GSJC History Timeline

Timeline

1983

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Southington Jewish Community Group begins. Hy and Ellen Rosenstein and Mike Rodensky contact local Jewish families to form a “group”. Earliest members included the Rosensteins, Feinsods, Egdishes, Rosenblatts, Kleinmans, Seidmans, Kovaliks, Richfields, Israels, Meyerowitzes, Strombergs, Gozzos, Mike Rodensky, Art Blumer, Rubins (owned Nutmeg Bakery), Bernice Tanzman Diaz (Stromberg), Howie Stromberg, Joyce and Ralph Kaufman.

Original services are held in members’ homes. Howie Stromberg volunteered his wife, Bernice, to lead lay services. Joyce Kaufman leads the first service.

Incorporation papers are filed with the State of Connecticut, 12/8/1983. 

First real meeting is held at St. Dominic’s.  Some services are held at Briarwood College.



Southington Jewish Congregation joins the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now Union of Reform Judaism).

  • Services are held at Briarwood College.
  • Bernice Tanzman Diaz (Stromberg) and Ed Rosenblatt led bimonthly lay services.
  • Purim Carnival at St. Dominic’s Church.
  • First Sunday School children’s program is offered on September 9, 1984 at Southington YMCA  with first formal objectives, goals, etc. organized by Robin Lensi and Joyce Kaufman.
  • First Summer picnic.
  • High Holiday Services held.
  • November – name changed to Southington Jewish Congregation.

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1984

1985

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On 8/1/85, the congregation changed its name officially to the Greater Southington Jewish Congregation and filed the state paperwork.

  • President – Len Egdish “ A building does not make a Jew. The first shul that a Jew knows is the one he lives, the feelings in his heart and soul that he is Jewish.”
  • Services are being held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
  • High Holiday services are led by rabbinical student Sharon Sobel and negotiations take place to bring her to Southington on a regular basis.
  • Military Torah purchased by Ed Rosenblatt and Bernice Tanzman Diaz ( Stromberg) from Rabbi Seymour Zahn in Hartford for $100. 
  • Fundraising dance held at St. Thomas School.
  • First Apple Harvest Festival – selling potato skins.
  • First baby naming, May, 1985 – Bernice and Howard Stromberg’s baby, Lisa.
  • October 17, 1985 – Are loaned a Torah from Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford. Rabbi Silver tells GSJC, “If we ever need it, I’ll call you”.

  • Torah dedication held on May 16th at St. Paul’s.
  • Bernie Richfield is President.
  • Shabbat dinner held with 55 in attendance.
  • Official acceptance to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
  • (UAHC) – now known as Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).
  • Passover seder held.

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1986

1987

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  • Services held at St. Paul’s.
  • Bernie Richfield is President.
  • Sunday school moves to Temple Sinai in Newington.
  • First community seder held in conjunction with the First Congregational Church with 140 people attending.
  • April – GSJC receives its charter.
  • High Holidays were held at First Congregational Church and led by a student rabbi, Dan Danson, 1988 – Services being held at First Congregational Church.

  • October, 1988 – First bat mitzvah, Sandy Gozzo.

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1988

1989

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  • Rabbinical student – Paula Feldstein 
  • First bar mitzvah – Rob Rosenblatt

  • Formal lease with First Congregational Church is signed.
  • GSJC renovates the small chapel.

 

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1992

1993

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  • Rabbinical student – Niles Goldstein.
  • GSJC gets our own sign placed on the First Congregational Church large sign.
  • First Tashlich held.
  • Rabbinical student – Mary Zamore.
  • First Chanukah party at Amy Breakstone’s house.
  • 10th anniversary gala – 5/14/94.
  • Art and Sandy Blumer have our first aufruf in November.

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1994

1995

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  • I’m First time participation in Southington Interfaith Thanksgiving service.
  • Bar/Bat Mitzvah guidelines adopted.
  • First Passover Seder with First Congregational Church.  

  • Rabbi Barbara Symons – first Rabbi was installed on August 23, 1996. 
  • We host the “Ecumenical” Thanksgiving Service.
  • Eternal Light donated by Rosenblatt, Gozzo and Holloway families
  • Our first website goes live in October.

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1996

1997

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  • 1997 – GSJC starts Shabbat School.
  • Bryan Grover becomes our first member to be converted.
  • Tom Holloway arranged for our Yahrzeit Board to be built.
  • Torah stand built by Craig Farrow
  • First healing service with Rabbi Symons
  •  JUICY (Jewish United Intelligent Congregational Youth),    NFTY-affiliated youth group starts.
  • Nine women have B’not Mitzvah and donate Torah stand. 
  • GSJC Website started.
  • Men’s group started.
  • First Congregational Church renovations compete and we take occupancy of a real office.
  • Rabbi Elliott Stevens’ starts.
  • The Holloway’s donate B’Nai Mitzvah plaque.
  •  

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1998

1999

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  • Yahrzeit Board created.
  • Our own Shabbat School begins after Temple Sinai ended our affiliation.  First meeting is baking challah with Amy Breakstone – which is the beginning of a multi-year tradition.
  • We become part of the initial focus group to review the new Reform siddur.
  • JUICY receives Mechina award for their work from UAHC.
  • We have a new website at www.gsjc.org

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2000

2001

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  • Senior and Junior confirmation classes start.

  • Yizkor booklet created.

  • Food Schmooze group created as a “Gourmet Group”.

  • At Rachel Holloway’s Bat Mitzvah, the eternal light is first hung in the Meetinghouse. 
  • New star (made by Bryan Grover’s father) premieres at Rachel

  •  First confirmation in June – Natalie Minor

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2002

2003

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  • GSJC is featured in the Jewish Ledger.
  • 20th anniversary celebration held on 10/30/2004, organized by Sue Kleinman and committee    
  • Bryan Grover’s father builds our new ark.
  • Cemetery agreement made with Kol Haverim, Glastonbury.

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2004

2005

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  • October, 2005 – Nancy Grover and Shari Bornstein create school curriculum.
  • We buy a sign for the cemetery space with Congregation Kol Haverim.
  • We purchased 100 copies of the new Mishkan T’filah prayer book.
  • Mezuzahs affixed to doors of the small chapel.
  • Beth Malvezzi becomes our cantorial soloist.
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  •  Bar/bat mitzvah guidelines updated and parent religious school handbook created.
  • New Torah reading stand built by Bryan Grover’s father.
  • Congregation becomes Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation on 11/16/2006 with the State processing of the paperwork..
  • We hold our first Shabbat Across America.
  • Laura Minor invited to join the Northeast Council of Leaders for the URJ.
  • Debbie Hale becomes first paid school coordinator.
  • Janice Rustico and Nancy Grover create a new Hebrew School curriculum.

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2006

2007

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  • First Selichot Service held.
  • Rabbis Liz Rolle and Phil Schechter installed August, 2007.
  • Mishkan T’filah new prayer books, arrive in time for Sukkot. We are one of the first congregations anywhere to use the new prayer book.
  • Purim held at Friendship Lodge in Southington.

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2008

2009

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  • Rabbi Shelley Kovar Becker starts.

  • Hamantaschen baking moves to the Andersen home.

  • We replace cemetery sign, which was stolen.

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2010

2011

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  • Mitzvah Day – Make a Box for a Soldier.
  • Second adult b’nai mitzvah ceremony – 9 men and women.
  • Purchase children’s High Holiday books.
  • GSJC becomes shomrim for Holocaust Torah.
  • B’nai mitzvah of the Baxter triplets!

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2012

2013

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  • Debbie Lieberman takes over as school administrator.
  • We hosted a concert: Holocaust Cantata: Songs from the Camps performed by Cheshire High School VIPs and Chromatix Ensemble, directed by Beth Malvezzi
  • First summer picnic at Rec Park.
  • Bryan Grover and Barbi Liftman cook our own seder.

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2014

2015

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  • $17,000 raised for restoration of Holocaust Torah.

  • Ordered 100 copies and 1 large print version (for cantorial soloist) of Mishkan HaNefesh.

  • Rededication of Holocaust-Rescued Torah – 9/18/16, Memorial Scrolls Trust #888.
  • Pre-Rosh Hashanah Dinner at Fratelli’s starts new tradition.

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2016

2017

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  • Family Promise starts at First Congregational Church and GSJC pitches in with donations and meals, including the religious school kids occasionally making breakfast for the families.

  • Rabbi Alanna Wasserman begins in August.

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2018

2019

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  • Jewish-themed films are shown in Memorial Hall  (November-February) with the outside community invited.
  • Last live service before pandemic takes place on March 5 in Memorial Hall – a combined Purim/Shabbat pizza party.
  • The Rabbi opens a Zoom account and we start conducting Shabbat services and holiday services virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic.

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2020

2021

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  •  Jesse Lieberman – Bat Mitzvah outdoors.
  • Hailey Andersen Bat Mitzvah in the large sanctuary with social distancing and masks.
  • Blended live and Zoom services begin in the fall in the large sanctuary.
  • We participate in Dignity Grows and Rise Against Hunger.
  • First ice cream Tu B’Shevat seder held

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2022

2023

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  • B’Nai mitzvah for Debbie Lieberman. 
  • Ethics code and grievance procedure approved.
  • Fortieth anniversary planning begins.

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