CT News

WHAT’S HAPPENING – February 9 – March 18


Politics & Identity among Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews

Joshua Shanes, PhD, associate professor of Jewish Studies and director of the Center for Israel Studies, College of Charleston, will discuss “A Growing Schism: Politics and Identity Among Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Jews,” on Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. The FREE webinar is sponsored by the Judaic Studies Program in collaboration with the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. Registration required at fairfield.edu/bennettprograms. For questions, contact the Bennett Center at bennettcenter@fairfield.edu or call (203) 254-4000 ext. 2066.

Jews & Civil Rights, and lessons learned

Professor Greenberg will share her reflections lessons learned form the history of Black-Jewish relations in the 20th century on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Recent discussions about white privilege and white supremacy have raised questions about where Jews of European descent fit in. Are Jews white? And if so, how has that affected Jewish involvement in Civil Rights Movement in the past? How should it inform us moving forward? Hosted by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford. For more information, contact jhsgh.org.

The NY Librarian who spied on American Nazis

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents “The New York Librarian Who Spied On American Nazis” on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. Marshall Curry, Academy Award-winning filmmaker (A Night at the Garden); Dr. Daniel Greene, president and librarian at the Newberry Library, professor of history at Northwestern University, and curator of “Americans and the Holocaust;” and Michael Simonson, head of public outreach and archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute discuss the life and legacy of Florence Mendheim, a Jewish librarian who went undercover in the 1930s to spy on local Nazi groups in the New York area. Co-presented by the Museum and the Leo Baeck Institute. For more information on this virtual program, visit: mjhnyc.org/events.


The power of unplugging on Shabbat

The 9th Annual Saul Cohen-Schoke JFS Lecture Series presents “Tech Shabbat,” with guest speaker Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and author of 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week, who will focus on regaining your inner calm and connection to people instead of screens. The free lecture to be held Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m., is co-sponsored by UJA/JCC Greenwich, Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County and the UJF Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, in partnership with the Jewish Book Council.

To register, visit www.ctjfs.org/saul-cohen-jfs-lecture. For more info, contact Matt Greenberg at (203) 921-4161 or mgreenberg@ctjfs.org. 


“Purim On Tap” for Young Adults

The Tribe, a group for adults in their 20’s and 30’s organized by Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, and JewGood, a branch of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford that empowers young professionals to engage in philanthropy, are hosting “Purim on Tap,” a virtual discussion of the Purim story on Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m., with refreshments. For more information, visit cbict.org/calendar.


Before Fiddler – Live from Florence “with Hershey Felder

“Before Fiddler – Live From Florence,” featuring actor, playwright and virtuoso pianist Hershey Felder as Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem, as well as performances by the Florence-based Klezmer music ensemble, Klezmerata Fiorentina. Filmed on location where events actually took place, this streaming production will feature the stories and characters of Sholem Aleichem, along with music that is sure to move the soul. This World Premiere production will be streamed live on Feb. 7 at 8 p.m., and will be available for on-demand streaming until Feb. 14 at 8:59 p.m. Proceeds will benefit over 20 national and international theaters, arts organizations and publications. 

Tickets: $55 per household, available at hersheyfelder.net.


“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” screening & discussion

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents a screening and discussion of the 1970 classic film “The Garden Of The Finzi-Continis” on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. Ricky Ian Gordon, composer of the operatic adaptation of the film, and Portia Prebys, longtime companion of Giorgio Bassani, join Italian film and history experts for a discussion on the film. Attendees will receive a private link to screen the film during the four-day period before the program. For more information on this virtual program, visit: mjhnyc.org/events.

Exploring the history and evolution of Yizkor Books

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents Z”achor: Yizkor Books As Collective Memory Of A Lost World,” on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. on Zoom. Speakers include Avraham Groll, executive director of JewishGen; Joyce Field, former JewishGen VP for Research and Data Acquisition and Yizkor Book Project Manager; Lance Ackerfeld, director of the Yizkor Book Project; and Joel Alpert, coordinator of the Yizkor Books in Print Project, Compiled from memory by groups of former residents of Eastern European towns in the immediate decades after the Holocaust, Yizkor Books are some of the best sources for learning about pre-war Jewish life in Eastern and Central Europe. Of the more than 1,500 Yizkor Books in existence, hundreds have been completely or partially translated into English by JewishGen and more than 100 translated editions are now available in print. For more information on this virtual program, visit: mjhnyc.org/events.


Jewish Ethics, Social Justice, and the 21st Century Rabbinate 

Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay of the Jewish Theological Seminary will discuss “Jewish Ethics, Social Justice, Community Organizing and the 21st Century Rabbinate ” on Feb. 18 at 7:30 on Zoom, as part of the 2021 series of virtual lectures surrounding the theme of “The Jewish Roots of Social Justice,” presented by the ALEPH Institute, a learning initiative sponsored by the Mandell JCC and UConn Judaic Studies. Rabbi Ruskay will focus on raising the scope and profile of social justice work and community organizing skills in the role of the contemporary rabbi. For more information, visit judaicstudies.uconn.edu or mandelljcc.org. 

Beyond the Ghetto Gates with author Michelle Cameron

The book Beyond the Ghetto Gates by Michelle Cameron is set in 1796-97, a rare happy epoch in Jewish life when Napoleon marched into Italy and demolished the ghetto gates, freeing the Jews who had long been trapped behind them. This virtual book discussion with Cameron on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m., explores issues the novel raises issue that remain pertinent today, including antisemitism, the conflict between assimilation and religious tradition, intermarriage, and the struggle between love and familial duty. For more information, visit cbict.org/calendar.

A talk with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust presents “Legacies: A Talk With Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla,” who has overseen the development of the world’s first safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, will discuss his experience as the son of Holocaust survivors and how his upbringing informed his accomplished career. He will be joined in conversation by Robert Krulwich, science and technology journalist and longtime host of the double Peabody Award-winning show Radiolab. Admission is complimentary with a suggested donation. For more information on this virtual program, visit: mjhnyc.org/current-events.


JTConnect’s Pink Shabbat raises breast cancer awareness

In keeping with Sharsheret Pink Day 2021, a worldwide initiative to raise breast cancer awareness that will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 10, JTConnect will host its annual Pink Shabbat on Feb. 20, 7 – 8 p.m. Led by JTConnect teen engagement fellows and open to all ages, the evening will include Havdalah and a meal certified kosher by the HKC and ready for pick up by Friday, Feb. 19. JTConnect Pink Shabbat Boxes that include a pink Havdalah set, Sharsheret swag, mitzvah cards, and more, may be purchased for $36. Procees will benefit Sharsheret, a national non-profit that improves the lives of Jewish women and families living with or at increased genetic risk for breast or ovarian cancer. Reservations a must by Friday, Feb. 12. Zoom link will be sent upon registration. To register, contact cara@jtconnect.org. 


In concert: Alex Nakhimovsky & Friends

Beth El Temple presents a Zoom concert featuring pianist pianist Alex Nakhimovsky and vocalists led by Cantor Joseph Ness. jazz and pop to classical and Israeli folk songs. Part of the 2021 BEMA online season. FREE. Register at https://tinyurl.com/BEMAandAlex.


UJF Community Read to feature author Rachel Barenbaum

Author Rachel Barenbaum will discuss her debut novel A Bend in the Stars on Zoom, Monday, Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m. at the Community Read hosted by United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.

Set in Russia during World War I, in A Bend in the Stars Barenbaum melds the science relating to solving Einstein’s theory of relativity with a love story. The book was named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Barenbaum, who lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, is a reviewer for the LA Review of Books, the Tel Aviv Review of Books and DeadDarlings. She is an honorary research associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and a graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, and is founder of Debut Spotlight and the Debut Editor at A Mighty Blaze. 

To register for this free program, visit ujf.org/communityread, or email Diane Sloyer at dianesloyer@ujf.org. 

AFTERLIFE: What does Judaism say about the world to come?

Cantor Abramson of Congregation Shir Ami will lead a virtual exploration on the Jewish perspective on the afterlife and the concepts of heaven and hell on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Cantor Abramson cantorjea@gmail.com.


Since 2000, the Auschwitz Jewish Center (AJC), a Polish satellite location of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and the only Jewish presence remaining in the vicinity of Auschwitz, has preserved Jewish memory in the town of Oświęcim and educated about the contemporary dangers of antisemitism and other forms of prejudice. Barbara Posner and Shlomi Shaked, the daughter and grandson of survivors from Oświęcim, who have both reconnected with the town over the past two decades, will explore the Center’s commemoration efforts in Oświęcim and their impact on descendants of the town’s Jewish residents, on Feb 23 5 p.m.For more information on this virtual program, visit: mjhnyc.org/events.


Arthur Szyk & the Art of the Haggadah

Irving Ungar, rabbi and antiquarian book dealer specializing in history Judaica, will present the Samuel and Bettie Roberts Lecture in Jewish Art, and co-editor, The Szyk Haggadah, publisher and editor, Arthur Szyk: Soldier in Art (2017) on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The FREE webinar is part of the lecture series presented by Fairfield University’s Bennet Center for Judaic Studies. Registration required at fairfield.edu/bennettprogram. For questions, contact the Bennett Center at bennettcenter@fairfield.edu or call (203) 254-4000 ext. 2066.


Purim Story Slam

Congregation Shir Ami will host a Purim Story Slam on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

A Story Slam is a live story-telling event where individuals share a personal story (about 3-5 minutes long) in the form of a story, a poem or a song; it can be funny, inspiring or dramatic. (If you have never heard a story slam before, listen to The Moth on NPR to get the idea). The Purim Story Slam theme is inspired by the way Mordechai and Queen Esther found a way to foil Haman’s nefarious plan to harm the Jews. If you can recall a time when you felt stuck but you found a way to get out of it, or if you have a personal story that speaks about confronting adversity? If so, contact Cantor Abramson at cantorjea@gmail.com with a brief description of your idea.


Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy’s annual dinner goes virtual

Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy 65th Annual Celebration Dinner, to be held virtually on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m,. will honor several community leaders, including: Guests of Honor Stephanie and Josh Bilenker; Young Leadership Award recipients Nicole and Jonathan Makovsky; Doris Zelinsky, recipient of the Morton G. Scheraga President’s Award; and the many school alumni who are currently serving in the Israel Defense Force. In addition, Jacqueline Herman, who will be retiring as Bi-Cultural head of school at the end of this academic year, will receive the inaugural Walter Shuchatowitz Award for Excellence in Education. For more information, call (203) 329-2186 or visit bchact.org.

Looking for God in All the Right Places with author Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin will discuss his book Looking for God in All the Right Places, on Zoom, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. Rabbi Slakin is well known for his writing, teaching and activism. He has written or edited three Torah commentaries – two of which are for teens. Several of his books have won national awards. His award-winning blog, “Martini Judaism: for those who want to be shaken and stirred,” is published by the Religion News Service. He is currently spiritual leader of Temple Israel in West Palm Beach, Florida.For more information, visit cbict.org/calendar.


Two women talking: A rabbi and a pastor sit down for coffee

The Open MINDS Institute of Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts present “Women Who Transform Tradition: Or, What Happens When a Female Rabbi and a Female Pastor Sit Down for Coffee,” on March 3 at 1 p.m. Rabbi Sarah Marion of Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport and Reverend Vanessa Rose of First Church Congregational in Fairfield, talk about about women who serve as religious leaders: their history, opportunities, and challenges. No registration is required for this FREE virtual program. For more information, visit quickcenter.com or call (203) 254-4010.


ALEPH presents: “Performing Judaism and Social Justice” 

How to both teach and deconstruct the dominant stereotypes that Jews reinforce when teaching about Jews and Judaism is the focus of “Performing Judaism and Social Justice,” will be presented on Zoom on March 4 at 7:30 p.m., as part of the 2021 series of virtual lectures surrounding the theme of “The Jewish Roots of Social Justice.” The Zoom-theatrical performance will feature Kendell Pinkney, a Brooklyn based theater-maker, Jewish-life consultant, and JTS rabbinical student; Avi Amon, a Turkish-American composer, sound artist, and educator; and Rebecca S’manga Frank, an actor, writer, director. The performance is part of the ALEPH Institute learning initiative sponsored by the Mandell JCC and UConn Judaic Studies. 

For more information, visit judaicstudies.uconn.edu or mandelljcc.org.

Klezmer musician Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn in concert 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust continues to bring live music to audiences at home through the Live from Edmond J. Safra Hall concert series, presented from its state-of-the-art theater. Next up in the series: A live performance by the celebrated klezmer musician Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn on March 4 at 8 p.m.. The group will play hits from Winograd’s 2019 LP Kosher Style, classics from the golden age of Yiddish theater and Klezmer music. Winograd will lead the concert on the clarinet, joined by trombonist Daniel Blacksberg, accordionist Will Holshouser, pianist Carmen Staa, bassist Zoe Guigueno, and drummer David Licht.

For more information, visit mjhnyc.org.


Susannah Heschel, The Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, will explore the intertwined dimensions of relations between African Americans and Jewish Americans, Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Jewish memory of the Civil Rights Movement in recent decades in light of the rise of white nationalism, and scholarship on racism and what they might contribute to our understanding of antisemitism, in her lecture “Blacks, Jews and Black Jews,” to be held on March 18 at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is part of the 2021 series of virtual lectures surrounding the theme of “The Jewish Roots of Social Justice,” presented by the ALEPH Institute learning initiative and sponsored by the Mandell JCC and UConn Judaic Studies. For more information, visit judaicstudies.uconn.edu or mandelljcc.org.

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Each May, Jewish history and American history collide

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