Feature Stories MA News

2011 in Western Mass.


Rachel's Table collected food donated at Longmeadow public schools for victims of the June tornado.


The doors of the brand new Hebrew High School of New England opened in West Hartford, Conn. Jan. 3. The school had held classes in the basement of the Agudas Achim Synagogue for the past 15 years before the community opened the new 33,000-foot, state of the art school building – named the Grinspoon-Konover building — at a cost of $6.8 million. HHNE is located on the Pava Family Campus, across from the Mandell Jewish Community Center on the Zachs Campus. Students from Western Massachusetts, Hartford and New Haven attend the private Jewish high school.

Jewish Teens of the Valley (JTOV) and B’nai Tzedek Philanthropy Program hosted the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Philanthropy and Leadership at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton.


Preschool teachers from the Springfield JCC and attended a training session for PJ Goes to School which provides monthly copies of PJ Library books to preschool classrooms in Western Mass., Hartford, Conn., and other U.S. cities.

Six local Jewish organizations were presented with incentive checks by “Create a Jewish Legacy” for their outstanding efforts to secure planned gifts for the future security of their institutions.


The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts held “Super Sunday” on March 6, raising more than $61,000 during the phone-a-thon, its largest community fundraising event of the year.

The Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, screened 20 films – dramas, comedies and documentaries — in seven valley towns from March 23- April 7.

University of Massachusetts Hillel honored Rabbi Saul Perlmutter for his 37 years as executive director of UMass Hillel. Rabbi Harold Kushner was the guest speaker at the event.

Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts opened an office at the Springfield Jewish Community Center in the location vacated last year by the Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center.


The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Western Massachusetts launches its new website in conjunction with JEF’s new slogan “INVEST IN WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN.” The site offers information about JEF, its donors an beneficiary agencies, as well as a digital “Book of Life” highlighting people who have made legacy gifts.

Seventh and Eighth graders from Lubavitchter Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow went on an 11-day trip to Israel.


Yom Ha’atzmaut was celebrated in both the upper and lower Pioneer Valley in May.  The Anna P. Housen Israel Desk of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts organized a day-long celebration at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst and a concert featuring the Maccabeats in Springfield at Temple Beth El. Earlier, the Israel Desk brought the Afula Youth Orchestra to town.

Sue Kline was honored at the annual Rose Luncheon on May 13 at Chez Josef. An event of the Women’s Philanthropy Department of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, the luncheon is named after its first honoree, Rose Corbert, and honors outstanding Jewish women who have committed their lives to volunteering in the Greater Springfield community.

More than 250 people attended Bountiful Bowls, the primary fundraiser for Rachel’s Table, raising more than $50,000 to help alleviate hunger in the greater Springfield area. Every year, Rachel’s Table, the hunger relief program of the Jewish Federation, donates over 300,000 pounds of food to 43 agencies.

The hard work and dedication of local Jewish educators was highlighted on May 19 at the Educators’ Banquet, presented annually by the Resource Center for Jewish Education, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.


A tornado swept through Western Massachusetts June 1, leaving a path of destruction through areas of Springfield. The Jewish community lept into action, raising funds through the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts and collecting food and other  supplies for families displaced by the storm.

More than 60 members of the Springfield Jewish Community graduated from the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School at a ceremony at the Springfield JCC.


Camp Ramah of New England in Palmer, held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new multi-purpose building “Bet Am Gadol” – “big house of people.”

“Challapalooza” the Berkshire Jewish Musical Festival was held in Lenox.


The 2011 Springfield Maccabi Games were held from Aug. 14-19 with participation from more than 100 local athletes as well as 800 teen athletes from around the United States, Canada, Mexico and Israel.  Besides competing in their sports, athletes bonded at the JCC, participated in tikkun olam projects around Springfield, and celebrated at the Basketball Hall of Fame.


The Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts and the Jewish Endowment Foundation held their annual meeting on  Sept. 21, at Chez Josef, honoring all Create a Jewish Legacy participants. Federation President Ed Greenbaum and Betsy Gaberman, chair of the Jewish Endowment Foundation were recognized for their service. Unsung Heroes, Sue Polansky, Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz and Bil Zarch were also honored.

Western Mass. day schools launched “The Leader in Me,” an educational life skills program.

Rabbi Max Davis was installed at Congregation B’nai Torah in Longmeadow with guest speakers Rabbis Irving “Yitz” Greenberg and Avi Weiss.

Two Young Emissaries from Israel – Tal Sarig and Shir Racon – arrived in Western Massachusetts and began strengthening ties to Israel by working at local day schools, Hebrew schools, synagogues and other Jewish agencies.

Rabbis Amy Wallk Katz and Riqi Kosovske and Rabba Sara Hurwitz spoke about the evolving role of women rabbis during a panel discussion of the Women’s Philanthropy department of the Jewish Federation.

Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel spoke on the Middle East at Temple Anshe Amunim in Pittsfield on Sept. 18 as part of the 44th Annual Hilda Vallin Feigenbaum memorial Foundation Lecture.

Members of the Springfield Jewish War Veterans and students and staff of Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy remembered Sept. 11 during a morning ceremony at the Longmeadow school.


The 5th Annual Ride to Provide was held Oct. 16 with 197 riders raising $56,000 toward UMass Hillel commuity service trips and environmental projects.

Steven and Alissa Korn of Longmeadow were recognized for their work to create “Kehillah” the successful Special Needs Program at the Springfield Jewish Community Center. More than $100,000 was raised to provide scholarships and increase programming for young adults.

Federation Executive Director Meredith Dragon presented a check to Sarah Tanner, United Way Campaign Director, and Dora Robinson, United Way Executive Director.  The Federation partnered with the United Way to raise money for relief efforts after the devastating tornadoes hit the area on June 1.  The Jewish community raised $26,031, a significant portion of the $300,000 raised by the United Way for these efforts.


The Springfield Jewish Community Center celebrated Jewish Book Month with “Literatour” the 2011 Jewish Book Festival and authors such as Longmeadow native Jennifer Gardner Trulson, Joan Leegant, Kenneth Ginsberg and Anita Diamant.


Rachel’s Table held its Foodraiser shopping contest on  Dec. 4at the Longmeadow Big Y. Now in its fifth year, the Food-raiser is a friendly competition in which shoppers try to buy the most food for the least money. All the food that is purchased was donated directly to Providence Ministries and Open Pantry.



SuperSunday slated for March 6
Massachusetts women show their strength at Marches in D.C. and Boston

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