Tag Archive | "Long Island"

Test Refusal Rates Soar Across the East End

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By Tessa Raebeck

For the first time, the New York State Education Department has asked the Board of Cooperative Educational Services to compile data from school districts to learn what percentage of students in the state refused to take its tests in grades three through eight. Parents who opposed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to linked overarching and controversial educational reforms to the state’s budget and the amount set aside for school aid, have voiced their dissent by having their children “refuse the tests,” or not sit for the exams, which cover English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.

Nearly 40 percent of Sag Harbor students in grades three through eight did not sit for New York State’s standardized tests on Common Core mathematics last week, according to Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves. The numbers represented a 9- percent increase in test refusal from the English Language Arts (ELA) in the same grades earlier this month. The decrease in participation is likely attributed to the increased publicity of the refuse the test movement statewide.

Although much higher than in previous years, test refusal rates on the East End were not as high as those in western Long Island, where refusal rates reached nearly 80 percent in some districts.

Some administrators fear the substantial non-participation rates seen across the state this month—the largest in recent memory, if not ever—will affect not only teachers’ jobs, who could be rated as ineffective and fired if enough students opt out, but also the data some schools use to drive curriculum.

But teachers’ unions, involved parents and education experts from around the country say the reforms are threatening the human, interactive aspects of education so many students need. By raising the high stakes on standardized tests even higher, they say the governor is encouraging “teaching to the test,” which they fear replaces creative projects and interactive lessons with redundant workbooks and monotonous drills, substituting “tricks” for ideas.

Both the overhaul and the reaction could leave many teachers and administrators out of jobs should their students not perform up to par—regardless of the socioeconomic environment they teach in. Many of the students refusing the tests are the same students who perform best on them, and schools like Sag Harbor, where students traditionally excel, could see their scores plummet as refusal rates rise.

Yet, since the governor’s budget passed at the end of March, advocates for public education—including many teachers who could lose their jobs as a result—have declared refusing the test as the only means of resistance left.

Academically but not legally, test data is considered invalid if participation is limited. The federal government calls for 95 percent participation on a state’s standardized tests, but it is unclear whether any action will be taken. New York State has made no announcement as to what will happen to districts that have high refusal rates—now nearly every district in New York—and some fear school districts that did not play ball with the governor will see their state aid slashed.

“I hear that there will be no action taken,” Ms. Graves told the Sag Harbor Board of Education on Monday, April 27. “We have not gotten any guidance documents from New York State yet, I will just keep everybody posted.”

“So at this point we don’t know if we lost the school aid or not,” explained Chris Tice, vice president of the school board.

In the Bridgehampton School District, 37 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 refused to take their respective mathematics exams and 34 percent refused to take the ELA tests, Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre reported.

“Parents are genuinely concerned about the tests,” she told the board of education at its April 22 meeting.

Southampton Middle School Principal Tim Frazier said 54 percent of his students had not sat for their mathematics exam and estimated the district wide refusal rate was 55 percent.

East Hampton had far lower refusal rates, with 9 percent of student opting out of ELA and 15 percent not taking the math exams. Last year, all but 2 percent participated.

“As a building principal, the testing gives us good data to support and help children, and to improve the teaching and learning in the building,” East Hampton Middle School Principal Charles Soriano said Wednesday, adding, “The Common Core linked testing provides another opportunity for our students to develop comfort and familiarity with the genre of times, standardized testing.”

At the Montauk School, 46 out of 208 students, or 22 percent, refused to take the mathematics exam, versus about five refusals last year. Principal Jack Perna said on Tuesday, April 28, that he has “no idea” how the test refusals will affect teacher evaluations and state aid for next year and that “the state seems to be ‘confused’ as well.”

“While the Common Core standards are good, the assessments are not,” he said, “and using them so strongly for teacher evaluation is wrong.”

The governor had voiced his desire for half of a teacher’s evaluation to rely on students’ scores—even if they do not teach the subjects that are tested—but the final percentages will be determined by the State Education Department.

Alex Feleppa

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Alex Feleppa is the new horticulturist at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. He spoke with us about his new position and some upcoming winter events.

How did you become involved in horticulture?

I grew up out here, in Amagansett. As the bad joke goes, I was tired of the service industry. I got my start at Marders in Bridgehampton, doing cashier and delivery work, and every year I slowly built on that. About four or five years later I learned there was a career to have in horticulture. There were so many clever twists of fate over the years, because I thought I was leaving nature behind, and then there was a great green movement taking hold in the city. I was managing a garden store in New York and giving people what I thought was common knowledge. I realized there I had a tendency toward the whole nonprofit thing.

From there I learned about School of Professional Horticulture. The ironic thing about LongHouse, as it relates to my history, I was living in Queens in a mouse-infested apartment, going through this amazing program at the botanic garden, realizing my interest in horticulture and nonprofits when I was invited to a wedding and it was at LongHouse. That was the summer of 2005. It was the first time I’d ever heard of it. I laugh with people that it was so ironic. There I was in the city, and then realized that this oasis existed in my own backyard.

How did you get from a wedding guest at LongHouse to a full-time employee? 

My then girlfriend and I married and came out here and realized over the course of a snowy winter that our city life was up. For me being a horticulturist and her a veterinary nurse, we knew we could go anywhere, it was just a matter of where. In Spring 2012 we moved home. The first thing I did was to write a letter of interest to Jack Larsen [founder of LongHouse Reserve] and Matko Tomicic [the executive director] introducing myself, saying I was local, but I had this formal training. I guess the letter went over well, they had me in for a meeting not long after, and we all really hit it off.

It was a matter of funding. At that time it didn’t exist, but they were persistent and amazing. They worked at it and over the course of two and half years were able to come up with the funding for my full-time, year-round salary. For me it was a dream come true.

What are some of your new responsibilities at LongHouse?

One of the many hats I’m wearing is trying to increase our programming to be on more of a year-round basis, because there are four seasons of interest. . Our season is typically late April until late November. The goal is always to reach out to as many people as we can and invite as many people as we can. One great little insight is that there we’re always open by appointment—people can always call. This Saturday I’m leading a winter garden walk at LongHouse.

What can you actually see at LongHouse in darkest February?

 As I like to say, winter’s a great time to really see the bones of the garden. Because Jack has been building up the garden since he took ownership in 1970, there are trees and shrubs and garden areas that have beautiful structure and texture and grace in every season. For this weekend, we’ll bundle up and we will look at all different kinds of plants throughout the landscape. The emphasis for Saturday will be the witch hazel collection, a number of different evergreen specimens, which are some of the biggest in the North East and which are really mature and exceptional. We’ll look at some of the sculpture and how the snow takes on a very different look. Right after Juno, I had to walk around and survey the scene—the best way to do it is on snowshoes. I definitely want to do snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at LongHouse in the future.

The winter walk at LongHouse will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 7. The cost is $10, and free for members. LongHouse will hold its winter benefit at the Hearst Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday, February 25. Tickets start at $100. For more information about either event visit longhouse.org

Environmentalists and Hunters Say Lower Waterfowl Count Shouldn’t Cause Concern

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Hundreds of American mallards taking flight on Mecox Bay on Monday. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic 

Although the black duck and merganser populations were down, East End birders came out in record numbers last weekend to take part in the 60th annual winter waterfowl count.

On Saturday and Sunday, January 17 and 18, environmentalists and volunteers spent hours at ponds, beaches and coves, counting the number of ducks, swans and geese in local waters. Frank Quevedo, avian enthusiast and executive director of the South Fork Natural History Museum, organized the count from Montauk to the Shinnecock Canal.

“I was the regional compiler,” he said in an interview on Monday, “I had about 20 birders there, the most I’ve ever had. I think that’s a reflection of more and more people enjoying birding,” Mr. Quevedo said.

The information gathered in the waterfowl count is passed along to the New York State Ornithological Association, who publish the data and also share it with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which in turn uses it for long-term analysis of waterfowl populations wintering in the state.

Not all of the data were available by the time of this paper’s publication, but Mr. Quevedo said that 47 species in total were counted last weekend, and apart from a few variations, the figures seemed to be in keeping with annual trends.

He seemed particularly excited about a greater white-fronted goose spotted in Southampton. The large birds are usually only found west of the Mississippi River in this country.

“One other thing I noticed was that our merganser population was down this year,” Mr. Quevedo said.

Al Daniels, a lifelong hunter and conservationist, was responsible for counting all of the waterfowl in Sag Harbor. After tallying up the birds at Long Wharf, Long Beach, Otter Pond, Tides Beach and Sag Harbor Cove, Mr. Daniels also determined that the merganser numbers seemed low.

“But nobody hunts mergansers,” Mr. Daniels said of the birds, which are not considered “good eating,” as hunters say.

The waterfowl population on the East End is made up of migratory birds that travel down from parts north in the early winter to find food and water. According to local hunter Tanner Bertrand, these birds will only travel as far south as they need to get sufficient nutrition for the winter.

“They only go as far down as the water freezes,” he said, adding, “as long as they have water and food they stay put.”

The American black duck, which just last month was named one of the species of greatest conservation need in the state, was also not as populous east of the canal as it had been in previous years.

According to Mr. Bertrand, this is not immediately as concerning as it might seem. “The weather’s been so good this year, which has made the hunting season difficult. The birds are content where they are,” he said.

“We’re always affected here by the weather,” Mr. Daniels said on Tuesday.“[Waterfowl] season started in November, and for the first month puddle duck hunting was down,” he said.  He attributed that to the mild weather and noted that since last week’s cold snap, larger numbers of mallards and black ducks have been finding their way south to Long Island.

“A lot of local ponds were frozen, and that displaces a lot of birds in the area,” Mr. Quevedo said. “That was one reason why perhaps we didn’t get the numbers we usually do.” He added that his report to the New York State Ornithological Association includes weather conditions, which are taken into account when final statewide figures are tallied.

With all migratory animals, it is difficult to establish whether the dwindling populations are caused to some sort of dire conservation need, or simply part of a natural cycle. But those who have been hunting for years know that different species of birds change from year to year.

“When my father was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, there were always broadbills and canvasbacks,” Mr. Bertrand said. “They always had them down in the Chesapeake, but they weren’t here for a while.”

“Then three or four years ago we started seeing them in Mill Pond and down in Mecox Creek. Now each year they’re coming up in thicker numbers,” he said.

Mr. Daniels said he too remembers the days when local hunters spent most of their time shooting “white birds.” He also recalls when hunting was more prevalent, before all local waterfronts were peppered with second homes.

“[Hunting] is sort of like keeping the [local] traditions going,” Mr. Daniels said. “It’s sad for the children born today won’t see what we had.”

“I still got to see the good stuff,” he said. “When I was young, we ate wild ducks every Monday for the whole year,” he reminisced.

Duck-hunting season ends on Sunday, January 26. The season for hunting geese will end on Wednesday, February 4.

 

 

Seasonal Food Shines at Long Island Restaurant Week

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The Living Room Chef Mathias Brogie. Eric Striffler photo.

The Living Room Chef Mathias Brogie. Eric Striffler photo.

By Gianna Volpe

November is upon us, meaning time again to taste three courses of some of the South Fork’s finest for less than $30.

Long Island Restaurant Week now comes but twice a year—the pre-fixe promotion designed as a culinary stimulus for those who stay in the edible business off-season—saw it’s dates double in 2011 due to popular demand. The week is now featured in April, in addition to November. It was founded, and continues to be run by executives at the East Hampton-based Wordhampton Public Relations.

Nine South Fork restaurants are listed as participating in Long Island Restaurant Week between November 2 through November 9, including The Cuddy and Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor, Almond and The Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, Cowfish and Rhumba in Hampton Bays, The Living Room at c/o Maidstone The 1770 House in East Hampton, and The Patio in Westhampton Beach.

Reservations are encouraged for restaurants that allow such as the dates tend to fill up quickly.

“Just last night I had a little anxiety dream of like, ‘Oh my god, Restaurant Week’s tomorrow, we have 150 on the books and I don’t have staff,” joked Jason Weiner, the executive chef/owner of the participating Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton, “It’s all good though—we get to see a lot of new faces, make some new friends and see some old friends, so it’s great.”

Regular menu items are often available as part of the price-fixe plated dinners and though many participating restaurants create dedicated menus for all of Long Island Restaurant Week, Chef Weiner said he likes to change things up at Almond.

“We’ll basically do a different miniaturized version of the regular menu every night,” he said. “A lot of places do low cost items that they can produce en masse, which is a fine way to do things as long as it tastes good, but the thing about Restaurant Week is you often get folks who don’t often come to your restaurant for the rest of the year…so I figure the best way to get them to understand who we are is to give them a taste of what our regular menu is about; that’s our approach to the week.”

Chef Weiner said he focuses on using local ingredients for his menu – “slightly whimsical” spins on classic dishes—counting Pike’s Farm and Marilee Foster in Sagaponack; Tom Falkowski’s Bridgehampton potato farm and Amber Waves in Amagansett among those local purveyors to provide him with produce.

“It’s all about ingredients,” said Mr. Weiner. “I’m lucky enough to be on the East End of Long Island, where even now my cauliflower, my celery, my cabbage, my Brussels sprouts; the greens and potatoes, are all coming locally.”

Almond’s restaurant week menus will feature such dishes as its Lamb braciole with bitter greens and polenta raviolini and a variety of steaks, including marinated hangar steak, a grass-fed flat iron steak and a 13-ounce New York strip, which may be chosen for a slight upcharge.

“We’ll also do one of our two soups, one of which is a smoked oyster and cauliflower soup,” he said. “We get our oysters from our friends over at Montauk Shellfish Company and our cauliflower comes from Pike’s Farm.”

Almond isn’t the only restaurant that will rely heavily on its regular menu to outline its restaurant week offerings. East Hampton’s The Living Room, restaurant of luxury hotel c/o The Maidstone, will derive its menu entirely from its regular fare.

“We want to give a representation of what we do year-round, not just something done specifically for that week,” said The Living Room’s restaurant manager Adam Lancashire. “We want people to have a three-course meal that will be available to them both the week after and the week before…We will be telling everyone that comes, ‘These dishes haven’t been watered down and we haven’t gotten a cheaper product to put it together; we stuck with our philosophy.”

The Living Room’s entrees will include its popular new poached cod and a beef Bourguignon Mr. Lancashire suggested enjoying with a glass of pinot noir.

“We’re very excited to be part of restaurant week,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to show people what you offer year-round.”

If you’re searching for short ribs, try the participating Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor as director of operations Eric Peele counted the dish among its planned restaurant week menu.

“We may rotate in and out a hangar steak, but we’ll always have fish on the menu,” Mr. Peele added. “Our standard far is what popular, like our rigatoni Bolognese and salmon.”

Long Island Restaurant Week begins November 2 and runs through November 9. For more information, visit longislandrestaurantweek.com. 

Long Island Potato Festival Announces Winners of Mashed Potato Sculpting and Other Contests

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A contestant in the Mashed Potato Sculpting at this year's Long Island Potato Festival in Cutchogue.

A contestant in the Mashed Potato Sculpting at this year’s Long Island Potato Festival in Cutchogue. Photo by Karl Mischler.

By Tessa Raebeck

If there’s one thing Long Island’s good at, it’s potatoes. The first annual Long Island Potato Festival, celebrating the skill that creates such beloved gems as potato chips and French fries, kicked off Sunday, August 10, at the Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.

With contests like The Great Potato Peeling Race and Mashed Potato Sculpting, spud-lovers from across Long Island competed to prove their love for potatoes.

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The adult winner of the Mashed Potato Sculpting contest, “Rose” by Alexandra Palermo of Massapequa. Photo by Karl Mischler.

Peeling in Public, a team out of East Patchogue who peeled a whopping 261 ounces, won The Great Potato Peeling Race team trophy. The individual award went to Sinisa Savnik of Mastic, who peeled 97.8 ounces.

The Crazy Fork in Mattituck won the Best Potato Salad professional division with its stuffed potato salad, and Loretta Garland of Sayville took home the home cook division with “Moma Molloys Red Bliss Potato Salad.”

The trophies in Mashed Potato Sculpting in the child, youth and adult divisions went to a mashed potato sunflower, a puppy and a rose, respectively. The fastest adult in the Mashed Potato Eating contest was Matthew Galli of Greenlawn, who devoured the two pounds on his plate in two minutes and 14 seconds.

Clearly a big success, the Long Island Potato Festival is planning on returning next year with more contests and contestants and, you guessed it, potatoes.

Keep your eyes peeled to LIPotatoFest.com for updates.

East End Weekend: Top Picks for What To Do

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Andrew Wyeth, Sail Loft, 1983, Watercolor on paper, 22 x 29 ½ inches.

Andrew Wyeth, Sail Loft, 1983, Watercolor on paper, 22 x 29 ½ inches.

By Tessa Raebeck

The weather’s supposed to be perfect this weekend, why not end a long day at the beach with a great evening out? Here are some entertainment ideas for this weekend on the East End:

 

Rosé Week at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard

Running Friday, June 20 through Thursday, June 26, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard is celebrating its specialty: Rosé, or “summer in a bottle,” as the vineyard calls it.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider.

On Friday at 8 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, the winery’s famed vintage will be available before the Rufus Wainwright concert. For tickets, visit whbpac.org.

The rosé travels Saturday to the Group for the East End’s “Here Comes the Sun!” benefit, at the vineyard from 6 to 11 p.m. The fairly new and equally delicious No. 139 Rosé Cider will be poured for gala guests. For information and tickets, visit groupfortheeastend.org.

Rounding out the weekend—but not the rosé week, which goes till Wednesday—on Sunday on the lawn of the Wölffer residence, “A Taste of Provence” lunch from 1 to 4 p.m. will give guests not just a taste of rosé, but also of a grand meal prepared by Chef Christian Mir of the Stone Creek Inn. The event is reserved for Wölffer Wine Club Members.

For more information on rosé week, visit wolffer.com.

 

“Under the Influence” at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum

Pairing contemporary artists’ works with those of the artists who have inspired them, “Under the Influence” offers a collection of masters and mentees at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum.

Curated by local gallery owner Peter J. Marcelle, the exhibition explores the relationship between nine contemporary artists and the greats whose influence got them started.

The pairs, with the contemporary artist first, are: Terry Elkins with Andrew Wyeth, Eric Ernst with William Baziotes, Cornelia Foss with Larry Rivers, Steve Miller with Andy Warhol, Dan Rizzie with Donald Sultan, Stephen Schaub with Alfred Stieglitz, Mike Viera with Eric Fischl and Gavin Zeigler with William Scharf.

An opening reception is Friday, June 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, located at 200 Main Street in Sag Harbor. All sales benefit the museum. For more information, call (631) 613-6170.

 

Artists Against Abuse to Benefit The Retreat

To benefit The Retreat, the domestic violence services agency in East Hampton, Artists Against Abuse will be held in Bridgehampton Saturday, June 21.

The event, with the theme of Midsummer Night Fever, brings artists, philanthropists and residents from across the East End together in support of The Retreat, eastern Long Island’s only comprehensive domestic violence services organization.

The event will feature Congressman Tim Bishop and actress and social advocate Rachel Grant.

“The World Health Organization reports that in some countries, up to 70 percent of women report having been victims of domestic violence at some stage in their lives,” said Congressman Tim Bishop in a press release. “I have always been a strong advocate for the needs and rights of women. Women play integral roles in the global community and they deserve to be treated with respect by their male counterparts.

The benefit begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Ross School Lower Campus Field House on Butter Lane in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit artistsagainstabuse.com.

 

Shop Til You Drop for Katy’s Courage

Looking for a good reason to shop? Katy’s Courage, a not-for-profit in honor of Katy Stewart, a beloved Sag Harbor resident who passed away at age 12 from a rare form of liver cancer, invites you to shop ‘til you drop for a good cause.

On Saturday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sequin in Southampton will be serving cocktails while shoppers browse through designer Gabby Sabharwal’s new swimsuit line, Giejo, and create their own necklaces.

Sequin is located at 20 Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information, call (631) 353-3137.

Rabbi Morris and Family Depart for Jerusalem

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Rabbi Leon Morris, his wife is Dasee Berkowitz and children Yael, Shalva and Tamir. Photography by Rob Chron.
By Karl Grossman

In January, Rabbi Leon Morris wrote to his congregants at Temple Adas Israel, informing them of his decision to move, with his family, to Israel. And next week, the rabbi and his wife, Dasee Berkowitz, who has been integral to the education program at the Sag Harbor synagogue, and their children, Tamir, Yael and Shalva, will depart for Jerusalem.

There, Rabbi Morris will be a vice president of the Shalom Hartman Institute. From Temple Adas Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation on Long Island, he will be joining an organization that describes itself as “a center of transformative thinking and teaching that addresses the major challenges facing the Jewish people and elevates the quality of Jewish life in Israel and around the world.”

For 15 years, Rabbi Morris has been rabbi at Temple Adas Israel, for the past four as the first full-time rabbi in its 118-year history.

“Rabbi Morris has become the pied piper of Sag Harbor,” said Temple Adas Israel President Neal Fagin, an engineer from Sag Harbor. Rabbi Morris has “taken our temple” from a limited mostly vacation season synagogue “to one where there are activities every day all-year round. We leave our shabbat services with a smile. When Leon conducts his last service, there will be smiles but not a dry eye.”

Dr. Perry Silver speaks of how “since our first meeting, I have never seen Rabbi Leon Morris without an open heart and a broad welcoming smile on his face. I once confided to Leon that I doubted the existence of God. Leon then said to me: ‘Here’s a million dollars, now make me an apple!’ I capitulated,” said the Sag Harbor dentist.

Members of the temple say Rabbi Morris has been transformative figure in their lives.

“Before meeting Leon, my spirituality and religious observance was sitting on a shelf gathering dust and aging none too gracefully, said psychiatrist Brad Tepper of Noyac. “Through Leon’s ever-present compassion, empathy and love, I felt brave enough to dust off a part of my soul and with his nurturance, allowed it to grow.”

My life has been transformed by Leon’s presence at Temple Adas Israel,” said Julie Tatkon Kent of Sag Harbor, a social worker and former New York Police Department officer. “Although I was born a Jew, I was raised a Christian.” Rabbi Morris “reconnected me to my Judaism with his compassion, his kindness and love—and his passion for being a rabbi.  He is a true teacher. He is a gentle soul. Leon Morris is my spiritual hero.” She accompanied him on a recent trip to Israel, and “it was there, in Israel, I saw, I felt, I knew—Leon is an Israeli.”

It’s “a very idyllic life we’ve had in Sag Harbor,” related Rabbi Morris in an interview about a village noted for being charming, picturesque, a magnet for writers, artists and other creative people.

Still, as he wrote in a recent Temple Adas Israel newsletter: “Israel stands at the center of our Jewish lives. Not only does Israel represent a singular opportunity in modern Jewish history; it represents a renewal and rebirth for the Jewish people.”

“Israel,” Rabbi Morris wrote, “is the one place where we can make something concrete from Jewish ideas and values that were largely theoretical for 2,000 years. There is nothing theoretical about a state, and about a society. Israel gives us the opportunity to build something out of those ideas and values…. It is a living laboratory of Jewish life.”

Rabbi Morris is originally from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, a small town 57 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Two sets of great-grandparents started stores there. In high school, the only Jew in his class, he was “very open about being Jewish.” And although his family wasn’t observant, he sought to be. As a youngster, “I asked my mother to light candles on Friday evening.” He was driven to services at the nearest synagogue, 30 miles away.

At the University of Pittsburgh, he majored in religious studies, spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and backpacked in 1989 through eastern Europe, visiting “endangered Jewish communities.”

And between college and rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he worked with the Jewish community of Mumbai, India, as a Jewish Service Corps volunteer for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

On a return visit to Mumbai in 2003, he met Dasee Berkowitz, who was doing educational work there. A Barnard graduate with a master’s degree in Jewish education from Hebrew University, Ms. Berkowitz’s mother is from the Baghdadi Jewish community that came to Calcutta in the 18th and 19th centuries. A Massachusetts native, she had been living in Israel for a decade. They married in 2005.

After being ordained a rabbi at Hebrew Union, Rabbi Morris for three years was director of New York Kollel: A Center for Adult Jewish Study, and then he founded and for 10 years was executive director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

He succeeded Rabbi Paul Steinberg as rabbi of Temple Adas Israel. Rabbi Steinberg, in a long succession of part-time rabbis at the synagogue, was otherwise vice president of Hebrew Union. In his last of 20 years at Temple Adas Israel, Rabbi Steinberg would have Rabbi Morris substitute for him at times.

In 2010, Temple Adas Israel made a commitment to having a full-time rabbi and Rabbi Morris, Dasee and their first child, Tamir, moved to Sag Harbor from Manhattan. Rabbi Morris and Dasee immersed themselves in making the temple a bustling, busy full-time synagogue.

Indeed, the rabbi gives enormous credit to his wife for much of its growth. “Dasee has been much more than the rabbi’s wife,” he said. “The biggest, most important change” at Temple Adas Israel has been the drawing in of “families with small children as part of the congregation” and initiatives such as a pre-school program and a mothers’ network. “That’s all Dasee,” he said. The “young families are the ones that are going to drive the character of the synagogue.”

Margaret Bromberg, who has been involved with Temple Adas Israel since she was 10 years old, growing up in Sag Harbor in the 1950s, and is a former president of the congregation, said that when she retired as a social worker a few years ago, “one of my goals was to be available for more observance of various Jewish holidays.”

She added, though, “I was uncertain that a full-time rabbinical presence was going to be good for me, for our community. After all, for as long as anyone could remember, Temple Adas Israel had never had a full-time rabbi. This meant that we were somehow free from the authority which a rabbi might bring to various individuals’ daily, weekly, monthly, or perhaps, even annual observance of Jewish law and customs…Rabbi Morris has, in a quiet, gentle, unassuming way, made it possible for me to approximate my initial goal.”

Sag Harbor real estate broker David Weseley, who was “lucky to be on” the trip to Israel with Rabbi Morris speaks of how “through his leadership we met with many agents of change in Israel, learned a ton about the country and its people, had many moments of spiritual discovery and sharing, opened up in surprising ways to each other, and came home as a vibrant and energized group. Not coincidentally, what was accomplished on this trip reflects so many of Leon’s outstanding skills and qualities:  he is an educator, scholar, spiritual leader and consummate community builder. Leon is that remarkable combination of brilliant and charismatic and warm and above all considerate.”

David Lee of East Hampton, long a businessman in Sag Harbor, several times the temple’s president and currently its secretary, tells of arriving in Sag Harbor after World War II service in the British army and looking for a synagogue. “I found Temple Adas Israel on the hill. It was in poor shape both physically and from a membership point of view. We hoped and prayed that we could bring it back to life. After over 60 years I’m happy to report that all is well. Much of our success is due to the fact that we have had Leon and Dasee with us.”

Rabbi Morris is being succeeded at Temple Adas Israel by Rabbi Daniel Geffen, who has just been ordained by Hebrew Union College. He is from a family of rabbis—his brother is a rabbi, their grandfather a rabbi, and a great-grandfather also a rabbi—and he, too, is a warm, personable, caring and a learned rabbi. He is coming to Sag Harbor with his wife, Luanne (Lu) who is also a Jewish educator with a combined master’s degree in Jewish education and non-profit management from Hebrew Union.

Rabbi Geffen says that “to be following in the footsteps of Rabbi Morris and Dasee is both a great privilege and a great responsibility.  “Thus, my vision,” he says, “is to do whatever I can to continue the tradition of warmth, openness and acceptance that has been established by Rabbi Morris and our rabbinic predecessors, and to work together with this amazing and unique community to build a more just and righteous society here in Sag Harbor and indeed, throughout this all-too-fractured world.”

Wine Spectator Recognizes Long Island’s Rising Tide of Great Wines

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Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider. Photo courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider. Photo courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

By Tessa Raebeck

After years of falling by the wayside in conversations about great American wine, the coastal vineyards of Long Island are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

In the June 15 issue of Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell writes of “Long Island’s Rising Tide,” focusing on three local wineries, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, and McCall Wines and Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue.

“It’s an exciting time for Long Island wine,” writes Mr. O’Donnell.

Winemaker Roman Roth created Wölffer’s signature rosé in the 1990s, when neither the wine nor the region were as well known. Today, the vineyard sells 17,000 cases of rosé a year—usually selling out by August—and 37,500 cases overall. It recently delved into the hard cider market with “Wölffer No. 139” dry rosé and dry white ciders.

With sustainable farming, organic cattle raising and credit as the first vineyard to erect an energy-generating windmill, McCall Wines in Cutchogue is at the forefront of modern agriculture. A relatively new winery, the first vintage bottled in 2007, McCall’s Bordeaux blend is a Merlot-dominated cuvee with a measure of Cabernet Franc and splashes of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A huge force in popularizing Merlot in the region, Bedell Cellars, also in Cutchogue, produces 12,000 to 15,000 cases a year. Bedell bottles are decorated by artists, a creative addition of owner Michael Lynne, who is also president of New Line Cinema.

“These exemplars,” writes Mr. O’Donnell, “are pushing themselves, and each other, to capture the best possible wines from what the land—and the sea—gives them.”

PSEG Phone Scams Continue on South Fork

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An ongoing scam attempting to get PSEG Long Island customers to fork over money under the threat of having electricity service terminated continued this week, with business owners on Main Street in Sag Harbor reporting they had received phone calls from an individual named “Anthony Garcia” stating they owed money to the utility and asking them to pay an outstanding bill over the phone.

On April 8, two business owners contacted Sag Harbor Village Police to report an attempted scam. According to police, while two businesses filed formal reports, other businesses reported similar phone calls with a man stating he would shut off electrical power if customers did not make payment within hours via a Green Dot Money Pak, a prepaid card available at local retailers.

This has been an ongoing scam and PSEG is aware of the situation, according to a “scam alert” section of the utility’s website. Email scams have also been reported. The utility urges any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSEG, especially those where payment is requested, to call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.

American Beer Giant Anheuser-Busch Purchases Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company

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BluePoint

By Tessa Raebeck

Long Island’s first microbrewery, Blue Point Brewing Company has been purchased by the American beer giant Anheuser-Busch. Founded in 1998 in Patchogue by two beer-loving friends, Mark Burford and Peter Cotter, Blue Point retains its tagline as “Long Island’s Brewery,” but is now on tap at bars across the country, brewing some 60,000 barrels a year.

On February 5, it was announced that Anheuser-Busch InBev, the country’s largest brewer and the supplier of its top-selling beer, Bud Light, as well as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, has agreed to buy the Blue Point Brewing Company.

The deal will help Blue Point expand while allowing Anheuser-Busch to capitalize on the growing popularity of craft beer, the announcement said. Blue Point will continue to operate out of Patchogue and to sell its local brews, including the popular flagship Toasted Lager, as well as Hoptical Illusion, Blueberry Ale and Toxic Sludge.

“Together, our talented brewing team and Anheuser-Busch will have the resources to create new and exciting beers and share our portfolio with even more beer lovers,” Mr. Burford said in a statement.

“As we welcome Blue Point into the Anheuser-Busch family of brands, we look forward to working with Mark and Peter to accelerate the growth of the Blue Point portfolio and expand to new markets, while preserving the heritage and innovation of the brands,” Luiz Edmond, the President of the North American branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev said in a statement.

The move will allow Mr. Burford and Mr. Cotter to spread their business philosophy, already well understood on Long Island: “Good people drink good beer.”