Around Connecticut

Movers & Shakers 2010

Richard Blumenthal

Richard Blumenthal

Statewide

After much speculation, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced last Jan. 6 that he would run for the United States Senate seat held by Sen. Christopher Dodd.
Blumenthal, a popular member of the Democratic political scene, ran against Republican Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, who spent a small fortune in her attempt to win the campaign.
Despite some ups and downs in his campaign along the way – as well as months of truly nasty political ads from both parties — Blumenthal was victorious and will take his place in the U.S. Senate when he is sworn in on Jan. 5, 2011.
Blumenthal served five terms as Connecticut’s Attorney General. Before that he served as U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, the state’s chief federal prosecutor. He served in the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1984-1987 and in the State Senate from 1987 to 1990.  Notably, he served as an aide to Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan when Moynihan was assistant to President Richard Nixon and as an assistant to U.S. Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff, before serving as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun.
After combating special interests and large corporations for several years as Attorney General, Blumenthal says as senator he will continue his fight for the people of Connecticut.
“My first and foremost concern is job creation and economic recovery and aiding small businesses which are the engine of economic growth and job creation,” he said.


Ellen Davis

Ellen Davis

Greenwich

Ellen Davis recently led UJA Federation of Greenwich through a strategic planning process, and now serves as the organization’s president.  As a result of her leadership, UJA Federation is launching “JCC Greenwich” in the spring, a JCC without walls offering programs and activities at various venues throughout the community.
“Ellen is seriously going to impact the face of Jewish Greenwich,” says Pam Ehrenkranz, executive director of UJA Federation. “In the short time Ellen has been actively involved, she has been a powerful and creative agent of change, challenging the community to prioritize both its needs and dreams.” Davis is also committed to education, serving on the board of The Horace Mann School in Riverdale, N.Y. and working with Reach Prep, which creates educational opportunities in private schools for underprivileged children. She has lived in Greenwich for 17 years with her husband, Gary and their three children, Robert, Michael and Alexandra.


Marty Edelston

Marty Edelston

Greenwich

It’s hard to count how many community programs Marty Edelston has funded through UJA Federation of Greenwich, because he and wife Rita sometimes do so anonymously. What’s certain is that he has a penchant for educational projects, which have helped hundreds of children and adults throughout the Jewish community. He is also a major supporter of the Federation’s annual campaign. Edelston founded Boardroom, Inc. in 1972, which is now one of the world’s largest publishers of consumer newsletters and one of the country’s largest publishers of direct marketed books. He has been a sponsor of UJA Federation’s Talmud lunch and learn program from its inception. The popular weekly study session consistently draws some 35 to 45 participants, who discuss topics with the scholarly likes of Normon Podhoretz, Rabbi Ethan Tucker, Rabbi David Silber, and Rabbi Eugene Borowitz. Edelston’s support isn’t limited to Jewish Greenwich; he serves on the board of the Yeshiva Gedolah in Bridgeport, and is a supporter of Chabad in both Stamford and Greenwich.


Susan Birke Fiedler

Susan Birke Fiedler

New Haven

Four years ago, a group of parents of current or former day-school students in Fairfield and New Haven Counties decided that it didn’t make sense to end Jewish education at eighth grade. Only 30 percent of Fairfield County Jewish day-school graduates continue on to Jewish high schools, most forced to travel to Westchester for the nearest institutions.
“We all found those schools to be a very positive experience,” says Susan Birke Fiedler of Woodbridge, an original member of the Jewish High School of Connecticut organizing committee, “and we saw other successful Jewish high schools around the country. We asked, ‘Why not here?'”
Over the next two years, in living rooms and synagogues throughout the region, the question was answered, and the Jewish High School of Connecticut took shape. Fiedler and other organizers met with focus groups, education consultants, and heads of school from various types of institutions, and decided that a pluralistic Jewish school would best fit the demographics, affiliations, and backgrounds of the community.
Fiedler is now outgoing president of the school’s board of trustees, who welcomed the first group of 9th- and 10th-grade Pioneer students at the Aug. 30 dedication of the new regional institution, housed at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport.
The school is designed “to educate, not to indoctrinate,” says Dr. Ed Harwitz, the school’s headmaster.  “A parent once asked me, ‘What sort of Jew do you want my child to become – Orthodox, Reform, Conservative or Reconstructionist?’ I answered, ‘We want your child to become an educated Jew.’ Why? Through the process of education, one is empowered to make intelligent and professional decisions, but also moral and ethical decisions, as well as informed decisions about one’s Jewish identity.”


Steffi Friedman

Steffi Friedman

Westport

Steffi Friedman was 11 in 1936 when Nazi laws began to affect Jewish life in her native Berlin. That year, Friedman and her fellow Jewish classmates were transferred to the Wilsnacker Street School, a private institution funded by the Berlin Jewish community. The teachers were Jewish professors who had been dismissed from the universities. “I credit my entire education to those two-and-a-half years,” Friedman says, and perhaps that is what motivates her to work with students in urban Bridgeport. She and her family fled the country in 1938, when Friedman was nearly 14.
A graduate of Pratt Institute, Friedman, now 85, is a renowned sculptor and sculpture teacher. Her commissioned works are represented in more than 150 institutional and private collections throughout the country, including Temple Israel in Westport. She established a sculpture program for inner-city, underprivileged, gifted high-school students as part of the Music and Arts Center for Humanity in Bridgeport, now Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County, for which she received the center’s 2008 Pat Hart Scholarship.
This year, she brought the story of Anne Frank to the Neighborhood Studio, in collaboration with the Westport Country Playhouse’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The students read “The Diary of a Young Girl” and built a scale model of the Amsterdam house where the Franks and others hid during World War II, with scenes from the diary recreated in clay. Coincidentally, Friedman and her family had hidden in a nearby house before making their way to the U.S. The sculpture stood in the Playhouse lobby during the production’s month-long run and will be on display at Temple Israel in Westport.
Arismelba Rosario decided to study art at Housatonic College next year after she picked up clay for the first time in the spring as part of Friedman’s class. “You grab a whole piece of clay and can do magic with it,” she says. “Everything around us has a message and a power – you just have to figure out what it is.”


Rabbi Jeff Glickman

Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman

South Windsor

Five months after the earthquake that turned most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti to rubble, Rabbi Jeffrey Glickman of Temple Beth Hillel in South Windsor was in Port-au-Prince, working to establish an elementary school in the capital city.
Glickman, the town’s rabbi and the chaplain of the police and fire departments, is a member of the South Windsor Human Relations Commission and chair of the South Windsor Haiti School taskforce. In mid-June, he visited the Haitian capital, accompanied by Tim Appleton, legislative assistant to State Senator Gary LeBeau, and Maryse Adonis, president of Arm2Arm, a non-profit organization that works with immigrant Haitian children in the Dominican Republic.
Few children in Port-au-Prince attended school before the earthquake, and very few have hope of going at all, he says. The group hopes to build a new school, from one of the many empty shipping containers remaining from worldwide humanitarian aid, or to raise funds to support an existing school. The effort has received tremendous support from the greater Hartford Jewish community, Glickman says.
This is not the first humanitarian project the rabbi has been involved in. He has long been involved in feeding hungry Jews in Ethiopia as they await transport to Israel. He has created a shelter for unwed mothers in Missouri, and takes his congregation on an annual excursion to observe the needy in his own community
This year, Glickman was a finalist in the Jewish Federations of North America “Jewish Community Heroes” campaign.


Rabbi Adam Haston

Rabbi Adam Haston

Orange

Rabbi Adam Haston of Chabad of Orange/Woodbridge never considered himself a runner. But earlier this year, he decided that the shortest distance between Point A and Point B was a 26.2-mile marathon. Point A was when he first learned about The Blue Card, a New York-based non-profit that helps destitute Holocaust survivors meet their basic needs. Point B was when he raised more than $12,500 for the organization. All it took was a pair of running shoes and a lot of training; and four hours, 45 minutes, and 39 seconds wearing bib number 59-087 in the New York City Marathon in November.
For Haston, the decision to run for The Blue Card was easy. “On a simple level, a marathon is a metaphor for the last 3,322 years we’ve been a nation,” he says. “It’s a really long distance and we must continue. On a broader level, we used the marathon as a very practical way to give everyone the opportunity to support this noble cause. Charity in Hebrew is ‘tzedakah,’ more accurately translated as ‘justice.’ This is to inform us on how to view the way we approach tzedakah: it’s not optional, just as justice isn’t optional, but it’s something that must be done.”


Freida Hacht

Freida Hecht

Norwalk

Ever since Freida Hecht arrived at Beth Israel Synagogue in Norwalk to serve the congregation with husband Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, she has been creating educational programs to embrace and engage Jews throughout the community. The first, in 1984, was the innovative “Mommy and Me,” to bring Jewish education to infants and toddlers.
Now with 11 children and five grandchildren of her own, Hecht continues to expand opportunities for Jewish participation. From Beth Israel’s Alef Bet Preschool and Hebrew School to a Jewish singles’ group and a long-running women’s Rosh Chodesh group, Hecht responds wherever she sees a need. For her it’s simple: every Jew deserves access to Jewish community.
Seven years ago, she noticed that children and teens with special needs were isolated and excluded from activities and social interactions taken for granted by their peers. She recruited three Westport teens to visit children with special needs for playdates. Soon she was getting calls from families throughout the area, requesting “friends” for their children with special needs. Now, with 100 teen volunteers, Circle of Friends involves 85 families of children and teens with special needs in a full spectrum of social and Judaic activities, and also engages adults with special needs in Shabbat- and Jewish holiday-themed programming.
“Every soul, every person, is created in God’s image and deserves a friend,” Hecht says, “so I try to find a friend for everybody who calls me.”


Bob Hillman

C. Robert Hillman

Bridgeport

Bob Hillman had been involved in the Jewish community since the early ’70s, when he helped revive the JCC’s young leadership division and later served as JCC president and on every committee available. But his activities waned until last year, when his wife, Jane, told him about some grumbling among her fellow members on the allocations committee of UJA/Federation of Eastern Fairfield County. Bob jumped back in. “I’m a has-been,” he says. “I was deeply involved in the Jewish community in the past and I still care about it.” He told a committee member, “Whatever you want to do to improve the process, to involve more young people, I’m here to help.”
The Hillmans hosted a brainstorming dinner, where all kvetching about the state of the Jewish community was welcome. The group came up with some ideas for improvement, and agreed to meet again. The Hillmans were invited to join the UJA/Federation’s long-range planning committee, presenting to the board the results of the brainstorming session, and the Thriving Jewish Community Initiative was born. Bob was asked to chair the new 10-member steering team. On Oct. 17, 400 people packed a ballroom at the Trumbull Marriott for the first-ever Jewish Eastern Fairfield County community-wide ‘futuring’ session. The next session is slated for Mar. 16.
“We have a tremendous amount of work to do,” Hillman says. “But there are a tremendous number of people who want a part in making the Thriving Jewish Community Initiative a success and they will come to make it work.”
Steve Friedlander, executive director of UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk, has known Hillman since 1977, when Friedlander headed up Jewish Family Services of Connecticut, in Bridgeport. “Bob is that rare volunteer who always works to enhance the well-being of the community,” he says. “He always gives you more than you ‘bargain for,’ in a good way! Bob has always epitomized the meaning of the phrase, ‘pillar of the community.'”


Lois Koteen

Lois Koteen

West Hartford

In the 1980s Lois Koteen of West Hartford worked in the television industry, serving as vice president of creative services and projects at a local TV station. But seeking more intellectual stimulation, Koteen went back to school to get a Master’s degree in organizational systems. At the same time, she was becoming more active in her synagogue, Beth El Temple in West Hartford. Koteen’s academic life and Jewish life converged in 1999 when she became a facilitator in the “La’atid: Synagogues for the Future” program of the Commission on Jewish Education. La’atid is a strategic planning process that “engages congregants, lay leaders and the professional staff in conversations about their dreams for the future, their connection to each other, and their relationship with Judaism.” Over the years, via La’atid, Koteen helped numerous congregations around the greater Hartford area to make these kinds of connections.
At her own shul, she has been busy making even more connections. As Second Vice President of Beth El Temple, Koteen serves on both the marketing and membership committees. “She does everything. She steps in whenever needed. She really thinks about whose needs we need to meet and where should we be going. She is our visionary,” said Rabbi Ilana Garber. New Beth El members can expect friendly phone calls from Koteen, who just likes to check in to see how they are faring at the synagogue. Members with significant birthdays or anniversaries might get a call from Koteen offering them a special aliyah. And though her children are grown, she can often be found participating in PJ Shabbat programs at Beth El, trying to strengthen more connections with younger families.
Koteen received her PhD in organizations systems in 2009.
Between her academic, work and spiritual lives, Koteen’s motto can be summed up with three words she likes to share with others at Beth El:  “Think, Feel, Do.”


Harry Leiser

Harry Leiser

New London

Spring dawned this year in New London with an unusual announcement: the Solomon Schechter Academy (SSA) was lowering its annual tuition from $10,850 to $7,950, thanks to an unprecedented seven-year gift from longtime supporter Harry Leiser. The grant could not have come at a more fortuitous time: Last year, The Forward reported that the effect of the recession on day schools nationwide has been devastating, with tuition costs rising and fewer donations to help keep schools afloat.
Leiser says he regrets that his own children did not attend SSA. “If I couldn’t have the satisfaction of knowing that my family continued in the tradition of their grandparents and those before, then maybe it could become possible for someone else to do so,” he says. “It’s a very important value to me. If we could get just a few more children into the school, thereby making the school less of a burden for the community and parents of the existing students, it would be the best of both worlds.”
SSA director Karen Rosenberg says that Leiser’s gift is slowly having the desired effect, serving as a positive marketing tool for the school as more children can afford to attend. Four new students enrolled this year, thanks to the grant. “Harry Leiser truly wants SSA to survive and is willing to work towards that goal,” she says. “He has even offered his expertise in the area of advertising. The future of day schools like ours is dependent upon the support of the community. Harry Leiser is providing a wonderful model but he cannot do it alone.”


Jeremy Pava

Jeremy Pava

West Hartford

Jeremy Pava recalls that on the evening that the first formal meeting to discuss forming a Jewish high school in the Greater Hartford and Springfield, Mass. areas was scheduled, his Ann went into labor with their daughter Devorah. “To show how meshugenah we were, I said, ‘Well, maybe I can still get to the meeting…’” he laughed.
Neither Pava attended the meeting, but both have remained highly involved in the formation of the Hebrew High School of New England (HHNE), the only co-educational, Modern Orthodox, secondary Jewish Day School between New York and Boston.   Now Jeremy is the newly-elected president of HHNE, soon to open in its brand new home – the Grinspoon-Konover Building in West Hartford. Born and raised in Springfield, Mass. Pava and his family now live in West Hartford. Jeremy’s son, Harvey, is a graduate of HHNE. His son Nathaniel, a twelfth-grader, and daughter Devora, a tenth grader, will be among the students who get to take advantage of the school’s new facility.
“It was always a dream to have our own building and through the years there were different options,” Pava explained. “But this building is beyond what we ever expected. It is in an awesome location along the river with scenic park-like grounds and in close proximity to the JCC and the Hebrew Home to make those resources accessible to the students. It is the perfect setting for the school’s new home.”


Linda Meyer Russ

Linda Meyer Russ

Westport

Linda Meyer Russ sees charitable involvement as a reward in and of itself. “As a Jew, you take two journeys,” she says: “your personal Jewish journey, and if you’re lucky, a journey to Jewish philanthropy.”
Russ’s local Jewish involvement began soon after she and husband Len moved to Westport from Manhattan with their two young children in 1995. As new members of The Conservative Synagogue, the couple was asked for a large donation to the capital campaign, far more than they had ever given to a charitable cause. A relative in Fairfield told them, ‘You give ‘til it hurts and then you give some more and things will take care of themselves, you’ll see,’” Russ recalls. “And he was right.”
That became Russ’s mantra when approached for donations of money or time. She went on to serve on the boards of the synagogue and Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford, and this year joined the board of UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk. Her two children attended Bi-Cultural, where she served as director of marketing and communications for several years, even after the two had graduated. When budget cuts eliminated the paid position, she continued in the role as a volunteer.
Russ is now a vice president on the Bi-Cultural board. After two years on the board of UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk, she has been nominated to serve as its co-president. “Linda is the perfect mix of idealism and practical perspective, which make her contributions as a volunteer leader all that more productive and long-lasting,” says Steve Friedlander, executive director of UJA/Federation.


Shamu Sedeh

Shamu Sadeh

The Berkshires

Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh, director of Adamah, the farming fellowship for young Jews at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, was recently named one of Forward’s 50 Top Jews. A leader in the new and growing Jewish food movement, Sadeh, 41, is an environmental studies instructor, Jewish educator, writer, organic farmer, and wilderness guide. He has taught environmental studies, ecology, and Judaic Studies at Portland State University, Berkshire Community College, Southern Vermont College, and the Wild Rockies Field Institute. He developed curriculum for and taught at the Teva Learning Center in its early years of development. He holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, a doctorate in Educational Leadership, and studied permaculture design in Costa Rica and in New England. He has directed the ADAMAH Fellowship since 2004.
According to The Forward Shamu “has been instrumental in training and encouraging a new generation of activists who are, in his words, ‘cultivating soul and soils, harvesting people and pickles.’”


Leah Schechter

Leah Schechter

Westport

Karin Beitel dreams it, Leah Schechter implements it – that’s the relationship between the director and assistant director of education at Temple Israel (TI) in Westport. Beitel designed the assistant directorship three years ago with a vision to beef up the synagogue’s educational programs. Schechter had served as TI’s youth director from 2005 to 2008, before spending a year studying and working in the Jewish community of London, England. Upon her return, Beitel hired her for the new position.
In addition to the monthly Family Connection program for 4th and 5th grades, and the large-scale family programming for kindergarten through 4th grades, Schechter oversees the 8th- and 9th-grade component of TI High, including its Chesed Club community-service and education program. She runs the religious school’s Madrichim program, which places teen student aides in K-through-7th-grade classrooms to work with younger students. Madrichim “veterans” can write and teach their own lessons; this year, 51 teens participated.
“Leah is a terrific, amazing asset to Temple Israel,” says Beitel. “I can’t say enough about her: she’s a tireless worker, is devoted to the Jewish community and to the Temple Israel community, and has great relationships with people of all ages.”
In her spare time, Schechter is the singles outreach coordinator for JTT (Jewish Twenties and Thirties), a collaboration between Jewish Family Service, United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, and UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk


Morris Trachten

Morris N. Trachten

Woodbridge

When New Haven native Morris Trachten returned to UConn on the G.I. Bill in 1946, there was no kosher kitchen, no Hillel house. The Jewish student organization had been active on campus since 1933, but Trachten would graduate a year before a designated Hillel facility opened its doors, in 1949.
On Oct. 10, Trachten, now 85, and nearly 350 others celebrated the rededication of the newly refurbished Trachten-Zachs Hillel House at UConn. The building is named for Trachten and his wife Shirley and their family, and philanthropists Henry and Judith Zachs and their family, each of whom donated more than $1 million.
Ten years ago, Trachten was approached by Jay Rubin, then-executive vice president at Hillel International. Rubin asked Trachten to donate $150,000, half the money needed to build a kosher kitchen on the Storrs campus. The university kicked in the other half and in 2003, the Morris N. Trachten Kosher Dining Facility opened in Gelfenbein Commons.
“Given the opportunity to help kids who want to be kosher keep kosher, I was happy to go into partnership with the university,” says Trachten.
One project led to the next. “While we were working on the kitchen, I came to the realization that the building was about to fall down,” Trachten says. “We didn’t have a building when we were there, and this was something I was anxious to see for the Jewish community on campus, a home away from home. Once I opened my mouth, I had to serve with a committee to see what we could do.”
Trachten says that the reward for his philanthropy came from the students who attended the opening-day festivities at UConn. “At the rededication, kids walked up to me all day long and said what a difference the house has made,” he says. “Parents told me that their kids are more religiously involved now.  My mother, who always went store to store with a pushke to collect money for poor people, would say, ‘Whatever you give out, you get back.’ I’ve gotten back so much and I still have more to give.”


Carol & Mike Weinshel and Susan Spivack

Carol & Mike Weinshel
and Susan Spivack

Eastern Fairfield County

Last year, three members of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Bridgeport received the Being A Difference Award from the Association of State Boards of Accountancy Center for the Public Trust (NASBA CPT), an accounting trade organization. The presentation came five years after the trio – Carol and Michael Weinshel, CPA, of Fairfield, and Carol’s sister, Sue Spivack, of Bridgeport – started sending care packages to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 8,000 in all.
In October 2005, when the 159th Aviation Brigade was deployed to Iraq, the three “adopted” all 2,850 soldiers, and purchased, packaged, and shipped a Christmas gift for each one. They continued supporting the brigade with monthly gifts by theme – Valentine’s Day, spring, and patriotism. Last fall, the three adopted the 3,000 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne who were deployed to Afghanistan, sending them regular care packages.
Col. Jeffrey Colt, commanding officer of the 159th, attended the award ceremony last year. “You can’t imagine the reaction of soldiers when they receive something like this,” he said, as quoted in the Easton Courier. “They’ve literally supported thousands of soldiers they’ve never met, and asked for nothing in return.”
Through their efforts, the Weinshels and Spivack have helped raise awareness of the importance of supporting U.S. troops. The Weinshels have three sons, two of whom, Randy and Matthew, have served in the military.
Carol says that, living so far away from the conflicts, it’s easy to be oblivious to what American soldiers endure. “We need to appreciate our soldiers and let them know we care. Every box we send has that message: ‘We care, our friends and family wish you well, Godspeed.’”


Lisa Wexler

Lisa Wexler

Westport

One of the first things radio host Lisa Wexler will disclose about herself is that she is pro-Israel. “I admit to my bias on the air,” she says. “I tell you, ‘This is my agenda and bias: I’m a Jew and I’m pro-Israel.’ I will air people from the other side because listeners are entitled to hear those views, but I’m also entitled to give my opinion.”
An attorney by profession, the Long Island native and 20-year Westport resident hosts “The Lisa Wexler Show” during the afternoon drive-time slot on Coxradio’s WSTC-WNLK 1350 AM in Norwalk.
In 2006, after practicing law for 25 years, Wexler cut back to part-time to pursue her first passion, radio. After completing an intensive seven-week vocational program at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, she returned to law full-time. Nine months later, the stars began to align. She landed shows on WSTC-WNLK and Yale’s WYBC. In 2009, she was named “Gold Coast Best Radio Personality” by readers of Moffly Media’s Fairfield County magazines. In January, she moved to the five-day afternoon drive-time slot on WSTC-WNLK. Wexler produces and writes her own show, with complete editorial control of its content. Earlier this year, she picked up a Gracie Award for her interview with Gloria Steinem.
“My mission is to speak for the voiceless,” she says, “the environment, children, women throughout the world. I talk, hopefully, as a ‘professional cynic:’ I don’t care who’s in power; I call it as I see it.”
And her views on Israel’s security are unwavering. “It doesn’t make sense from Israel’s point of view to kowtow to an enemy that is bent on its destruction,” she said on air in early June, referring to Hamas, whose charter calls for the annihilation of Israel. “Anybody of any normal mind would like to see peace in the region, but peace requires two people across the boundaries willing to shake hands; it can’t just be one.”


Nancy Wyman

Nancy Wyman

Statewide

Nancy Wyman got into politics in 1979 because she was unhappy with her children’s school system. Running for a spot on the Tolland Board of Education – on which she served from 1979-1987 – she eventually became its vice-chairperson.
The rest is history, literally. After a stint as a state representative in the 53rd district she ran for State Comptroller and became the first woman to hold that office since the position was created in 1786.
Wyman was a natural choice to run for Lt. Governor when the Democratic Party convened its convention. Running on the ticket with Dan Malloy, they faced off against Ned Lamont and Mary Glassman in the Democratic primary in August and won. In November they were victorious again, beating Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley and his running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
A beloved figure in Connecticut politics and a guaranteed shoe-in for reelection as comptroller if she had chosen to run again, Wyman said she chose to serve with Malloy because during these difficult fiscal times, the state of Connecticut needs her.
“You don’t always take the easy road…you take the road you believe in…”


Gary Wolff

Gary Wolff

Storrs

Last July, 29-year-old South African native Gary Wolff took over as executive director of Hillel at UConn. Growing up in the close-knit Jewish community of Johannesburg, he lived through apartheid and saw its eventual abolition. As a result, he brings to the job a unique perspective on Jewish identity, pluralism, and tikkun olam. Wolff came to Connecticut after serving in various professional capacities with Hillel in southern Florida for five years.
Wolff also shepherded Hillel’s home through its recent redesign and reconstruction. In October, the Trachten-Zachs Hillel House opened its doors, named for major “investors” Morris N. Trachten and family, and Henry Zachs and family. This marks the first time the building has seen any renovations in its 60-year history.
“I want students to feel that they have a Jewish home away from home,” Wolff says. “UConn Hillel serves our students’ religious needs, but it’s more a social and cultural institution. This is a place where students can sit and explore their own identity in a place they can call home. It covers the whole gamut of what a religious and cultural institution would. I tell Jewish parents that there is absolutely no reason they should not send their children to UConn. It’s a great university with a great Hillel, a great kosher kitchen, and a great student body.”

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