Jewish war vet receives community service award

MIDDLESEX — On Nov. 10, Norman Hanenbaum of East Haddam was presented with the William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award at the 14th annual Middlesex Council Chamber of Commerce “Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans” Member Breakfast Meeting. The award is presented to a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless commitment to public service in Middlesex County. Hanenbaum was nominated for the award by Arthur S. Meyers, adjutant of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) Major General Maurice Rose Post 51 in Middletown.

A member of the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, Hanenbaum served as commander of JWV Post 51 and the Department of Connecticut JWV. A special education teacher in Hartford, he was recognized as a pioneer in the field. He was one of 15 founders of the Connecticut Special Olympics in 1968 and has remained a volunteer ever since. He is an inductee of the Connecticut Special Olympics Champion Society, Connecticut Special Olympics Hall of Fame, and Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame. He was named an “Everyday Hero” by WFSB Channel 3 in Hartford.

Hanenbaum is music director of the Alleluia Players, a multi-ethnic ensemble of young musicians with disabilities that he founded in 1972 and helps to fund. He also directs Klez Act, a musical group based at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester.

“Norman is very modest about his nearly full-time volunteer commitment in a wide range of areas,” Meyers wrote in his nomination. “He is the first to urge recognition for the Alleluia Players and others who are building a ‘better community.’ In his genuinely humble way of living and communicating, we find a person who is a very active ‘citizen volunteer’ but seeks no recognition for himself.”

“As an American Jew, and recalling all the misery and suffering our people have endured through the centuries, I am truly blessed to have my mental and physical faculties, and to live in a nation that allows freedom of worship and self-expression,” Hanenbaum says. “I count my blessings and am motivated to contribute in a meaningful manner to my community and society.”

CAP: At the Middlesex Council Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting: (l to r) Arthur Meyers, Barbara Burns, Morty Pear, Sy Feldman, award recipient Norman Hanenbaum, Stan Lipson, and Michael Needle.

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