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22nd International Film Festival to Kick-Off on Sunday, May 15 at The Garde

The 22nd International Film Festival presented by the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut and in association with The Garde Arts Center, Mystic Luxury Cinemas, Connecticut College Hillel and B. P. Learned Mission is set to kick-off on Sunday, May 15 at The Garde Arts Center with the screening of DOUGH at 7:30 pm. Tickets will be available at the door for $10/person. 

For all that Matthew Shafner did for the community at large here in eastern Connecticut, the Jewish community, and for the years he served as an integral part of the International Film Festival committee, we are dedicating the 22nd International Film Festival to his memory. He has been sorely missed this year, however, his passion and dedication will never be forgotten. One film specifically, LABYRINTH OF LIES, will be shown in his honor at The Garde Arts Center.

U.K., 2016, 94 minutes): Curmudgeonly widower Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce) obstinately clings to his way of life and his livelihood as a kosher bakery shop owner in London’s East End. With a dwindling clientele and the pressures of encroaching big-box stores, Nat reluctantly enlists the help of a young Muslim teenager, Ayyash, who has a secret side gig selling marijuana to help his struggling immigrant mother make ends meet. When Ayyash accidentally drops his stash into the mixing dough, the challah starts flying off the shelves and an unlikely friendship forms between the old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice. DOUGH is a warmhearted and gently humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places.

Opening-night reception immediately following film sponsored by the Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood. 

Following DOUGH on this year’s roster of films is a very special film that we hope all will come to see, HARVESTING STONES: THE JEWISH FARMERS OF EASTERN CONNECTICUT. This movie world premier is Tuesday, May 17 also at The Garde Arts Center in New London at 7:30 p.m. Pre-Screening Concert with the Klezmenschen at 7:00 pm. It's the 1890s. Connecticut Yankees are selling their rocky farms, Jews are fleeing Czarist Russia, and a Jewish back-to-the-land movement sees turning shtetl refugees into farmers as the best way for them become productive, self-sufficient Americans. Add some funding from the German-Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch and you have the recipe for a Jewish agricultural revival that ultimately settled a thousand Jewish families in rural Connecticut. Using historic footage, home movies and Yiddish-language farm journals as well as testimony from participants, including survivors of Russian pogroms and the Holocaust, this ground-breaking documentary presents the fascinating but unknown story of the American Jewish pioneers who established farms and mini-agricultural resorts in eastern Connecticut. Filmed over a period of 14 years by Jerry Fischer, director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; narrated by Peninnah Manchester Schram; music by Bruce Zimmerman.

Reception immediately following the film sponsored by the JFEC International Film Festival.

Below is the trailer for HARVESTING STONES:

Please continue to check back regularly in The Leader and at for more information on times, venues, sponsors, and restaurants participating in “Dinner and a Show.” Please contact Mimi at JFEC with additional questions, 860-442-8062 or at We look forward to seeing you on opening night at The Garde Arts Center in New London!!

Community Shabbat Dinner prepared by Dekel Oren, Friday, May 20 at 7:00 pm

New London Hebrew Ladies Aid and Educational Society & Rose Blonder Scholarship Form Available

 Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut

28 Channing Street • New London, Connecticut 06320-5756

860-442-8062 • 860-443-4175 fax

New London Hebrew Ladies Aid and Educational Society & Rose Blonder

SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION (click HERE to download application)

Remit completed application by FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2016 to above address or by email to

•Questions contact Mimi Perl at 860-442-8062 or

•Decision to award a scholarship is made toward the end of July/beginning of August. 

Disbursement will follow shortly thereafter.

Mission Commemorates 20 Years of Partnership 2gether

Jerry Schwell and Natan Sharansky ( r.) at the opening party in Rosh HaAyin for the Partnership at 20 Mission. Great music and food was provided by New Orleans, the Partnership Federation for Rosh HaAyin. 
Photo by Jerry Fischer

By Jerry Fischer

Seven people from our Southern New England Partnership Consortium (SNEC) joined over 100 delegates from the USA, England, and Australia to commemorate 20 years of Partnership activities between communities in the Diaspora and cities and regions in Israel. Representing SNEC were Jerry Schwell, Stuart Schwartzstein, and Jerry Fischer from the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, Nancy Mimoun and Ellen Weber, President of the The United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, and Howard and Esther Borer of the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts. 

The delegation spent Saturday and Sunday in our Partnership region of Afula and the Gilboa, visiting HaEmek Hospital, the Afula Rape Crisis Center, Beit Uri, a lifelong living facility for developmentally challenged adults, LaMerhav, a center for young adults without family or community support, and a visit to the home of Nael Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli educator who advocates full participation by all Arab Israelis in all aspects of civic and military life in Israel.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in Moshav Ram On Sunday night, joined by all the Israeli volunteers who are on the Afula/Gilboa Partnership steering committee.

On Monday morning, on our way to Tel Aviv we visited Givat Haviva, the Center for Shared Society in Israel and were briefed by leaders of that organization as well as by educators from Moreshet, a Holocaust Education Center dedicated to teaching the Holocaust to Israel’s Arab citizens.

The international program opened on Monday evening in Rosh HaAyin with a New Orleans themed party sponsored by the New Orleans Federation, which is partnered with that city. A jazz trio as well as several Cajun chefs served up a feast of food and music.

Tuesday had us visit the western Galilee, accompanied by Israeli philanthropist Raya Strauss. We visited a violin school at Kibbutz Eilon, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Ensemble (KCDC) at Kibbutz Gaaton, the Bedouin Arab village of Arab al Aramshe for lunch and a belly dancing show, and then the Nahariya Hospital, where we toured Israel’s first underground hospital.

Wednesday we traveled to the Negev to visit the development town of Ofakim and Moshav Netiv HaAsarah, which was relocated to the border with Gaza after they were forced to leave the Sinai as part of the peace treaty with Egypt. We toured the border and visited a beautiful mural and ceramic installation called Netiv l’Shalom, the Path to Peace, where we participated in adding ceramic figures to the installation. (see photos on p. xxx)

The last day of the Mission was Thursday, and it included a visit to Hadera in the center of the country to view an art exhibit based on readings of the Psalms, with an American and Israeli pairing creating works of art that reflected their interpretation of the Psalm they studied together.

The celebratory closing of the 20th anniversary Partnership Mission took place at the Peres Peace Center in Yaffo, with a presentation by Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth President, and Natan Sharansky, the Chairman of The Jewish Agency. President Peres called for continued efforts to reach a two state solution, and for greater separation between religion and state in Israel. Chairman Sharansky called for continuing efforts to unite the Jewish people through the efforts of the Partnership2gether department of the Agency and pledged to strengthen efforts to create strong personal bonds between Israelis and Jews in the diaspora.