Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut Homepage

Passover Wishes to the Community

2016 Community Yom HaShoah Program on Sunday, May 1, 4 pm at Beth Jacob

This year’s community Yom HaShoah observance will take place on Sunday, May 1, at Beth Jacob Synagogue beginning at 4:00 p.m. The synagogue is located at 400 New London Tpke in Norwich.

This year’s program will include choral performances by the Jewish Community Choir led by Sherry Barnes, Cantorial Soloist of Temple Emanu-El. The Invocation will be given by Rabbi Julius Rabinowitz of Beth Jacob. A proclamation about the Days of Remembrance will be read by Norwich Mayor Deb Hinchey followed by a Statement of Concern given by Rev. Sara Ofner-Seals, Pastor, Park Congregational Church.

A highlight of the program will be this year’s guest speaker, Ruth Fishman of West Hartford. She was born in Cologne, Germany in 1935, and was nine years old when she was sent to the Dutch concentration camp of Westerbork. After 10 months, she was transported to the Czechoslovakian concentration camp, Theresienstadt from which she was liberated at the end of the war. At war’s end, Fishman returned to Holland and later immigrated to the United States.

Ruth’s Holocaust experience is seen through the eyes of a child. In a brief interview, Ruth stated, “Many people have suffered and lost more than I did, but each story should be told.”

Following Ruth’s presentation, there will be a Candle Lighting Ceremony where Survivors from Eastern CT will light six candles to commemorate the six million who perished during the Holocaust.

In addition to Evert Gawendo acting as this year’s chair, the planning committee members include Rabbis Ken Alter, Julius Rabinowitz, Rachel Safman, Scott Saulson, and Susan Schein; Sherry Barnes, Roz Etra, Jerry Fischer, Rosa Goldblatt, Marcia Reinhard, and Gaby Schlesinger.

The program is sponsored annually by the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT and area synagogues. It is free and open to the public. 

Community Yom Ha'atzmaut Celebration on Wednesday, May 11 at 5:45 pm


This year's annual community Yom Ha'atzmaut Celebration - Israel @ 68, sponsored by JFEC and brought to you by our Young Emissaries, Amit and Sagi, will take place on Wednesday, May 11 at 5:45 pm at Congregation Beth El in New London, CT. 

Look for more details in the next two Leader (April 15 and May 6) or check back here at for more information.

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

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.

DOUGH is a story about a 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 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.       

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 premier is Tuesday, May 17 also at The Garde Arts Center in New London at 7:30 p.m. This film by Jerry Fischer, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT, is a documentary about the Baron de Hirsch financed Jewish farms scattered throughout eastern Connecticut, the transition from dairy farms to raising chickens, the resorts that some evolved into, and the challenges of rocky soils and anti-Semitism. The film highlights refugees from the pogroms of Russia in the late 19th century and the repopulation of the farming region with survivors of the Holocaust. New London native Peninnah Manchester Schram narrates the film and music is by Bruce Zimmerman.

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!!

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.