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2012 Top Stories in Connecticut YEAR IN REVIEW

Layout 1January
• Michael Johnston of Wilton is named president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford.

February
• The Conservative Synagogue in Westport marked its 25th anniversary.

• Temple Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in Westport, created a stir when it announced significant changes to the congregation’s leadership that will take place over the next 18 months – including the June 2013 retirement of longtime spiritual leader Rabbi Robert Orkand.

• Kosh,” a new kosher American bistro featuring dishes like the Smokin’ Joe Lieberman sandwich opened in Stamford.

• A Connecticut Superior Court ruled in favor of the University of Hartford’s Chabad Chevra after neighbors of its Bloomfield Avenue building lodged a complaint with the City of Hartford that resulted in a cease and desist order.

March
• “Taste of Life,” a new kosher “pizza parlor” employing people with special needs opened at Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford.

• First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield hosted a gathering in support of Israel attended by more than 2500 people, including Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rev. John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI)

• The Connecticut Z’mirah Chorale, the only statewide Jewish chorus, marked its fifth anniversary.

• A condominium owner in Stratford was told by her condo association that she must remove the mezuzah from her doorpost – leading the Anti-Defamation League to get involved. After the woman filed a lawsuit, the association dropped its demand.

April
• Edith Pearlman, author of the collection of short stories, “Binocular Vision,” is named winner of the 2011 Edward Lewis Wallant Award presented by the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford.

• Chabad House of Greater Hartford and Chabad Chevra at the University of Hartford dedicate the new Rohr Chabad House on Bloomfield Avenue.

May
• The state House of Representatives votes overwhelmingly to approve legislation proposed by Rep. David Baram (D-Bloomfield, Windsor) vice chairman of the General Law Committee, prohibiting state contracts with entities making certain investments in Iran.

• The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford JHS celebrates its 40th anniversary at a dinner honoring its past presidents.

• Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford JHS celebrates its centenniel with a gala celebration honoring four local families.

• Trinity College in Hartford dedicated the new Kassow Hillel Kosher Eatery – a place where students of all faiths can dine on kosher food for the first time in the school’s 189-year history.

• A new centralized database that makes it easier to navigate the 44 Jewish cemeteries throughout the New Haven area, created by the Jewish Cemetery Association of Greater New Haven, is expected to be completed by the summer.

• Two faculty members of the Hebrew High School of New England (HHNE) in West Hartford are honored for their work at the Educator’s banquet: HHNE Dean of Students Rabbi Shimmy Trencher, and HHNE English teacher Heather Page.

June
• The Second Annual Connecticut-Israel Technology Summit is held at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, hosted by Metro Hartford Alliance, the Hartford Chamber of Commerce and the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.

• Cantor Joseph Ness of Beth El Temple in West Hartford is honored for 20 years of service to the community.

• The Board of Trustees of the Jewish High School of Connecticut in Bridgeport and the Board of Directors of Ezra Academy in Woodbridge approve a memo of understanding creating a “strategic alliance” that will explore the viability of a potential merger by Sept. 2013.

• Alan Stein steps down as president of PRIMER CT (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting), a volunteer media watch group. Mark Fishman of Fairfield takes over as president. Stein and wife, residents of West Hartford, plan to make aliyah.

• Andree Aelion Brooks of Westport won first place for feature writing in the magazine category of the Simon Rockower Awards for Excellent in Jewish Journalism, run by the American Jewish Press Association.

• A host of dignitaries, rabbis and Jewish community leaders gather in the Senate Chamber of the State Capitol on June 18 to mark the 18th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

July
• Temple Beth Sholom in Stratford moved the congregation’s Torah scrolls to Temple B’nai Torah in Trumbull, makring a merger of the two shuls.

• Camp Laurelwood in Madison – Connecticut’s only Jewish overnight camp – hosted a party to celebrate its 75th birthday that was attended by alumni from all across the country.

• Beth El-Keser Israel – or BEKI – celebrates its 120th anniversary on July 1.

• Melanie Waynick takes over as Head of School of Ezra Academy in Woodbridge.

August
• The dispute between Congregation Ahavath Achim in Colchester and a congregant over the creation of a new interfaith cemetery is resolved.

• A new second-generation Holocaust survivor group based in Westport holds its first meeting.

• Sixteen Israeli Young Emissaries, sponsored by the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC), arrive in the U.S. for a year of service in Jewish communities in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.

• Delegations of young Jewish athletes from all across Connecticut travel to Rockland, N.Y. to compete in the 2012 JCC Maccabi Games.

September
• Josh Sayles joins the Connecticut Region Anti-Defamation League as assistant director.

October
• The historic building housing the Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont was gutted a fire on the morning of Oct. 14.  However, the Torah scrolls were saved and the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Schneur Wilhelm, announced plans to rebuild.

• More than 90 monuments are damaged or destroyed when the Tower Avenue Jewish cemetery in Hartford is vandalized. The incident follows on the heels of two similar incidents of vandalism that hit the Zion Hill Jewish cemetery over the past six months. Less than a week later the police arrest three teenage suspects.

• The Jewish Association for Community Living (JCL) celebrates its 30th anniversary.

• Adam Greenberg of Branford and New Haven native Josh Zeid play for Team Israel, managed by former Major League catcher Brad Ausmus, a native of New Haven.

• The New Britain Museum of American Art dedicates “The Blind Sister of Narcissus,” a newly acquired bronze work by the late sculptor Elbert Weinberg, who died in 1991 at the height of his renown.

November
• Hartford Hospital and Magen David Adom in Israel launch their five-year partnership to advance emergency medical ltraining and preparedness in both communities.

• Seventy-five years after Southbury prevented the pro-Hitler German-American Bund from building a training camp in its midst, the small Connecticut town commemorated that historic – and heroic – story with the world premiere of a new documentary film.

• Yale University presents “Shaping Community: Poetics and Politics of the Eruv,” – three different but related exhibits on various aspects of the ritual enclosure known as the “eruv.”

• Several Connecticut Jewish communities hold “We Stand With Israel” events to show their support for Israel, as the Jewish state’s conflict with Gaza continues.

• On Nov. 23, an international group called “Moroccan Ghosts” hacks the websites of approximately 50 Jewish congregations across the country, including the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom (FVJC) in Simsbury.

• The Silverman stone — the 6.000 lb stone that was installed in the late 1930s in the Jewish cemetery on Tower Ave. in Hartford, and was the largest stone nine strong men.

• Days after Hurricane Sandy devastates the Connecticut shoreline, as well as parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, leaving more than 70 people dead, Jewish organizations throughout the tri-state area launched comprehensive relief efforts.

December
• A shooting at an elementary school in Newtown leaves 27 dead – including 20 six- and seven-year-olds.  Among those murdered is six-year-old Noah Pozner, a member of Congregation Adath Israel (see story feature story).
In the wake of the shooting, Israeli leaders wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama to express their shock, outrage and deepest sympathies.
“Dear President Obama, I was shocked and horrified by today’s savage massacre of innocent children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Obama immediately after the shooting. “We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring. I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones. May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy.”
Netanyahu reiterated his condolences at his weekly cabinet meeting on Dec 16. Israeli President Shimon Peres also extended his sympathies.
“No experience with death can be likened to that of a parent’s loss of their child,” Peres said. “No crime is more heinous than the killing of a child. Our hearts are with the bereaved families of the victims, the mourning community in Newtown, Connecticut and the people of the United States of America. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

• The Connecticut Jewish community bids farewell to Senator Joe Lieberman at a gala concert held in New Haven. The state’s senior Senator is retiring in January after 24-years on Capitol Hill.

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