NEW HAVEN — The Jewish Community School of New Haven (JCS) is moving ahead rapidly with plans to open its doors in Sept. 2009.

Founded by Rachel Light and Rebecca Silvera Sasson, the trans-denominational day school will offer a pluralistic Jewish envionment for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Light, the schools’ president and treasurer, is a physician and author, with extensive experience teaching high school at such institutions as the Ramaz Middle School in New York City and SAR Academy in Riverdale, N.Y.

“Young families in New Haven are looking for a Jewish educational experience that combines serious Jewish study with a progressive, child-centered approach,” says Light. “In today’s climate of high stakes testing, the joy in learning and discovering is harder to achieve. JCS is committed to cultivating a learning community where children’s questions and interests become the basis for meaningful, authentic learning.”

Rebecca Silvera Sasson, the school’s vice president, is a former Wexner Graduate Fellow. She has taught in both public schools and Jewish schools, and is currently co-leader of DeLeT, a teacher education program at Brandeis University that specializes in preparing teachers for Jewish day schools. Sasson shares Light’s excitement.
“We believe that Jewish families who have never considered Jewish day schools in the past, will be compelled by the mission of a pluralistic day school,” says Sasson.

Light and Sasson describe the school as resting on three core values, including education of the whole child – intellectual, emotional and physical — dedication to Jewish values, texts and traditions, and a commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world).

The school will began with a combined kindergarten and first grade class and will expand by one grade each year. Students will spend two years in each two-grade classroom.

“The mixed-age classroom is central to our mission because it creates an environment where students of different abilities and interests can interact as part of a complex community of learners and teachers, and where students can progress at their own pace as they work individually, in small groups, and in full-class contexts,” explains Light. “Over the course of their time at JCS, students will be grouped in varying ways according to age, skill level and interests.”

Sasson adds, “The JCS experience will be infused with arts experiences and education such that the study and practice of visual, musical, movement, and performance art will be integrated across the curriculum.”

Acknowledging that there are area day schools for Jewish parents to choose from, Light and Sasson say there is always room for one more.

“JCS has a very different philosophy from other schools in the area,” they note.

For more information, about the Jewish Community School call (203) 397-0327 or email jcsnewhaven@gmail.com

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While no Connecticut companies had booths at Kosherfest 2008, there were several people in attendance with strong Connecticut connections.

Barbara Hodes, who with her husband, Andrew, is the owner of Judaica of New Haven, was scouting out potential merchandise for her Judaica shop. A Kosherfest regular, Hodes noticed a surplus of new wines and fruit drinks.

Rabbi Mosha Epstein, director of Kashrus Care at the Jewish Home for the Elderly of Briddgeport, was speaking to vendors and sampling products he felt would be appropriate for the Homes’ 400-plus residents. He patiently showed off some of his “finds,” including Schmerling’s of Switzerland light cheeses, no-sugar chocolates, and lactose free desserts.

At the Shanon Road booth, the company’s gregarious Chief Operating Officer Moshe Sonnenschein was giving out ice cream scoopers and free samples of his pareve ice cream. Sonnenschein’s Connecticut connection includes two brothers who live in Waterbury –including Rabbi Yosef Sonnenschein of B’nai Shalom Synagogue in Waterbury.

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NEW HAVEN — For New Haven residents Dov and Nechama Langenauer, this Israel trip will be different from all previous trips Dov will be viewing Israel from his bike, and Nechama will be supporting riders on the Wheels of Love International Alyn Charity Bike Ride. The ride will take place November 9 – 13 and will benefit Alyn Hospital, Israel’s premier Pediatric and Adolescence Rehabilitation Center.

The Langenauers, Westville residents for 43 years and grandparents of seven, have a very strong connection to Israel. They have an apartment in Jerusalem, and many family members who live in the Jewish state, including an adult son studying in yeshivah.

“My parents came to Israel after the Holocaust,” notes Nechama, “I was born in Israel and lived there until I was nine. It was always my parents’ dream to go back.”

For Nechama, this trip will be a poignant one. Her father, Rabbi Avraham Eliezri, died in January, 2007 and was buried in Beit Shemesh, and her mother, Shalva Eliezri, died just fifteen months after later. Her three siblings and many other relatives will be in Israel for her mother’s unveiling, which will take place several days following the bike ride.

Dov, a child psychiatrist, who works at Saint Frances Hospital in Hartford, and serves as medical director of the adolescent inpatient unit at Hartford’s Mount Sinai Hospital, playfully explains why he is participating in this years’ Alyn ride. “I love bike riding, and I love Israel. It is a way to combine two of my three loves!” He then remembers that his wife will be joining him as a volunteer and corrects himself, noting that he can combine all three of his loves. Langenauer adds, “It is a chance to help and support a tremendous hospital, devoted to children with severe disabilities.”

With Nechama leaving for Israel ahead of her husband, Dov can focus on training for the ride, and continue getting sponsors. “I am working on building my distance,” he reports.

If the experience of fellow bike rider, Rabbi Joel Levenson of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge is informative, perhaps Langenauer should focus on the hills as well. “I rode my bike from Jerusalem to Eilat with the 2004 Hazon/Arava Israel bike ride. On our way out of Jerusalem, we made our way up Nes HeHarim – Miracle of the Mountain. After cycling to the top, we said to each other that the ‘miracle’ was that we made it to the top!” Levenson notes.

Langenauer remains very upbeat and excited. “Riding in Israel always gives one the feeling of being both in the present and the past. Each view, each landmark is a connection to our religious and national past”.

Those wishing to sponsor Dov Langenauer’s ride and support Alyn Hospital may send a check made out to “American Friends of Alyn Hospital” to Dr. Dov Langenauer, 2115 Chapel St., New Haven, CT 06515. For more information, visit: http://www.alynride.org

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NEW HAVEN — For two Jewish tennis players, New Haven is a great place to stop by on the road to the U.S. Open. American Jesse Levine, the 106th ranked mens player in the world, and Israeli Dudi Sela, ranked 75, spent last week at the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament at Yales Connecticut Tennis Center in New haven, before heading off to New York to take their place in the main mens draw in the U.S. Open, which kicked off on Aug. 25.

Levine, 20, was born in Ottawa, Canada and moved with his family to Boca Raton, Fla. when he was thirteen, training at the Chris Evert Tennis Academy and at the Bollettieri Academy. The 5 9 Levine attended the Hillel Academy, a Jewish day school in Canada. He keeps a kosher home, often wears a Magen David around his neck. His successful juniors career included winning the Wimbledon doubles championship in 2005, and reaching the quarterfinals in singles that same year. Levine briefly attended the University of Florida in 2007, where he was 24-1, but withdrew in August 2007 to turn professional.He moved up in the rankings from 483 a year ago, to his current rank of 106. This year, he advanced to the second round at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and he won a Challenger event at Bradenton, Fla.

Levine was lucky in New Haven. He did not initially secure a spot in the main mens draw; Levine, playing sick in the qualifying rounds, was ousted in the second round of the qualifiers. Once Juan Martin Del Porto withdrew from the tournament, Levine was given a lucky loser spot, which entitled him to a spot in the main draw and a bye in the opening round. He went on to win his second round match against Spains Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0, 6-3. Levines luck continued in the third round when Steve Darcis of Belgium withdrew due to back problems. He advanced to the quarter finals against American Mardy Fish, number 35 in the world. While Levine was defeated 6-3, 7-6, he was delighted to make it to his first quarterfinals of a major tournament. Jesse is a good young junior with a bright future, noted Fish.

Levine has enjoyed his involvement with Israeli players and members of various Jewish communities while on the professional tour.I have a lot of contact with the Israeli players, like Ram, Erlich, Sela and Levy. They sometimes ask me when I will play for Israel in the Davis Cup, he said.

He also appreciates the Jewish fans who cheer for him. At the tournament in Washington last week, they cheered and said things like, Come on, man, your opponent hasnt even had his bar mitzvah yet!

Israelis Moving Up
While Israeli Noam Okun lost in the qualifying rounds and did not make it in to the Pilot Pen main draw, Israeli Dudi Sela, won his first round match against American Donald Young, 6-4, 6-2. Sela lost in the second round to hard hitting left hander, Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

Sela, the first Israeli man in seven years to break in to the top 100, is proud to represent Israel in tournaments around the world. And he has enjoyed the support he receives from Jewish communities around the world. It is always very good to see Jews supporting me. I won a recent tournament in Vancouver because the Jewish community came out to support me! he said. Sela, and fellow Israelis Andy Ram, Yoni Erlich, and 24th-seededShahar Peer will play in the upcoming U.S. Open.

Though upset that he was not invited to play for Israel in the Olympics, Sela is particularly proud of his two recent matches in the David Cup which each lasted more than five hours and resulted in victories against Chile.

It was a very good experience for me, and for my career – hey were my biggest wins so far, and they gave me a big push he said.

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