The Westchester Poverty Symposium was an opportunity for individuals to come together to learn about innovative, community-driven partnerships focused on helping those in need. Elected officials, non-profit organizations and several school districts attended the sold-out event and learned actionable items to help the estimated 10% of Westchester residents living in poverty.
WHITE PLAINS, NY (January 10, 2019) Nearly 800 members of the Westchester community attended “Anti-Semitism: What We Face and How We Fight It,” a discussion about the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and abroad, and Westchester’s efforts to combat hatred. The event, presented by UJA-Federation of New York in Westchester, in collaboration with Westchester Jewish Council, took place on Wednesday, January 8, at Temple Israel Center in White Plains.
Cindy Golub of Mamaroneck, UJA Regional Chair, welcomed the attendees, and Arlene Kleinberg of New Rochelle, UJA Westchester Annual Campaign Chair, introduced the evening’s guest speakers. The program featured three experts who provided insight into the rise of anti-Semitism and what is being done to address the challenge.
Westchester District Attorney, Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. opened the program and shared insights into the work that his office does to create a safer and more secure community. The Westchester Intelligence Center, a unit of the DA’s office, ensures hate crimes are prosecuted appropriately and justice is served. Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center provided historical context about anti-Semitism, reminding the audience that anti-Semitism is not new – we are simply seeing the growth of what has always been present.
Hindy Poupko, Deputy Chief Planning Officer at UJA-Federation of New York concluded the formal remarks with an overview of the many initiatives that UJA-Federation is undertaking to combat anti-Semitism including making a major investment in security. “We are embarking on a new, multi-million-dollar effort to engage in a wholesale upgrade of our community security infrastructure”, said Poupko. This includes the hiring of former NYPD director of intelligence analysis, Mitchell Silber, as UJA’s new Community Security Director to lead a team of five locally based security directors. In addition, a new position will support the specific security needs of Jewish day and residential camps.
Beyond enhancing security, UJA is strengthening community relations efforts with non-Jewish groups, advocating for critical government support, helping organizations access government security funding and empowering college students with tools to engage in healthy discourse about Israel on campus.
The program concluded with the speakers responding to questions submitted by the audience.
About UJA-Federation of New York
For more than 100 years, UJA-Federation has brought New Yorkers together to solve some of the most pressing problems facing our community. Through UJA, more than 50,000 donors impact the issues that matter most to them, pooling their resources to care for Jews everywhere and New Yorkers of all backgrounds, respond to crises close to home and far away, and shape our Jewish future. Working with a network of hundreds of nonprofits, UJA extends its reach from New York to Israel to nearly 70 other countries around the world, touching the lives of 4.5 million people each year. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, please visit our website at www.ujafedny.org.
News courtesy of the UJA-Federation of New York
During a final stop on a book tour promoting “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience” (Simon and Schuster), Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton–in a discussion moderated by Vanessa Williams–addressed everything from Donald Trump’s impeachment to the role faith plays in their lives to several of the role models their co-authored book portrays.
Story/Photos by Grace Bennett
Pleasantville, NY, December 18–Excitement at Pace University was palpable both inside the sprawling Goldstein Fitness sports arena and afterwards too when staff and volunteers from both Pace and the Chappaqua Library (from where the event had been moved following a weather-related cancellation to the library weeks earlier) were all smiles helping attendees, from groups of Pace University students to hundreds of Westchester residents, pick up their copies of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton’s ‘Book of Gutsy Women.’
Before introducing Vanessa Williams to the stage to moderate a discussion with Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, Pace University President Marvin Krislov, noted that Pace has been co-educational since its founding 100 years ago. “We’ve educated many gutsy women of our own,” he noted, mentioning a host of Pace graduates and impressive ‘firsts’ including: Lillian F. Anstie and Charlotte Osann, among the first women to pass the CPA exam in New York; Florentine Goodrich, appointed first treasurer of the Tennessee Valley Authority; Dr. Susan Merritt, founding dean of Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems; and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins—with two degrees from Pace: the first person of color, and the first woman, to lead a legislative chamber in New York. His final mention, to much applause, was of recent Pace grad Sydney Mesher, “who was born without a left hand, and became the first-ever Radio City Rockette with a visible disability.”
Krislov then invited everyone to welcome Vanessa Williams, “a multi-platinum recording artist… a star of television, film and the Broadway stage, and a lifelong resident of Westchester County.”
Vanessa Williams described The Book of Gutsy Women as Hillary and Chelsea’s portrayal of more than 100 women (103, it was later noted) who have inspired them throughout their lives (Chelsea described the challenge for she and her mom to pare the book down from at least 200 women they had hoped to include).
“They are fascinating profiles and also a playbook for anyone looking for courage… for their own gutsy life,” said Williams. “It is full of personal reflection filled with anecdotes from a mother and a daughter from two different generations but who share a lot in common.”
She introduced Chelsea as “a champion for girls and women, advocacy, writing, and work at the Clinton Foundation, and adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.” She introduced Hillary as “the first woman in U.S. history to history to become a major party’s presidential nominee,” also outlining her key roles in public service, and her roles as “also a wife, mother and proud grandmother.”
After that, reading the audience correctly on the night of historic deliberations, Vanessa Williams launched into a question about the impending impeachment of Donald Trump.
Vanessa Williams: “…What do you think is going to happen to Donald Trump?”
Hillary Clinton: “Well, let’s just jump right in!”
But first she thanked Pace University, the Chappaqua Library, “Pam (Pamela Thornton), who keeps the Library going”, Scattered Books, “our local store in Chappaqua,” Barnes and Noble on the Pace campus-and Vanessa Williams: “She’s local, she’s Westchester, she’s Chappaqua… but talk about a gutsy woman!…”
And then it was on to the impeachment proceedings:
Hillary said: “I have to say I thought Nancy Pelosi did a really extraordinary job… of delivering a somber, deliberative debate about whether or not the impeachment clause in our Constitution should be applied to our current president…”
She explained that “way back in 1974, she had been on the staff that investigated President Nixon, and able to watch the debate that took place in the House Judiciary Committee then. One of the members of Congress, in particular, who summed up what was at stake was Barbara Jordan, and she delivered, one of the great speeches of the last 100 years. I remember being taken and moved by the seriousness by all the members of Congress to the point when the Judiciary committee voted and Republican House members had voted for at least one of the articles of impeachment, putting country over party..”
At another juncture, Hillary added that Senator Mitch McConnell will aim for an acquittal but also noted “that many in the polls are in favor of conviction…While I don’t think that’s likely with the current state of affairs at least it shows that the American people have really understood why this is such an important moment in our history.”
Throughout the book tour for The Book of Gutsy Women, Hillary and Chelsea shared memories of the women who had the most profound impact on their lives and life choices. Chelsea referred to Geraldine (Gerry) Ferraro, and her historic nomination as a first woman vice president on a Democrat ticket, and of her mom “taking me to see her…. getting all dressed up… and what a big moment that was.”
The mother/daughter co-authors discussed the big gap in women role models between their generations with Hillary noting that she “didn’t know any women who worked outside the home except for my teachers and librarians. I was constantly looking for other ideas of what women could do.”
She described her upbringing as a typical post World War II experience in an outside of Chicago ‘hood. Her mother, Hillary said, was “intent on opening my eyes and expanding my horizons.”
A popular comic book character of the day had made a huge impression on Hillary: Brenda Starr was amazing… she had this flaming red hair, she was an international correspondent who fell in love with the guy with the eye patch. It was so romantic, and exotic.”
Hillary mentioned other larger than life influences, including Anne Frank, Helen Keller… “women i met in the pages of Life magazine…,” she said. “Not many women were held up as heroic figures in elementary school… maybe Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth.”
In stark contrast, she added, “most of Chelsea’s friends mothers worked… an interesting distinction.”
Chelsea referred to her pediatrician, a woman, and hardly the only women in her life who were powerful figures and role models. “It was an entirely different world for me to grow up in.”
At one point, Hillary Clinton asked Vanessa Williams, after referring to her as a “pathfinder” and “pioneer” who her own role model was. “Who did you look up to?”
“The support of my parents for sure,” Williams said, noting her mother’s presence (Helen Williams) in the audience too. “She told me you are going to have to do better than everyone else just to be considered equal. I knew in a white environment, I had to be excellent… as a Girl Scout, in a marching band, choir, theater… I did all those things to be a multi-talented performer to allow me the skill set to achieve things.”
Williams also mentioned ‘trailblazers’ including Lena Horne and Diahann Carroll “who I had the luxury of working with in my lifetime” and who had “opened the door” for her.
Next it was on to a discussion of the critical influence of faith in both Hillary and Chelsea’s lives.
Hillary: “Having faith that connects me to a larger world is an instrumental part of understanding who I am. It is a source of resilience to know that you can be knocked down, but you can get back up, to know that love is the most powerful force of the universe.”
She noted being lucky that her parents “set high expectations but were there for me unconditionally” and mentioned “ a great minister” who took me to see Martin Luther King, Jr. when i was in junior high school, opening my eyes and my mind in ways that i have never imagined.” Hillary said she linked that to her faith: “how you’re supposed to be, how you’re supposed to treat other people… it became major motivator in my life.”
“A lot of the women in the book are women who have been knocked down, marginalized, who have been criticized, beaten, sometimes brutally for what they believe, terribly assaulted, left to die, exiled, or been in prison. The common characteristic they hung on to is their faith, not just in faith in themselves…” but more, she elaborated that they “were part of something bigger and greater than themselves… “they were part of greater sense of possibility and hopefulness.”
“It’s hard to keep going in face of all sorts of challenges unless you can dig deep down and think I really have to do this because it really will help someone else because it really will make a difference.”
Chelsea tied a die-hard optimism she said she teaches her children to her own faith and emphasized that “optimism is a moral choice: you have to make a moral choice to be optimistic… that the forces of darkness I believe are relying on us to become exhausted, less optimistic and to lose our faith.”
“That connects me more to my faith, to my journey and gets my determination going to get up every day to do whatever I can for our world and for our shared community,” Chelsea said.
Both mother and daughter weighed in on the voter registration controversy in Georgia. Chelsea offered: “Stacey Abrams has been so gutsy and extraordinary in how she dealt with her I think illegitimate defeat but also with what she is building through her organization ‘Fair Fight Action’ to help ensure that the right to vote is protected in Georgia. Look at what she is doing and learn from what she’s doing and see if you can support her in Georgia and how to expand it outward and extend it throughout the country.”
The women in the book are not all political figures, but all historical figures who have made a difference, whether social activists, writers, Olympians…or scientists.
Vanessa Williams asked about including astronaut Sally Rider in Gutsy Women, first commenting: “She started as a tennis player… before she was an astronaut. When asked why she decide to become a scientist, she answered: ‘a bad forehand.’”
Hillary explained that Sally Rider had been one of Chelsea’s heroes growing up, and that the Clintons had sent her to Space Camp as a young girl “because she was fascinated by space and astronauts. That was poignant to me because when President Kennedy had announced the Space program, I had written to Nassau, and asked how I can get to be an astronaut, and they wrote back: ‘Sorry we are not taking girls.’”
Chelsea, for her part, said that during the first time she met Sally Rider (at Space Camp graduation!), she “was so overwhelmed that I tripped over my own feet and fell in front of her… mortified, was 12 or 13, and turned a beet red, but she could not have been nicer to me.” But most importantly, Chelsea noted Riders advocacy for young girls in science, and Rider making efforts throughout her busy career to nurture that.
In the course of a little over an hour, the discussion ran the gamut, from the Howard Stern interview, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, and a defense of Title IX and health care. A handful of audience questions were posed including a nine year old boy’s question about their favorite baseball teams. Chelsea: The Eagles (“because marriage requires compromise”), and Hillary: the Yankees (because she’s a New Yorker now).
Grace Bennett, Publisher and Editor of the Inside Press, appreciates gutsy women, too.
I have a sister who lives in LA. She’s a native New Yorker like me and she couldn’t be happier there. When we FaceTime on the phone she usually announces gleefully what the weather is there as she sees me all bundled up in my wool turtleneck sweater. “Well it’s 18 degrees here,” I reply. And then we discuss other things but without fail in every conversation, the weather comes up. I often wonder if I’d be happier on the West Coast and for now the answer is a resounding no. I like the change in seasons. There’s a certain beauty in a Hudson Valley winter (at least in the beginning before the umpteenth snow day). So here without further ado are ten reasons why winter in Westchester isn’t so bad.
1.Glistening snow – when that first snowfall happens before the snowplows come, it truly is a sight to see.
2.Building snowmen, making snow angels and snowball fights – if dressed appropriately, this is a lot of fun. I will admit that my kids have way more stamina for this than me. After a while I want to go back inside.
3.Baking – something about this weather makes me just love to bake. Especially on snow days.
4.Winter clothes – I know this may sound odd but I like my winter wardrobe so much more than my summer clothes. Wool, velvet, cashmere, shearling lined booties. Oh and I can’t forget pom pom hats.
5.Winter sports – I am one of those rare specimens who grew up in the Northeast and has never skied or tried snowboarding. But I have snowshoed (less chance of injury) and taking in the beauty of the season while outdoors is a special treat.
6.Holiday lights – I love it when folks deck their homes in holiday splendor. There are some pretty creative folks around here.
7.Snow days – The first few snow days I absolutely love. Now I realize this is a true luxury for me because I work from home and don’t have to worry about childcare or commuting in treacherous conditions but going back to sleep after the robocall and wearing PJs all day has its appeal.
8.The scent of winter – As a recreational runner with my dog, I’ll bundle myself up (and the dog too in his jacket) and run in weather as low as 25 degrees. It’s invigorating running outside, seeing my warm breath meet the cold air and taking in the scent of folks burning wood in their fireplaces. That’s New England personified to me.
9. Hot chocolate, hot toddies, hot soup – I like all of these. Need I say more?
10.Knowing that this too shall pass – This was my grandma’s favorite saying. The glistening snow, the icicles on the branches – they are all ephemeral. Spring is on its way before you know it.
Wishing you and your families a winter and holiday season filled with warmth and fun memories.
Shooting movies and television in New Castle and North Castle might be sparse, but the right to film in these suburban towns is strict.
Before residents hear “lights, camera, action!” in North Castle and New Castle, even big shot producers, directors and actors need to abide by town codes and receive the town’s blessing. Just like the average local Joe, people in show business need to respect local ordinances.
While there isn’t necessarily a large influx of camera crews coming to either New Castle or North Castle, the Westchester County Tourism and Film Office said there is a certain appeal to both towns.
What makes these towns a draw, Caputo said, is they can pass for almost anywhere. Suburban street, small-town centers and lush parks are always in demand.
“And both North Castle and New Castle have that and more,” Caputo said.
And while some residents might bemoan the occasional road closure or traffic delay due to filming, Caputo said most people in the vicinity of filming find it to be an exciting prospect that scenes from the big screen are being shot in their town.
“It makes the news and the social media rounds – so it is exciting. Also we are very fortunate that most producers and location managers are very sensitive to neighbors’ concerns,” Caputo said. “The last thing they want to do is to burn bridges and make it more difficult to film in the future, so they’re transparent about what they’re doing and when, and are willing to make adjustments and accommodations for neighbors – both residents and businesses – whenever possible.”
More Films Being Shot in the 914
Overall, there has been an uptick in film requests throughout the county, Caputo said. That trend is due to more productions being based in and around New York City and the reputation Westchester has earned as a convenient and “film friendly” location.
Film friendly doesn’t mean free rein, with municipalities requiring film companies completing an application that needs approval from town boards.
Filming in North Castle
North Castle town clerk Alison Simon, whose office handles filming requests, said in her four-year tenure, there are only 3-5 filming requests consistently each year. It can be a mixture from movies and television shows to shooting or even still photographing of commercials.
Most recently, the CBS television show FBI, created by Dick Wolf and Craig Turk that stars Missy Peregrym, Zeeko Zaki and Jeremy Sisto, filmed in town.
Last year the Showtime series Escape At Dannemora, which is based on the upstate New York prison break where a married female prison guard helped two male inmates who she was having sexual relations with escape from Clinton Correctional Facility. That limited series starred Oscar winners Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette and Golden Globe nominee Paul Dano with Emmy winner Ben Stiller directing. The filming in town took place near the reservoir.
“By the time the application gets to the town board, it’s usually pretty well vetted,” Simon said.
Still, there are times residents aren’t happy with the filming if it’s occurring in their neighborhood. There is one Bedford residence in a quiet area that is a hot bed for film projects, which has a few bothered neighbors, Simon said.
Mostly though, strict parameters ensure residents won’t face much acrimony as a result of some filming.
“We work with the applicants and the neighbors to make sure that they’re all aware of what’s happening and make sure the applicant doesn’t start filming too early or stay too late so they will disturb neighbors as little as possible,” Simon said.
Filming in New Castle
In New Castle, the filming application is submitted to the Office of Town Administrator, which then sends it to the police department for a thorough review. Chief James Carroll said the department focuses on how the filming could affect traffic safety and flow and whether or not officers need to be hired and roads need to be shut down during filming.
During Carroll’s tenure with the department, he can’t recall a time where filming would be too intrusive that it would’ve been denied by the town board. Carroll said a few years ago there was a massive filming project that even rented out the Whippoorwill Country Club for staff and crew to stay between shoots. Most filming is done on private properties with equipment and trucks stationed on side roads. Officers are used to direct traffic, Carroll said.
The biggest celebrity that Carroll can recall coming to town is Jessica Chastain when she was shooting A Most Violent Year, which is a crime drama film from 2014.
Carroll estimates there are only a couple times a year filming is done in New Castle and typically, residents are more curious than annoyed when filming is done nearby. The town requires applicants to send a note letting neighbors in a 250-foot radius of the shoot know five days prior when the filming will take place so there are no surprises.
And even if a resident or two might be displeased, as Carroll said filming in town is “not on a regular basis.”
So the next time you spot a film crew or their van in the castles, know that they have been vetted thoroughly by your town board and if you are lucky, you may even spot a star or two.