May is here, and it sometimes feels as if we are hurtling toward endings: the end of the school year, the end of the fiscal year and the end of another Annual Campaign. On a personal note, I'm approaching the end of my tenure at Federation. You may recall that I announced my retirement last August; it will take effect on June 30, at the end of Federation's current fiscal year. 

But this is also a time of exciting new beginnings: graduations, commencements and new professional leadership for our Federation. In fact, just yesterday our organization announced that David Waren will succeed me as president and CEO. David is a West Hartford native who brings a wealth of experience from a 20+ career with ADL.

I hope you'll save the date for Federation's Annual Meeting on June 13, when you'll have the opportunity to meet David and say "l'hitraot" to me. Invitations are coming soon and all are welcome.  

President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Jewish Community Foundation Seeks Marketing Director

The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford seeks a Marketing Director. Reporting to the President and CEO and working closely with staff across the Foundation, the Marketing Director will develop and implement the strategies and objectives of the Foundation through marketing, communications and community engagement programs across traditional and new media. Click here for the full position description and contact information. The Jewish Community Foundation is located in the Community Services Building on the Zachs Campus at 333 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford.
Now through June 7: Count the Omer with Young Israel of West Hartford

The omer (literally, "sheaf") is the 49-day period between the second night of Passover and the festival of Shavuot. The barley harvest was traditionally gathered during this time, and observant Jews still mark this period by counting the omer (sefirat haomer in Hebrew) every evening. It's not too late to count the omer with Young Israel of West Hartford - and we've made it easy with a daily Whatsapp reminder! Everyone who joins the LSC Whatsapp group will be entered into a raffle to win one of two $49 Amazon gift cards. We'll also celebrate our success with a gala breakfast after Shavuot. Click here for details. Young Israel of West Hartford's Laufer Sefira Challenge is sponsored by Audrey and Leon Laufer. The synagogue is located at 2240 Albany Avenue, West Hartford.
May 8: Community Yom HaZikaron/Yom Ha'atzmaut Observance

Tekes Maavar is a moving ritual of transition that marks the end of Yom HaZikaron (Israel's Memorial Day) and the beginning of Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day). This year is our community's second annual Tekes Maavar. Get in on the ground floor of this wonderful new tradition by joining us on Wednesday, May 8 at the Mandell JCC on the Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford! The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m.; it will be followed by a mesiba (party) at 7:30 p.m. for Israel's 71st birthday. There will be a torch lighting, Israeli food, music and fun for the whole family. This event is free and open to everyone; it is co-sponsored by Young Israel of West Hartford, Mandell JCC and Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford in partnership with Hebrew High School of New England, Bess & Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy, New England Jewish Academy, Solomon Schechter Day School and JTConnect. Click here for details, or contact Tali Bass at For a full listing of 2019 Israel Festival events, click here.
May 10: Swing into Shabbat and Celebrate Israel's 71st Birthday with PJ Library

Young children and their families are invited to celebrate Shabbat and Israel's 71st birthday with PJ Library on Friday, May 10 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Jonathan's Dream Playground on the Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. We'll enjoy music, challah and friends. If you like to shoot hoops, run and jump, we hope you'll participate in the "Team 71" sports challenges too! This program is free and open to the community, so please bring a friend. It is weather permitting; check the PJ Library Greater Hartford Facebook page for updates.
41st Annual Holocaust Commemoration at the Connecticut State Capitol

Holocaust survivors light memorial candles. From left: Gisela Adamski, Leon Chameides, Irene Frisch, Ruth Lazowski, Rabbi Philip Lazowski and Mina Rosenberg.
This past Friday, Holocaust survivors, legislators, advocates and friends gathered at the State Capitol for the 41st annual State of Connecticut Holocaust Commemoration.  Keynote speaker Gisela Adamski shared her Holocaust story and received a proclamation from Senator Blumenthal; four generations of her family attended the ceremony! Holocaust survivors also lit memorial candles and were inspired by violin renditions of Hatikvah and the theme from Schindler's List performed by Alexander Sovronsky, son of Federation President and CEO Howard Sovronsky. The commemoration was sponsored by Voices of Hope, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and JFACT and chaired by Alan Lazowski.
May 11: Celebrate Shabbat with JCL

Jewish Association for Community Living invites you to celebrate Shabbat with JCL residents on Saturday, May 11 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. Nancy Rosen will lead us in song, movement, and sign language, then we'll go to the main sanctuary for the Torah procession. Professional storyteller Sara deBeer will also share a relevant story Afterward we'll enjoy a Kiddush lunch. Everyone is welcome! For 36+ years, JCL has helped people with developmental disabilities participate in community life as independently and safely as possible. Learn more at .
May 11: Josh Nelson Live in Concert at Congregation Beth Israel

Josh Nelson
Congregation Beth Israel is thrilled to welcome multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Josh Nelson live in concert on Saturday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the synagogue, located at 701 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford.  Time magazine has hailed Nelson as "a star of the new Jewish music," and his work is part of the repertoire of Jewish congregations, camps and communities all over the world. Tickets are $25/person in advance; $36 at the door; and $18 for ages 25 and under. Click here for details and tickets.
Summer at the J: Make it the Best Summer Ever!

No one does summer like the Mandell JCC! We combine the best of all your favorite summer activities in one place to give you an unparalleled experience. From our popular sports specialty camps and our stunning day camp nestled within 75 acres of towering pines along the Farmington River to our camp for the li'l ones... to our theater, dance and art camp and our summer oasis, The Swim & Tennis Club... summer's in session at the Mandell JCC. We're located on the Zachs Campus at 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Learn more at
Check Out Camp Laurelwood's Summer Specialty Camps

How could we make a Camp Laurelwood summer even better? Check out our week-long intensive specialty camp offerings! You can use specialty camps as standalone day camps or add them to an overnight camping experience. We offer professional instruction and high-energy fun. Campers will master new skills, make new friends and gain a stronger sense of community with an emphasis on teamwork, cooperation and sportsmanship. Topics include robotics, basketball, the circus and acrobatic gymnastics. Get all the details here. Camp Laurelwood is located at 463 Summer Hill Road in Madison.
Tuesdays Beginning May 14: Chabad Presents "With All My Heart: The Jewish Art of Prayer & Spiritual Experience"

Whether you're seeking relief from stress, hoping for connection to a raw and vulnerable place deep within you, or just yearning to start each day from a positive, humble and grateful frame of mind, this new, six-session course is for you. Developed by the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute of Chabad, it explores profound Jewish techniques that give wings to our emotions and words to our yearnings. It will meet on six consecutive Tuesdays beginning May 14, and it is offered in two locations: at Chabad House of Greater Hartford from 7:30 to 9 p.m. and at Chabad Jewish Center in Glastonbury from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Click here for details. Chabad also invites you to celebrate Friendship Circle on Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. at Marriott Hartford Downtown with our special guests, the Jewish a cappella group SIX13. Learn more here.
May 14: A Night at the Movies: Gentleman's Agreement at The Emanuel Synagogue

Click the image above to watch a clip from Gentleman's Agreement.
Join The Emanuel Synagogue's Adult Education Committee for a movie night and discussion with Rabbi David Small on Tuesday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m., at the synagogue, located at 160 Mohegan Drive in West Hartford. Come for popcorn and a viewing of the Oscar-winning film Gentleman's Agreement, and stay for a discussion afterward on anti-semitism in 1947 America and today. Free and open to the community. For planning purposes, kindly RSVP to Caryl Blum at
JFACT Speaks Up for Jewish Communal Security

Click the image to view the NBC Connecticut story.
Click the image to view NBC Connecticut's coverage.
On Friday, February 3, JFACT Executive Director Michael Bloom and JFACT President Sydney Perry stood with Senator Richard Blumenthal and leaders from the Muslim community to ask the federal government for increased security funding for places of worship. JFACT advocates at Connecticut's State Capitol and beyond for the seven Jewish Federations, four Jewish community centers, eight Jewish Family Services and two Jewish nursing homes in Connecticut.
May 16: Bus Trip to the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts

You're invited on a bus trip to the Yiddish Book Center in scenic Amherst, Massachusetts on Thursday, May 16. The Yiddish Book Center is working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. It has preserved the majority of Yiddish books in existence and digitized 12,000 of them! There is plenty to see at the Center, which also houses the world's first Yiddish museum. We'll explore modern Yiddish literature, view early 20th-century Jewish postcards and experience the landscapes of Poland and western Ukraine through modern photography. Our bus leaves at 10:30 a.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m.; pickup and drop-off are at the Community Services Building on the Zachs Campus, 333 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Please arrive by 10:15 a.m. The cost is $45 per person for Mandell JCC or Jewish Historical Society members and $50 for nonmembers; it includes lunch. Registration closes on Friday, May 10; click here to RSVP today. The trip is presented by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford under the auspices of the Jewish Hartford European Roots project.
Local Teens Elected to Regional Board at BBYO Spring Convention

The new board of BBYO's Connecticut Valley Region
In early April, 200 Jewish teens from across BBYO's Connecticut Valley Region attended the Spring Convention to celebrate graduating seniors and elect the 60th Regional Board. Local youth joining the board include Eitan Ehrlich of Nadav AZA (boys) and Leah Jackson of Achva BBG (girls), who will serve as Regional Vice Presidents of Communication, and Abby Azia of Achva BBG, who will serve as Vice President of Membership. Teens also got to hear from  Ori Sasson, an Israeli Olympic champion, about the importance of representing his country, and they chose from a Shabbat discussion service about prayer or a music service with songleader Stephen Brickman. They explored tikkun olam (repairing the world), art, and leadership through electives and wrapped up the weekend by creating a communal travelers' prayer. To learn more about BBYO in our area, email .
May 18: Screening and Discussion of Denial at Gishrei Shalom in Southington

Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation welcomes you to participate in a screening and discussion of the film  Denial as part of our Adult Education program on Saturday, May 18, from noon to 2 p.m. We'll meet at our home in the First Congregational Church, 37 Main Street, Southington, and the post-film discussion will be led by our rabbi, Alana Wasserman. Denial chronicles Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, Ph.D.'s, real life court battle against a Holocaust denier who accuses her of libel. The program is free and open to everyone. Gishrei Shalom is a Reform congregation that offers a community atmosphere where everyone feels like family. To learn more, email or call 860.286.9113.
May 19: "BLT" with Chabad East of the River

"Bagels, Lox and Tefillin" with Chabad
Bagels, Lox, and Tefillin... come by for a meaningful mitzvah, delicious breakfast and friendly interaction on Sunday morning, May 19 at the Harold Rothstein Chabad Jewish Center, 25 Harris Street, Glastonbury. You'll be in by 9 and out by 10 - really! BLT is free and open to all; our May BLT is dedicated by Robin and Marty Levine. In other news, Chabad rabbis and volunteers delivered an estimated 5,000 matzah kits to homes and businesses throughout Connecticut this year before Passover! "Our goal is to share the happiness with everyone," said Rabbi Yosef Wolvovsky, director of Chabad Jewish Center. To learn more about Chabad East of the River, call 860.659.2422 or email
May 19: "Midrash and Monoprints" Jewish Art Workshop

The ancient rabbis declared that even the spaces between the letters of the Torah were open to interpretation. They called their creative digging for meaning midrash. Led by Rabbi Debra Cantor and Melinda Wright, we'll visualize this process by creating a series of unique art prints on Sunday, May 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Mandell JCC on the Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. No artistic experience is necessary, and all materials will be provided. This workshop is presented by the Neshama Center for Lifelong Learning, B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom, and the Mandell JCC. It's free for Neshama Patrons and $10 for the general public. Kindly RSVP to 860.243.3576 or so that we can supply enough materials.
May 19: A 13 City, 5 Country, 7+ Week "Roots Quest" with Jewish Genealogical Society

Doris Nabel with some of her many family photos
How much can you learn about your family history by spending 31 days in Europe and 23 days in Israel? A lot, if you plan ahead. At the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut on Sunday, May 19 at 1:30 p.m. at Temple Sinai, 41 West Hartford Road, Newington, JGSCT President Doris Loeb Nabel will explain how she made the most of her time abroad through online searches and robust preplanned research itineraries. She'll also share the thrill of meeting more than 15 "new" cousins and their families for the first time! Learn more here.
May 20: Living with Intention: "Living Your Best Life" with Jessica Abo

Click the image to watch Jessica Abo's TEDx talk, "Bee the Change."
All women are invited to attend Living with Intention 2019 with author and journalist Jessica Abo on Monday, May 20 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford. This annual Federation program celebrates the power of Jewish women and inspires us to live our most meaningful and fulfilling lives. Jessica Abo will inspire us to get out of our rut, live life unfiltered and create our best lives. A kosher community dinner begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dessert and coffee at 7 and the program at 7:30. Click here for details and registration.
May 24: Former White House Butler Speaks at Hoffman SummerWood

Alan DeValerio with some of his White House memorabilia
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to attend a White House function, or what the president's family quarters look like? Former White House butler Alan DeValerio will tell you all about it during a free program on Friday, May 24 at 1 p.m. at Hoffman SummerWood, 160 Simsbury Road, West Hartford. DeValerio will share the inside scoop on what it takes to prepare for a White House event and how the process has evolved over time. He'll also share stories from his predecessors dating back to the FDR administration - and he'll show us White House menus, programs, and personal photos that he has collected over the years. Kindly RSVP to Anabela Ferreira at 860.920.1863 or
May 29: JFS Tara's Closet Clothing Donation Drop-Off Event

Celebrating the new Tara's Closet facility. From left: Edens regional property manager Karen Fillian, Tara's Closet founder Barbara Roth, Jewish Family Services CEO Anne Danaher, and JFS President Pia Rosenberg Toro.
Jewish Family Services Tara's Closet will hold its spring/summer collection drop-off event on Wednesday, May 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. at our Pop-Up Shop in Bishop's Corner, 345 North Main Street, West Hartford. Please donate your new and like-new spring and summer clothing for men, women and children in all sizes. Hangers are preferred! We are unable to accept men's suits, undergarments, swimsuits or pajamas. The Pop-Up Shop will be open to distribute free clothes to those in need on Sunday, June 2 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from Monday to Wednesday, June 3 through 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Shopping appointments are encouraged; please call 860.236.1927 to book your appointment.
May 30: Sikh, Former Skinhead Share Inspiring Story of Friendship at ADL Greater Hartford Event

From left:  Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis
Our community will have the unique opportunity to hear the amazing story of Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis - a Sikh and a former skinhead who have come together to fight hate - at ADL Greater Hartford's Fight Hate for Good cocktail reception and dinner on Thursday, May 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Marriott Hartford Downtown, 200 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford. The program will also honor former State Representative William Dyson for his unwavering commitment to social justice. Click here for details and registration.
June 3: Celebrate Children's Literacy with Children's Reading Partners

Panelists from left: Children's Reading Partners Founder and Former Chair Naomi Cohen (moderator), Principal Victor Cristofaro of Burns Latino Studies Academy, Principal Gerardo Heredia of S.A.N.D. School, and  SRBI Interventionist/Coach Pam Schachter of O'Brien STEM Academy.
Children's Reading Partners will hold its end-of-year celebration on Monday, June 3 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Mandell JCC Innovation Center on the Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. In addition to a kosher dessert reception honoring the program's volunteers, a panel of education experts from participating schools will discuss the tangible impact of children's literacy volunteering. The public is welcome to attend; RSVP by Thursday, May 30 to Ronni Breiter at or 860.727.6129. Click here for details. Children's Reading Partners is an initiative of the Jewish Community Relations Council, part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.
June 5: Beth El Temple Celebrates 65 Years with Keynote Speaker Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D.
Beth El Temple welcomes acclaimed historian Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D., known for her work to fight Holocaust denial, as its 65th anniversary celebration keynote speaker on Wednesday, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. The 2016 biopic Denial was based on her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. She has authored eight books - most recently Antisemitism Here and Now, written just before the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting. The evening will also include the presentation of the Stanley M. Kessler award, honoring the life of Abby Weiner z"l. Click here for details. Beth El Temple is located at 2626 Albany Avenue, West Hartford.
June 12: BSBI Brotherhood Golf Tournament to Benefit Connecticut Children's

The Beth Sholom B'nai Israel Brotherhood will host the 23rd annual Abitz-Angel Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children's Medical Center on Wednesday, June 12 at Blackledge Country Club, 180 West Street, Hebron. The full day of fun starts with breakfast and registration at 8:30 a.m.; the round begins with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. Lunch will be served on the course; complimentary beer, water, and soda will be available all day. As your day on the course wraps up, you'll enjoy a catered dinner, contest awards and raffle prizes, some valued at more than $1,000! Click here for details and registration. BSBI is located at 400 Middle Turnpike East, Manchester.