WEST HARTFORD – Judith T. Fox will retire this June as director of education of The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford after two decades of service. The Conservative congregation will host a retirement celebration in Fox’s honor in May.
“Judye Fox is a visionary Jewish educator and a highly reliable professional,” Rabbi David Small, Emanuel’s spiritual leader, told the Ledger. “I admire Judye’s ability to be creative and to adapt to new circumstances and evolve the program to serve the changing needs of our community over time. Judye is an innovator; she pioneered family education, special needs education and various models of adult learning in the synagogue setting.”
The recipient of a Legacy Heritage Award for being an Innovative Educator, Fox is recognized for introducing a unique program for mainstreaming children with special needs into religious school, thus allowing their parents and families to participate more fully in synagogue life. As a result, several years ago the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford awarded Emanuel a grant to train teachers in other synagogues how to include children with special needs. She was also the driving force behind the community’s recently created USY Shelanu, a youth group for Jewish teens with special needs.
As director of education, Fox also launched Emanuel’s Torat Hayim religious school program, which focuses on enabling parents to be their children’s teachers.
A native of New York, Fox is a graduate of the Columbia University/Jewish Theological Seminary joint program, receiving a BA in English literature and Jewish studies. She pursued graduate studies at Long Island University CW Post Graduate School and the Jewish Theological Seminary, earning Master’s degrees in English language education and Jewish education, respectively. She moved to Connecticut to become director of education at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich, where she met her husband, Fred Fox, the now-retired executive director of Beth Sholom B’nai Israel in Manchester.
Judye and Fred Fox joined the Emanuel Synagogue 32 years ago when they moved to West Hartford with their two young sons, Jonathan and Michael. Judye Fox began teaching in Emanuel’s high school that year. She soon became head teacher in the high school department and created the resource room that catered to the special learning needs of all children. She was appointed director of education 21 years ago.
“Judye and [her husband] Fred live a committed Jewish life, serving as exemplars of chesed – kindness; Torah – learning; and hachnasat orchim – hospitality,” said Small. “On a personal note, Judye has always been a trusted partner in the sacred work we do. From the start, Judye invited me as rabbi to take an active role in the learning life of the congregation. I am grateful to Judye for this rich collaboration that has helped us serve our Emanuel family and the Greater Hartford Jewish community.”
CAP: Judye Fox with Emanuel religious school students.