Jewish Leadership Academy Kicks Off with Evening of Learning

WEST HARTFORD, CONN. (December 11, 2017) – Nearly 200 people gathered for a community program on civil discourse co-sponsored by the Jewish Leadership Academy and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford.  Held at the University of Hartford on December 6, 2017, this interactive workshop with nationally renowned teacher Rabbi Shira Stutman focused on civil discourse at home, in the office, and out in the community.

The focus of the evening was not on changing people’s minds, but on hearing them. In a time of increasing polarization, learning how to listen and how to speak respectfully are critical skills to deal with the multitude of controversial issues that confront us on a daily basis.  In her presentation, Rabbi Stutman used rabbinical texts as the starting point for both interactive table discussions and follow-up exercises on listening and dialogue. 

This program was the official kickoff of the Jewish Leadership Academy (JLA), a new initiative designed to train leaders and build a more vibrant, connected and vital Jewish community in Greater Hartford. It was also the first program in a Year of Civil Discourse (YCD) initiative of the Jewish Community Relations Council, part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. The goal of the series is to establish an environment in which difficult issues can be discussed and addressed with respect and inclusivity.

A recording of the event can be found on the JLA website at To learn more about the Jewish Leadership Academy, contact Heather Fiedler, Director, at 860.727.6121 or For more information on the Year of Civil Discourse, contact Laura Zimmerman, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council, at 860.727.6167 or

Photo caption: Gary Starr and Laurie Mandell study a Jewish text in preparation for conversational exercises at the Jewish Leadership Academy’s community kickoff on December 6.


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