Upcoming Events

Mark your Calendars: Kallah for the Inquisitive, Sundays, January 8, 15, 22 and 29

As year-end 2016 fast approaches, the Jewish Federation and area rabbis are finalizing the courses for 2017’s "Kallah for the Inquisitive," which is set to begin on Sunday, January 8, 2017. Formerly known as the "Institute for Adult Jewish Studies," this annual January program underwent a name change in December of 2015.

This year’s line-up of enrichment courses range from Holocaust poetry to the Kabbalah to understanding the Talmud for the 21st century to Hasidic stories.

Program Basics

Here are some program basics that you need to know if interested in attending. The Kallah meets for four consecutive Sundays in January – 8, 15, 22, and 29. All sessions are being hosted by Temple Emanu-El, 29 Dayton Rd. in Waterford because of its central location. All sessions begin at 2:00 p.m. and run through 4:15 p.m. All sessions are made up of two parts. The first part, from 2-3 pm, is a one hour enrichment course where participants choose one of the four courses being  offered and learn about a specific subject for four weeks. The second part, from 3:15-4:15 pm is the Community Forum, where participants from the first hour enrichment course come together and listen to a speaker address the audience on a topic of interest.

The fifteen minutes between the two sessions is for a short break, to come together to schmooze and nosh before getting down to business again. The Community Forums take place during the first three weeks and on January 29 the Kallah will conclude with a festive meal during the second hour to celebrate the four weeks of learning.

Registration is required whether in advance or the day of on January 8. A registration form will be available in the December 30 Jewish Leader.

Cost for the four-week session is $20 per person and includes the first hour enrichment course, Community Forums, and the concluding meal. If you only want to attend the Community Forums, the registration fee is $5 per Community Forum and can be paid the day of the forum. 

If you have any questions, contact Jerry or Mimi at the Federation 860-442-8062 or office.jfec@gmail.com. Also, check the Federation web site for full course descriptions and registration form at JFEC.COM.

Following are the course descriptions:

Kabbalah taught by Rabbis Ken Alter & Marc Ekstrand

During this four-week Kabbalah class we will discuss passages from some of the greatest mystical texts: the Bahir, Sefer Yetzirah and the Zohar. We will be using meditative techniques and discuss how we feel after we quiet the mind. Please join us for this beautiful mystical and spiritual journey.

Holocaust Poetry taught by Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz & Jerry Fischer

Theodor Adorno said, “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” And yet poetry was written. It needed to be written. For our souls to respond to the tragedy that is beyond all rationality requires a form of communication that creates meaning beyond the rules of reason. It requires poetry. We’ll read some of the most important poetry written in Europe, Israel, and America during the Shoah and respond to it to deepen our understanding, if such a word may be used, and strengthen our own response.

Understanding the Talmud for the 21st Century taught by Rabbis Julius Rabinowitz & Aaron Rosenberg

The Talmud was written about 1500 years ago to reflect the debates of our rabbinical ancestors. But did you know that these teachings also help us understand the challenges that we face today? Come join us as we look at selected excerpts from the Talmud in English, and then discuss their applicability to our lives in the 21st century.

Hassidic Stories taught by Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg

A selection of Hasidic stories from the sages, the Chassidic masters, and contemporary Jewish stories will be reviewed and connections made to life in today’s busy world.

Time to Order Your 2017 NMJL Mahjongg Cards

t's time to order your 2017 NMJL Mahjongg Cards! The cost is $8.00 for Standard Size and $9.00 for Large Print Size.

Order your cards through the Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood and the National Mah Jongg League gives us a donation based on how many cards we get.  

The cost to you is the same, so it’s a Win-Win! They will be mailed directly to you from New York, as soon as they are printed in March, so order for your family and friends anywhere in the country.

Send your check to Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood, P. O. Box 288, Waterford, CT 06385, with your name, street address you want card mailed to, and your email. If you have ordered before and info is the same, all that is needed is your  check and number/size of cards desired.

Deadline to order is January 23, 2017Contact Iris with any questions: ifreegang@aol.com or 860.460.3081

BBYO - More Than Just BowlingBy Hunter Rock, special to the Leader

Something that I think that always makes winters better is getting together, so we don’t sit by ourselves in our cold houses, away from one another. As a board member of our area’s BBYO chapter, I get to help us plan these events, which I am fortunate to be able to do. This past Sunday, December 11, our youth group met at Spare Time (Holiday Bowl) in Groton to bowl for a few hours. 

Well, bowling wasn’t really the main focus of the event. We all convened just to be with one another – to talk about school, work, friends, family, culture, anything. These get-togethers are always full of lively conversation and laughter from start to finish. Many of the friends we make go to different schools or belong to different congregations, so texting doesn’t suffice for quality interactions. We catch up on our lives with one another when we meet, which is generally only once or twice a month. Therefore, they’re always enjoyable and memorable events. 

This one was particularly fun for me, however. Our chapter hadn’t gotten together for about a month, with all of our holiday plans making it difficult to do so. I was enthralled to see new and old friends again, from 8th graders to high school seniors to Israeli emissaries. On top of that, we got to eat sufganyot in an early celebration of Chanukah! Our get-together left an impact on me, too. I didn’t want to leave when our allotted time ran out and our bowling lanes closed. I already missed my friends when I left. 

Fortunately, we have more events planned in the future, where we’ll all get to see one another again. We’re attending a CT region-wide dance in Woodbridge this Saturday, December 17, and visiting the elderly in assisted living homes the day after, on the 18 to do some community service. In the near future there is a regional convention at the end of January, from the 27 – 29. I look forward to seeing all my friends then, as I hope they look forward to seeing me.

Hunter is Yachad Chapter’s Membership Vice President.

Olive Tree Project Artists Share Their Vision 

In Eastern Connecticut their art was on exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London where a welcoming reception took place. The artists also conducted workshops in schools in Colchester, East Lyme, and Groton. The Florence Griswold Museum hosted the delegation and provided them with a private tour of the museum and the grounds.

The group also visited Pittsfield, MA where their paintings were exhibited in the Berkshire Musuem.

The Lyman Allyn Museum acquired one of the paintings for their permanent collection and was given a second smaller painting which will also become part of their permanent collection. Several other paintings were acquired by members of the community, and one was acquired and donated to the Jewish Federation.


If you missed the world premier, now is your chance to own HARVESTING STONES: THE JEWISH FARMERS OF EASTERN CONNECTICUTIt'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.

Order your DVD of Harvesting Stones by contacting 860-442-8062 or JewishFarmersCT@gmail.com. $20 to pick up at Federation Office / $25 to mail. Cash/ Credit Card / Checks made payable to: JFEC

Below is the trailer for HARVESTING STONES:

A Delightful Third Annual Cabaret Night at Temple Emanu-El

By Emanu-El Cabaret Night Co-Chairs, Sherry Barnes & Armi Rowe

On Saturday evening, January 30, 2016 Temple Emanu-El hosted its third annual Cabaret Night, a fundraising event benefiting Emanu-El's Essential Services Fund, featuring musical, drama and comedy acts. The event proved to be another well-attended and entertaining evening for both the performers and the audience.

Close to 100 attendees from Temple Emanu-El, Beth El and friends from the community mingled over hot hors d'oeuvres, which were artfully prepared by Terri Goldsmith, a notable enhancement in quantity and quality of flavors and presentation over last year. This was followed by a brief Havdalah service and then launched into two sessions of 17 acts with a dessert intermission in between. The evening concluded with an open mic and karaoke session.

"I'm still smiling about how much fun I had last night!" said Sherry Barnes, Temple Emanu-El's cantorial soloist and co-chair of Cabaret Night, on the morning after the event. "I loved every act and am continuously amazed at the talent in this community!"

This year, there was not one, but three rabbis who entertained at Cabaret Night.

Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg, beloved Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanu-El, was cheered on by the audience as he played The Impossible Dream by Mitch Leigh on the piano. Later in the first act, Rabbi Scott Saulson, Temple Emanu-El's Interim Rabbi, brought smiles and laughter as he took the audience through his "Trip Down Memory Lane," a compilation of childhood songs and poetry including Red River ValleyThe Lanyard by Billy Collins and the Hokey Pokey. In the second act, Rabbi Susan Schein, director of the Zachs Hillel House at Connecticut College, impressed everyone with her fancy juggling skills, which she said she acquired as a member of the juggling club while attending college.

Temple Emanu-El appreciated the participation of Beth El on stage as well as in the audience. Diana Rosenbaum sang her favorite song of all time, More by Johnny Mercer from the movie Mondo CaneRich Simonson sang and played the guitar soulfully to Buckets of Rain by Bob Dylan. He said the song was one of his favorites and it inspired him due to its depth of feeling.

JFEC Youth Group members also shined on stage. A teen band formed by senior youth group members Ryan Fornara (bass guitar), Hunter Rock (guitar) and Nathaniel Rowe (lead singer & bongo drums) kicked off the evening with their heartfelt rendition of Karma Police by Radiohead. Closing the first act, Amanda Rowe and Gabrielle Zettler, members of JFEC Junior Youth Group, co-arranged and co-choreographed their high energy duet performance of The Jackson Five's I Want You Back.

A guest youth performed with Jody Katz, a returning Cabaret Night performer. One of Jody's music students, Jacek Wojciechowski performed guitar along with Jody, who sang The Colonoscopy Song by Peter Yarrow, a fun educational piece which contains an educational public service message encouraging people to schedule colonoscopy exams. Hunter Rock also impressed audiences with his steady turn as piano accompanist to two acts. First, he performed with Sean Bendick, President of Temple Emanu-El, who caused the audience to roar with laughter as he sang Got It From Agnes by Tom Lehrer. Hunter also served as piano accompanist for Merrill Mazzella and Armi Rowe, who also produced chuckles in the audience with their comedic musical duet of The Grass is Always Greener from the Broadway Musical Woman of the Year.

(l-r: Merrill Mazzella and Armi Rowe)

"I was honored to have shared the stage with all of our performers," said Armi Rowe, who also co-chairs Cabaret Night. "We delivered a diverse and balanced program that appealed to all ages. I saw many smiles, heard much laughter at punch lines and oohs and ahs at the poignant moments."

New cast members of Cabaret Night showcased what they do best. Desiring to express that the essence of Judaism is being born with a pure soul, Matthew Shulman sang Elohai Neshama by Rabbi Shefagold with Sherry BarnesBarbara Luftglass-Morea, a choir member at Temple Emanu-El, sang a beautifully moving solo to Memory from the Broadway Musical Cats.

Veterans of Cabaret Night returned to the stage with their star solo turns. Ethel Chatkin enthusiastically sang one of her favorite songs to sing with her sisters during her youth, Second Hand Rose, from the 1921 Ziegfeld Follies. Chris Rock, Temple Emanu-El's Treasurer who is known more for his past rock shows with fellow band member Jonathan Rowe, amazed audiences with his dramatic and powerful classical piano recital of Rachmaninoff's Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 in C# Minor.

Also Cabaret Night veterans, Sherry Barnes and Marc Goldsmith, who have been friends for 28 years, once again graced the stage with their flawless performance of You've Got a Friend by Carole King. Jonathan Rowe, past president and serving again as vice president of Temple Emanu-El, decided this year to perform stand-up comedy by paying a musical Tribute to Rodney Dangerfield, bringing much lightness to the program. The show closed with a very upbeat group performance of Hey Ya by Outcast, which included the father and son duo of Chris and Hunter Rock, backed up by youth singers Gabrielle Zettler and Amanda Rowe and accompanied by the dancing and clapping energy of Jennifer RockJennifer Zettler and Sue Fornara, a wonderful way to close the show.

(l-r: Gabrielle Zettler, Amanda Rowe, Chris Rock, Hunter Rock)

"Armi and I can't thank you enough for giving your time and talent to support this "fun" fund raiser. Thank you again for making it possible," said Sherry Barnes to the show's performers.

"Set-up, stage management and clean-up were faster than ever this year!" said Armi Rowe. "And every year more people are eager to be part of the Cabaret event on some level."

Event co-chairs Armi Rowe and Sherry Barnes would also like to extend special thanks to members of the Cabaret Night Committee, including Terri Goldsmith, Allison Glickman, Cyndi Lesser, Geoff and Susan Hausmann, Sue and Ryan Fornara, Erica McCaffrey, Jennifer and Gabrielle Zettler, Chris, Jenn, Hunter and Marnie Rock, Jonathan, Nathaniel and Amanda Rowe.

Comments from Artie Dean's Book Launch Party on December 13

Artie Dean, who has for many years, published serialized short stories, essays, and reflections on baseball in the Jewish Leader has had a collection of these pieces published by Little Red Tree Publishing entitled, "My Two Cents, A Collection of Short Stories."

A dessert reception celebration of this happy event took place on Sunday, December 13 at Congregation Beth El in New London, CT. 

Artie will gladly autograph books available at the Jewish Federation office, 28 Channing Street, New London. All royalties from the sale of the books will be donated to the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Leader.

If you missed the Book Launch, click below to watch Artie's remarks from the evening.

20th Anniversary Observance of the Assaniation of Yitzhak Rabin on Wed., Nov 4  at Congregation Beth El

A community of all ages came together to remember and pay tribute to a great leader, Yitzhak Rabin, lost 20 years ago through a moving program including heartfelt speeches, songs, prayers and music on November 4 at Congregation Beth El, New London.  (Photos courtesy of Joel Etra)

Op-Ed article from The Day: Rabin and optimism killed 20 years ago

Taken from The Day

Published November 02. 2015 12:01AM

by Daniel Robinson

Contemporary news reports from the Middle East make for depressing reading. Violent conflicts around the region have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions, fueling ever increasing animosity between religious, ethnic and national groups. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, it is worth remembering that not all that long ago in one corner of the Middle East, in Israel and Palestine, people on both sides of a seemingly intractable conflict felt real optimism about the future.

From September 1993, when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo peace accords, until Rabin’s murder at a Tel Aviv peace rally a bit over two years later, Israelis and Palestinians seemed to be moving towards a historic reconciliation. The concrete expressions of optimism were many: Palestinians living abroad were returning to the West Bank to build factories and businesses, ordinary Israelis were visiting the West Bank to shop and dine, and Palestinians were coming to Tel Aviv to enjoy the nightlife. People on both sides could almost taste the sublime sweetness of living in peace and bringing up their children in security and dignity.

But not everyone was happy with the way things were going. Among the Palestinians, rejectionist groups such as Hamas used violence to undermine the very idea of compromise, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat often said far less conciliatory things in Arabic than in English. Among Israelis, hard-line nationalists and nationalist messianists launched a vehement campaign to delegitimize Rabin, proclaiming him a traitor and holding aloft placards depicting him in a Gestapo uniform.

When I was a graduate student living in Israel at the time, it was clear to me that this kind of incitement was going to lead to someone getting killed, but overall, like most Israelis, I was cautiously hopeful .

It was in this spirit that I attended a huge peace rally in Tel Aviv on the evening of Nov. 4, 1995. My initial impression was that the rally had been a success, demonstrating widespread support for Rabin’s efforts. The first hint that something was amiss came when I saw Rabin’s black limousine screech away from city hall. Within minutes, people formed silent crowds around parked cars, their radios turned up to full volume. I walked half-a-mile to the main gate of Ichilov Hospital, arriving in time to hear Eitan Haber, the prime minister’s press secretary, announce his death to a small group of journalists. Around the country, the overwhelming response was one of profound shock and horror, but at the hospital that night a handful of Jewish extremists, in the traditional dress of yeshiva students, greeted the news with back slaps and high-fives.

At the moment of Rabin’s assassination the death of the peace process was not yet inevitable. Had another leader capable of leading Israelis towards painful, risky concessions come forward, or had Arafat not turned back to violence, the outcome might have been different. But over the next decade, Palestinian suicide bombing campaigns killed over a thousand Israelis, and in Israel there was a resurgence of messianic-nationalist groups, who pushed for ever more Jewish settlements on occupied land and ever harsher retaliation. Over the past 20 years, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that the goal of Rabin’s assassin and those who engaged in incitement against the prime minister — to bring the Oslo peace process to a halt — was largely achieved.

Given the general chaos in the Middle East these days and the caliber of the political and religious leadership in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, it’s hard to be optimistic. But as we mark the anniversary of Rabin’s murder, it’s worth remembering that there was a time not all that long ago when coexistence, mutual respect and two states for two peoples seemed not only possible but right around the corner.

During the summer of 2014, as I researched the current edition of Lonely Planet’s travel guide “Israel & the Palestinian Territories,” I traveled around Israel and saw Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze Israelis living, working, dining and spending their leisure time together. Seeing Israelis and Palestinians bathing together in the Dead Sea doesn’t make headlines, but it proves that peaceful coexistence, despite the best efforts of the zealots, is still possible.

Daniel Robinson, a long-time resident of Tel Aviv, writes travel guidebooks for Lonely Planet. He now lives in New London.

Note: The 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will be commemorated with a memorial service at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Congregation Beth El, 660 Ocean Ave., New London. Speakers will share recollections of the man, and of that tragic day. Also planned are a benediction and music. The service, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Eastern CT and area synagogues, is open to the entire community.

Community Celebrates Rabbi Rosenberg's Retirement

June 26-27, 2015, was a very special weekend for Temple Emanu-El and the entire community as hundreds of people gathered for two incredible celebrations of Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg's retirement. After 35 years, and as the longest serving reform rabbi in Connecticut, Rabbi Rosenberg is stepping down to pursue his dream of more time with family, more opportunities for traveling, and spending more time perfecting his guitar and piano, along with his golf game and numerous other hobbies and special interests.

On Friday, June 26, the congregation of Temple Emanu-El said its goodbye with an emotional and heartfelt service, featuring Cantorial Soloist Sherry Barnes and the temple's choir and band. At the service, Rabbi Rosenberg was presented with a guitar and the congregation was presented with a portrait of Aaron taken by Brian Alpert. Afterwards, nearly 250 people joined the Rosenberg family for dinner, coordinated by Barbara Senges-Murphy. At the dinner, several speakers eloquently spoke about Rabbi Rosenberg's many warm and Hamish qualities, including retired Reverend Ken Carpenter, Rabbi Bruce Kahn, and his family, Karen, Ari, Elon and David Rosenberg. Finally, the microphone was opened to the congregation, many of whom wished to bid Rabbi Rosenberg adieu.

On Saturday night, June 27, it was the community's turn to bid farewell at a gala dinner hosted by Connecticut College and chaired by Mary Seidner and Barbara Wolfe. More than 250 people attend and were treated to a number of entertaining surprises, including a song parody of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" called "Rabbi Didn't Get Fired," written by Chris Rock that captured the temple's 50-year history. Jonathan Rowe hosted a "Family Feud" between the Rosenbergs and the "Putzes." Scott Zettler performed a parody of "If I was Retired" to the tune of "If I were a Rich man." The Rosenberg boys parodied Neil Young's "Old Man" with an emotional tribute to their Dad. Finally, Sherry organized a large contingent of people who helped with the year-long celebration and found many "Ways to Say Good-bye." Earlier in the evening, featured speakers included Jerry Fischer of JFEC; Tony Sheridan of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut; Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward; and Reverend Claudia Highbaugh of Connecticut College. Rabbi Rosenberg also received special recognition form the Union of Reform Judaism and the Connecticut General Assembly. Finally, Karen and the Rosenberg boys said their last official good-byes, and paid special tribute to the community for warmly welcoming and embracing their family all of these years.

Lastly, Temple Emanu-El's Tree of Life was dedicated to Rabbi Rosenberg by adding a dove in recognition of his 35 years of dedicated service to the congregation.

JFEC's Operation Cool Down: 

Distributed 20 air conditioners to needy community residents

The Jewish Federation’s Operation Cool Down program distributed 20 air conditioners this summer to needy individuals referred to us by physicians, the VNA, and area hospitals. Eight air conditioners went to residents of Norwich and 12 were distributed along the shoreline.

The program was supported by donations from the Norwich Rotary Foundation, the New London Rotary Foundation, and L+M Hospital.

Operation Cool Down started with the realization that some of our elderly Russian refugees needed air conditioners in their very hot apartments, and that such a need existed in the general community. The Federation has been offering this program since the mid-90s and has received support each year from different organizations and institutions.

Federation launches new web site Friday, August 22

Rachel Sheriff, Federation Campaign & IT Associate, together with volunteer Kip Bryan, have totally redone the Federation web site. Rachel will act as the webmaster and keep our web site up-to-date with local programming, information about Israel, and events on the national and international scenes that affect us as Jews.

Another important addition to the Federation web site is a “Donate Now” button that will allow visitors to pay their pledge, make a donation to the Stop the Sirens special campaign, or make a donation in honor/memory of a loved one, or to make a donation “just because.”

The Federation is also expanding its social media presence; while we have had a Facebook page (please friend us), we have added Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ accounts so you will be able to follow, tweet, pin, or Google us not only on your computers but via your cell phones and tablets directly from our website.

Our new web site will be live as of Friday, August 22; we welcome your feedback – www.jfec.com