January 2010: Julius Hyatt

In the Temple office on the wall looking over our secretary Bobbie’s shoulder is a portrait of a man.

There is no name plate on the picture frame, so many of you may ask “Who is that man?” His name is Julius Hyatt.

Julie, (Julius’s nickname), and his wife Muriel were among the 8-10 families who formed the Hamden Jewish Community Center (HJCC) nearly 60 years ago. In 1950, money was raised and the building that we call the social hall was built. Back then, the Hamden JCC was more of a Jewish social club than a synagogue. Thus, Julie started bowling leagues and much to the enjoyment of the sons of the members, Biddie Basketball became a highlight event for many families.

In 1964, the sanctuary, classrooms and youth lounge (then located downstairs) were added to the existing social hall. During this time, as Julie puts it, “I was a House Chairman for 15 years without the title!” Julie told me that “back in the day” one of the fundraising events was a carnival on the Temple grounds. Tents, games of chance and even a ferris wheel entertained local residents from a Saturday evening to the following Friday. “Oh, those were good times,” reminisces Julie. “We raised $6-8,000 back then. I remember Marty Weiss loaning us his business truck so we could sleep next to the tents. We didn’t want any of the prizes stolen! We would have had to pay for them!”

As families began joining the small, soon-to-be TBS congregation, everyone worked together. Once, Harold Alpert,
then a new congregant, told Julie, “I understand that there is a clique here.” Julie remarked, “People who do
anything are cliques!”

After the formation of the Men’s Club, one of the proud moments in Julie’s life was being named Man of the Year
in 1957. Julie recalls holding many New Year’s Eve events and at one in particular, he helped cooked 18 rib roasts
in the kitchen ovens! Julie enjoyed keeping the Temple lawn neat and shoveling snow over the years. He also
continued to keep the bushes and plants around the synagogue perimeter neat and trim.

Whenever there was a need, Rabbi Scolnic called Julie and my dad, Sid Frohman, to witness conversions at the
downtown New Haven Mikvah. “There is so much to remember”, Julie says. When our Temple building was under renovations a few years ago, the flagpole, which was originally from Hillhouse High School, was in need of painting. Julie, along with Steve Salinger, painted that pole before it was placed back in its upright position. At the base of the pole you will find a Jewish War Veterans memorial stone. Every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Julie and a few Jewish Veterans from the area place greenery in remembrance. Julie proudly states that he just completed his 59th year constructing the annual Temple Sukkah. It has been reconfigured from a 10 x10 square foot in the early days to today’s 20×25 foot Sukkah.

Now, when Julie gets out of his car at the synagogue, the K’tanim nursery school children playing outside will
shout,”Hi Julie!” Of course his heart melts and he loves being part of their lives. A yearly K’tanim event that Julie
is involved in is the “Pajama Sick Day.” Julie dresses in a white coat and stethoscope and hands out stickers in a
very official manner. Smiles are on everyone’s faces.

Julie continues to be quite the handyman around the synagogue. According to Julie, “If you belong to an organization, who do you think should be on your committee? {answer} A plumber, an electrician and a builder!” That’s Julie! Julie is also the recipient of the 2000 President’s Award.

Life has slowed Julie just a bit. He states, “I do what I can.” He is most appreciative of the following Temple Congregants who have driven him to and from his dialysis treatments over the past 2 years: Larry & Glenn Hyatt, Diane Alderman, Elaine & Steve Salinger, Al Weiss, Sy Kaplan, Joan Rudolph, Alan White, Miriam Helfer, Rabbi Scolnic, Mariam Putterman, Sheila Mendlestein, Nancy Bartell, his brother-in-law Shelley Schefts and his late sister Eve Schefts.

“I just don’t know how to repay them. Thanking them is not enough,” Julie states. “Bobbie Kraus, Barbara Varga,
Charlie Turner and Sheryl Sadinsky are so dear to me, as well. They are so supportive. That’s why I do things because these are good people.”

The Hyatt family has grown from 3 children who all had their Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies at TBS to 10 grandchildren. Three great grandchildren have been added to his family tree.

Finally, Julie’s advice to our Temple congregants, “Join The Clique”

Thanks Julie for being part of the clique.