WEST HARTFORD, CONN. (July 23, 2021) – The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Leadership Academy, both part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, will conclude a summer series of community conversations on racism and its impact on Tuesday, August 3 with a panel discussion entitled “The Warmth of Connecticut Suns.”
The discussion – inspired by “The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson’s bestselling history of the Great Migration of Black Americans from the American South to the cities of the North and West – will feature local scholars who study the Great Migration and community members whose families participated. Panelists will include Stacey Close, Ph.D., Professor of African American History at Eastern Connecticut State University; attorney and author Constance Belton Green, J.D., Ed.D., the first Black woman to graduate from UConn School of Law; and Benjamin Foster Jr., Ed.D., professor of African American Studies and Religion at Central Connecticut State University. The discussion will be moderated by David I. Brandwein, past Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council and current member of Federation’s Board of Directors.
Currently, nearly 70 Greater Hartford community members are reading “The Warmth of Other Suns” in conjunction with the Community Conversations series – roughly half through a synagogue or private book group and half through a Federation-run book group. A handful are reading the book on their own, using Federation’s reading and reflection guide. The entire Community Conversations series is made possible by generous financial support from Liberty Bank.
“The response has been wonderful, with great opportunity for important impact,” said Bruce Stanger, the chair of JCRC’s Social Justice Task Force, which conceived the project. “We averaged approximately 100 people at each of our two Zoom programs. Together we will make a difference. We will continue to provide a place for our community to make the world a better place.”
"Knowing what I know now after reading “The Warmth of Other Suns” and attending Community Conversation programs, I can finally recognize the pain behind the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Jody Angell, Federation’s Director of Community Impact and Leadership. “These are not merely news stories to me anymore; thanks to Federation’s commitment to social justice and anti-racism, I have changed my consciousness."
Community Conversations kicked off in June with "Black-Jewish Relations: Past, Present & Future," featuring noted Jewish scholar Susannah Heschel, Ph.D., of Dartmouth College, and Deacon Art Miller, Director Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Hartford's Office for Black Catholic Ministries. The second program, held in July, focused on racial segregation in Connecticut's education and housing, with panelists Tyron V. Harris of the East Hartford Board of Education, Alex Putterman of the Hartford Courant, and Omarys C. Vasquez of the National Organization of Minority Architects. The June and July programs were moderated by Elysa Graber-Lipperman, incoming Chair of the Jewish Leadership Academy Advisory Board and a member of the Community Conversations program committee.
You do not need to have read “The Warmth of Other Suns” to attend the August 3 panel discussion. The program is free; registration is required by Sunday, August 1 at bit.ly/CommunityConvos83. A fall/winter series is also planned; to receive updates on future Community Conversations, email Jody Angell at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the series, email Alana Butler at email@example.com.
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).