By Judy Alperin, CEO
The days are a little shorter, the air is a little crisper, the leaves are beginning to tinge with the faintest of colors – fall is here!
The summer months were anything but quiet in our community and the world. Jewish learning experiences happened in day and overnight camps at Gan Israel, JCC Day Camps and Camp Laurelwood where kids tapped into the fun of being Jewish. I had the joy of experiencing camp Shabbat celebrations that were filled with ruach and kavanah. In addition to the beauty of Shabbat, our community welcomed young emissaries to camp for 10 days of Israeli culture and friendship. This program was made possible through our community’s participation in the Southern New England Consortium (SNEC) that partners with Afula and Gilboa in Israel to build people-to-people relationships and programs (P2G).
Jewish life experiences were not just limited to camp this summer. Synagogues across our region were busy with activities including many Shabbat on the beach and Shabbat under the stars events that took advantage of our beautiful surroundings. PJ Library families also gathered for programs on the beach. Temple Emanuel even travelled to explore Jewish Spain. Several area young people spent time in Israel on Birthright and MASA programs.
Work continued over the summer on our Jewish Community Center campus, which is expected to open this winter with a fresh, expanded look and enhanced programs, services and spaces that will serve all ages.
Special celebrations also abound in our community. Camp Laurelwood is celebrating its 80th year. Tower One/ Tower East is celebrating its 50th anniversary and will kick off the year-long celebration on Sept. 10. The New Haven Holocaust Memorial is celebrating its 40th year and will mark the occasion at the Kever Avot memorial service on Sept. 24 and the Jewish Federation is celebrating its 90th year. Temple Beth Tikvah also celebrated its 40th anniversary.
We are celebrating the vibrancy and strength of our Jewish community. At the same time, we are reminded that the freedom and security we enjoy as an American Jewish community are something to cherish and when necessary, to fight for. The summer months ended with loss of life at the hands of an angry mob of Nazis and White Nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hatred and bigotry have crawled out of the shadows and we must rise up to meet them and force them out of our streets, college campuses and daily lives. Our community is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with other faith and minority communities. We will continue to speak out for justice and equality and look for opportunities that will bring us together.
Even during these trying times, there is much to look forward to in the year ahead. From my family to yours, I wish you a shanah tovah u’metukah—a very sweet, healthy, prosperous and happy New Year.