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Courtney Addresses the Community 

Monday evening, August 17, the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT held its annual Summer Board Meeting at Temple Emanu-El in Waterford. Joe Courtney, eastern CT’s 2nd District Congressman addressed board members and invited guests on a variety of topics. The topic that drew the most discussion was the nuclear deal between the United States and Iran. Courtney explained he is supporting the deal and why. With 60-plus people in attendance, there was a lively discussion of the pros and cons before the meeting adjourned for the evening. Prior to hearing Courtney, the group enjoyed a catered buffet meal from Ivy’s Simply Homemade, which turned out to be a big hit. (Photo by Joel Etra)

Mystic Village Cinema to feature "The Outrageous Sophie Tucker" and "Phoenix" in limited run



Beth Jacob Synagogue to Host Community Selichot Evening on September 5

The entire Jewish Community is invited to attend a community Selichot program on September 5, 2015, hosted by Beth Jacob Synagogue. The evening will begin with a dessert social at 8 o'clock. Beth Jacob Synagogue's High Holiday guest cantor, Cantor Deborah Zeitlen will present "Insights into Kol Nidre," including contributions from the area clergy. Selihot services will follow the dessert social and program. Cantor Deborah Zeitlen and Cantorial Soloist Sherry Barnes of Temple Emanu-El will be leading services along with Rabbi Julius Rabinowitz (Beth Jacob Synagogue), Rabbi Rachel Safram (Congregation Beth El), Rabbi Ken Alter (Congregation Ahavath Achim), Rabbi Jeremy Schwatz (Temple Bnai Israel), Rabbi Scott Saulson (Temple Emanu-El ) and members of Klezmenschen led by Roz Etra (Beth Jacob Synagogue), evening event coordinator.

For further information, please call Beth Jacob Synagogue at 860 886-2459.

For more information regarding all of the local synagogues High Holiday schedules, click here. This page will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

Cantor Deborah Zeitlen guest cantor at Beth Jacob for High Holidays

Beth Jacob Synagogue is pleased to have engaged Cantor Deborah Zeitlen as its guest cantor for the High Holiday season. Erev Rosh Hashana is the evening of Sunday, September 13.

Cantor Deborah Zeitlen received her Masters in Sacred Music and Cantorial investiture/ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan. She has held both part-and full-time pulpits in Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform congregations and has extensive teaching experience with Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, as well as classroom experience in religious schools, and adult education.

Before studying in Jerusalem for her first year of cantorial school, Deborah was in the business world for 12 years as a Human Resources Manager; she also sang opera professionally for 10 years.

Deborah’s desire to be involved in a community of mutual caring, support and spirituality brought her to cantorial life, and she is looking forward to being part of Beth Jacob Synagogue for the High Holidays.

Beth Jacob is located at 400 New London Tpk. in Norwich.

Read Hebrew America: Engage Your Community with Free Hebrew Classes

Only 40% of American Jews attend High Holiday services. Of the 60% who do not, how many would reconsider if they could follow the services in Hebrew? 

NJOP's Hebrew Reading Crash Course (formerly the National Jewish Outreach program), which has been offered to almost 250,000 adults throughout North America, makes learning to read Hebrew simple. In just 5 one-and-a-half-hour lessons that use NJOP's proven methodology and clever mnemonics, students can master the Aleph Bet and learn to read Hebrew. Best of all, NJOP will provide all of the materials free of charge!

Register here for Read Hebrew America and Canada (RHA/C), NJOP's 18th Annual Fall Hebrew literacy campaign, which takes place from October 7 to November 30, 2015. Invite your members and those in your community to connect to their Jewish heritage in a meaningful and enjoyable way by learning to read Hebrew now. Click here for more information about RHA/C. 

In order for your synagogue/Jewish organization to be included on the NJOP RHA/C Location Poster, which lists partner locations offering RHA/C this fall, please register by Monday, August 17.

NJOP Programming Team

Rabbi Elly Krimsky; Kendra Meinhard; Naomi Robin; Lea Schulman; Florence Weiner


(800) 44-HEBRE(W) / (800) 444-3273 

2015-16 Young Emissaries Amit and Sagi Due to Arrive in Eastern CT

By Marcia Reinhard, Director, Israel & Youth Programming

It is hard to believe but our Jewish Federation and all of Eastern CT are about to welcome our 15th pair of Young Emissaries. We have been hosting Israeli Young Emissaries since 2001. The Emissary program is part of the Afula-Gilboa Partnership 2Gether Program of the Jewish Agency. The Afula-Gilboa partnership has been in existence since 1994. For many of the communities comprising the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) this was a natural partnership as they had been involved in the Afula-Gilboa region through Project Renewal. SNEC is composed of 12 Jewish Federations from the area of Connecticut (9) and Massachusetts (3).

This year our new emissaries are Amit Horovitz and Sagi Zazon. Amit lives in Ram-On, interestingly, the same Moshav as Ron Peleg who just left us. Sagi lives in Tsfat. Below are their biographies for you to read and enjoy getting to know them just a little bit before they arrive here in Eastern CT on August 27.

Amit Horovitz

My name is Amit Horovitz, and I live in a beautiful small place called Ram On, in the Jezreel Valley not far from Nazareth. I am the oldest daughter in a family of four kids. My family includes my father, Ziv, my mother, Anat, my younger siblings, Tomer, Noa, and Roy and my dog, Tamuz. I studied in Nir Ha’emek high school and I majored in chemistry, physics, math and agriculture. My hobbies include running, singing and reading.

I moved with my family to San Diego, CA and lived there for my sophomore and junior years of high school. We returned just last summer in time for my senior year and to apply for this year of service. This past year, I volunteered in a boarding school for kids from troubled families, where I helped them with their studies in the learning center and I was involved in different social events in my community. I missed being involved in a youth movement for the two years I was living in San Diego, CA, but was able to volunteer there when I returned home to Israel.

I joined the Shlichim program because I love Israel and want to share with you my own view of Israel. For the two years I lived in California and far from my home in Israel, I realized how much I love and feel connected to it. I am very excited for the upcoming year. I love working with young children and I am looking forward to meeting all of you and becoming a part of your community.

Sagi Zazon

Hello Eastern Connecticut! I am Sagi Zazon and I am the new Young Emissary along with Amit Horovitz this year. I grew up and am living in Tsfat, which is the capital of the Galilee and the highest city in the country. It is an amazing place with a rich history, amazing weather and beautiful views.

My father, David, is a manager at a hotel Qeriat Shemona, and my mother, Adina, although not working right now, is awesome pastry chef by trade. I have two brothers whose names are Matan and Itay. Matan is 25 years old and an engineer in the Israeli Air Force, and Itay completed his military service, went to school for Sports Communication and is now working at Hertz. Itay is 23 years old.

Now that you know a little bit about my family, I will elaborate about myself. I majored in theater and physics in high school and enjoyed it a lot over the years. Most of my interests and hobbies involve sports such as basketball tennis, football and soccer. Besides sports, I enjoy a lot of different video games, Maccabi Tel Aviv (basketball), music, movies, roller coasters and much more.

Over the years I took part in a lot of youth movements. As a teenager, my first youth movement was Psagot in Tsfat and I was a counselor for a year to 6th graders and one and a half years to 8th graders. I was also a part of the national, country and city school students and youth counsel but my focus was in my city because that was the place I wanted to contribute the most. I was the Vice Chairman for a year and a half and the Chairman for a year through my years at the counsel. I led a lot of projects such as movie nights, work fair and many more.

I was also in Aharii, which is a youth movement to train for the army. I was there for two years during which I led journeys as well as learned and trained a lot.

The last movement I was a part of was Cnafaim Shel Krembo which is a movement for kids with special needs between the ages of 7-21. I can proudly say that I had a main role at starting this youth movement in my city as a part of the leaders' team.

I am postponing my military service and coming over to your community for a year because this work is very meaningful for me. I want to share "my Israel" with people around the world and specifically in Eastern CT and introduce the beauty of it; the people the atmosphere, the styles, the culture - everything about this beautiful and amazing country which I love so much and is really special and important to me. I want to share all of these things as much as I can with everyone so you will know what I know. I am looking forward to an amazing year with lots of exciting challenges that will be interesting, fun and priceless!!

Hope I gave you enough little bits about myself. I can't wait to get to your community!!!

Coming to Terms with All the Faces of Israel

By Jerry Fischer

I have rarely taken the privilege of penning an essay outside of my Annual Report to the community. The events and issues facing us at the moment suggest that some framing of the matters at hand would be a good idea.

I want to start by reviewing some of the issues that you can read about in this edition of the Leader.

  • An orthodox man, for the second time, wielded a knife and managed to attack 6 marchers in a gay pride parade in Jerusalem before he was subdued. He had recently been released after serving 10 years for the same offense. A 16 year old young woman marcher died as a result of her wounds, so the man is now a murderer.
  • A Palestinian toddler died as a result of a firebomb attack on his family’s home in the West Bank. The attackers have not yet been apprehended but they are thought to be religious zealot settlers because there was Hebrew graffiti scrawled on the house and the attack came 30 days after the murder of an Israeli by a Palestinian.
  • The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes on the shore of the Kinneret was firebombed and heavily damaged by religious zealots from Tsfat. Two of the perpetrators have been apprehended and charged.
  • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has issued strong condemnations about all of these events and has been threatened with death. The Israeli security forces asked him to file a police complaint, which he did.
  • The U.S. and six other nations have signed an agreement with Iran that, it is claimed, will prevent Iran from building a bomb in the next 12-15 years. The Israeli government is working very hard to encourage the U.S. Congress to disapprove of the agreement. It is a Republican Congress and the Republican leadership is very close to Prime Minister Netanyahu. There is a good chance that they will disapprove of the deal, but will not get enough Democratic votes to override a Presidential veto of their bill. Several prominent Jewish Democrats have announced, with serious concerns and misgivings, support for the deal with Iran. So have many retired Israeli military officers.
  • AIPAC and J-Street have lined up on opposite sides of this issue and are mobilizing their forces. AIPAC has devoted a great deal of money to try and get Congress to disapprove of the deal.
Some thoughts on all these very troubling issues:
  • Israel must address relations within the Green Line (Israel’s borders prior to the Six Day War) and insure that LGBT, Moslem and Christian citizens of Israel will be given the same protections and rights as Jewish citizens and that the state will mobilize all its resources to protect all citizens.
  • The one man who used a knife to attack the marchers in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride march was orthodox, but he was one man. We should not tar all of orthodoxy with the sins of this one man. The Orthodox chief rabbi of Israel condemned the attack, and condemned homophobia. But we should not turn our eyes from the fact that Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, studied at the orthodox Bar Ilan University and the perpetrators of the arson attack studied at a Yeshiva in Tsfat. The Orthodox educational system, in all its multi-sectarian varieties, must do an accounting of how they are producing people who cannot follow the simple commandment “Thou shall not kill.” And all Israelis must demand that.
  • In the territories Israel will have to confront a system of justice that seems to harshly punish Palestinian perpetrators of violence but does not respond with equal diligence to Jewish law breakers.
  • The emotional tone of the debate in America over the Iran agreement must be turned down. Accusing those who support the agreement of not being “Pro-Israel” or accusing those who oppose the agreement of blindly following the dictates of the Israeli government does not leave room for a serious and dispassionate look at the agreement and the other options that may or may not be available to America, Europe, Russia, and China, or to Israel. We are not dealing with a weak and helpless Israel. We have, thanks to the great sacrifices of many Israelis, and to the strong help of the United States a very strong Israel, both militarily and economically.
  • Iran has obscured the one challenge that Israel cannot easily overcome, the challenge of the Palestinians. This must be addressed. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s pre-election promise that there will be no Palestinian state established on his watch needs to be walked back not only in word but in deed.
The recent Mission to Israel reinforced for me and for all that joined me the importance, vitality, and strength of Israel. But Israelis, and I believe, Palestinians, do want peace. As a mother of one of our Young Emissaries said to her sons and me “A bad peace is better than a good war.” We should keep that in mind as we deal with all the issues presented to us by recent events.

Jerry Fischer is Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT.

JFEC Solidarity Mission to Israel a Success!

The JFEC Solidarity Mission to Israel departed on June 28 and returned on July 14. Every one of the five participants (Nancy Butler, Renee Kohanski, David Kohanski, Marcia Reinhard and Jerry Fischer) in addition to the two community members who joined us for the flights but visited with families (Fay Clymer and Marcia Wolman) returned inspired and transformed. Click HERE to read in detail what was experienced!