Dear friends,

With Tisha B'Av behind us, the month of August immediately ahead and a new Jewish year almost visible on the horizon, this is an ideal moment to pause and reflect on where we have been and where we are going. In this week's Torah portion, Va'etchanan, Moses himself looks back on the Exodus and forward to the Promised Land. What he finds - and what we still find today - is a mixture of hardship and hope.

Those who left Egypt with Moses were not, after 40 years of wandering and hardship, destined to enter the Promised Land, but their children were. Reflecting on the journey, Moses exhorts the Israelites to hold fast to G-d and the covenant "that it may go well with you and your children after you."

A millennium and a half later, Rabbi Akiva looks down on the ruined Second Temple and laughs even as his colleagues weep because he, like Moses, can see the hope beyond the hardship. As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks observes in his d'var Torah for Tisha B'Av, "Hope rebuilds the ruins of Jerusalem. The Jewish people kept hope alive and hope kept the Jewish people alive."

The past few months have been challenging for all of us, for many reasons. And yet we have hope. One way or another, students will return to their studies, Rosh Hashanah preparations will begin, and we will overcome our nation's trials. In the words of Rabbi Sacks, "The Jewish people are the people who try and show the world what it is to build. Let each of us, in our way, try and help mend a broken society and do so the right way - be'ahavat chinam - just by love of other people and love of the work."

Shabbat Shalom.
 
  
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
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Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund Update

The Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund has grown to nearly $949,000 wit h 526 gifts! Over the summer, the Fund has provided emergency financial support to a number of local individuals and families in need; grants to local Jewish agencies and synagogues for emergency operating support will be announced in the coming weeks. Contributions to the Fund are not intended to replace your regular support for our local Jewish organizations. We are tremendously grateful for any support you are able to provide. Please click here to donate or click here to apply for assistance.
August 2 and Ongoing: BSBI Presents "Oldies with The Elderly Brothers: Live & Online" and Virtual Lessons with Rabbi Konigsburg 
   
T-Bone Stankus and Brian Gillie are The Elderly Brothers.
Beth Sholom B'nai Israel invites you to a live, online concert of  mint condition rock'n'roll of the 1950s and '60s on Sunday, August 2 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Zoom. You'll be awed by their perfect pitch harmonies and soulful improvisations! The suggested donation is $20 per household; the concert benefits BSBI, MARC of Manchester, and the Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief & Recovery Fund. Click here for details or here for tickets. Additionally, six days a week, join Rabbi Randall Konigsburg as he discusses life, death, the Bible, current events, and more! Videos are posted Sunday through Friday by noon. Click here to view the new video for the day, or  click here to watch previous videos in the series. 
Jewish Association for Community Living Resident Celebrates Special Month 
 
JCL resident Mary celebrates her birthday 
July was a very special month for Mary, a Jewish Association for Community Living resident! Mary turned 80 this year; and despite COVID, she was able to celebrate with everyone she loves. Mary had a huge party planned, but ended up with a surprise birthday parade with all her JCL friends - as well as a few outdoor picnics with various friends. Not only did Mary get to celebrate with friends, but her sister and niece also came to visit. Mary and her sister have not seen each other in 15 years! It was a very special reunion and very special birthday for Mary. For more information about JCL, please contact Sarah Winiarski at swiniarski@jcl-ct.org or 860.748.2281.
August 3 & 18: Chabad House of Greater Hartford Presents a Tribute to Maimonides and a Live Zoom Event with a Jewish Daughter of Hamas
 
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (YY) Jacobson
On Monday, August 3 at 7:30 p.m., join Chabad House of Greater Hartford for a tribute to Maimonides with world-renowned scholar, speaker & author Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (YY) Jacobson. Why was Maimonides the most influential rabbi for millennia? Why did certain great rabbis ban his books? What was so revolutionary about his work? Rabbi Yitzchak is one of America's premier Jewish scholars and one of the most sought-after speakers in the Jewish world today. Chabad House also invites you to a live Zoom event, "Jewish Daughter of Hamas," on Tuesday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m. Maya is the daughter of a high-ranking Hamas official; she escaped a life of persecution and danger with the help of Yad L'achim. Today she helps other women escape the perils of being trapped. During this program Maya will share details of her story that she has never shared before. Click here to register for one or both programs. Questions about either program? Contact Rabbi Shaya Gopin at rabbishaya@chabadhartford.com. 
Hoffman SummerWood Donates Fresh Produce to Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund 
 
As mentioned in last month's JLink, Hoffman SummerWood is home to the newest Jessie's Community Garden, created in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the generous Kostin family. The vegetable gardens have been flourishing since the moment the seeds were planted. SummerWood resident and longtime gardener David Wolansky collected an array of fresh produce for the first official SummerWood donation to the Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund. One of the Fund's initiatives, administered by Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford, is providing food relief to those adversely affected by COVID-19 across Connecticut, including a number of homebound seniors. We look forward to making many more vegetable donations from the garden; our residents are thrilled to be able to help seniors and others in need. For more information on SummerWood independent and assisted living apartments, contact Sophia at 860.523.3808 or scannavo@hoffmansummerwood.org.
August 4: Voices of Hope Offers Upcoming Programs 
 
On Tuesday, August 4 at 7 p.m., please join Voices of Hope for our final summer series speaker, Daphne Geismar. An award winning book designer, Daphne Geismar plans, designs, and produces books on art and history for museums and publishers including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Yale University Press. Her new book, "Invisible Years," is an intimate portrait of her extended Jewish family in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands - who, when faced with imminent deportation, refused to comply. Click here to register. Please also save the date for our virtual Evening of Hope on Wednesday, September 23. Questions? Email info@ctvoicesofhope.org.  
August 4: A Journey of Friendship & Faith: An Evening with Rabbi Neil Blumofe and Reverend Daryl Horton
 
Rabbi Neil Blumof and Reverend  Daryl Horton 
 
On Tuesday, August 4 at 8 p.m., Beth El Temple is thrilled to host the Reverend Daryl Horton and Rabbi Neil Blumofe, who will discuss their "Witness on Wheels" initiative and what they have learned so far in their travels across America. You may remember them as our special guests during a recent Friday evening Zoom service! For the last two summers, the two religious leaders have spent a week traveling together, visiting historical sites significant to each other's communities. Sites have included the Holocaust Museum in Houston, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, and an African burial ground in New York. Reverend Horton is the youth pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in East Austin, Texas; Rabbi Blumofe is the senior rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in Northwest Hills, Texas. They became friends while serving together on the board of the Interfaith Action of Central Texas (IACT). Witness on Wheels grew out of their desire to model the mission of IACT: "to build healthy relationships between the faith communities of Central Texas." Click here to register for the Zoom event.   
August 4 & 16: Chabad Jewish Center Presents: Q&A with Rabbi and Mrs. Yehudis Wolvovsky and "BLT: Bagels, Lox, and Tefillin"
 
Chabad Jewish Center invites you to
"Everything is on the Table," a virtual Q&A with Rabbi and Mrs. Yehudis Wolvovsky on Tuesday, August 4 at 8:30 p.m. They will field any questions you may have! Submit your questions in advance by emailing Yehudis@ChabadER.com. On Sunday, August 16, join us on Zoom at 9 a.m. for "BLT: Bagels, Lox, and Tefillin." Together, from the comfort of our homes, we will lay tefillin, pray, and schmooze. Join us for a meaningful mitzvah and friendly interaction! To learn more or obtain a Zoom login for these events, email Rabbi Wolvovsky at chabader@snet.net.
Mapping Greater Hartford's Synagogues 

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford  
has created an interactive online map of Greater Hartford's synagogues over time, using historic photographs from our collection and other sources. Click here to explore the map. As you scroll through the list, you will be taken to the spot on the map and can see how congregations moved over the decades. Please contact us at jhsgh@jewishhartford.org with any questions or feedback. 
Fridays: Zoom In to Emanuel's Shabbat Babayit!
 
On Friday nights at 5:30 p.m., join The Emanuel Synagogue for a half-hour family-friendly Shabbat service via Zoom. Shabbat Babayit features songs, stories, and blessings; it's led by Rabbi David Small, Hazzan Moshe Pinchover, and Barbara Fink, Director of Youth and Family Learning. All are welcome! Click here for the link.  
August 7 & 21: Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation Holds Outdoor and Zoom Shabbat Services
   
Join Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation for a socially distanced, outdoor, bring-your-own dinner followed by a Shabbat service on Friday, August 7 at 6 p.m. For more information about the location or to get the Zoom link in the event of rain, email president@gsjc.org. Gishrei Shalom will also host a Zoom Shabbat service on Friday, August 21 at 7 p.m. For the Zoom link, email rabbi@gsjc.org
Why Chai Mitzvah?
   
When was the last time you asked yourself what a meaningful Jewish life would look like to you? Chai Mitzvah was designed to help begin to answer that question. It's more than a program, and it's more than a typical adult education class. It's a journey for you to take with others engaged in a similar journey - and it's a powerful way to reconnect, recharge, and re-examine your Jewish life. All Chai Mitzvah programs can be done virtually or in person; our materials are available in print or as digital downloads. If you haven't seen what we have to offer, take the first step! Click here to learn more or contact Nina at nina@chaimitzvah.org.
August 20: Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul with Mitzvah Mamas  
 
Mitzvah Mamas invite you to celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul on Thursday, August 20. (Time and Zoom details TBA.) Join friendly Jewish women ages 13+ from the Greater Hartford area as you take some time for yourself to be part of a special circle. In about an hour we learn about each other, explore a Jewish value, and leave a bit richer. Each month a volunteer facilitates; as of this moment the shomeret has not been identified. How about you? It's not hard, and if you'd like, someone can help! Our Zoom program begins promptly, so please plan to arrive a few minutes early if you'd like to schmooze. You may want to bring a candle, something fragrant, and/or some good news or an act of kindness to brighten the evening. Spread the word and bring a friend! To learn more about our Rosh Chodesh gatherings, mitzvah opportunities, quarantine book group or the next free trip to Israel for moms, contact Mindy Glickman at MitzvahMamas@gmail.com or 917.698.7952, or Samantha Schoenberg at sschoenberg@jewishhartford.org.  
Teens Help Jewish Organizations Respond to COVID-19
 
Teen's in JTConnect's Teen Leadership and Philanthropy Initiative (TLPI) culminated their year by awarding three grants totaling $3,800 to local Jewish organizations. "Through TLPI, we have been learning about how to build community and create positive change by raising money and allocating grants to nonprofit organizations in the Greater Hartford Jewish community," said rising Hall High School senior Zach Berkowitz. "We decided to pivot our focus by allocating to organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be funding meaningful projects that will enable local Jewish organizations to respond to the evolving situation." This year TLPI chose to award grants to Hebrew Senior Care, the Jewish Association for Community Living, and Voices of Hope. Click here to read about the projects TLPI grants will be funding. For more information about TLPI or JTConnect, contact Eric Maurer at eric@jtconnect.org.   
August 23: Camp Laurelwood Virtual Summer Social, Plus Family Camp R&R
 
Camp Laurelwood will host a "virtual happy hour" summer social on Sunday, August 23 at 4 p.m., and everyone is welcome to attend. We also recently kicked off our first ever Family Camp experience - and boy was it a hit! The Zippin family of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, joined us for the full Laurelwood experience. Lisa Zippin had this to say: "My family of five attended Laurelwood Week Two. The entire staff went above and beyond to make sure every family not only had a great time, but also felt safe. We went swimming, kayaking, fishing, and hung out by the campfire; they even had delicious coffee in the morning. I'm only sorry more families don't know about this. I recommend it as a laid-back and unique summer trip - a way to reconnect with nature and have old-fashioned fun." To RSVP for the social or to get more information on our programs, contact the Camp Laurelwood office at info@camplaurelwood.org or 203.421.3736. 
August 23: Welcome Back: Bingo & Bites at Young Israel!  
   
After this long and definitely different summer, join Young Israel of West Hartford on Sunday, August 23 at 4 p.m. to see old friends and make new ones as we look to a new year and welcome new faces to town! There will be food, friends, and lots of fun - and of course, safe social distancing! This event is free and open to the community. Click here to sign up.
August 27: Innovative Technologies for Tomorrow's Battlefield with Gideon Weiss
   
Federation Men's Engagement and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford invite you to take a behind-the-scenes look at Israeli tech innovation in the defense space at a special Zoom program on Thursday, August 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Our guest speaker is Gideon Weiss, Vice President for Business Development and Strategy in the Air and C4ISR Systems Division of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. From the Shafrir missiles that helped win the Yom Kippur War to the world famous Iron Dome missile defense system, Rafael is at the forefront of defense, command, and control technology. A seasoned Israeli Air Force veteran and mechanical engineer, Gidi has been on the inside at Rafael for more than 25 years. His talk will include an audience Q&A. Free; advance registration required. Click here for details and registration. Women are welcome to attend.
August 27: BTS Presents " Blazing Saddles" Movie Discussion 
   
On Wednesday, August 26 at 7:30 p.m., you're invited to join B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom for a Zoom discussion of Mel Brooks's classic 1974 comedy "Blazing Saddles," led by member Mark Silk, Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and Director of The Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. This highly irreverent film stars Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Alex Karras, John Hillerman, and David Huddleston. If you'd like to participate, please watch the film on the streaming platform of your choice before we meet. You'll find it on Amazon Prime ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), Microsoft ($3.99), Netflix, Fandango Now ($3.99) and Vudu ($3.99). Or dust off that old DVD you have hanging around the house! For Zoom login information, contact the BTS office at 860.243.3576 or email office@btsonline.
October: "Embracing Judaism" Series of 18 Classes Begins 
   
Embracing Judaism is a series of 18 classes on Jewish belief and practice, values, and traditions taught by area Conservative rabbis in partnership with the Miller Program for Basic Judaism at the University of Judaism. The program begins in October and will meet on Thursday nights from 7 to 8:45 p.m., in a West Hartford synagogue. (If necessary, classes will be conducted online until it is safe to return to in-person mode.) Rabbis will guide students to an understanding and appreciation of our Jewish heritage - and you do not need to be Jewish to participate! Individuals of every race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation are encouraged to register. The series costs $180 with discounts available for significant others and full-time students. Scholarship aid is available on a confidential basis. To learn more, contact Rabbi Richard Plavin, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Sholom B'nai Israel, at 860.573.4503 or riplavin@gmail.com.