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Martha Stone to receive social justice award

CHESTER – Martha Stone of Durham has been named the recipient of the first Pursuers of Justice and Peace Award, to be presented by Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ) of Chester on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 10:30 a.m. during the synagogue’s Shabbat morning service. The service will be followed by a potluck lunch.

Stone, who was one of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the landmark Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation case, is founder and director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, based in Hartford, but serving the entire state. She previously served as associate director of Children’s Rights, Inc., a national organization engaged in foster care litigation around the country, and for 18 years prior to that she was legal director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union. Stone is responsible for bringing the class action lawsuits resulting in consent decrees involving the Department of Children and Families, the juvenile detention centers and access to community-based mental health services for the juvenile justice population.

“My commitment to social justice is paramount in my personal and professional life. If sharing my vision helps fuse social justice and the mission of congregation, this is my way to contribute,” said Stone, who is a member of CBSRZ.

The Pursuers of Justice and Peace Award was inspired by this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Reform congregation, as well as by part of its original name, Rodfe Zedek, which is Hebrew for ‘pursuers of justice.’ Through its social action programs, CBSRZ for many years has advocated for human rights locally and throughout the world, noted CBSRZ President Stephen Davis.

“Martha Stone’s courageous work on behalf of the most vulnerable demonstrates the values that have driven us as a community through our first century. And having her as the inaugural recipient of this award sets a compass for the century to come. We’re so proud to have her as a longtime congregant, and to learn from and be inspired by her example,” he said.

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