Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life

Coalition Community and Events Coverage

Recaps or… “What you missed and might want to know”


GWCJL Speaker Series, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir “American Policy in the Middle East”

Dr Ben-Meir’s long, wide and deep experience in the Middle East was much evident and enthusiastically received by a large turnout of Coalition members and friends this past weekend. Those who attended came from different political backgrounds, but all shared an interest in how continuing great challenges in the region might be addressed: who and what nations should be a part of any talks, how do we address non-negotiable issues, and what is reasonable to ask for and expect? Many issues and questions, a worthwhile and enlightening morning was had by all.

With thanks to Coalition Speaker Series Chair Lois Schein for her continued and long-standing efforts, and Coalition funders for their generous support.



Congregations Organized for a New Ct. (CONECT) and their Criminal Justice Reform Team

Presented by: Federation for Jewish Philanthropy (UJA Eastern Fairfield County) in collaboration with UJA Fairfield County

David Weisberg, CEO of the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy, facilitated a compelling community conversation with leaders of CONECT. The speakers acknowledged positive strides made in recent years, but also the  long-standing issues of racism that remain in Connecticut’s criminal justice system, now unfortunately pitted against a COVID-19 backdrop.  The program was significant for several reasons: it addressed specific ways the current system might be improved through policy, a different operating structure and less-practiced grass-roots efforts; it brought in on-the-ground speakers with a range of of background,  experience and perspective, and finally different congregations and philanthropies are represented and actively involved. (

With thanks to CONECT, UJA for spearheading and supporting this important initiative, conversation and work…




GWCJL Organizes Drive-Thru Food Drive

The Interfaith Committee of the GWCL organized a very successful food drive on August 22nd, held at the First Congregational Church on behalf of the Washington Council of Congregations. More than a dozen Coalition members responded to the call for volunteers from Ilene Leff and Carolyn Setlow, co-chairs of the Coalition’s Interfaith Committee. In four hours, a cross-sectionof the greater community collected 645 pounds of shelf-stable food and household products, as well as over $2500 in funds. 

Donors were asked to remain in their cars while volunteers (wearing gloves and masks) removed contributions from their vehicle backseats or trunks.  Coalition volunteers who either greeted donors, received the donations, or sorted and weighed the products included Marian Dar, Gloria Greenstein, Marty Greenstein,  Susan Haber,   Ilene Leff, Richard Lewis, Rich Pomerantz, Lois Schein, Carolyn Setlow, Hannah Shear, Maureen Sladden, You did a great job! A special thanks to Rich for doing our social media and print media placement.  We also thank the many other Coalition members who supported our efforts with donations, both products and money.

Three days later, volunteers Andy Shapiro and Howard Silverman delivered the proceeds to the Washington-Warren and New Milford Food Banks. The food banks have experienced an increase in need since the spread of Covid-19; and expressed gratitude for these donations.

Volunteers from fellow WCOC member congregations, the First Congregational Church, St. John’s and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pitched in as well.  According to Ilene Leff,  “We enjoyed working together in a spirit of collaboration and comradery, in the true spirit of Tikkun Olam, acts of kindness performed to help heal the world.”

We look forward to working with our fellow Coalition members again on our next community project! 

With much appreciation,


Ilene and Carolyn

With thanks to Coalition members Ilene Leff and Carolyn Setlow for their great efforts and achievements on these important community projects.