As we enjoy the last full month of summer, our thoughts begin to turn to the start of the school year and the High Holidays. In this issue of JLink you'll find news on end-of-summer celebrations, ways to help lower-income and at-risk students prepare for a successful school year, how our community is preparing for a new Jewish year, and much more. I hope you find it informative and inspiring.

As always, we welcome your input on JLink. To submit news or share your thoughts, please contact our editor, Susannah MacNeil, at .

President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
August 1: Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, is considered the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. Over the years, a number of historical events became associated with Tisha B'Av - most notably the destruction of both Temples (the first Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second by the Romans in 70 CE). Tisha B'Av helps us remember the hardships of the past and recommit ourselves to a life guided by Jewish values.

Local Tisha B'Av Observances
The entire community is invited to join members of The Emanuel Synagogue and Beth El Temple at 1:30 p.m. today for Mincha (afternoon prayer) services at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford.

All are welcome to join Young Israel of West Hartford today for Tisha B'Av observances including Chatzon (mid-day services) at 12:57 p.m.; a special film presentation, "Hiding & Seeking: Faith and Tolerance after the Holocaust," at 5:40 p.m.; Mincha at 7:30 p.m.; and Maariv (evening prayer) at 8:10 p.m. YIWH is located at 2240 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. Click here for more information.

August 1 - 20: Jewish Family Services Leads Back to School Drive for Low-Income Children

Jewish Family Services is thrilled to partner with the Mandell JCC's Family Room Parenting Center and PJ Library on the JFS Third Annual Back to School Drive, benefiting low-income children throughout Greater Hartford. Our goal is to prepare children to start the year with the tools they need to feel organized, confident and motivated to be successful in the classroom. Through this program, we can remove one barrier that local families have to learning and help clients with embracing possibility. Click here for a list of suggested donations and drop-off locations.
Institute for Basic Judaism Announces Fall Course Offering

Are you curious about Judaism?  Fall classes are forming now with the Institute for Basic Judaism! This program, taught by Conservative Rabbis, helps adult learners deepen their Jewish knowledge in 21 weekly sessions. It will meet at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford beginning November 2. Participants will learn about Jewish history and culture, holy days and festivals, concepts of G-d and ethics, the synagogue and its services, life cycle observances, Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, Israel and Zionism, and the diversity of contemporary Jewish life. If you were born Jewish and want to know more about your heritage, if you are considering conversion to Judaism, or if you simply want to better understand Judaism and your Jewish friends, neighbors and/or family, this course is for you. Advance registration and summer reading is highly recommended; some financial assistance is available. For more information, read the brochure or contact Rabbi Richard Plavin at 860.573.4503 or
UConn Offers Judaic Studies Degrees 

Did you know that you can earn a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, or minor in Judaic studies at UConn?  Courses in the Judaic studies program are taught by exceptional faculty and cover a broad range of periods, disciplinary approaches and regions. Graduate students receive assistantships that provide full tuition funding and living stipends. The interdisciplinary field of Judaic studies allows students to become informed on human rights, the humanities, literature, history, and the social sciences from the perspective of the Jewish experience. Click here to check out the fall course offerings.
August 3: CLE Breakfast for Attorneys on Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

Should self-driving cars be programmed to prioritize the lives of their riders over those of pedestrians? Connecticut attorneys are invited to join Chabad House of Greater Hartford for a look at this and other ethical questions related to self-driving cars on Thursday morning, August 3, at Upward Hartford, 20 Church Street, Hartford. Registration and a kosher breakfast begin at 7:45 a.m.; the presentation follows from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. The fee is $36; this course is approved for 1.5 CLE or Professional (Ethics) Credits. Click here to register, or call 860.232.1116.
August 3: Mandell JCC Holds Farewell Party for Shlicha Michal Abramoff, Welcomes New Shlicha Tali Bass

From left: Michal Abramoff and Tali Bass
After two years in West Hartford as the Mandell JCC Shlicha (emissary) and Director of Israel Programs, Michal Abramoff will return to Israel at the end of the summer. The whole community is invited to attend her farewell party on August 3 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Innovation Center at the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. A donation of $5 per person is suggested to support the JCC's Israel programming. While we are sad to say goodbye to Michal, the JCC is also pleased to welcome Tali Bass as its new Shlicha. Tali will arrive in late August and will work at the JCC and around the community. Tali is excited to be part of the Greater Hartford community and she looks forward to meeting and working with everyone. If you are interested in hosting Tali for Shabbat or an upcoming holiday, please contact Elana MacGilpin at
Children's Reading Partners Seeks Volunteers to Read with At-Risk Students

Do you like children and love to read? Become a Reading Mentor with Children's Reading Partners and change the life of an at-risk elementary school student. Children's Reading Partners is seeking volunteers for the 2017-2018 school year. Training sessions will be held in Glastonbury on September 14 and in West Hartford on September 18 and September 26. Click here for more information. Children's Reading Partners is a program of Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council.
August 9 - 13: Hazon Food Conference at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

Take a vacation at the home of farm-to-table (kosher, organic, and ethically sourced!) cuisine in beautiful Falls Village, Connecticut. Enjoy outdoor wood-fire cooking, berry picking and veggie harvesting, late-night stargazing and bonfires, swimming, boating, hiking, and other summer-fun activities. Learn with world-class experts, activists, artists, chefs and community leaders. There's even an all-inclusive kids program. Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. Click here to learn more about the conference.
Women of Kehilat Chaverim Lead Rosh Chodesh Service 

Photo by Joan Walden
To commemorate Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of a new Jewish month), members of Kehilat Chaverim's Adult Bat Mitzvah committee developed and led a special service. Pictured left to right are Laura Pels, Emma Prokopets, Sharon Langer, Sue Garten, Charlotte Gara, Jane Gordon, Sandy Voice and Faith Fuerst. To learn more about Kehilat Chaverim's cooperative egalitarian services and activities, visit, call 860.951.6877 or email Marcey at
"Join the Discussion" on Healthy Eating with Hebrew HealthCare and The Crown Market 

Watch the latest episode of Hebrew HealthCare's cable access show, "Join the Discussion!" This episode features Matthew Arsenault, Executive Chef at The Crown Market, discussing healthy eating choices for summer. You can tune in to "Join the Discussion" on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. on West Hartford Community Television, or click here for a Youtube playlist of recent episodes.
August 11: Celebrate Tu B'Av with B'nai Tikvoh Sholom

Celebrate Tu B'Av (the fifteenth of Av) - the Jewish day of love - with B'nai Tikvoh Sholom at a special Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday, August 11 at 7:00 p.m. The service will be followed by champagne, strawberries and chocolate! B'nai Tikvoh Sholom is located at 180 Still Road, Bloomfield. Please email or call 860.243.3576 to RSVP.
Weekly Starting August 17: Hebrew Reading Classes for the High Holidays

Learn to read Hebrew in time for the High Holidays... in only five sessions! Join Chabad House of Greater Hartford on five Thursdays, starting August 17. Each session begins at 11:00 a.m. at Chabad House, 2352 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. The fee for the class is $60; click here to register.
Lisa Lipkin Joins FVJC-Emek Shalom as Cantorial Soloist 

Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom is delighted to announce that Lisa Lipkin will serve as part-time cantorial soloist for 2017-2018. Lisa has served as a High Holiday cantorial soloist at Temple B'nai Israel in White Oak, Penn., and has also served as cantorial soloist at Rimon Center for Jewish Spirituality, Pleasantville Community Synagogue, and Sinai Free Synagogue. She presently serves as the choir director at JCC of Harrison and teaches piano and voice in New Castle, N.Y.  Lisa received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Rutgers University and has trained in cantorial studies at the Academy of Jewish Religion in Yonkers, N.Y. She is also an accomplished musician and songwriter, a vocal and piano coach, an arranger and studio musician, and the founder of Singing Pup Records, an independent record label. FVJC-Emek Shalom is located at 55 Bushy Hill Road in Simsbury.
August 18: Avnet Kleiner of ALEH Negev to Speak at Temple Beth Hillel

Avnet Kleiner, ALEH Negev's Director of Development in the USA, will speak at Temple Beth Hillel on Friday, August 18, at 7:00 p.m. ALEH Negev is a pioneering rehabilitation village in Israel's Negev that provides medical and therapeutic care to residents with severe cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as outpatient rehabilitative services to children and young adults. Avnet's extensive experience in the nonprofit sector includes the founding of ALFA, which advances the rights of Israeli Holocaust survivors, and WhatIsrael, which recruits, trains and sends students to university campuses worldwide to promote constructive conversations about Israel. Avnet will also present a plaque to commemorate TBH's work planting trees in Israel with the Jewish National Fund, with whom he works closely. All are welcome to attend. Temple Beth Hillel is a Reform Synagogue located at 20 Baker Lane in South Windsor. For more information, please call 860.282.8466, email or visit the TBH website.
Elul: Preparing for a New Year

During Elul, the shofar is blown daily except on Shabbat.
The month of Elul is traditionally a time of preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During Elul, many observant Jewish congregations blow the shofar (ram's horn) daily except on Shabbat; Sephardic congregations also recite Selichot (penitential prayers) each day. It's a time when individuals may ask for and grant forgiveness and visit the graves of their loved ones. As Rosh Hashanah draws nearer, Ashkenazi Jews also recite Selichot. It's customary to begin or end letters written during Elul with Ketiva V'Chatima Tova - "may you have a good inscribing and sealing (in the Book of Life)." This year, the month of Elul begins at sundown on August 22. Below are some ways that our community will celebrate Elul and prepare for the High Holidays. You are welcome to participate!

August 22: Mitzvah Mamas Welcome Rosh Chodesh Elul
Women ages 13 and up are invited to welcome Rosh Chodesh Elul on Tuesday, August 22 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Bloomfield home of Leesa Wallace. Each monthly gathering offers time to remember our mothers and grandmothers, share an act of kindness or a good moment from the previous month, and learn something Jewish. Leesa recently returned from a JWRP Momentum Israel experience. As part of the post-trip year of inspiration, she will guide a session on leadership. For directions or to learn more about Mitzvah Mamas' monthly Rosh Chodesh gatherings or the free trip to Israel for moms, please contact Mindy Glickman at or 917.698.7952. You can also join the Mitzvah Mamas Facebook group.

September 16: Community-Wide Selichot Program and Service
The Emanuel Synagogue will host this year's community Selichot service on Saturday evening, September 16. Refreshments will be served at 8:30 p.m. followed by a 9:00 p.m. lecture by Professor Benjamin Sommer, Ph.D., of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He will speak on High Holiday themes in the Psalms. At 10:00 p.m., the Selichot service will be led by Rabbi David Small and Cantor Sanford Cohn and other area cantors; it will feature the Afro-Semitic Experience, a unique, jazz-based band. The Emanuel Synagogue is located at 160 Mohegan Drive, West Hartford. For more information, please call 860.236.1275.

September 8: Shabbat LIVE! Under the Stars with Beth El Temple
As the weather begins to turn toward fall, join Beth El Temple for Shabbat LIVE! Under the Stars on September 8. The BBQ dinner and outdoor family service begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 to 12. Kindly RSVP to 860.233.9696 by noon on September 6. Beth El Temple is located at 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford.

September 17: Rosh Hashanah Ice Cream Social with Jewish Association for Community Living 
Celebrate the coming New Year with a sweet beginning! Join the Jewish Association for Community Living and UHart Hillel for a Rosh Hashanah ice cream social on Sunday, September 17 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at the Arapahoe Group Home, 20 Arapahoe Road, West Hartford. All are welcome; kindly RSVP to the JCL office at 860.522.5225.

August 26: Come Home Again for Camp Laurelwood's 80th Anniversary Celebration

Camp Laurelwood invites all campers and friends to "come home again" for its 80th anniversary celebration and reunion! This fabulous 21+ event begins with registration and self-guided tours at 4:00 p.m. and continues with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, a program and catered dinner by The Crown, and dancing with music from all eight decades of camp. Stay afterward for campfires, s'mores and sailing down the river. This event is free; you'll be invited to make a meaningful gift to Camp Laurelwood to support future programming. Camp Laurelwood is located at 463 Summer Hill Road in Madison. You can register here. Questions? Email or call 203.421.3736.
Sigel Hebrew Academy Implements New Conversational Hebrew Curriculum 

The Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy is excited to implement Ulpan-Or, "the Harvard of Hebrew studies," as its Hebrew language curriculum. Ulpan-Or offers an interactive approach to conversational Hebrew that uses the latest technology to enhance the learning process. It also enables teachers to differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of each child. More than 50 schools and universities in North America, South America and Australia use the Ulpan-Or curriculum. The Academy's Hebrew Language teacher, Estee Axelrad, spent time in Israel being fully trained in this new curriculum.
Federation 2017 Annual Campaign Update 

Federation's 2017 Annual Campaign is drawing to a close! If you haven't made a contribution, we hope you will consider doing so today. All contributions are tax-deductible, and you can feel great knowing you've helped to support innovative Federation programs like Children's Reading Partners and the Greater Hartford Jewish Leadership Academy as well as 29 partner agencies and programs in Greater Hartford, in Israel, and around the world. Please give online or contact Beth Appelman, Vice President of Development, at 860.727.6123 or
August 27: Join Congregation Beth Israel for an End-of-Summer Celebration

Congregation Beth Israel invites you to "Celebrate CBI" and the end of the summer on Sunday, August 27. Join CBI from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at 701 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford, and enjoy food, fun, family and friends. You'll connect with CBI clergy, learn about CBI's Youth Engagement Program and discover the many opportunities for service and leadership in our community. Free and open to the public. To learn more, call 860.233.8215 or email
August 31: Carnival and Community Celebration at Beth El Temple

Join Beth El Temple from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 31 for the Back to Beth El Carnival and Community Celebration. Together we'll enjoy inflatables and a pizza dinner and celebrate our Beth El organizations. This event is free and open to the public; prospective members are especially encouraged to attend! Please bring a new children's book to donate to Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford's Children's Reading Partners program. Beth El Temple is located at 2626 Albany Avenue in West Hartford.
Nicki Poliak Joins UConn Hillel as Engagement Associate 

UConn Hillel is thrilled to welcome new Engagement Associate Nicki Poliak! Nicki is a recent graduate of the University of Delaware, where she completed her degree with a double major in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Nicki grew up on Long Island and spent all of her summers attending and working at URJ Camp Eisner. She was involved in UD Hillel as the Co-President of their Challah for Hunger chapter, a Freshman Fest Ambassador, and the Holocaust Education Intern. Nicki is also a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. In her free time, she loves to read, hike and spend time with her friends, family and pets. Nicki is excited to share her passion for Judaism and community building with UConn students.
September 10: Ninth Annual Big Wheel Derby to Support Children with Glycogen Storage Disease

Calling all families! Get out your Big Wheels, bikes and trikes and head to the Ninth Annual Big Wheel Derby on September 10 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Ride for the cause, dance for the cure, enjoy amazing sand art and meet top medical researchers from CCMC and UCONN Health Center! The cost to participate is $18 per family, and all proceeds benefit Alyssa's Angel Fund, which helps children worldwide with Glycogen Storage Disease afford treatment for this rare, genetic liver ailment. The Trustees of Alyssa's Angel Fund include several members of our local community: Alan Lazowski; Barry Stein, M.D.; Gayle Temkin; and David Weinstein, M.D.
September 11: Register Now for Voices, Federation's Signature Women's Event!

Register today for a very special Voices on Monday, September 11 at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. This is Federation's biggest women's event of the year, and you won't want to miss it! Our guest speaker is Lieutenant Commander Alexa Forsyth Jenkins, the first Jewish female commander of a U.S. Naval warship. She'll share how her Jewish values and upbringing have influenced her approach to leadership and service. The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with networking, cocktails and a dinner buffet; the program and dessert follow at 7 p.m. Click here to learn more.
September 13: Sneak Peek at the 2018 Jewish Historical Society Trip to Central and Eastern Europe

Explore the richness of Jewish life in Vilnius, Prague, Warsaw and Krakow with Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford on its fourth community-wide trip, led by Professor Samuel Kassow, Ph.D., of Trinity College. The trip will take place July 15-27, 2018, and will include lectures by Dr. Kassow and tours of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the former Warsaw Ghetto, Nozyk Synagogue, Krakow synagogues, historic Josefov, the Alt-Neu Synagogue, Pinkas and Maisel Synagogues, and Vilnius Choral Synagogue. To learn more, attend the information session on September 13 at 7:00 p.m. at Jewish Historical Society, Community Services Building, 333 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, or contact Estelle Kafer at
September 18: Community Collaboration Brings Acclaimed Comic Modi Rosenfeld to the Mandell JCC

Laugh out loud with Modi Rosenfeld, voted one of the Top 10 Comedians in New York City by the Hollywood Reporter and Backstage. Modi's comedy has received rave reviews from the The New York Times, Time Out NY, and the New York Post, and he has appeared on HBO, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, E! Entertainment and more! The show takes place on September 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Herbert Gilman Theater at the Mandell JCC, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Tickets are $10 per person; call 860.231.6316 or email Co-sponsored by the Lillian Margulies Singer Jewish Humor Fund, the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, the Mandell Jewish Community Center, and the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.