July 2020  
 
Dear friends,

In his essay entitled "The Fourth of July, 1858," Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise asserted that "next to the Passover feast, the Fourth of July is the greatest, because it is a memorial of the triumph of liberty." The pre-eminent Reform rabbi of his day, Wise saw the American Revolution as a natural philosophical outgrowth of the biblical Exodus and called Independence Day "the second redemption of mankind from the hands of their oppressors."

Many of those who shaped the early history of our nation drew deep inspiration from the Bible. In the words of Eran Shalev in his book, "American Zion," they viewed it "as a civic humanist text to explore and propagate their republicanism. " Many saw themselves as the new Israelites on an exodus to build a G-d chosen land. We see vestiges of their biblical inspiration in Connecticut, with towns named Bethel, New Canaan, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Goshen.

From the Passover Haggadah, we learn that the promise of redemption is eternal; we are also commanded to see ourselves as personally and continuously coming forth from Egypt - and emerging with freedom of choice and clear values that define our path. If Independence Day is a kind of second redemption, what lessons can we draw from its observance? In these most challenging times, what can we do to safeguard our nation's values and ensure that the promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are indeed a reality for all?

Wishing you a meaningful Independence Day,
 
  
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 $898,000 with 518 gifts! In addition to providing kosher food to more than 130 households in 19 towns, the Fund is providing emergency financial support to local families in need - and it recently published grant guidelines for emergency operating support requests from local Jewish agencies and synagogues. The Fund's Grants Committee will review agency requests over the summer; synagogue grants except for urgent needs will be made after the high holidays. 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.
Participants Needed for Pandemic Journaling Project  
 
A new initiative at UConn enables people around the world to document their own experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, both for themselves and the historical record. The project is open to anyone over age 18. Participation is anonymous and will take only about 15 minutes a week. The Pandemic Journaling Project was launched with seed funding from UConn units including the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; it is co-led by the Center's affiliated faculty member Sarah Willen, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at UConn's Human Rights Institute. To learn more about the initiative, click here or email PandemicJournalingProject@gmail.com
Each Tuesday in July: Voices of Hope Summer Series 2020
 
Voices of Hope is excited to announce our Summer Series for 2020. Each Tuesday in  July, we will be bringing you conversations with authors, filmmakers, and lecturers from around the world. Click here to see the full schedule and register for each of these unique events! Questions? Email info@ctvoicesofhope.org
July 8 - 12 & 15 - 19: Space Still Available for Family Camp at Camp Laurelwood 
 
Camp Laurelwood is offering a "Family Camp" experience this summer, and space is still available for week 2 (Wednesday, July 8 - Sunday, July 12) and week 3 (Wednesday, July 15 - Sunday, July 19). During Family Camp, you''ll have the opportunity to come to camp for 5 days and enjoy our beautiful 140+ acre campus, including our pool and beautiful boating lake! We'll offering meals, classic summer camp activities, and on-campus accommodations. For more information about Family Camp, please click here to read the latest blog post on our website. Register today by calling 203.421.3736. 
July 12: Beth El Temple Hosts Virtual Benefit Concert with Micha Biton & Neshama Carlebach
 
Micha Biton and Neshama Carlebach
On Sunday, July 12 at 1 p.m., Beth El Temple's Israel Engagement Committee is proud to present "Micha Biton Live from Israel" in a virtual benefit concert! He'll be joined by special guest Neshama Carlebach. All proceeds benefit the Kaplan Medical Center's ophthalmology ward in Rehovot, Israel. Located in the center of the rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip, KMC provides medical care to more than 1 million citizens in the southern part of Israel. KMC's ophthalmology ward collaborates closely with The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and The Weitzman Institute of Science in Rohovot, fostering close interaction between clinicians and scientists and bringing the latest science and treatment options to the 22,000+ patients who visit the ward's outpatient clinic each year. There is a suggested donation of $20 per viewer; personalized Zoom instructions will be delivered after the donation is processed. Click here for more information.
Hoffman SummerWood Now Home to a Jessie's Community Garden 
 
 
Hoffman SummerWood is home not only to a warm and friendly senior community, but also to plentiful flower gardens, walking paths, natural beauty, and now a Jessie's Community Garden chock full of vegetable plants! Jessie's Community Gardens, located throughout Connecticut and in California, honor the loving memory of Jessica Lynn Kostin. The Kostin family partners with the Jewish Community Relations Council, part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, to implement the gardens. SummerWood residents tend excitedly to the growing produce and look forward to donating the vegetables to local organizations to help those in need. Interested in learning more about Hoffman SummerWood? Click here to watch our virtual tour video, or contact us at 860.523.3808 or scannavo@hoffmansummerwood.org.
July 14 & Certain Fridays in July: Special Virtual Services with BSBI 
 
In these times of sickness, we respond with words of comfort, compassion, and healing. Join Beth Sholom B'nai Israel on Tuesday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m. as we sing, pray, and send our love to all those in our community who are ill and all those who are in need of G-d's healing. Bring the names of those who are included in your prayers, and let us all strengthen each other. Also join us for these special monthly Friday services: first Friday birthday celebrations, third Friday anniversary celebrations, and fourth Friday Shehecheyanu Shabbat to celebrate good news and events. To join us for any of these services or get more information, contact the BSBI office at admin@myshul.org or programming@myshul.org.
July 15 & 27: BTS Presents " Summer Cocktails: A Rabbi and a Mixologist Walk into a (Virtual) Bar"
   
At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15 and Monday, July 27, join B'nai Tikvoh-Sholom Rabbi Debra Cantor and mixologist Barbara Locurto as we learn to mix a cocktail together! We'll then mix and mingle for some summer socializing hosted by the rabbi. L'chaim! For more information and to get the Zoom login, click here. Questions? Call BTS at 860.243.3576 or email office@btsonline.org.
July 17: Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation Holds Zoom Shabbat Services
   

Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation will hold Zoom Shabbat Services on Friday, July 17 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to join our family - we are a small and welcoming Reform congregation based in Southington! For more information and to get the Zoom link, email Rabbi Wasserman at rabbi@gsjc.org .
July 19: Congregation Beth Israel Presents a Virtual Broadway Shabbat
 
Congregation Beth Israel will pay tribute to show business with a virtual Broadway Shabbat service on Sunday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m. Cantor Stephanie Kupfer and Musical Director Natasha Ulyanovsky will lead the Shabbat evening tefilot to the hit tunes of Broadway. Everyone is welcome to tune in! For more information or to find details on how to watch the service via Zoom, click here.
Schechter Plans Safe Reopening

Worried about sending kids back to school in the fall? Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford has you covered! Schechter is planning for a safe reopening in the fall that offers five full days of school a week for all students from early childhood through 8th grade. Our small class sizes and large rooms allow for safe physical distancing in every class. And if we face a school closure, Schechter has you covered with a full day of school through distance learning. Our focus on highly differentiated instruction, growing student independence, and our emphasis on social-emotional development while in school all translate beautifully into our Distance Learning Program. Limited space is available, so act now! To learn more, contact us at 860.561.0700 or admissions@ssds-hartford.org
July 22: Jewish Historical Society Holds Hartford's Historic Cemeteries Program

On Wednesday, July 22 at 7 p.m., join the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford for a free, virtual program about Hartford's historic Jewish cemeteries. Leonard Holtz of the Hebrew Funeral Association and Lisa Vaeth of Federation's Association of Jewish Cemeteries will talk about how these historic cemeteries were first organized, where they are located, and the challenges of maintaining them. To get the Zoom link, click here to register or email lnewman@jewishhartford.org.
July 29: Tisha b'Av Services at The Emanuel Synagogue 
 
The Emanuel Synagogue will observe Tisha b'Av virtually via Zoom
on Wednesday, July 29, and you are invited to participate. We will hold Mincha and Maariv at 8 p.m., followed by Eicha. On Thursday, July 30, Shacharit is at 7 a.m. and Mincha is at 1:30 p.m. For more information or to get the Zoom link, please click here.  
August 2: BSBI Presents Oldies with The Elderly Brothers, Live & Online!
   
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.
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 in a West Hartford synagogue. 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.