Tag Archives: Federation for Jewish Philanthropy

After Pittsburgh, Community Gathers At 1 pm Today

In the wake of yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, the entire Westport community is invited to a gathering this afternoon. It’s set for 1 p.m., at the Conservative Synagogue (30 Hillspoint Road).

First Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and other town officials will attend. This morning, they meet with Jewish leaders of Westport at police headquarters.

The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County says:

This past Shabbat, a day intended for peace and rest, for family and prayer, has been a tragically sad one.

Some of us heard the news as it happened, others as they left morning services, and others not until sundown, of the horrifying shoots at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. The loss of lives due to a blatant and hateful act of anti-Semitism stands as the most fatal act against the Jewish community in American history.

At times of great sadness, we find strength in standing together — in solidarity with the Tree of Life Congregation and the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, and in comfort to each other.

Today, the Jewish Federation and congregations from throughout Fairfield County will come together at The Conservative Synagogue in Westport for a special community gathering at this very difficult time. While no words can erase the tragic loss of life and our sadness because of it, our Jewish tradition shows us the value in being together to share sorrow and to find hope.

In light of yesterday’s incident, we will of course work to ensure sufficient security for this event. We hope that you join us.

 

Mitzvah Heroes Earn Honors

Financial support is vital to most non-profits — especially those that fund causes those groups support.

So organizations tend to honor men and women who donate the most money. It’s the way the world works.

But, David Weisberg realized over a decade ago, plenty of good people do great deeds that have nothing to do with fundraising.

At the time, he was working to make the Jewish community of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania a better place. “Mitzvah Hero Awards” was born. (“Mitzvah” is a Hebrew word meaning “a good deed done from religious duty.”)

When David moved to Westport, he brought her idea along. Which is why this Sunday (January 28, 5 p.m., Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus, Bridgeport) the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County will present its 1st-ever Mitzvah Hero Awards.

There are 14 honorees, from throughout the county. Four are Westporters. That’s plenty of mitzvahs.

Robert Bolton

For example, after his bar mitzvah (which means, literally, “son of the commandment”) 2 years ago, Robert Bolton vowed to attend Beit Chaverim every Friday night and Sunday morning. The small Westport synagogue does not always assemble a minyan (quorum of 10 men age 13 or older).

“Robert’s warm and caring personality raised the experience for all attendees as well,” praises Rabbi Greg Wall. And the teenager has the best attendance record of any congregation member.

Allyson Gottlieb

Allyson Gottlieb chairs Temple Israel’s Social Action Committee. Leading with energy, enthusiasm and insights, says Rabbi Michael Friedman, she often asks, “How can we do more?” Among the activities: strengthening the temple’s commitment to Homes With Hope, expanding its regular food drives, and revitalizing the annual Mitzvah Day, engaging hundreds of congregants in projects of every stripe.

Marilyn Katz

Since joining the Conservative Synagogue as one of its early members, Marilyn Katz has volunteered in many ways. Most outstanding, says Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn, is her 30-year commitment to the Sunday morning minyan.

Every Sunday she is the first person in the building, opening the kitchen to prepare breakfast. She makes the congregation “a caring community committed to taking care of one another.”

Howie Schwartz

Chabad’s Howie Schwartz serves special needs families through the Friendship Circle. He is a role model and inspiration for other adults and teens — including his own children — says Rabbi Yehuda Kantor, thanks to his hands-on help, and his “heart and soul passion” in projects like the Friendship Walk, family bowls, holiday parties and Pump It Up.

The honorees’ award quotes Pirkei Avot, the sacred Jewish text on ethics: “It is not what one says, but rather what one does, that makes all the difference in the world.”

Mazel tov!

(For more information on Sunday’s event, click here.)