Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford Members and Friends Celebrate the Past, Look Forward to a Vibrant Future at 71st Annual Meeting
Several Community Members, Organizations Receive Awards; New Leaders Elected
Nearly 200 members and friends of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford gathered to celebrate past accomplishments and anticipate a vibrant Jewish future at the organization’s 71st Annual Meeting held Thursday evening, June 16, at Congregation Beth Israel.
After a brief welcome by Federation Chair Emeritus Robert K. Yass, Rabbi Michael Pincus of Congregation Beth Israel shared a D’var Torah and words of remembrance and solidarity for those killed and injured in the June 8 terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the June 12 attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Other speakers included Edo Shiloh, one of two Israeli Young Emissaries who are completing a year of service to the Greater Hartford Jewish community; Leigh Newman, Chair of the Jewish Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees; Eric Zachs, Chair of the Federation Board of Directors; Howard Sovronsky, Federation President and CEO; and Henry Mandell – a 13-year-old who attends Kingswood Oxford School and recently became a Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Beth Israel.
“I am growing up in a Jewish community that was planted generations ago by those who had the courage and foresight to make a commitment to grow a colorful and amazing Jewish community,” noted Mandell. “Our synagogues, agencies, and organizations have been created over these many years and for that, I am grateful…. Now it’s my turn to plant the seeds for the next generation.”
Awards and Honorees
A number of community members and organizations received awards for their innovative contributions to Jewish life in Greater Hartford.
The Commission on Jewish Education and Leadership (CJEL) presented its 2016 Jewish Education Awards to Scott Myers and Alex Zaniewski of Congregation Beth Israel for their Celebrating Haiti Build Project with the 7th Grade Journey Onward Class; to Marcus Fink and Heather Fiedler of JTConnect for "NYC: Bialystoker to Broadway;" and to Rabbi Jeremy Bruce of Hebrew High School of New England for "Judaic Medley. CJEL's 2016 Innovative Family Education Program Awards were presented to Rabbi Howard Rosenbaum and the teachers and professional staff of Beth El Temple for "Shabbat Spectacular;" to Cantor Marian Kleinman of Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation – Emek Shalom Religious School for "Shabbat Shule-In for Grade 5;" and to Rabbi Howard Rosenbaum and the Parent Action Group of Beth El Temple for "Mitzvot & Munchies." In addition, five young people received Uniquely Effective Madrichim Awards for their contributions to Jewish education: Zoe Arnold of Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation, Jacob Ginden of Congregation Beth Israel, Nathan Graber-Lipperman and Marissa Ward of The Emanuel Synagogue, and Hannah Kovel of Beth El Temple.
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford presented its 2016 Innovation Awards to JTConnect for JAM: The Jewish and Muslim Teen Dialogue Group; to University of Hartford Hillel for Creative Jewish Experiences; and to Temple Beth Hillel of South Windsor for a variety of innovative programming including the Shema Tour, “We Need You,” “All Who Are Hungry,” and the Haiti School.
Two community members - longtime volunteer Michael Cohen and Jewish professional Ilene Schloss - received the Henry M. Zachs Spirit of Judaism Award for their outstanding embodiment of Jewish values. Cohen has been involved with Jewish Family Services for more than 20 years and has served with many other Jewish organizations including Beth El Temple, the Jewish Historical Society, Children's Reading Partners and the Federation. Schloss is a 25-plus-year employee of the Mandell Jewish Community Center; in addition to cheerfully greeting visitors for many years, she has brought joy to dozens of people with special needs through her work as Coordinator of Special Needs Programming.
"Michael and Ilene have made substantive contributions to our people and to society at large," said Federation Board Chair Eric Zachs. "Their activism and extraordinary acts of kindness have been a catalyst for meaningful change." In addition, Judy Zachs was recognized as the 2016 Lion of Judah Award recipient for her contributions to women’s philanthropy.
New Trustees and Board Members
The program also recognized outgoing volunteer leaders and welcomed new Life Trustees Walter Harrison, Roger Loeb and E. Mark Siegal; new Community Trustee David Gelles; new Board members David Gelles and David Rosenthal; and incoming Officers Ethan Goldman (Treasurer), Anne Martha Pitegoff (Assistant Treasurer and Chair of the Finance and Administrative Committees), David Rosenthal (Vice Chair, Planning and Allocations), Ted Zablotsky (Secretary) and Henry M. Zachs (Assistant Secretary).