Our committee is so excited about the next conference in Ridgefield, CT! We have been working on it for months and most pieces are in place!

It will be a wonderful gathering within driving distance of the East Coast and Philly/DC area, and easy travel from NYC airports. The hotel, Crowne Plaza Danbury has given us a great rate of $119 plus tax per night including full breakfast, up to four in a room. Our workshops will include lots of music for you to sing and get inspired by, encouraging new members to sing their favorite pieces for Friday evening or Lifecycle favorites. Hopefully everyone will find a few new pieces to be inspired by and share with their congregations and communities.

Workshops will be varied and will be offered both days so you won’t miss one you really want! Beth Styles is a songwriter who creates Shabbat worship with a gospel choir—it’s very upbeat and spiritual—her music is wonderful! There is a songbook/cd offered on the registration page. Carrie Chanin is offering Vocal Wisdom/A Bissel Yiddish—Carrie is an accomplished opera and Yiddish art singer. She sings with orchestras and does a jazz show as well. If you want to learn more about Yiddish songs, get vocal tips for health. She’s a gifted voice teacher as well as singer.
Rabbi Jeffrey Silberman wrote a program for Pastoral Counseling that helped develop testing for certification. He is director of a hospital pastoral program and is going to share his wisdom about the field, certification and skills with the ill.

Our own Arlyne Unger is graciously offering another great nusach class—this time Weekday! For anyone who was too shy to ask, here it is. We are encouraging anyone who leads a WCN weekday service to use some weekday nusach when appropriate. Chatzi Kaddish and Avot are essential for weekday nusach. This is what we’re about—helping develop cantorial skills and support when needed.

Our own Rena Shapiro is going to teach High Holyday trope and if time, Megillah trope for those who would like to brush up on that. So many wonderful classes—the hard part will be choosing two.

Jewish yoga with Valerie Rich; she offered it last time in Ridgefield and it began our quest for some physical movement during conferences. Valerie is a gifted yoga instructor in many styles and loves to infuse Jewish concepts in her yoga teaching.

We will walk to town (10 minute walk at the most) to the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art for wine and hors d’oeuvres (dinner), while enjoying the museum’s offerings including outdoor sculpture gardens.

Returning to Temple, we will be treated to a traditional maariv by the master cantor, JACKIE MENDELSON! We will see his movie, A Cantor’s Tale and have fun asking him questions afterwards. He is a wonderful singer, entertainer, comedian, teacher, and hazzan with passion!

The next day we’ll have Life Cycle Favorites and an annual meeting. Our varied workshops, and then…

Gigi Van Dyke is returning for SPIRITUALS—Black/Jewish Spirituals, Kosher Gospel, there are so many ways to describe it, but only one Gigi! She has been sharing her gorgeous knowledge of traditional Negro Spirituals as she calls it, for 13 years at our temple for MLK Music Shabbat. Her choir learns our music, and we learn theirs. Together it is a community celebration that is the absolute favorite of the year. We will sing with Gigi for about an hour and have the community come to hear what we learned at the end of our session. After sitting by regions for dinner to figure out ways to connect more regularly during the year, we will have a FIRST FOR WCN!

After a maariv by Magda Fishman, a cantorial superstar if you don’t know her… star of Israeli army who plays the trumpet and sings like an angel… get ready for Christine O’Leary, comedienne, and teacher of comedy. She will work with our stories that we sent in, and choose a few to help “polish”.

I think this will be the most fun evening we’ve ever had! I will not invite the community to this… some stories are best left with us…

After the laughter calms down, we will go back to the hotel for a Kosher Wine Tasting! No drinking and driving!
Our last morning will be very special – After an inspiring service led by Ellen Dreskin, we will have our goodbye circle to make sure everyone is there!
After our moment of gratitude we will enjoy a choice of two workshops—Ellen will share “ The Theology of Mishkan Hanefesh” the new HH machzor for the Reform movement, and my rabbi David Reiner will share “ A Comparative Text Study for the HH- comparing branches of Judaism and their understanding of Sh’ma Koleinu one of the most moving prayers in the HH liturgy.

For the first time our WCN Board Retreat will meet just prior to the conference, so we will be completely present and engaged when everyone comes in for registration.

There are opportunities to be involved, to sing, to lead a prayer, to share, to learn.

I’m very excited to welcome you to my synagogue and my community. This is the third conference I’ve hosted at this synagogue – people are already lining up to volunteer and get involved. All we need is YOU!

Please register!


Deborah Katchko-Gray
Co-Chairs, Debby Lewis, Robin Joseph, Barbara Stambler
Conference Committee: Jan Morrison, Jinny Marsh, Sherry Barnes, Robin Sparr, Nina Primer, Robbi Sherwin, Kathy Sebo, Gail Nalven
Cantorial School Liaisons: Ellen Dreskin, Nancy Dubin, Nancy Abramson, Eryka Velazquesz, Gladys Gruenwald