June 2020
Family Philanthropy During These Trying Times
When the world seems chaotic, Sean White finds solace by looking at a photo of his grandmother making matzah balls. This is Sean’s most treasured memory of Miriam Toubman, z ”l , who was beloved for running a kitchen in constant motion, always trying to weave the many threads of her family together.  

Miriam,Toubman, z"l, pictured here circa
1990s making her famous matzah balls.

More than 30 years ago, the Toubmans began a tradition of family philanthropy to honor their father and grandfather, William, who passed away at age 52. The family tradition continued when they honored Miriam in 2010 by creating the Miriam Toubman Family Fund, a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) at the Foundation, after her passing in 2009. Recently, they renamed the fund to include William, and broadened its charitable goals to also reflect his passions and allow for combined decisions in grant-making (including organizations both William and Miriam might support).   
Every year, the six siblings and extended family research topical local, national and international issues, exchange data-filled emails, talk in person and hold group calls to discuss how they will honor their parents with a charitable donation from the family fund. Those discussions also allow the siblings to share stories, and the values, of their parents with their younger children or grandchildren who did not know these inspiring ancestors.
A 49-year-old computer science professional, Sean was only 18 when his aunt and uncles, his parents and the extended family started including him in the family’s charitable discussions. “They never treated us as kids with a pat on the head,” says Sean. “They let me in on the conversations, they let me know that I was a partner in these decisions.” That’s why Sean is engaging his two pre-teen children in the conversations about honoring their great-grandparents’ values.
“We’re talking about the pandemic, and food insecurity and housing issues in education,” Sean explains. “How can this year’s donation tie together with the holistic well-being of students, so we can help students, both in high schools and colleges, better understand the world, and to learn and think as citizens?” 
The family just decided on a Zoom call to give to Foodshare in Connecticut, recognizing that, without adequate food for people during this crisis, not much learning will happen.  
Family members continue to contribute regularly to their DAF to grow it, so future generations can continue William and Miriam’s legacy. From this DAF, the family recently created the Miriam Toubman Scholarship Fund to honor Miriam’s passion for education.
Miriam never attended college due to a lack of family resources, but she was well read and proud of being Jewish, according to one of her sons, Sheldon Toubman. The scholarship is intended to support a promising Jewish female student with financial need.
William and Miriam’s legacy is a blessing that is still keeping everyone together even if they all can’t get together in person right now to share those memories – and Miriam’s matzah balls.
Teens Find New Ways to Connect to Judaism

If there is a silver lining in a global health crisis, it is teens virtually deepening their connection with Judaism at Jewish Teen Learning Connection (JTConnect). “We’re meeting teens where they are every week with different activities,” says Cara Levine, Associate Program Director at JTConnect. Creative programming via Zoom give teens “a sense of normalcy and a chance to connect Jewishly.”

When JTConnect was forced to suspend in-person programming, they immediately launched virtual hangouts for teens to stay connected with their friends at JTConnect. Five to six days a week, Jewish teens have a jam-packed schedule of choices to debate contemporary Jewish ethical dilemmas, crush the COVID-19 couch potato slump with fitness workouts, learn conversational Hebrew, celebrate Havdalah, and meet with exceptional global thinkers such as Israeli comedian Joel Chasnoff, "Stand with Us" Educator Hussein Aboubakr, and AIDS Survivor Scott Fried.

Another example Cara shares was instigated by teens and families feeling stressed about the springtime college admissions process. So, JTConnect turned anxiety into an opportunity to host a live virtual discussion with a college admissions specialist, a college student who is serving on the Hillel International Student Board, and 120 participants. Dozens of square screens lit up on this Zoom call with curious teens exploring different ways to get a pulse for campus culture, Jewish life and college admissions when they can’t visit the schools in-person. 

Cara also had a few teens create a survey asking their peers what programs they wanted, which catapulted teens into creating and leading new online programs and games.

“We had two teens create a guided conversation using Jewish texts to challenge their peers to stay connected and do good,” says Executive Director Eric Maurer. “Kids are participating in a much deeper level than before…they are rising to the occasion and giving back.” He notes that JTConnect’s TLPI Philanthropy Group is distributing $3,700 for people impacted by COVID-19.

“This kind of work with our teens would not be possible right now if it weren’t for the Springboard Grant we received from the Foundation to hire Cara,” says Eric. “We are so thankful for the support of the Foundation and the Jewish Federation.”
Scholarships Fund Educational Aspirations
JCF’s College Scholarship Committee awarded $89,700 in scholarships to 32 promising students who represent 14 towns in Greater Hartford. Scholarships are given to young people who have strong potential for success, but limited financial resources. The Foundation received a record number of applications this year. If you want to fund the educational dreams of future leaders, please contact Michael Elfenbaum at melfenbaum@jcfhartford.org .
Make a Gift with Lasting Impact
The Lillian Fund, our giving circle for women helping women and children in need, and JewGood Hartford, for young professionals, are in the process of reviewing so many quality grant applications from a diverse group of non-profit organizations in Greater Hartford and Israel. If you are interested in casting your vote, it’s not too late! Consider making a gift or honor someone special in your life. For more information, contact Elana MacGilpin at emacgilpin@jcfhartford.org , or visit www.jewgoodhartford.org or visit our website .
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue
The Foundation is co-sponsoring a free virtual "fireside chat", June 10 at 7pm, on addressing racial inequality with State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, Steve Ginsburg of ADL Connecticut, and David Waren at the Jewish Federation. Click here to register.
Shawn Wooden,
State Treasurer
JCF Publishes Jewish News Column
Jacob Schreiber writes about the Mandell JCC in his new column, "The J Factor". Published monthly by West Hartford News , the column highlights Jewish community issues, people and impact. Click here to read The J Factor. If you have feedback, please email jschreiber@jcfhartford.org.
Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund
Thank you for your continued support of the Jewish Hartford Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund (RRR Fund), established by the Foundation and Jewish Federation to help those being impacted by COVID-19. We are currently working with local Jewish agencies, schools, and synagogues to assess their needs and plan for emergency operating support. If you or someone you know needs help due to COVID-19, please click here to apply for assistance. If you wish to donate, click here .
Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford
Zachs Campus
333 Bloomfield Avenue, Suite D
West Hartford, CT 06117