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NE CT, bilingual schools, secular Jews, transportation
It looks like there's a good chance my husband will be getting a position at UConn for next fall (although I hope I didn't jinx it with this post!). I have a couple questions which will impact where we look to live. There is one other family we know going as well, and they've already bought in Glastonbury, so that's high on the list already.
- Are there any Spanish immersion/bilingual schools within 45 mins in any direction of Storrs? My son is in one now and this would be a major influence on where we move, especially since he's just learning to read and right now he reads better in Spanish than English (typical for Spanish immersion programs). Right now 80-90 percent of his school day is in Spanish, so I'm not talking about a school with Spanish classes.
- Does anyone know of a secular/cultural Jewish community in the area? I would be willing to drive up to 45 mins to an hour, so it could be even an hour to an hour and half and a half from Storrs, assuming we're not going to live in Storrs itself. By secular/cultural, I mean a non-temple affiliated community.
- Lastly, my background is in zoo/aquarium work. I know Mystic is about an hour away, Boston is 1.5, and there's another zoo about 1.5 hours (Beardsley?) away (Bridgeport, maybe?). I have narcolepsy, so I'd much rather use public transportation to get there if at all possible. I have meds, so driving is an option, but I prefer not to have to worry about the meds working every day. I'd rather spend 2 hours on a train/bus than drive 1 hour myself. Does anyone know a way via train or bus between any of these cites and NE CT? Or another zoo/aquarium in the area I missed? I don't know how far places in RI are, for example. Actually, while I'm asking about it, from what I've been told the best way to get to NYC from the area seem to be to drive to New Haven and take the train from there?
Thanks very much in advance for any thoughts you have on any of these three!! I love this forum!
The only Spanish language immersion program in the eastern region of CT is in the North Windham school district. This is town the just south of Storrs. If you Google you can find out what info is available on the web.
That said, the Windham/ North Windham system is geared to the local population of that town, which is heavily Latino, often non-English speaking. Placement into the program is by lottery, need, request. A quick review indicates that 50% of the students however, are non-Latino. The school system itself is not that highly rated.
Can't help you with the secular Jewish question. Not a clue.
Unless you work in Mystic and drive, you can forget about the zoo/aquarium. Everything else is too, too far to be commutable and public transport is non-existent or too minimal to be viable to get to Mystic, Beardsely or Norwalk Aquarium. With the possible exception of driving to Mystic, it's just not feasible.
No public aquariums in RI that I know of.
Storrs is out in eastern CT and is basically a pretty much a rural area of the state. You might do well to follow your friend's lead and look into Glastonbury too for housing which is a larger town with more amenities. Nice towns closer to Storrs are Tolland and Coventry . But they too are small towns.
Yes, probably the best way to get to NYC is drive to New Haven and then take the train. It's a long drive. Or you could drive to Providence and take the train .Providence is in the opposite direction but the drive itself is shorter if you didn't mind sitting on the train longer.
West Hartford has a large Jewish community, probably the largest in the state. It is also home to the Children's Museum of Connecticut which has a wildlife sanctuary as part of it and, I think, a very small aquarium, although they may have gotten rid of that. The Children's Museum : Welcome
The OP means non-temple-related Jewish community. So no, a temple in Willimantic would probably not suit at all.
The only non-temple-related Jewish community groups I know of, are the JCC (Jewish Community Center, sort of like a YMCA + cultural events for Jewish people) in West Hartford, and another one in Springfield, MA.
If you are interested in a more immersive Jewish community, you might consider the Chabad House in West Hartford; but they are a Lubavitcher group and truly not for everyone. It's sort of like a combination Hard Core Jewish-on-Steroids synagogue, plus a "I know every name of God and can pronounce them all, but I ain't tellin you" Jewish Community Center. I'd recommend visiting at least once, just for the experience. The rituals can be breathtaking.
There are also several Qaballah groups speckled around the state if you're into that. However, in my opinion, fans of Qaballah groups tend to be like people who've read only the 2nd Harry Potter book and insist they are experts on Harry Potter. (Really, they're just experts on Harry's nose hairs. They know jack crappola about the rest of him).
Looks like I'll probably strike out on the immersion schools - most are just too far and the only close one is in a school system that just can't compare to Glastonbury or some of the other local school systems.
I did learn, if anyone is interested, that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail is scheduled to open in 2016.
The JCC's look very positive. I've actually never seen JCC's that weren't affiliated with a synagogue, so I never thought to do my search that way. (BTW, loved your descriptions of Chabad and Qaballah groups... I went to Israel with Aish in college and that's so right on! LOL)
Glastonbury has a Chabad House too. Friends belong to it and really like it. It is small but very friendly. I think you would like. Glastonbury does have a decent sized Jewish community but not as big as say West Hartford which has historically had a large Jewish population. Here is a link to the Glastonbury Chabad House website:
Glastonbury has excellent schools and a lot of great family activities. There is a lot of good shopping and restaurants and you are convenient to highways and other towns in the area. It is a great place to raise a family
I also know people that go to the West Hartford Chabad house too and it is quite large and well run. West Hartford though is further from Storrs and would require commuting through Hartford on I-84 which at times can be difficult. West hartford is a more mature community but certainly has the best shopping and restaurants in Greater Hartford. The schools are excellent. It would be your decision as to which town best suits your needs. Jay
There are plenty of UConn faculty members who live in West Hartford and commute, but they don't go in five days a week. The largest Jewish community in CT is in WH. There is something for everyone here - plenty of Jewish programming for everything from secular Jews to ultra orthodox. In addition, the town is liberal and accepting, with a strong emphasis on education. It has a truly diverse population, ethnically, racially, and economically. New Britain has a true dual language program, but poor schools overall, and it's farther from Storrs than West Hartford is. We learned the hard way that it's best to live in the community that fits our family's social and educational needs, and commute to work and recreation. But I hear you about the dual language issue - it is very desirable. I wish WH had one, but I don't see it happening.
Location: Live in NY State, (sometimes) work in CT
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Another option is Humanistic Judaism, which although they have a temple is completely secular. I think the only one in CT is in Westport though, very far from Storrs, but maybe there's one in West Hartford?
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