Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut Home

24th Annual International Film Festival to open with ACROSS THE WATERS, Sunday May 6 at The Garde Arts Center at 2:00pm

The Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut (JFEC), in association with The Garde Arts Center (New London), Mystic Luxury Cinemas (Mystic), B.P. Learned Mission (New London), Connecticut College Hillel (New London) and United Theater (Westerly, RI) are excited to announce the line-up for eastern Connecticut's 24th International Film Festival (IFF), which will run from Sunday, May 6 to Wednesday, June 6, 2018.

The 2018 IFF will open with a matinee screening of ACROSS THE WATERS (Denmark, English subtitles, 95 minutes, 2016) on Sunday, May 6 at The Garde Arts Center, New London. Screening will begin at 2:00 pm; admission costs $10.

ACROSS THE WATERS is a Danish drama based on a true story where a Jewish guitarist and his family barely escape Copenhagen after the Nazis seize control. The family set off to a remote fishing village in the north of the country where they’ve heard local fishermen are ferrying runaway Jews to Sweden. When the Gestapo starts to close in on the refugees, the family is forced to put their lives in the hands of strangers.

GESHARIM (Israel, English subtitles, 12 minutes, 2017) is a short film to be shown with ACROSS THE WATERS. The Gesharim Young Dance Group was established by the Gilboa Regional Council in association with the Tarbut movement. A short film, GESHARIM, documents the joining of young Jewish and Arab girls at a difficult time within their communities through the medium of dance. This short features their first weekend seminar where the dancers embrace a shared love of the art of dance to bridge their differences and find common ground.
Post movie reception sponsored by International Film Festival Committee

The International Film Festival planning committee is enthusiastic to present this year's line-up of feature films, documentaries and shorts. For the past year, the committee has searched around the world for the best new cinema that portrays the breadth and depth of the Jewish experience from engaging, unexpected and even unconventional perspectives. We can't wait to share with you what we've found! IFF is planning to conclude with a surprise movie that will be released just in time for the conclusion of the Festival on June 6, 2018 at 2:00 pm at The Garde Arts Center, New London.

Please look for the IFF flyer showcasing all of the films, locations and movie times; will also feature this information. Please reach out to Mimi Perl at (860) 442-8062 or should you like to be an International Film Festival sponsor this year. 

La Chana screening on March 29 at The Williams School at 5:30 pm

Please come to a screening of the internationally acclaimed documentary, La Chana on Thursday, March 29 from 6-8 pm. There will be a question and answer period following the screening. Come at 5:30 and enjoy a Flamenco presentation and dance lessons.

Avi Astor '97 lives in Barcelona and Deirdre Towers '69 lives in New York City. Both graduated Williams, but 28 years apart. The two found themselves together in the fall of 2017, at the European Film Awards in Berlin, Germany.

Avi's wife, movie director Lucija Stojivec, began looking for financial backers to support the making of a new documentary, and this is how she met Deidre Towers. When Deirdre and Lucija met to talk about the movie, Lucija introduced Deirdre to Avi. It was at that meeting the two realized they were both from southeastern Connecticut, and then were able to figure they both attended Williams.

La Chana is a film about a once famous flamenco dancer, Antonia Santaiago Amador, who was forced to leave the stage due to domestic abuse but returned later in life. The film depicts the physical and emotional toll the dance profession takes on women. Amador returned to the dance floor in her later years, pouring the anguish of her private life into her art and yielding global acclaim. In 2017, La Chana was one of the five finalists for best documentary at the European Film Awards and won Best Documentary at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and Canada's Millennium Docs Against Gravity film festival.

Avi and Deirdre have graciously offered to share the movie with the Williams community on March 29, 2018. If you would like to see La Chana here at Williams, to register, please contact The Williams School at (860) 443-5333 during school hours.

Beth Jacob to Host a Community First Seder on Friday evening, March 30, 6:30 pm

Special to the Leader

Beth Jacob Synagogue will once again be hosting a Seder the first night of Passover Friday evening, March 30, at 6:30 p.m., preceded by a service at 6 p.m. We invite everyone in the community to share with family and friends an exciting Seder led by Rav Julius, with full interactive participation by everyone attending. This year our Seder will be catered by a cordon bleu trained chef, who also graduated from the DCO School in Tuscany.

Our Seder menu will consist of appetizer plates of hummus and chopped liver with celery and carrot sticks and matzoh crackers, stuffed cabbage, chicken soup with matzoh balls, stuffed chicken breasts with matzoh stuffing, saffron rice pilaf and fresh sautéed string beans. Dessert will be a sorbet served with fresh berries. Vegetarian options will be available upon request when you make your reservation. Reservation deadline is Monday, March 26 and must be accompanied by your payment. The cost to Beth Jacob members is $25 and $30 for non-members.

The Seder will begin at 6:30 p.m. and we look forward to welcoming members and their families and friends. Please call Beth Jacob Synagogue at (860) 886-2459 or Arlene Dressler at (860) 537-1505 or send your check to Beth Jacob Synagogue at 400 New London Turnpike, Norwich, CT 06360.

Emanu-El Passover Seder, Friday, March 30th at 6:00 pm

Join family and friends at Temple Emanu-El for their Passover Seder on Friday, March 30, 2018 at 6:00 pm. The Seder will be conducted by Rabbi Marc Ekstrand and Cantorial Soloist Sherry Barnes. Everyone will have a chance to participate.

The dinner that follows the Seder is prepared by a local family restaurant, Mr. G’s. They cater the first-Friday dinners at the temple each month and have been catering the Passover meal for several years now. The menu includes charoset, parsley and boiled egg, gefilte fish with horseradish, matzah ball soup, herb roasted chicken, tzimmes, and roasted asparagus. If you are vegetarian or vegan, please let the temple know when making your reservation.

Please Bring a Kosher-For-Passover Dessert to share.

The cost to attend is $36 per person and children under 13 the cost is $20 each.

Any questions, please call the Temple Office at 860-443-3005 and ask for Roberta.

Please respond, with payment, to Temple Office no later than Monday, March 19, 2018.

Welcoming and Understanding the Stranger: An Interactive workshop with award-winning author and storyteller Noa Baum on Sunday, April 22 at 2:30pm

America is a country built on immigration and internal migration, both forced and voluntary. Join us to help our communities become more welcoming for people who relocate involuntarily to escape conflict or natural disaster, and for those who move purposefully to find jobs or be near family.

In this dynamic interactive workshop, we explore assumptions we make about “the other”, using a model that cultivates curiosity and openness.

With her unique perspective as a Jewish/Israeli immigrant working to bridge cultural divides, Noa invites us to expand our awareness, enhance our tolerance, and increase cross-cultural understanding.

You are invited to participate in this interactive workshop on Sunday, April 22, 2018 from 2:30 to 5:30 PM at Temple Bnai Israel, 383 Jackson Street, Willimantic, CT.

Please RSVP by April 20 to or 860-423-3743.

Refreshments will be served. Free and open to all.

2017-18 JFEC Annual Campaign: Everyone Counts: Can we count on you? Please donate today online (via PayPal) or return your pledge form! Thank you!