The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marblehead will host its second annual Great Pumpkin Carving Contest beginning with a Great Pumpkin Carving on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 28 Mugford St., Marblehead. The public is welcome to participate, and carving tools and snacks will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring their own pumpkins, but extras will be available for those unable to pick one up beforehand. After the carving event, pumpkins will be taken outside for display, then stored inside until Oct. 31. Any and all carved pumpkins will be accepted for the contest as long as they are delivered in time for trick-or-treating hours on Wednesday, Oct. 31. On Halloween night, the pumpkins will decorate the church lawn, and trick-or-treaters and passers-by will be able to vote for their favorite pumpkin. There is no charge for entering a pumpkin or voting. Also, Marblehead Gardens is offering a $1 discount off any 10-pound pumpkin (or more) if it will be used in the contest. For more information, call 781-631-1215.
The Israeli Festival of the Arts exhibit and sale at Congregation Shirat Hayam, 55 Atlantic Ave., Swampscott, features 1,500 works of art by more than 100 Israeli artists from the Safrai Gallery in Jerusalem. Artwork includes original oil paintings, watercolors, lithographs and etchings. Festival hours are Nov. 15, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Nov. 16, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Nov. 17, daytime viewing only following Shabbat Cafe until 2 p.m., and again from 7 to 10:30 p.m.; and Nov. 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A gallery opening and patron preview party is set for Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 per person and include wine, cheese, music, a guided gallery tour and a coupon for $25 off a purchase of $250-$499, or $50 off $500 or more. For more information, contact Marla Gay, director of congregational life, at 781-599-8005 or Marla@ShiratHayam.org. To purchase preview party tickets, visit www.ShiratHayam.org.
Swampscott Church of Spiritualism will hold a Fall Spiritual Festival on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 59 Burrill St. The festival will include private readings with mediums, psychics, angel and tarot card readers, Reiki, chair massages, and vendors with jewelry, meditation music and crafts. Readings cost $25 and include coffee and refreshments. To reserve a reading in advance, call 781-595-6972 or visit www.swampscottchurchofspiritualism.org for more information.
Torah Hub, a North Shore Adult Jewish Education Collaborative, is a free program that explores Judaism and Social Justice. The Monday night portion of the series, led by Temple Sinai’s Rabbi Fine, will be held at Aviv Center in Peabody on Oct. 29, Nov. 12 and 19, and Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Topics focus on “Jewish Food Ethics for the 21st Century.” The Thursday night portion of the series, led by Rabbi Margie Klein of Congregation Sha’arei Shalom, will be held at the NSJCC in Marblehead at 7:30 p.m., on Oct. 25, Nov. 8 and 29, and Dec. 6, focusing on “Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World.” The final session, featuring a symposium led by local rabbis, is set for Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the NSJCC in Marblehead. All sessions are free. Registration is required and can be done at www.jfns.org/torahhub.aspx, or contact Alanna Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-224-4096.
Family Promise North Shore Boston, a new interfaith nonprofit, hired its first executive director, Elise Sinagra. Sinagra will lead the organization’s work in addressing the growing problem of homelessness among families on the North Shore by enabling volunteers to provide shelter and care for families in houses of worship while helping them find permanent housing, employment and services. The interfaith coalition spans congregations throughout the North Shore, including in Beverly, Danvers, Hamilton, Ipswich, Salem, Swampscott, Topsfield and Wenham. Also, a benefit concert for the organization, titled “A Tribute to the Beatles” with Peter Stewart and Friends, is set for Sunday, Oct. 21, at 3 p.m. at the First Church in Wenham, 1 Arbor St. For more information, visit www.familypromisensb.org, or email email@example.com.
Parents and Jewish teens who are currently sophomores or juniors in high school and reside in one of the 23 cities or towns in Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation’s service area are invited to learn about the 2013 Youth to Israel Adventure (Y2I), which includes the fully subsidized community teen trip to Israel from July 7 through 19. Informational meetings will be held Sunday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at Temple B’nai Abraham, 200 E. Lothrop St., Beverly, and Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m, at the JCC, 4 Community Road, Marblehead. In addition to the trip, Y2I 2013 includes educational programs for teens and parents about Israel, leadership training opportunities for teens and more. For more information or to register for an informational meeting, contact Sharon Wyner at 978-565-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Y2I.org.
Mothers of the PJ Library are invited to participate in Connections, a free book group that provides mothers with opportunities to meet, socialize and engage in lively and rich discussions about Jewish identity and Jewish family life. The program is free and includes two books and desserts. Connections is offered at Panera Bread in Swampscott on Mondays, Oct. 22 and March 11; Hardcover Restaurant in Danvers on Monday, March 4; and Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester on Wednesday, March 13. Groups meet from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Connections is open to mothers who have children currently or formerly enrolled in the PJ Library. Connections is a program of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation. For more information or to register, contact Phyllis Osher at 978-740-4404 or email@example.com.
The Jewish Federation of the North Shore and Cohen Hillel Academy are partnering to offer “Routines and Rhythms of Parenting,” a program designed to address the practical challenges of the daily parenting routine, and the possibilities that Jewish structures can offer for creating a life of purpose. The course is a program of “Parenting through a Jewish Lens,” developed by Hebrew College and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The course will be taught by Alanna Cooper, JFNS director of Adult Jewish Education, cultural anthropologist and program designer. Four Sunday morning sessions will take place at Cohen Hillel Academy, 6 Community Road, Marblehead, on Oct. 21 and 28 and Nov. 8 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Free baby-sitting is available. The course costs $40 for individuals and $65 for couples. For more information or to register, contact Barbara Tanger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-639-2880, ext. 215.
Congregation Shirat Hayam of the North Shore will host a celebration of 36 years of “Looking at the Law” with Neil Chayet on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 55 Atlantic Ave., Swampscott. Chayet, a Tufts University and Harvard Law School graduate, is best known for his nationally syndicated radio program, “Looking at the Law.” Chayet will discuss how “Looking at the Law” began, what he’s learned from broadcasting and interacting with the public, and his views on the need to change the way people think about anger and conflict. The cost is $118 per person and includes an hors d’oeuvres reception at 7 p.m., priority seating, listing in program guide and dessert; or $36 for general admission/$40 at the door, which includes a dessert reception following the presentation. General admission is at 8 p.m. For more information or to order tickets, visit www.ShiratHayam.org.
North Shore Players will present “Prairie Lights,” a holiday musical, on Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9, running Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Hogan Regional Center Auditorium, 6 Hathorne Circle, Danvers. “Prairie Lights” tells the story of a Jewish brother and sister who journey west on an Orphan Train in 1905. Arriving with other homeless youths in a tiny Nebraskan town just before the holidays, the siblings are adopted by Wellspring’s only Jewish couple. As Christmas and Hanukkah approach, orphans and residents alike are on a quest to reunite Wellspring after being threatened by a fearful banker. For more information and directions, visit www.northshoreplayers.org.