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News from the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts

Shana Tova!

Steven Schimmel Executive Director

As we begin the New Year we experience a period of time when we renew our commitment to better ourselves. This is also an appropriate time to talk about supporting the betterment of our community, and supporting Jewish life. During the High Holiday period we join in this moment if renewel with millions of other Jews in communities around the world. And through Jewish Federation’s annual campaign we join with our fellow-supporters to ensure the strength and security of Jewish life everywhere. 

The following are just a few examples of the good work that occurs when we come together for the betterment of Jewish life. Together we welcome newcomers, send families PJ library books, provide scholarships for camp and other Jewish identity-building experiences, support Hillel at Clark University and WPI, and fund Birthright, and together we support enriching programs and Jewish cultural content like our community choir Shir Joy, and the JCC’s Film Festival and Author Series.

Six years ago, our community began LIFE & LEGACY to build the endowment; thus far, the program which is funded by the generous support of the Grinspoon Foundation has helped to secure promised future gifts from over 300 community members. Together we build bridges through joint projects with our sister city Afula, and bring Israeli emissaries to Central MA each year. We work closely with leadership from the Black and Latino communities to strengthen alliances and understanding. We are there to advocate on behalf of community interests- locally and nationally. We also communicate with the Israeli government to ensure that the values of diaspora Jews are known. We work with law enforcement on security concerns, and we combat anti-Semitism. Under the Federation umbrella, Rachel’s Table helps to distribute hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and milk to hungry families. When tragedies hit, we make emergency allocations.

During the COVID pandemic, while families and organizations faced severe hardship g, we coordinated assistance. In fact, when Jews anywhere are in need, we are there to help provide needed funding. These efforts, and many, many more, are what enrich and sustain our Jewish community. This could not be accomplished without the generosity of our donors together. You are our partners on all of these efforts, and, together, we have made Jewish lives better, safer, healthier, and more secure. Thank you to everyone who has contributed time, financial resources, and talent to Federation! 

Jewish Federation Annual Meeting held Sept. 14


On Sept. 14 the Jewish Federation held its first in-person Annual Meeting in three years at the Worcester JCC. Many members of the community attended the meeting where Jonathan Sigel, Nominating Committee Chair and Immediate Past President, announced the Federation’s new board members: Wendy Bergman, Mattie Castiel, Debbie Fruchtman, Ben Gold, and Nina Stoll; and where the community’s accomplishments over the past year were celebrated.

Photos by Bruce Wahle

Ben Lyons led the meeting as President. 
Executive Director
Steven Schimmel addressing the crowd at the Annual Meeting.

The Federation drew a crowd to its first in-person annual meeting in three years.

Community teens, with Mindy Hall,
spoke on the positive impact of the PJ Library Program. 
Rabbi Yaakov Blotner gave remarks.

The Toby Richmond Memorial Leadership Award was presented to Community Security Liaison Mark Shear, the award provides for a stipend to travel on a mission to Israel.  

Bobbie and Nick Chase
Bernie and Benita Rotman
ClarkU Hillel Director Jeff Narod and Judy Luber-Narod

Life & Legacy’s Leah Shuldiner, left,
and Jody Fredman, development director at Jewish Healthcare Center.

September YAD Shabbat Lunch and Games

Enjoying the sunshine at YAD’s trip to Lookout Farm

Picking apples at YAD’s annual pilgrimage to the orchard

Summer meet-up of Chaverim’s Cafe Chaverot

PJ Library Families getting ready for Rosh Hashana with the Torah Center

LIFE & LEGACY Celebrates Close of Year 5

On Wednesday, September 14, over 80 members of our community came together to celebrate our legacy donors and the end of year 5 of the LIFE & LEGACY program in Central Massachusetts in a reception held before the JFCM Annual Meeting.  Below are the welcoming remarks of Leah Shuldiner, the coordinator of the LIFE & LEGACY program.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve had to talk in front of a group of people.  I was at a loss about what to say so I consulted the smartest person in my house – the teenager.  She said, “what’s your topic?”  “Legacy giving,” I said, “That’s when…”

“Mom, I know what a legacy is!” Of course, she does!  I got all warm inside thinking my daughter listens when I speak, understands my work and its importance.  And then she said, “I go to camp!”

My daughter attends 6 Points Sci Tech, a URJ STEM camp hosted at Governors Academy in Byfield Mass.  This was her 5th year there, and my son was a counselor there too this year.  You can attend Sci Tech until you are a 10th grader.  She explained to me that students who are 10th graders at camp work on a special project all summer, something that they can give to the camp on closing day.  The first Sci Tech 10th graders made the Sci Tech Torah.  It’s a scroll with a line drawn horizontally across the middle. On top are printed different Torah portions, and below the line is “Science!” For example, if the story is Noah’s Ark, the science is about why boats float, and how rainbows work.  You see, the camp gave them a perfect mix of being Jewish and being scientists, and they paid it back, and paid it forward, creating a gift for future campers.  Each year the 10th graders work on some new project, personal to them, a gift to future campers that they will never meet.

Life in Central Massachusetts is like camp.  We plunk ourselves down here for a while. We look to the established Jewish community to welcome us, to teach us.  We turn around and do the same for new arrivals.  The people we honor tonight spent some time thinking about the families who will move into Central Mass long after they have raised their kids, retired, and moved elsewhere, and they made a commitment to pay it back by paying it forward.

So let’s get specific. I want to thank some people by name because their commitment is above and beyond. 

First, Harold Grinspoon and Arlene Schiff – Harold created the LIFE & LEGACY program, LIFE & LEGACY is a four-year partnership program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that assists communities across North America, through partnerships with Jewish Federations and Foundations to promote after-lifetime giving to build endowments that will sustain valued organizations and vibrant Jewish communities for the next generation and beyond. His foundation provides matching grants, incentive grants, resources, and training to over 72 communities across North America.  Arlene is our community consultant.

Sharon Krefetz – Sharon met Arlene at a conference, and because of that conversation, Sharon formed the committee that ultimately got our Federation into the program.

Team leaders – Our team leaders work with volunteers from each of our community partners.  They give countless hours. Their dedication has kept this program moving forward through the past 5 years.

EJ Dotts, Beth Tikvah Synagogue

Steve Sosnoff and Eric Capellari, Congregation Beth Israel

Allison Orenstein, Congregation B’nai Shalom

Steve Sosnoff, Steven Schimmel, Federation

Jody Fredman, Jewish Healthcare Center

Allan Shriber, Fred Shuster, David Coyne, Temple Emanuel Sinai

Bernie Rotman, Clark Hillel and Congregation Shaarai Torah West

Martha Hurwitz, Temple Israel

And, the most important people to thank, and the reason we are here right now, our legacy donors.  These people represent

The 331 donors who have made 457 legacy gifts to the Jewish Community of Central Mass, pledging over $14.8 Million!

You did that in just 5 years.  Tonight, I am also proud to announce that The Harold Grinspoon Foundation has pledged to continue supporting communities in its program who have passed the 4-year mark, and Central Mass has been accepted into that program, LIFE & LEGACY PLUS for the next 4 years.

I look forward to continuing our success and celebrating the future with all of you.


On behalf of the board and staff of the Jewish Federation of Central MA, we wish you all a very happy healthy and sweet New Year!

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