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Top Stories Around CT in 2011

2011 Top stories from Connecticut

Monthly run-down of Connecticut stories from the pages of the Ledger during 2011.

 

JANUARY

■ Young Israel of New Haven marked its 80th anniversary.

■ Senator Joseph I. Lieberman announced that he would not seek a fifth term.

■ Two incidents of graffiti depicting swastikas were discovered in Westport: one on the walkway outside The Conservative Synagogue and one on the guard shack at the entrance to Compo Beach.

FEBRUARY

■ Norwalk Community College became the first and only of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges to start a Hillel.

■ Young adult author and Cos Cob resident Sarah Darer Littman won the 2011 Honor Award in the Teen Literature category from the Sydney Taylor Book Award for “Life, After” (Scholastic Press, 2010).

■ Westchester Fairfield Hebrew Academy of Greenwich received $10 million in grants from The Conduit Foundation.  At the same time, the school announced that it was changing its name to Carmel Academy.

■ Kosher caterer and chef Steve Shuman and his son Zachary opened the only kosher restaurant in the Hartford area in Bloomfield.

MARCH

■ The New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society (NEHFES) was awarded a grant from the state of Connecticut to do a detailed site survey as part of the process to get the site of the state’s first rural synagogue in Montville (which was torched by an arsonist in 1975) to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

APRIL

■ UJA Federation of Greenwich launches JCC Greenwich – a “JCC without walls” that runs a host of programs and events at various venues throughout the community.

■ The Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom (FVJC) in Simsbury celebrated its 50th anniversary.

■ Temple Beth El in Stamford wrapped up its year-long 90th anniversary celebration.

MAY

■ Michael Kassen of Westport was elected by the national board of directors of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to serve as the organization’s next national president. Kassen will be installed in March 2012 at AIPAC’s Policy Conference.

■ Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford in West Hartford celebrated its 40th anniversary with a dinner and guest Marvin Hamlisch.

■ Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford, Connecticut’s largest private Jewish school,  celebrated its 55th anniversary.

JUNE

■ Rob Zwang stepped down as executive director of The Federation of Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut, after a tenure that lasted nearly 20 years.

■ Rabbi Stephen Fuchs retired as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford after 14 years. He took up his new post as president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in July.

■ Cara Silverman, a Varsity Women’s Field Hockey athlete at UConn, joined the USA Open Women’s Field Hockey Team at the 13th European Maccabi games in Vienna, Austria.

JULY

■ Leigh H. Shapiro, a 23-year veteran firefighter, was appointed the city of Hartford’s first Jewish deputy fire chief.

■ Two Connecticut congregations – Congregation Tikvoh Chadoshoh of Bloomfield and Congregation B’nai Sholom of Newington – celebrated their merger with a “wedding” attended by more than 300 guests. Rabbi Debra Cantor, the rabbi of the new congregation, B’nai Tikvah Sholom, led the ceremony.

■ Rabbi David Walk of Stamford was one of 44 North American recipients of the 2011 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

■ A Stamford auction house sold the journals of Josef Mengele, the notorious death camp doctor to a private Jewish collector for $245,000.

AUGUST

■ Delegations of young Jewish athletes from West Hartford and Stamford competed in the 2011 JCC Maccabi Games in Springfield, Mass.

■ The Jewish Channel (TJC) became available for Comcast’s digital subscribers in Connecticut. The channel features 5-star movies, award-winning documentaries, original series, and programming from Israel.

■ Sarah Cheses became Yale University’s first female trained halachic advisor. Along with her husband, Rabbi Noah Cheses, she serves at Yale’s Jewish Learning Initiative, a partnership of the Orthodox Union and Hillel.

SEPTEMBER

■ CNN Political Anchor Wolf Blitzer was the guest speaker at the 25th anniversary celebration for the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies.

■ Elin Yassky of Fairfield was appointed the East Coast liaison  for the Emunah Sarah Herzog Children’s Center in Afula, Israel.

■ The Maimonides Academy to close its upper grades and return to its roots as an an early childhood center serving the preschool and kindergarten population.  The newly-formed Maimonides Early Education sold its property in Danbury and relocated to the historic mansion housing Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield.

■ Prof. Richard Freund, director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford was named a Connecticut Quality Improvement Award gold Winner for his innovative used of technological advances in geophysics in the field of archaeology.

OCTOBER

■ Connecticut tied with Colorado for seventh place among the states in the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2010, according to the 2011 ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. The State’s 38 incidents were up from 24 instances of vandalism and harassment in 2009.

■ Congregation Beth  Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester celebrated its 10th anniversary in the building co-designed by artist and congregant, the late Sol LeWitt.

■ Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford celebrated its 110th anniversary.

■ Beit Chaverin Synagogue of Westport/Norwalk began hosting Rori Picker Neiss, a congregation intern who is a student at the Yeshivat Maharat in Riverdale, N.Y., founded by Rabbi Avi Weiss. The school trains women to be fully integrated into the Orthodox community as spiritual leaders and halachic authorities.

■ An early snowstorm along the East Coast caused extensive power outages to hundreds of thousands of residents in Connecticut, lasting for up to 10 days and damaging eruvim – the ritual enclosures around the communities allowing observant Jews to carry objects outside their homes on Shabbat.

NOVEMBER
■ Two students at Yeshiva Ateres Shmuel in Waterbury, Daniel King and Eli Schonbrun,  were killed when the car that was bringing them back from Shabbat in New York with their families veered off I-84 in Danbury.

■ Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman received the 2011 American Patriot Award presented by the National Defense University Foundation (NDUF). Sen. John McCain of Arizona also received the award.

■ A contingent of Jewish War Veterans from Connecticut traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony dedicating a monument in honor of 14 Jewish chaplains who died while serving the United States during wartime.

■ Ida Smith Schaechter of West Hartford was killed in a fire that swept through her house on Nov, 1. The fire was believed to have started in a downstairs fireplace that was left lit to warm the house when the Oct. 30 snowstorm knocked out power in the region.

■ The board of trustees of the Jewish Community Foundation of Hartford held a reception honoring Doreen Fundiller-Zweig, who planned to retire at the end of the year, after 20 years as executive director of the foundation.
DECEMBER

■ On the night of Dec. 8, Westport jeweler Yekutiel (Kuti) Zeevi was shot and killed during an apparent robbery at his business._As the Ledger went to press on Tuesday, local and state police were still searching for the suspect. Zeevi’s associate, Ronen Konfino, was also wounded in the attack.

■ UJA Federation of Greenwich presented 12 teen philanthropists from the Greenwich High School Israel Club with the Weitzman Youth Award for Jewish Philanthropy at Federation’s annual gala held on Dec. 3._ the award was inspired by the Jane and Stuart Weitzman’s desire to nurture the next generation of Jewish philanthropists, and by their belief in the Jewish value, “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la’zeh,” all Jews are responsible for one another.

■ Rochelle (Shelly) Katz took began her tenure as executive director of The Federation, Jewish Communities of Western Connecticut, succeeding Robert Zwang, who left the organization after 20 years.

■ A new military facility in Middletown was named the Major General Maurice Rose Armed Forces Reserve Center in honor of Rose, the highest ranking Jew to serve in the U.S. military, and who was killed by a German tank gunner in March of 1945.

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