place through December 19, with four drop-off locations and an online donation option:

Keller Williams Realty, 29 South Main St., Congregation Beth Israel, 701 Farmington Ave., Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Ave., Mandell JCC Early Childhood Center, 335 Bloomfield Ave. Contribute online at To learn more visit

'An Improvised Christmas Carol'

HARTFORD — Eight different performances of "An Improvised Christmas Carol," developed by Seattle's Randy Dixon and produced by Hot Cocco Productions will be presented at the Sea Tea Comedy Theater, 15 Asylum St., with shows running from Dec. 8-18. All eight of the performances at Sea Tea Comedy Theater will be completely improvised, taking live audience suggestions to make this Charles Dickens masterpiece even more fun and new each night, perfect for repeat viewing. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children, including candy canes for all!

"An Improvised Christmas Carol" was developed by Randy Dixon in 1985 at the Market Theater in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market. It was first produced by Seattle's Unexpected Productions and has been performed every year since.

Operation Fuel Taking Energy Assistance Applications

HARTFORD — Operation Fuel's statewide winter energy assistance program will start December 1, when the nonprofit's 107 fuel banks begin taking applications. Families and individuals who are struggling financially and need energy assistance should call 211 to find their closest fuel bank. For more information on Operation Fuel or to make a donation, go to Donations also can be sent to Operation Fuel, 75 Charter Oak Avenue, Suite 2-240, Hartford, CT 06106.

Lift And Separate

WEST HARTFORD — Join the Women's Network of Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Ave., on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., for an evening of guaranteed laughter as Marilyn Simon Rothstein reads from her debut novel, Lift And Separate. There will be wine and refreshments. Order Lift And Separate on Amazon now or the novel is free at the event when you donate $10 per book to the Torah Fund. To join in the fun at this free book launch event RSVP to

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