Understanding The Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur

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Sep 162021

Yom Kippur began a few minutes before sunset last night (Wednesday, Sept. 15), and ends after nightfall tonight

Yom Kippur is a Hebrew name, meaning Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day of the year for Jews and often results in the biggest turnout at synagogues around the world.

Jews spend the majority of the day praying on Yom Kippur, hoping to atone and repent for all of their sins over the past year. It is a time of deep introspection, leading to a very quiet, somber experience.

Because of the intensity of the day, most Jews refrain from working on Yom Kippur.

Most Jewish adults fast (no food or water) for the entire holiday, although there are mandatory exceptions. For instance, children and those with serious medical conditions are not allowed to fast.

Night services conclude with a blowing of the shofar and often a large meal to break the fast.

If you see a Jewish friend on Yom Kippur, don’t say “Happy Yom Kippur.” Although they will know you are well meaning, you need to understand that Yom Kippur is a solemn fast day. It’s for confession, repentance, and introspection. It’s not at all a happy day. There’s not much happy about going 25 hours without food.

A more appropriate thing to say may be, “Have a meaningful fast.”

Amity’s Swimmin’ Women Off To A Great Start

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Sep 152021

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The Amity Girls’ Swimming and Diving Team hosted Branford at its season opener in Orange on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Longtime head coach Todd Rainey sent the results after the meet showing a Lady Spartans 97-67 victory.
Following are Amity’s winning categories:
200 Medley Relay 1:54.57 – Lauren Sender, Marea Li, Grace Mahon, Julia Snow
200 Freestyle 2:15.21 – Isabel Barry-Ruiz
200 IM 2:15.85 – Marea Li
50 Free 25.94 – Katie O’Connor
Diving 161.70 – Lily Quill
100 Butterfly 1:00.72 – Grace Mahon
100 Free 57.70 – Lauren Sender
500 Free 5:33.14 – Julia Snow
Branford won in these four categories:
200 Free Relay 2:41.75 – Rory Jacobson, Ridhima Strethsa, Kayda Tope, Malak Elwheshy
100 Backstroke 1:09.28 – Erika Barone
100 Breaststroke 1:40.17 – 1-1 Acuarulo Savastano, Kylie  Acuarulo Savastano
400 Free Relay 5:03.33 – Erika Barone, Rory Jacobson, Sydney Baker, Emma Hall
Records: Amity (1-0), Branford (0-1)
Congratulations Lady Spartans! Here’s to another GREAT season (and no more virtual COVID meets).

Amity Football 2021, 15 Seniors And Plenty Of Talent for The Future

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Sep 132021

The Amity High School Varsity Football Team is now 2-0 for the season. Yes, it’s early to get giddy, but after two years of COVID- interruptus for schools across the country, it’s time for everyone to play, and the seniors of the class of ’22 have their time to shine as long as everyone takes the necessary precautions to stay healthy.

Here is this year’s roster:

The team includes 15 seniors: John Coughlin #3; Ralph Toussaint #4; John Neary #5;Jackson Lee #26; Matthew Fitol #27;Gerald Burns #35; Aidan Keylock #50; Padraig Haughton #56; Matthew Carloni #66; James Denton #67; Henry Colby #70; Timothy Heffernan #12; Rocco Antonucci #82; Tyler Barrett #83; and Jackson Crainich #84.

There are 15 juniors: John Lorenti #7; Spencer Ferullo #11; Sebastian Boscarino #20; Joseph Schlegel #23; Silas Sor #28; Jacob Alguard #32; Matthew Wethington #38; Jack Hirshfield #41; Chance Starrett #42; Brendon Johnson #44; Landon Rocchio #60;Matthew Li #72; Christopher Chizmadia #76; Fabian Cuprys #77; and Michael Kwolek #85.

Included are 15 Sophomores: Connor Hayes #9; Patrick Coughlin #10; Robert SiThomas #12; Nicholas Young #14; Sean O’Brien #45; Luke Chang #46; Thomas Denton #52; Aidan Lydon #54; Braeden Piper #55; Angel Irigoyen #62; Dylan Berke #64; Giovanni Golapietro #71; Maxwell Simons #74; Robert Velazquez #79; and David Edwards #88.


Amity High School Varsity Sports Schedules For Sept. 13-18

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Sep 132021

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The Amity School and fall sports season are in full swing. Here are this week’s scheduled games.


Monday, Sept. 13

Girls Volleyball vs Woodland AWAY at Woodland HS Gym, Beacon Falls at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 14

Boys Cross Country vs Foran, Branford and Fairfield Prep AWAY at Eisenhower Park, Milford at 3:45 p.m.

Boys Soccer vs North Haven HOME at Amity Field 3 at 3:45 p.m.

Girls Cross Country vs Foran, Lauralton Hall and Branford AWAY at Eisenhower Park, Milford at 4 p.m.

Field Hockey vs North Haven HOME at Amity William Johnson Stadium at 4 p.m.

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Girls Soccer vs Mercy AWAY at Xavier HS, Larry McHugh Field, Middletown at 3:45 p.m.

Girls Swimming and Diving vs Branford HOME at High Plains Community Center at 7:20 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 15

Girls Volleyball vs Guilford AWAY at Guilford HS Main Gym at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 17

Boys Soccer vs Fairfield Prep HOME at Amity HS Field 3 at 3:45 p.m.

Field Hockey vs Hamden HOME at Amity William Johnson Stadium at 4 p.m.

Football vs Shelton HOME at Amity William Johnson Stadium at 7 p.m.

Girls Soccer vs Branford AWAY at Branford HS Athletic Turf Field at 3:45 p.m.

Girls Swimming and Diving vs East Haven, Wilbur Cross and Hillhouse AWAY at Wilbur Cross HS Pool at 3:45 p.m.

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Girls Volleyball vs Mercy AWAY at Mercy HS Gym at 5:15 p.m.

 Pending change awaiting acceptance by one or more parties involved: Date to 9/16

Saturday Sept. 18

Field Hockey vs North Branford HOME Amity William Johnson Stadium Field at 10:30 a.m.


September 11, 2001: Twenty Years Ago — Seems Like Yesterday

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Sep 112021


It was 20 years ago today. The cloudless sky was so amazingly clear and blue that it’s hard to forget. Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a deadline day for me. I had stayed up until about 3 or 4 a.m. to finish laying out my newspaper, the now defunct “Amity Observer,” and was prepared to wake up around 9:30 a.m. to make my way into the office to sign off on the pages.

My phone rang at around 8:48 a.m. It was Kathleen Schurman, a co-worker from Bethany who cried into the phone – “Did you see what’s happening in New York?”

“Huh? What? No. Why?” I answered

“Turn on the tv,” she said. I could hear the panic in her voice.

“What channel?” I asked.

“ANY channel, It doesn’t matter,” she answered desperately. “It’s the World Trade Center, a plane just hit it.”

Indeed, just moments before, at 8:46:26 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north side of the North Tower (1 World Trade Center) of the WTC between the 94th and 98th floors. A later investigation revealed that  Flight 11 was flying at a speed of 490 miles per hour (MPH).

Now, I’d been to New York City plenty of times, but I’d never even been close to the World Trade Center or paid much attention. I’d seen the towers in the distance, but what they were used for, etc, really meant nothing to me.

But Kathleen, whose husband was a businessman who worked in the city, had dined inside the Towers and she knew all too well the tragedy and panic that must be going on inside the burning building.

We watched silently, both holding our breath. I could hear her quiet sobs as she mourned the thousands of people that she KNEW were inside. I was still a bit clueless as to the loss of humanity.

Her cable went out for a couple of seconds, and as she mentioned it, I said, “Oh my God, this was no accident, A plane just flew into the other building.”

At 9:02:54 a.m.: United Airlines Flight 175 crashed through the south side of the South Tower of the WTC between the 78th and 84th floors at a speed of more than 500 MPH. It was later reported that parts of the plane including an engine left the building from its north side, and were found on the ground up to six blocks away.

She screamed, “What?” as I told her, “This was on purpose, another plane just flew right into the other building.”

Knowing that our newsroom didn’t have televisions everywhere and that everyone was busy working — and not surfing the internet, I called one of the copy editors to let him know that something was up.

When I reached Peter on the phone,  I gave him blow-by-blow reports of what was happening in America. He did not believe me when I told him that the South Tower had collapsed.

I had a deep painful hurt in the middle of my stomach. Then I told him that the North Tower was gone. “They imploded, Peter.”

By then the bosses had begun watching the horror on the internet and every editor stopped whatever he or she was working on and was instructed to find a local angle from his or her town to include in a special 911 edition of the papers.

For me, Tuesday was deadline day, so I didn’t have enough time to find Orange, Bethany, or Woodbridge residents with a personal connection to the tragedy.

(source: https://bit.ly/2cBabrB)

(source: https://bit.ly/2cBabrB)

Instead, I wrote a column documenting my day from the time I was awakened by a phone call telling me to “turn on the tv”; to seeing the second plane hit the south tower; to the conversations with my co-worker and his reaction to what I was telling him; and finally the numbness I felt that day.

The Biggest Change

What I remember most from the 9-11 attacks is just how kind everyone was for nearly an entire week afterward. Drivers were more patient with that slowpoke in front of them and laying on the horn for some idiot move wasn’t even on the radar. Everyone just put their negativity aside and let others get in front of them at the grocery store and so much more.

My children and I answered the call when the donation of heavy work gloves, dust filter masks, bottled water, and socks (to help protect the search and rescue and cadaver dogs’ feet) came out.

In 2001, my kids were 14 and 15 years old. They knew what was going on, they witnessed it on TV at school and, I remember they didn’t need a lot of reassurance. They were upset but didn’t dwell on it.

I have not been back to that particular area of New York since that day and only visited New York twice for surgical procedures at New York Presbyterian Hospital in 2009 and for a work thing in 2010.

For all the kids and early 20-somethings who are now in High School and were too young to remember and for all the children who were born after 2001, here is a timeline of what happened that day 19 years ago: 

The North and South towers fo the World Trade Center were struck by passenger planes. Terrorists used the planes as weapons against the United States. (see specifics above)

Then the Pentagon in Washington, DC was hit by American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37 a.m.

(source: https://bit.ly/2cBabrB)

(source: https://bit.ly/2cBabrB)

9:59:04 a.m.: The south tower of the World Trade Center suddenly collapses, plummeting into the streets below. A massive cloud of dust and debris quickly fills lower Manhattan. It is later explained (disinformation) that the collapse was not directly caused by the impact, but the intense heat caused by the fire fueled by the jet’s fuel weakening the steel support beams of the concrete floors. The WTC towers were built to withstand a 707 being flown into them. A 767 carries almost the same amount of fuel as a 707.

The Palisades seismic data recorded a 2.1 magnitude earthquake during the 10-second collapse of the South Tower at 9:59:04 and a 2.3 quake during the 9-second collapse of the North Tower at 10:28:31 a.m.

10:06.05 a.m.: According to seismic data, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, PA, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Hearing what was going on elsewhere in America, the passengers overtook the hijackers, sacrificing their own lives in order to save others, and the plane went down in a remote area before it could hit its target at Camp David or in Washington DC, perhaps the White House or other significant building.

NOTE: Delta Flight 1989 was in danger of being shot down by American Fighter jets after it could not be determined if it had been hijacked or not. A radio transmission from Flight 93 stating there’s a “bomb on board” was thought to have come from the Delta flight. Thankfully, the Delta plane was re-directed and landed safely in Cleveland with everyone on board safe and sound (although terrified).

Here is a breakdown of the victims:

Deaths by Area of Attack Deaths
World Trade Center 2,606
Airlines 246
Pentagon Building 125
Hijackers 19
Total number of people who died in the 9/11 attacks 2,996
Casualties in the World Trade Center and Surrounding Area Deaths
Residents of New York 1,762
Persons in North Tower (Tower 1) 1,402
Persons in South Tower (Tower 2) 614
Residents of New Jersey 674
Employees of Marsh Inc. 355
Firefighters 343
Employees of Aon Corporation 175
Port Authority police officers 37
Police officers 23
Paramedics 2
1 firefighter was killed by a man who jumped off the top floors

Talking To Your Kids About 9/11

My granddaughter is 9 (almost 10 years old) and I asked her last year if she knew what 9/11 was all about.

She said she’d heard about it, but “not really.”

I asked if she wanted to know more, and being an inquisitive child, she, of course, said “yes.”

I had found a documentary that I’d DVR’d a few years ago, that I thought would give her a sense of what happened without upsetting her or scaring her too much. It didn’t show the people jumping from the upper floors, or anyone on fire running through the lobby of Tower One. It didn’t dwell on the heartbroken family members pasting photos of their loved ones up on the bulletin boards near the site. Just the basics.

And as she watched it, I shared some thoughts about what she was seeing. I told her that I knew a Paramedic and a Priest from Bethany who helped the people deal with the terrible things they’d seen and the guilt they felt about surviving on that day when so many others died.

She has an appreciation for the first responders who risked their lives to help save others, and the many who gave their lives during that effort.

She liked that her mommy and uncle were willing to help donate things that the rescuers needed in the days after the attacks. And she understands so much more than most kids her age without having night terrors about what she’d learned. Just the knowledge and appreciation for those who were willing to help.

You know your children better than anyone else, and you know how much information they can handle. September 11, is a historic event, and one of the most tragic events of our lifetimes. Nearly 3,000 people died on Sept. 11 and scores more have passed away since then as a result.

Knowledge is power. Don’t sweep it under the rug. If you think they can handle it, tell your kids at least something about September 11, because they will see it in history books or on the Internet before you know it.


Sad News: Pat Zeoli, First Selectman Jim Zeoli’s Mother Passed Away Today

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Sep 082021

It is with heartfelt sympathy that I inform you that Patricia (Pat) Zeoli, mother of our First Selectman Jim, his sister Melissa and brother Michael Zeoli passed today.He

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the family.

During this evening’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Jim choked up and thanked everyone for their outpouring of love for his mom, who remained in her home and died in her sleep at the age of 91.

He said, “She lived a long, full life.”

Regarding services, Zeoli said his mom didn’t want a fuss and the family would have private services.

Amity Varsity Sports Schedules Sept. 6-11

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Sep 062021

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Each year, since Orange Live was established in 2012, we’ve presented the game schedules for Amity High School’s varsity sports teams.

Here’s the list of activities for this week, Sept. 6 – Sept. 11.

Monday, Sept. 6

Field Hockey vs Pomperaug, Danbury (Scrimmage) AWAY at Pomperaug HS Stadium at 9 a.m.

Girls Soccer vs Trumbull (Scrimmage) HOME at Amity William Johnson Stadium Field at 11 a.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 8

Girls Soccer vs Foran (Scrimmage) HOME at Amity William Johnson Stadium Field at 4 p.m

Thursday, Sept. 9

Boys Cross Country vs Guilford, Notre Dame-West Haven and Wilbur Cross AWAY at Guilford High School East River Preserve at 4 p.m.

Boys Soccer vs Shelton AWAY at Shelton High School Finn Stadium at 7 p.m.

Girls Cross Country vs Guilford, Sacred Heart Academy and Wilbur Cross. AWAY at Guilford High School East River Preserve at 4 p.m.

Girls Volleyball vs Lyman Hall HOME at Amity High School Mengold Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 10

Football vs Branford AWAY at Branford High School Athletic Turf Field at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 11

Girls Volleyball CIAC Early Season Tournament AWAY Connecticut Sports Center at 8:00 a.m.

Girls Soccer vs Lauralton Hall AWAY at Lauralton Hall Soccer Field at 11 a.m.


Orange Conservation Commission Asking For Photos

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Sep 042021

The Orange Conservation Commission invites all who enjoy our Open Spaces to share a picture of someone being a proper steward of our town trails.

Take a picture of yourself, your family, your friends, or your pets hiking our trails. Show how you help to keep the trails welcoming for all who visit them.

We will display the pictures at our booth in the Civic Tent at the 2021 Orange Country Fair – showcasing our favorites for all to see. Send pictures to orangeconscomm@gmail.com by Tuesday, September 14, then come by to see us at the Fair, Sept 18-19.

Aug 312021

Here is this week’s schedule for the Amity High School Varsity games from Aug. 31 – Sept. 2.

Many scrimmages which are a great time to check out the teams.

Tuesday, Aug. 31

Boys Soccer (scrimmage) vs Trumbull AWAY at Trumbull HS Cork Field at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 1

Field Hockey (scrimmage) vs Trumbull AWAY at Trumbull HS McDougall Stadium at 4 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 2

Football (scrimmage) vs Newington AWAY at Newington HS Alumni Field at 5 p.m.

Pending change awaiting acceptance by one or more parties involved: Time to 4:30 p.m.

Boys Soccer (Scrimmage) vs Masuk HOME Amity William Johnson Stadium Field at 4:15 p.m.

Girls Soccer (Scrimmage) vs West Haven HOME Amity Field 3 at 4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 4

Girls Soccer vs Stamford AWAY at Shelton HS Upper Field at 8 a.m.

Field Hockey vs New Fairfield, Bethel, Masuk, New Canaan, New Milford, Newtown, Ridgefield, Shepaug Valley AWAY at New Fairfield HS Marty Morgan Field at 9 a.m.

Boys Soccer vs (TBA) HOME at Amity Field 3 at 9 a.m.

Boys Soccer vs Coginchaug HOME at Amity Field 3 at 11 a.m.


Don’t Ignore The Signs! Life Twelve Years After Suffering Three Strokes

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Aug 222021

Circa 2009

This week marks the twelfth anniversary of a life-changing experience. On Aug. 22, 2009 I was in the hospital going through tons of tests answering friends’ questions about my condition and yes, working just days after having a stroke.

Back in 2009, I was a 52-year-old workaholic. Nothing made me happier than my busy work schedule of running from assignment to assignment covering the three Amity towns of Bethany, Orange, and Woodbridge for the Amity Observer Newspaper — Remember that one?

On holidays, I’d find the best backroads and make it, on time, to wreath-laying ceremonies, tree lightings, craft fairs, parades, etc. and I never felt burned out. It’s just what I did.

At one point, I worked at the newspaper, had a part-time job at a grocery store, took evening EMT classes at a community college, and, my personal favorite, gave my Golden Retriever, Baron, nightly intense obedience training sessions in an empty parking lot near my home. I also went to the gym 4-5 nights each week.

Back then, I was focused and had a sharp mind.

On August 17, 2009, after weeks of ignoring classic symptoms of transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or mini-strokes — most obvious was when my foot was dragging behind on a treadmill at the gym, it happened: I didn’t turn in a completed newspaper to our graphic guru, Mario, by 9 p.m. the night before deadline day. Mario always took an “ok” front page and rearranged things to make it look “great.”

Mario knew something was wrong, but, I just thought I was having an off night. By the next morning, I still hadn’t written any of my front page stories and half of the inside pages were empty as well, but I wasn’t concerned.

Every Tuesday, for years, I’d gone into the office, finished the busy work necessary to get the completed paper off to the printing plant, and then started working on the following week’s edition.

But on this particular Tuesday, (Aug. 18) I roamed around the office, didn’t do much real work and I was oblivious to the fact that four other newspaper editors were depending upon me to get my butt in gear and finish my paper so they could finish theirs.

At 2 p.m. I wandered into Mario’s office with a photo, or a question or something, and he said, “What the F#@k is wrong with you? You’re four hours late.”

I looked at him and asked, “What time am I supposed to be done?”

He glared and said, “11 o’clock, the plant keeps calling me. You’re holding everything up.”

I looked at the clock, counted back in my mind, and, still, nothing registered. I couldn’t imagine why everyone in the office was mad at me.

Eventually, with some forced help, the newspaper DID get out that day, just uncharacteristically late.

To make a long story short, and spare you all the boring details, It took two days for me to finally go to the doctor. Our company had just changed insurance carriers and I wasn’t sure if I was covered, so, I didn’t go.

One of the original stroke images

Those two days were a blank, I don’t know how I functioned, or if I felt any different, the one thing that’s for certain is that Baron was by my side when I was home — he was my shadow.

When I finally did go to the doctor, a co-worker showed up in her office out-of-the-blue, and answered all of the questions about symptoms and insurance for me, since, by that time, I was completely incapable of answering anything.

After a few seconds with me and my friend, the doctor came to her own wickedly accurate conclusion and sent me for an MRI. Within 30 minutes of leaving THAT office, the doc was calling to tell me, “You had a stroke. Go to the hospital, NOW.”

Yet Another Stroke

In August, I spent nearly a week in the hospital with test after test, visits from my daughter, and just a couple of other people (I wasn’t that popular, I guess).

Luckily, to stave off the boredom, I had my laptop with me and I was able to get some work done, in spite of strict orders not to do anything for the newspaper while I was recovering.  One specific memory was interviewing Patti Clark from Maple View Farm for the last installment of my Open Farms series. My Executive Editor said someone else would do it, but I insisted since I’d written all of the other parts of the series and wanted to keep it uniform — she reluctantly agreed, mainly because there was no way to win an argument with me regarding the Observer’s content, even if I was supposedly resting after having a stroke.

Before I returned to work, I had another smaller stroke — not a TIA, but a stroke — still, I was so lucky not to suffer any obvious lasting complications.

I remember walking into the photographers’ office and asking Wayne Ratzenberger if he had a second. “Wayne, how do I turn this camera on?” He gave me a quizzical look and responded, “Oh, Come On!”

I told him honestly, “Wayne, seriously, I can’t remember what to do with it. I’ve had this camera for about five years, and right now, I’m clueless.”

Realizing that the strokes had damaged part of my brain, he kindly took me aside and gave me a quick tutorial. Wayne had the patience of a saint, and I will never forget how sweet he was to me that day. He died about 7 years after that, and I still miss him.

I will print Part Two of this saga in November, but in the meantime, if you’re not familiar with my case, to this day, I do have difficulty with comprehension, memory loss, and seizures — staring into space and being easily distracted by “shiny things.”