Jewish teens congregate for Pimp My Pumpkin event

Staples students Annie Haroun ’16 and Eliza Donovan ’16 start the pumpkin carving process by outlining their idea.

Staples students Annie Haroun ’16 and Eliza Donovan ’16 start the pumpkin carving process by outlining their idea.

Kaila Finn, Web Managing Editor

Fall was in the air on Sunday, Oct. 19 at Westport United Synagogue Youth’s second teen event, Pimp My Pumpkin. Jewish students in Westport gathered to bond over hot chocolate, Judaism-themed pumpkin carving and conversation.

The event started with introductions from presidents and Staples students Maia Cattan ’16 and Ben Popkin ’16 and the goal of the event was to create a pumpkin with a Jewish image or symbol carving.

Ari Markel ’16 made a Jewish star and hamsa carving in her pumpkin. Wiping off the last of the pumpkin debris, she said, “Hamsas are really pretty and it ended up looking nice because you can see the outlines of the symbols through both sides of the pumpkin.”

The event gleaned approximately 15 teenagers ranging from Staples students to a student from the Modern Orthodox Jewish school, Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy. While any Jewish teen is allowed to join United Synagogue Youth and come to events like Pimp my Pumpkin, its parent organization is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

USY’s main purpose is to teach Jewish teenagers about leadership, relationship building and social activism. One of the people who implements all this in Westport is Maia Cattan, the daughter of The Conservative Synagogue’s cantor, Luis Cattan.

Cattan joked that she is essentially the synagogue’s Youth Director, without “getting paid.” She explained that it is very difficult to find “a Westport Youth Director who is a young 20 year old who has been involved with a Jewish synagogue for their life.”

One Conservative Synagogue member, Annie Haroun ’16, former president of the Westport USY, discussed a few events that embody the mission of the organization. Haroun said, “We added a lot of new board members, new members, new ways to reach out to the community, like doing a lot of volunteer work with Gillespie Center,” she added that her favorite part of USY is the friendships and “great times with the board for planning events.”

Finally at the end of the event, Cattan and Popkin judged the pumpkins. In his presentation, Uri Cattan ’18, joked, “I would describe my pumpkin as pretty unique, concluding his presentation with, “it’s going to be very valuable some day.”