WOODBRIDGE – Jo-Ann Price was honored recently at the Jewish High School of Connecticut (JHSC) annual gala on May 18 at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton. The evening also included a celebration of the lives of Price’s parents, the late Leo and Libby Nevas. Now completing its fourth year, the Woodbridge school is preparing to graduate its pioneer class on June 19th.
“The German author Goethe said in his masterpiece Faust, ‘What you have received as an inheritance from you parents, you must possess again in order to make your own,’ and Jo-Ann has done just that,” said Sydney Perry, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, in introducing Price.
As JHSC Board vice president, Price’s extensive background as a professional Jewish educator includes the establishment and guidance of two supplemental religious schools, as well as community-wide Jewish education programs. She resides in Chester with her husband Michael Price.
Former Senator Christopher Dodd also paid tribute to Price, saying that she embodies the Nevas family commitment to the future of the Jewish people and to education, and lauding her for her support of the State of Israel and her passion as a Jewish educator.
Rabbi Leah Cohen, executive director and senior Jewish chaplain at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, spoke about the legacy of concern for the future of the Jewish people that defined Leo and Libby Nevas, who were among the first supporters of JHSC. Leo Nevas was widely recognized for his pioneering role in breaking the housing discrimination against Jews in Westport and in championing rights and opportunities for all people.
“Leo was a personal mentor to me. We would sit for hours discussing everything from Israel and the Middle East, to early Jewish history in lower Fairfield County, from ethics, to politics, to current events,” said Cohen. “No topic was off the table. He also had the best stories about the local big wigs, since Leo had seen it all.”
Anita Diamant, author of the international best selling novel The Red Tent, was the evening’s special guest speaker. Diamant spoke of a future of hope for the Jewish people.
“Forget the surveys and the pundits. We Jews have famously been called the ‘ever-dying people.’ I’m here to tell you that there has never been a better time to be Jewish. There has certainly never been a better time for me or for my daughter to be Jewish,” she said, adding, “The chapter in which we [the Jewish people] find ourselves, we lucky Jews, happens to be bursting with ideas and possibilities, music and art, wisdom and laughter, scholarship and movies. And holiness.”