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ladieslitEdgemont’s Stephanie Risa Balkin, the new director of Arts & Talks programs at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester, is working on a “novel” idea for a panel discussion. As part of their newly created Local Literary Salon Series, three local writers with local roots will come to JCCMW talk about their recently published fiction in a panel discussion moderated by a fourth novelist, Lynda Cohen Loigman.

“Ladies Who Lit” will be held Thursday, Sept. 27, from 9:30-11 a.m. at the JCC and includes a light breakfast and book signing. “We’ve had wonderful author talks in the past. Building on this solid foundation, we are presenting the first literary salon to specifically showcase local women and their voices,” Balkin said. “It’s just the beginning of exciting things we are working on to expand our Arts & Talks cultural programming.”

Two of the three panelists have written historical novels.

In “The Subway Girls,” published by St. Martin’s Press, Susie Orman Schnall tells intersecting tales of ambitious women from two eras whose lives are changed by the Miss Subways beauty contest in New York City. When Schnall learned about the contest, which featured photographs of city women and brief bios in subway cars from 1941 to 1976, she was intrigued. She had previously written a novel, “On Grace,” about motherhood and turning 40 and a nonfiction study of women’s struggles to achieve a work-life balance. The Miss Subways contest gave her a lens through which to view these issues as they played out for women of different generations.

In 1949, Schnall’s character Charlotte enters the contest in hopes of landing a job in advertising and meets a glamorous friend who forces her to make a heart-wrenching decision. Her 2018 counterpart, Olivia, learns about the contest and decides to use it in a pitch that she hopes will save her job as an advertising executive. The novel explores the similarities and differences between the two women and the times they lived in and their efforts to reconcile ambition, love and happiness. Author Fiona Davis called “The Subway Girls” “a joyous romp through 1950s New York City, with a magnetic cast of characters you’ll root for from page one.” Schnall lives in Purchase.

Scarsdale resident Jacqueline Friedland left the world of corporate law to earn a master’s in fine art from Sarah Lawrence and fulfill her dream of writing a novel.litbooks

“Trouble the Water” takes place in the antebellum South. Like many a Jane Austen heroine, Friedland’s leading lady, 17-year-old Abigail Milton, is a victim of family debt. Her struggling English parents send her to South Carolina to live with a family friend. When Abigail arrives in Charleston, she finds her benefactor, Douglas Elling, remote and unpleasant. But her feelings change when she overhears him planning to help a slave escape. As she tries to learn more about Douglas and his involvement in the abolition movement, issues of trust arise and the relationship between the American host and his English guest changes. “Trouble the Water” is published by Spark Press. It garnered a Best Regional Fiction Silver Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Kirkus Reviews called it “A vibrant, solidly entertaining story that will seize readers from the first page and not let go.”

Amy Blumenfeld’s debut novel “The Cast” evolved from a year-long study of pediatric cancer she did as a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. Like her heroine Becca, Blumenfeld is a survivor of pediatric cancer. When Becca contracted Hodgkins lymphoma as a teenager, four of her friends helped her through the misery of treatment by making a funny video. Now that they are all in their forties, one of the group, Jordana, organizes a 25th reunion. But the friends’ happy memories get upstaged by midlife crises involving rocky marriages, unresolved romantic feelings and lifestyle changes. The story unfolds over a single weekend.

Published Aug. 14, “The Cast” has already won the 2018 IPPY Gold Medal in Popular Fiction and has been named a finalist in Best New Fiction category of 2018 International Book Awards. Kirkus Reviews called Blumenfeld’s novel “a deceptively simple tale that packs an emotional punch.”

Panel moderator Loigman is planning to ask the novelists about the inspiration for their stories, the research involved and the way the personal experiences and interests of the authors contributed to their stories. “I am also going to ask about the role of strong female characters in their stories, as this is a common theme in all three novels,” she said. “I’d like to explore the creation of these strong women characters and talk about the timeliness and universality of women's stories. We will also talk about process, which would include the evolution of the authors' careers, their individual paths to publication and what we can expect next from them.”

“Ladies Who Lit” will be held outdoors in the sukkah (weather permitting) or indoors at JCCMW, 999 Wilmot Road. A light breakfast will be served and books will be available for purchase. Tickets are $25. Pre-registration is required. To reserve your spot, click here or call 914-472-3300. All are welcome—membership not required.

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seganphotoFrancine Segan will speak on “100 Years Ago: Elegant Dining and Entertaining in the Gilded Age” at the opening program of the Scarsdale Woman’s Club’s Food and Dining Section Thursday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m. The Woman’s Club is at 37 Drake Road.

Segan is the host of NYC's weekly TV series "Americans Who Love Italy." She has appeared on the Today Show, the Early Show and on specials for PBS, the Food Network and the History, Sundance and Discovery channels.

She co-edited “Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Superbowl,” a two-volume encyclopedia that was a finalist for the Gourmand World Cookbook Award given each year in Paris. She contributed the chapter on Ruth Reichl for the book “Icons Of American Cooking.”

The free program is open to the public and will be followed by a reception. 

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SASCoverScarsdale Adult School, an award-winning non-profit organization, is a proven source of quality adult education. Now in its 80th year, SAS boasts a wide array of humanities courses as well as computer, foreign languages, writing, career development, personal finance, arts and crafts, photography, fitness, card and board games, cooking, health/wellness, and hobbies and edutainment classes.

Registration for the fall semester is underway at, with staggered class start dates throughout the year for fun and enrichment all season long. Class locations, days, and times vary by course, but all are housed in venues convenient to Scarsdale. Classes are open to all, regardless of residency, and fill on a first-come/first-served basis.

Continuing its year long celebration of its 80th birthday, SAS will host several special events. On Sunday, October 14, 2018, SAS offers an 80th Anniversary Academy, featuring keynote speaker Laurie Santos, Professor at Yale University. After the one-hour mini-version of her popular course, Psychology and the Good Life, students may choose between Alfred Hunt’s Around the World in 80 Days with Mark Twain and Page Knox’s Alfred Stieglitz and His Circle. The afternoon celebration ends with Daniel Blake and his jazz ensemble, the Digging, for an annotated concert of Benny Goodman’s 1938 hits as well as delicious appetizers prepared by cooking instructor, Jensina Olson. Participants may register for just the keynote lecture or for the entire program.

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, SAS welcomes An Evening with Anna Quindlen, from 7:30 to 9 pm at Scarsdale Middle School. Among other things, this celebrated writer and former columnist for The New York Times will discuss her most recent novel, Alternate Side, her ninth book of fiction in her highly successful career. Registration in advance is highly recommended. Seating cannot be guaranteed for walk-ins.

Next semester’s walking tours include public art installations and galleries in the subways, Battery Park City, Chelsea, the Lower East Side, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Architecture tours include SoHo’s cast iron buildings and Central Park West art deco. Additional theme tours include a Japanese garden stroll and tea ceremony, Lincoln Center, sites from the show Hamilton, and Broadway musicals. Artists and art historians will highlight the latest exhibits at the Met, the Met Breuer, the Whitney, MoMA, the Museum of Arts and Design, and the Asia Society Museum.

1938 and the Swing Era as well as From Spirituals to Swing commemorate the music at the time of SAS’s founding whereas 80: A Musical Birthday Celebration explores a variety of pieces that share opus number 80. Our 80th celebration continues with An Evening Concert of Classical Greatest hits with Cristiana Pegoraro. Other popular music appreciation courses survey the music of Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Leonard Bernstein, and the careers of Shirley Jones, Howard Keel, Nat King Cole, and Florence Henderson. The Sunday chamber music concert series returns and SAS will offer several different classes to enjoy the music of Claude Debussy, 100 years after his death.

Noteworthy new history and current event topics this term include:
● Echoes of Slavery
● Constitutional Implications of Current U.S. Foreign Policy
● Remembering the Twin Towers
● Overview of African American History
● Contemporary Politics through the Lens of Dystopian Fiction
● History and Culture of the Jews of Persia.

The fall semester also promises an opportunity to revisit Genesis, examine sects and schisms in Jewish history, explore religion in China, revel in the heritage of England’s Tudor monarchs, or study the Italian Renaissance. Students may improve their English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish language skills.

Movie matinees delve into the element of suspense and a new Wednesday personal documentary film course will view family mysteries and histories. Literary discussion groups cover the fiction of Philip Roth, stories by Hawthorne and Melville, science fiction literature, the wit of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, ecology-themed poetry and prose with Ruth Handel, as well as perennial favorites BookTalk with Harriet Sobol, contemporary memoirs with Lori Rotskoff, and short stories with Marilyn DeRight. Single-subject classes will focus on La Celestina and There There by Tommy Orange.

In its technology department, SAS offers answers to questions about social media, Excel, and eBay. Students may jump-start careers with grant writing tips or wind them down with retirement planning and investment courses to help students navigate ever-changing estate tax, and social security laws, and shed light on strategies for investing and living on fixed incomes.

Aspiring performers can be swept up in song, improv, or Indian classical tabla drumming. Arts and crafts opportunities include flower arranging, calligraphy, drawing, basket weaving, decoupage, crochet, embroidery, knitting, jewelry-making, mosaics, mixed media, and painting, and stained glass. Photoshop and photography courses appeal to those with a passion for cameras of all shapes and sizes.

Fitness and dance classes run the gamut from (A) aerobic fit blast to (Z) zumba, including body sculpting, tap, pilates, Walk 15®, and yoga. Students may hone their bridge game or take up canasta or mah jongg. Others may learn to meditate, become more mindful, experience a spirit encounter, or learn the basics of genealogy research reading.

All these classes and many more will be starting before the leaves begin to turn. With both day and evening classes, SAS has something to fit everyone’s schedule. The new fall catalog was mailed in mid July to all Scarsdale residents and is posted on the adult school website. Extra printed catalogs are available at Village Hall and in limited quantities at the Scarsdale Library Loft. Visit to register, to sign up for the bimonthly electronic newsletter, or for additional information about the dynamic line-up. Call (914) 723-2325 with questions.

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fieldhockey3Scarsdale fall sports teams have been scrambling to secure field space after the abrupt closing of the Butler turf field just days before the start of the season. The turf field, the epicenter of Raider spirit during fall pre-season, is shared by girls field hockey, girls soccer, and boys soccer.

Concerns about the vitality of Butler field are not new. Over the past few years, Scarsdale’s Maroon and White organization had been campaigning to replace the 10 year-old turf, with plans to start renovation once the fall season was over. But as preseason approached, it became clear that it was not safe for fall athletes to play on the field. Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi sent a note to the Scarsdale community to announce the closing, emphasizing key safety concerns:

-At every five-yard line, the field level changes.
-There are several locations on the field where the level changes more severely.
-Where the pre-construction borings were performed, the surface cannot be repaired completely; the turf is too old and worn.
-After each hard rain, more low spots appear, infill aggregates, and playing conditions continue to degrade.

So, where does this closing leave the athletes? For one thing, they must wake up early. With a lack of available field spaces, teams like soccer and field hockey utilize turf whenever they can. Girls field hockey players uses Edgemont’s turf weekly at 6 am, and the girls soccer team woke up at six am during pre-season to use field space at Fox Meadow Elementary School.

A sentiment of frustration is also present among fall athletes. Some athletes feel that actions should have been taken sooner to solve the turf issue, and it should not have come at the cost of an entire fall season. Senior soccer Captain Allison Stafford noted, “If there was considered to be any risk that Butler Field would not be suitable for play this fall, it should have been replaced this summer.” Senior field hockey star Sam Felder felt similarly, saying, “it’s frustrating that the turf has been in such bad condition for so long and nothing was done about it and now our season is suffering as a result.”

The field hockey team is especially impacted by the turf closing. The sport, which requires a fast moving ball to ensure high-level play, is almost always played on astroturf. With grass fields being the only available options in Scarsdale, players are having a difficult time adjusting. The team practices mostly at Scarsdale Middle School, periodically busing to Edgemont turf when a time slot becomes available. Felder noted that playing on the grass makes the ball move “painfully slow,” with a pass that would have moved 50 yards on the turf moving 20 yards on the grass. As a senior leader, Felder believes that a lack of turf practice will affect the freshmen the most, as many of them are just learning how to play the game. Lastly, the constant switch between grass and turf could leave the raiders at a disadvantage when playing against opponents on their home turfs.

The turf field is a symbol of Raider pride during the fall season. Students flock excitedly to support their fall teams under the rented lights during night games. The bleachers allow room for a “raider rooting” cheering section. Stafford emphasized that her and her teammates were really looking forward to playing home games on the turf because “they bring a lot of excitement, and the loud fans cheering us on in the stands always hypes up the team.” Without Butler to play on, Stafford is disappointed that “the other seniors and I will not have the opportunity to play in that kind of environment during our last high school season.”

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