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General News
March 20, 2007

Mr. Bush: Read Our Lips

Photos/Sharon Bass

Marking the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion in Iraq -- which has taken about 3,200 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- about 75 folks stood outside Memorial Town Hall yesterday at rush hour to say the war must end. No more deaths. No more war profiteering. No more troops. Cars honked. A light, frozen precip fell. Protesters bundled up. The president has now deleted the word “victory” from his pro-war speeches as he calls for more soldiers to be thrown into this civil conflict.

"I'm just disgusted" about the Iraq War, said Mike Bianchi of Branford. "It's time to move forward. As fast as they [soldiers] were placed, they need to be removed."

"I've been to plenty of these," said James Velvet of Hamden, who "hosted" the rally for moveon.org. "I still think every rally helps."

March 16, 2007

Croaking in Hamden

Jim Sirch’s slide of a spotted salamander.

Story and pictures by Betsy Driebeek

Every year in March there is a day, when if you listen very carefully, you can hear the first sounds of spring peepers -- tiny frogs the size of a thumbnail with a huge voice calling their mates.

With the current wintry weather it’s highly unlikely the frogs are doing their mating calls, but the 50 people who attended the Hamden Land Conservation Trust's amphibian presentation last night at Thornton Wilder Hall were privy to the peepers’ sounds and those of other frog species.

Sirch shows Tyler Bogrett, 12, a spotted salamander.

Conservation member and Peabody Museum education coordinator Jim Sirch presented a slide show of Connecticut salamanders and frogs complete with an audio of each frog's distinct sound.

Sirch's show had more than just entertainment value. He stressed the need to preserve land in Hamden for these little critters. "We need to save amphibian habitats by saving land. We need to save land where vernal pools exist," he said.

Vernal pools are areas of temporary water that accumulate in the spring and dry up by August. Frogs and salamanders need to lay their eggs in these pools where there are no fish to eat them, Sirch said.

A slide of a spring peeper.

Many of the state’s salamanders and frogs are found in Hamden. They include the red-backed, spotted, four-toed and northern dusky salamanders; and frogs include the bull, green, wood, gray tree, American toad and spring peeper.

Sirch also brought along some live frogs and salamanders to the delight of the children in the audience.

"I loved it. I've been bugging my mom about it all week. Frogs rock," said Bear Path fifth-grader Tyler Bogrett.

The land trust has saved 75 acres, according to Sirch. To get involved, write to: Hamden Land Conservation Trust, Inc., P.O. Box 6185, Hamden, CT 06517.

March 5, 2007

Celebrating Jewish Deliverance

Rebbetzin and Rabbi Menachem Piekarski. Or is that Rabbi and Rebbetzin Piekarski? The costumed Piekarskis portrayed each other while hosting Chabad of Hamden's annual Purim party.

Words and pictures by Betsy Driebeek

Yesterday was a day of Purim celebrations in Hamden. According to Chabad of Hamden, the festive holiday that started on Saturday and ends today celebrates “the salvation of the Jewish people [in the year 356 B.C.] from Haman’s plot to destroy, kill and annihilate all Jews. Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the wicked Haman in the days of Queen Esther of Persia.”

As Chabad Rabbi Menachem Piekarski said, “It seems that it is always the same, they wanted to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.” And the Rabbi and his wife, Miryam, threw a Purim party in Chabad’s new digs at 1650 Whitney Ave.

The sign outside their Chabad still displays the old tenant’s name, but Piekarski who welcomed everyone to “Darleen’s Nail Studio” promised a new sign would go up today.

Rabbi Menachem Piekarski holds the Megillah while daughter Chana looks on.

The rabbi read, with rapid speed, the entire Megillah -- the story of Purim. He said it was actually a letter written by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai that instructs the celebration of Purim to that generation and all the others to come.

Children wore costumes -- as did the rabbi and his wife who portrayed each other -- a meal was served and Eric Girardi entertained the tightly packed crowd with his bending-gravity show.

Earlier in the day, Congregation Mishkan Israel’s youth group held a Purim carnival that began with school principal Norma Grinfeld and a handful of teachers performing the story of Purim.

Congregation Mishkan Israel teachers perform the story of Purim. (Left to right) Caryl Steinberg (Haman), Ellyn Kaufman (Esther), Ethan Ruber (King Achashveirosh) and Frank Schneer (Mordechai). Principal Normal Grinfeld narrates at far right …

… while the children attentively watch.

Afterward, inside the Ridge Road synagogue, there were games to play, prizes to win, a costume contest and plenty of food.


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