The month of March brings a whole host of new opportunities to learn and celebrate our Jewish heritage together. Federation is especially proud to co-present Israel@70 with the Mandell JCC. These community-wide celebrations of the State of Israel's 70th birthday, made possible with financial support from Jewish Community Foundation and Federation, will include a wide variety of cultural and educational activities throughout 2018. Other Jewish agencies, schools and synagogues are also planning commemorations. A sampling of March activities is listed in the sidebar below, and you'll find many more at .

Passover is also approaching, and you'll find several community observances in this issue as well. It's going to be a joyous month - please celebrate with us!


President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Chai Mitzvah Study Groups Are Forming Now!

Looking to add some inspiration to your life? Why not start a Chai Mitzvah group? It's fun, easy, and it's a great way to socialize with good friends and talk about meaningful things. To learn more, contact Susan Fried at
Sigel Hebrew Academy Celebrates Purim

Even the youngest students at Sigel Hebrew Academy celebrated Purim!
Students, faculty and staff at the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy experienced a very joyful Purim! A highlight of the day was a faculty skit. It was great celebrating the chag (holiday) with the children and the community. The Academy is located at 53 Gabb Road in Bloomfield. To learn more, call 860.243.8333 or email
March 8: Hartford Jewish Film Festival Begins

Opening night for the 22nd annual Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival is Thursday, March 8. With 22 films in 10 days, this year's festival features a diverse collection of masterfully told films that address current issues of social justice, race relations, American-Jewish life, anti-Semitism and more. These films, along with heartwarming comedies and dramas about the arts and women's stories of love, loss and survival, will stir emotions and inspire conversation. Some films have already sold out - be sure to get your tickets today at
March 13: Emanuel Sisterhood Dinner with Rabbi David Small

Rabbi David Small
The Emanuel Synagogue Sisterhood invites you to a dinner and program with Rabbi David Small on Tuesday, March 13 at the synagogue, which is located at 160 Mohegan Drive, West Hartford. The entire community is welcome! Doors open at 6 p.m.; dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. Rabbi Small will share delightful and insightful thoughts at 7:30 p.m., and coffee and dessert will follow. Your choice of entrée is chicken, salmon, or a vegetarian option. The cost for dinner is $15 per person, paid in advance (sorry, no walk-ins). Your RSVP must be received by Wednesday, March 7. Checks should be made payable to Emanuel Sisterhood. Please contact Audrey Yanofsky at for reservations and payment information.
March 16: Rosh Chodesh Nisan Women's Gathering

Women ages 13 and up are invited to welcome Rosh Chodesh (the new month of) Nisan on Friday morning, March 16, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Leave your dishes in the sink and  be part of a circle of women who look forward to sharing with one another. This month our shomeret and hostess is is Phyllis Winkler; she will host us at her home in Vernon. The final details will be announced in the Mitzvah Mamas Facebook group. For information on Rosh Chodesh gatherings, pop-up road trips, or the next free trip to Israel for moms, please email or call 917.698.7952.
March 16: "Uncle Nat Rescues the Torah!" at FVJC

Join Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation - Emek Shalom on Friday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m. for a fascinating Shabbat service. Shari Cassutt will share a presentation on her Uncle Nat's rescue of a Holocaust Torah. FVJC is located at 55 Bushy Hill Road, Simsbury. All are welcome!
Tune In Now to UHart Hillel's HawkTorah Podcast

University of Hartford Hillel students are taking their love of Jewish learning to a new level with the HawkTorah weekly Torah commentary. Every week, you'll find a new commentary on the HawkTorah Facebook page, and once a month the commentary is released in podcast form on the Soundcloud platform. Here's a link to the most recent HawkTorah podcast, called "Seasons of Love."
March 16: "Mental Health in the Jewish Community" with Stephen Fried at CBI

Stephen Fried
Award-winning journalist, author and professor Stephen Fried will discuss the lingering stigma of mental illness in Jewish communities, and how we can better support those who are affected, during Congregation Beth Israel's Shabbat service on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. and at the Oneg Shabbat afterward. The entire community is invited to attend. Click here for details. Congregation Beth Israel is located at 701 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford.
March 18: Jewish Genealogical Society presents "The Rest of the Story: Finding Your Family in Online Newspapers"

Janeen Bjork
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut is delighted to welcome TV researcher and genealogist Janeen Bjork as the guest speaker at its monthly meeting on Sunday, March 18 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at JGSCT's home, Temple Sinai, 41 West Hartford Road, Newington. The program is free and open to everyone interested in Jewish genealogy. Ms. Bjork has been obsessed with the family information in historical newspapers since she discovered a story about the 1894 murder of her great-great grandfather in a Syracuse, N.Y., newspaper. She has discovered over 130 different accounts of the tragedy - despite the misspelling of both the murderer's and the victim's names by the OCR (optical character recognition) technology used to index newspapers for online searches.
March 18: JTCares: Cooking for Puerto Rican Relief

On Sunday, March 18 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Jewish seventh through twelfth graders are invited to help JTConnect cook a hot meal for Puerto Rican families displaced to Hartford by Hurricane Maria. The event will take place at Congregation Beth Israel, 701 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford. It includes lunch and service project; there is a suggested $10 donation. Please RSVP to by March 14.
Our community is celebrating Israel's 70th birthday with a year of food, films, social action, concerts, speakers, family events and more - and you are invited to join the fun! Israel@70 is jointly presented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Mandell Jewish Community Center, with financial support from the Jewish Community Foundation and Federation. Below are a few of the programs that will take place in March. Many more are coming throughout the year!. For more information and lots of additional actiities, visit

March 12:  Federation and JTConnect invite you to " Teaching Peace: Civil Discourse for the Next Generation," a community program on Monday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. We'll learn how Kids4Peace helps Israeli, Palestinian, and American children and youth build relationships that create a better society for everyone. This program is free and appropriate for adults and teens. RSVP to Debra Howson at or 860.727.6103

March 15: Join B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom on Thursday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m. for " Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman - A Livestreaming Author Event." We'll get an insider's perspective from author Itamar Rabinovich on the life and influence of Israel's first native-born prime minister, his bold peace initiatives, and his tragic assassination. The program is free; kindly RSVP to 860.243.3576 or Click here to purchase the book (use discount code RABIN). B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom is located at 180 Still Road, Bloomfield.

Ben-Gurion, Epilogue will show at the Hartford Jewish Film Festival. Click the photo for details.
March 18: The Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival will present "Israel through Film," four Israeli films on March 18 at Hoyts Simsbury Commons 8, 530 Bushy Hill Road, Simsbury. At noon, choose from The Settlers or And Then She Arrived. At 2:15 p.m., choose from In Between and Ben-Gurion, Epilogue. Get your tickets today at!

March 20: Join Hadassah on Tuesday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m. at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford to hear Greater Hartford's Israeli Shlicha (emissary) Tali Bass speak about Russian immigration to Israel from a personal perspective. She was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Be'er Sheva with her family when she was three years old. For more information, contact Deborah Rosenfeld at 860.206.4832 or

March 24: Families in the Farmington Valley will be celebrating Israel's 70th birthday on Saturday, March 24 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. with a "Family Chill Out" at the Farmington Valley YMCA, 97 Salmon Brook Street, Granby. We'll swim in the "Dead Sea" in the family pool, climb "Masada" in the climbing wall room, dig for archaological treasures, and enjoy a blue and white cupcake bar. We'll also have dinner and Havdalah. Free and open to the community! RSVP required by March 19. Contact Elana MacGilpin at 860.231.6366 or Presented by the Mandell JCC Valley Sports and Community Center and Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation - Emek Shalom.

Register now for these trips to Israel: 

  • August 5 - 16: Travel "off the beaten path" with Rabbi Richard and Lisa Plavin on a 12-day trip to Israel departing August 5, 2018. For more information including the full itinerary and costs, click here or contact Rabbi Plavin at 860.573.4503 or
  • October 23 - 30: Love to bicycle? The Israel Ride will take you from Jerusalem to Eilat and broaden your understanding of the region as you meet Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians working toward peace, environmental sustainability, and regional cooperation. Visit for more information and to register.
  • October 30 - November 13: Inspired by poet Yehuda Amichai, Rabbi Jeff and Mindy Glickman from South Windsor's Temple Beth Hillel are going to Israel again. The itinerary will include many must-do Israel sites, though we are going to meet the "people who buy fruit and vegetables for their families." We will stay in lovely places, eat well, join WOW on Rosh Chodesh, celebrate Sigd with the Ethiopian community, play music with the Youth Band of Akko and much more. And we haven't even mentioned Shabbat... we get to be there for two of them! Click here for all the details and an application form, or contact Mindy Glickman at 917.698.7952 to learn more.
March 20: Barry Holtz, Ph.D., to Lecture on "Rabbi Akiva, Sage of the Talmud" at BSBI

Barry Holtz, Ph.D.
Why should we care about Rabbi Akiva, a Talmudic sage who lived 2,000 years ago? Come and learn with guest speaker Barry Holtz, Ph.D., Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and author of Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud.  Dr. Holtz is the guest lecturer for Beth Sholom B'nai Israel, BSBI Sisterhood and Manchester Hadassah's annual George and Lillian Sandals Memorial Dinner and Lecture, which will be held on Tuesday, March 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the synagogue at 400 Middle Turnpike East, Manchester. Dinner is $20 for adults; youths under 18 are $15. If you wish to attend only for dessert and the lecture, the cost is $5. Kindly RSVP by March 10; click here for a registration form.
March 22: Beth El Temple Book Event with Author Marilyn Simon Rothstein

Join Beth El Temple and Marilyn Simon Rothstein on Thursday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. to support the Torah Fund and celebrate her new book! Our beloved member will read from her hilarious, heartwarming new novel, Husbands and Other Sharp Objects, and discuss her road to becoming an author. An evening of guaranteed laughter, followed by wine and refreshments. The program is $15 and includes a donation to the Torah Fund and a copy of the book. Click here to RSVP by March 19.
Order by March 22: Free Large-Print Haggadot from Jewish Braille Institute

Established in 1931, the Jewish Braille Institute is a nonprofit agency serving people of all ages and backgrounds. JBI is pleased to offer free large-print haggadot for the visually impaired or reading disabled. To reserve your haggadah, call 800.999.6476 before March 22, 2018, or order online at
March 25: Learn How to Explore Your Family History in a Special Daylong Conference

"Celebrating Family History Day," a daylong conference co-presented by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford and The Emanuel Synagogue, will be held Sunday, March 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Community Services Building, 333 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. It's designed to help adults, high school students and middle school students develop the skills they need to discover, document and record their own unique family history. Jewish Genealogical Society experts will explain how to get started with genealogical research, how to write and publish your family history, using the internet, and DNA for genealogy. Keynote speaker Nolan Altman, VP of Data Acquisition for JewishGen, will discuss how family surnames evolve and how to recognize components that link your family across generations. The cost to attend is $20 per person for JHS or Emanuel members and $24 per person for non-members. Students are free. An optional lunch is available for $10, or you may bring your own.  Payment must be received by March 21. Click here for a registration form. Questions? Contact Lynn Newman at 860.727.6170 or This program is partially funded by a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and the Jeffrey Hoffman Family Fund.
March 25: Voices of Hope's Second Generation Speak Up

Voices of Hope and Speak Up Storytelling invite you to a Second Generation Speak Up on Sunday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m. at The Mark Twain House, 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford. The program will feature stories from the children of Holocaust survivors. $18 suggested minimum donation; free for students. Click here for tickets. Voices of Hope also encourages you to attend "Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross," which will have its Connecticut premiere on Tuesday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mandell JCC as part of the Hartford Jewish Film Festival. Learn more here.
March 25, April 29 and June 10: S'mores and Tours at Camp Laurelwood!

Camp Laurelwood isn't just a "summer thing." Come join us for S'mores and Tours from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on the Sunday of your choice - March 25, April 29 or June 10 - to see for yourself! You'll meet friendly staff and see our newly renovated campus... with fireside s'mores-making to follow! We can't wait to meet you!  Can't make it on any of the days listed? Email Evelyn Cohen at to schedule a private tour.
March 30 - April 7: Passover

Red wine braised brisket from Bon Appétit. Click the photo for a recipe.
Passover is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish year. This springtime celebration of the Israelites' freedom from Egyptian bondage has inspired Jews down through the centuries, and it still resonates today. Many of us will gather with friends and family for the Seder meal that recounts the original story of Passover, and it's common to abstain from leavened foods as we remember that our ancestors had to leave Egypt so quickly that there was no time for bread to rise.

American Jews tend to associate Passover with matzah ball soup, but Passover food traditions vary widely among the Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish communities. This article shares some fascinating details.  Whatever your tradition, we hope you'll join us in celebrating this essential Jewish holiday!

Now through March 30: Jewish Family Services invites you to participate in the Anja Rosenberg Kosher Food Pantry Passover Drive by bringing your non-perishable Kosher for Passover food items to the collection bin in the lobby of the Community Services Building at 333 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford.

Ongoing:  Jewish Historical Society is seeking your Passover recipes and stories for its new food blog, Delicious Memories. We need photos from the past and present. We just received a kugel recipe from a man who grew up in Hartford in the 1940s but now lives in Honolulu! Please send your food stories, recipes, and/or scanned photos to Lynn Newman at Questions? E-mail Lynn or call her at 860.727.6170.

Ongoing: Middle school girls at  Solomon Schechter Day School will prepare a Seder on March 26 for the students of Grace Academy, an independent girls' school in Hartford; they're creating a special haggadah just for the occasion. Meanwhile, our boys will be leading their own Seder on the same day; each boy will invite a family member or special friend. Thanks to the generosity of Jessica and Eric Zachs, all the students and their guests will also enjoy a traditional Seder meal catered by The Crown Market.

March 18:  Jewish Association for Community Living will host a "Walk through the Passover Story" at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford on Sunday, March 18 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. There will be booths and fun activities to learn about Passover. All are welcome!

March 25:  B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom invites you to prepare for the Seder in a whole new way at "The Rhythms of Freedom: A drumming workshop" on Sunday, March 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the synagogue at 180 Still Road, Bloomfield. We'll have a spirited drumming session with Janet Novins, an expert in mindful drumming and Jewish chanting. No experience is necessary; drums will be provided. Cost to participate is $8, or $6 for Mandell JCC or BTS members. RSVP by calling 860.243.3576 or emailing

March 30: Temple Beth Hillel welcomes you to its First Night Community Seder on Friday, March 30 at 6:00 p.m. Rabbi Jeff and Cantor Scott will lead us through the desert to dessert. The evening includes a delicious kosher dinner, singing and dancing! For a homey touch, you're invited to bring a special item from home: your grandma's candlesticks, your mom's Seder plate, etc.  Cost is $45 for TBH members, $50 for not-yet-members, $20 for children ages 5 to 12, and $400 for a table of up to 10 guests. Click here for a registration form. Temple Beth Hillel is located at 20 Baker Lane, South Windsor.

March 30: Congregation Beth Israel invites you to its First Night Community Seder on Friday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. Reflect on the Passover story as you relax with family, friends, and neighbors and enjoy a catered dinner by The Crown Market. Price is $36 per adult, $25 for college students and children ages 7-18; children 6 and under are free. Click here to register. Reservations are required by March 16. Grape juice will be provided for every table; please feel free to bring wine. Congregation Beth Israel is located at 701 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford.

March 30 - April 8: Looking for a Passover getaway? Join Hazon at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center at 116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, for the Passover Retreat & Moed Festival - a 10-day, kosher for Passover celebration in Connecticut's beautiful Northwest Corner. You'll enjoy guided mountaintop hikes, daily yoga, prayer services, concerts, Jewish text studies and personal growth discussions, farm tours, baby goats and Camp Teva, our engaging children's program. Partial stays are available. Click here to learn more and to register.

March 31: Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation - Emek Shalom invites you to its Passover Seder on Saturday, March 31 at 6:00 p.m. We'll enjoy a catered dinner and a Seder let by Rabbi Bekah. Cost for adults is $24 for FVJC members and $36 for non-members; for kids it's $12 for FVJC members and $18 for non-members. RSVP here; checks can be dropped off at the synagogue or mailed to the office. Contact Mike and Moira Wertheimer with any questions at FVJC is located at 55 Bushy Hill Road, Simsbury, CT 06070.

March 31: Join Beth Sholom B'nai Israel as we celebrate the second night of Passover with a Community Seder on Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. We'll enjoy traditional rituals and prayers as well as contemporary discussion led by Rabbi Konigsburg. All are welcome! Reservations close on March 15; click here to register online. If cost is an obstacle, contact Rabbi Konisburg at 860.643.9563 x101 or  BSBI is located at 400 Middle Turnpike East, Manchester.
April 16: "The Holocaust as History and Warning" with Timothy Snyder, Ph.D.

Timothy Snyder, Ph.D.
Timothy Snyder, Ph.D., the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University, will present "The Holocaust as History and Warning" at the UConn Center for Judaic Studies' annual Academic Convocation on the Holocaust on Monday, April 16, at 4:30 p.m. A reception will follow. The Convocation will be held in the Doris and Simon Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Research Center, 405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205, Storrs. It is sponsored by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; the Fierberg Lecture in Judaic Studies; the Human Rights Institute; the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center; the Humanities Institute; the History Department; the American Studies program; and the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. Click here for details and parking information, or contact 860.486.2271 or
April 29: Save the Date for Schechter's Ner Tamid Dinner

Solomon Schechter Day School will hold its Ner Tamid Dinner on Sunday, April 29 at Beth El Temple in West Hartford. Our special guest is recording artist Matisyahu, and we will be honoring the Zachs family. More information is coming soon!
May 17: Second Annual Mental Health Awareness Event with JFS Tara's Closet

Jenna Bush Hager and Patrick J. Kennedy
Mental health problems affect nearly every family. You can stop the stigma and start the conversation by joining Jewish Family Services' Tara's Closet on Thursday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford for "Embracing Possibility for Mental Health Awareness: A Conversation with Patrick J. Kennedy." A former U.S. Representative from Rhode Island,  Kennedy is America's leading political voice on mental illness and addiction.  NBC Today  contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager returns to moderate our program, and we'll also have a Q&A with Evan Fox, M.D., Assistant Medical Director at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living. Tickets go on sale soon - don't miss it!
May 23: Living with Intention with Kara Sundlun

Kara Sundlun
Federation Women's Philanthropy encourages all women to save the date for Living with Intention, a dinner and program to be held on Wednesday, May 23 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Mark Twain House in Hartford. Each year, Living with Intention presents a speaker who inspires us all to live more meaningful lives. This year's guest speaker is Emmy Award winning news anchor and talk show host Kara Sundlun of WFSB-TV. She'll discuss her journey to reconnect with her father, former Rhode Island Governor Bruce Sundlun - and the power of forgiveness, reconciliation and owning your story. Invitations and registration information are coming soon.
May 24: Children's Reading Partners' 20th Anniversary Celebration

Judy Schachner
Children's Reading Partners will hold its 20th anniversary celebration on Thursday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Real Art Ways in Hartford. The entire community is welcome to attend the dessert reception and program. Since its founding in 1998, Children's Reading Partners has conducted over 95,000 volunteer reading sessions with more than 6,000 at-risk preschool and elementary school students in Greater Hartford, and it has distributed more than 6,000 books to students and their classrooms. The celebration's guest speaker is Judy Schachner, the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of more than 26 children's books including the beloved Skippyjon Jones series. Born into a working class New England family, Ms. Schachner will discuss how her imagination and love of books helped her survive a challenging childhood. Stay tuned for registration information!
June 14 - 17: Hazon's Jewish Intentional Communities Conference in Maryland

Are you part of a Jewish intentional community, or are you interested in creating one? Be part of a new experiment in Jewish community - or just learn more - at Hazon's Fifth International Jewish Intentional Communities Conference from June 14 through 17 at Pearlstone Center in Reisterstown, Md. You'll meet current members of intentional communities and others who are curious and excited by the idea. We'll learn from and share with each other, vision together, and plant seeds for communities to come. Click here for more information. Hazon operates the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT.