My Shabbat reading over the last several months has included Andrew Roberts’s biography of Winston Churchill. At nearly 1,000 pages, it is really a mere summary of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary leaders – the person who perhaps more than any other contributed to Nazi Germany’s downfall. Churchill was brilliant, indefatigable, brave, visionary, and articulate – yet the quality that perhaps best describes him is resilience. And it was that quality, more than any other, that inspired the citizens of Britain and its allies worldwide to persevere.

This weekend we conclude the reading of the Torah and start anew with Genesis. The Torah concludes with the death of Moshe Rabbeinu – Moses, our teacher – the greatest leader of the Jewish people. We need not compare Moses to Churchill to recognize that resilience was also a critical facet of Moses’ leadership. Vanquishing numerous enemies from without and continued rebellion from within, he never wavered in his mission to unite and redeem the Jewish people, lead them to Mount Sinai, and shepherd them to the Promised Land.

The themes of leadership and resilience, particularly in these challenging times, connects the impact stories highlighted below. Jessica Zachs’s vision and perseverance in developing Dignity GrowsTM, Barbara Roth’s founding of Tara’s Closet and her role in the launch of crucial mental health awareness programs through Jewish Family Services, the support this community is providing for new olim (immigrants) in Israel, the extraordinary Lions of Judah, and Federation’s Jewish Leadership Academy all speak to the import and impact of resilient leadership. They also speak to our abilities – both individually and collectively – to make an appreciable difference, to persevere, and to help repair the world in this most challenging hour.

Shabbat shalom, and chag sameach.
David Waren
President & CEO
A New Cohort of Community Leaders Prepares for Success
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

In these turbulent times, skilled leadership is more important than ever in sustaining a strong Jewish community. That’s why Federation launched and manages the Greater Hartford Jewish Leadership Academy, or JLA. In addition to public programs with Jewish thought leaders, JLA offers specialized training and networking opportunities for board members of local Jewish agencies, schools, and synagogues. On Wednesday, more than 70 new and returning members of local boards attended JLA’s 2020 Community Board Member Orientation with board development expert Nanette Fridman. They learned about the responsibilities of nonprofit governance and explored key skills to propel their organizations forward. JLA has helped nearly 400 local community members strengthen their Jewish leadership skills. For a first-person account of JLA’s impact, check out the video below from Jill Dulitsky, current president of Temple Sinai in Newington. To learn more about JLA, contact Heather Fiedler at
Rediscovering Judaism in the White House
Federation’s Lions of Judah celebrated another year of tremendous impact at their virtual Annual Celebration on October 1, which featured keynote speaker Sarah Hurwitz, former chief speechwriter for Michelle Obama. Hurwitz shared the moving story of how she rediscovered the beauty of Judaism during her stint in the White House, after a difficult breakup. Below you'll find a video of the program; you may also be interested in Hurwitz's book on the same topic. The Lion of Judah Society recognizes women who contribute $5,000 or more to Federation’s Annual Campaign in their own name. To learn more about women’s giving societies, contact Laurie Mandell at
A Life-Changing Partnership in Israel and Worldwide
Did you know that last year alone, contributions to Federation’s Annual Campaign helped nearly 36,000 Jews make aliyah (move to Israel) through our international partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel? Last year JAFI also offered Israel immersion programs for non-Israeli Jews, expanded affordable housing for Israeli seniors, and much more. You’ll find it all in JAFI’s recently released 2019 Performance Report. Maintaining strong ties between Israel and diaspora Jewry is a central part of Federation’s mission, and this year our Board allocated nearly $13,000 to JAFI summer camps around the world, more than $4,000 to assist vulnerable Israeli families, and $24,000 to a JAFI program that builds strong relationships between Greater Hartford and Afula-Gilboa, our sister region in Israel.
Image courtesy of JAFI
Making Mental Health a Priority
Good mental health is vital to our success as individuals, as families, and as a community. When you donate to Federation’s Annual Campaign, you help our Jewish community take a giant leap forward toward better mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, approximately 1 in 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. Your campaign contributions fund child, family, and older adult counseling and services at Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford as well as Tara’s Closet at JFS, which provides top-quality, gently used clothing to local people in need. This week, JFS has been marking Mental Illness Awareness Week through an information campaign on its Facebook page. Check it out here.
Dignity GrowsTM in Greater Hartford and Beyond
Greater Hartford’s geographical area may be small, but our impact is nationwide! Dignity Grows began in 2019 right here at your Federation, and it’s now a national initiative chaired by founder Jessica Zachs (shown at left with newly assembled Dignity Packs). Our local chapter continues to provide Dignity Packs filled with a month’s worth of basic hygiene supplies and menstrual products to local residents in need through several distribution partners, and at the request of one partner, we recently began assembling men’s Dignity Packs. One recipient burst into tears when he opened his first Dignity Pack and found razors and shaving cream inside. “Now I can shave, so I might be able to get a job!” he said. Just $10 will fill a Dignity Pack for a person in need; volunteer opportunities are also available. To learn more, contact Jennifer Schwartzman at