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Grassroots Jewish Women of Connecticut Hold ‘Partnering 2Gether’ Panel Discussion

"Partnering 2Gether" was held on May 30, 2024. Courtesy photo

Grassroots Jewish Women of Connecticut offered a glimpse behind the headlines during a panel discussion in West Hartford.


A crowd of nearly 200 community members gathered for the milestone event hosted by the Grassroots Jewish Women of Connecticut (GJWC): “Partnering 2Gether” on Thursday, May 30.

GJWC is a group of Jewish volunteer women who have come together since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack to show support for Israel and the hostages, to fight antisemitism and to support each other. The goal of the evening was to educate and dispel misconceptions to broader community. Jewish women in the group invited a variety of members of our community.

The event, moderated by former local anchor Rebecca Stewart, featured Sigal Kanotopsky, Northeast Regional Director for the Jewish Agency for Israel, Ofek M., an Israeli Emissary at the Jewish Federation of Greater Fairfield County, and Dr. Andrew Pessin, professor of philosophy and Jewish studies at Connecticut College. Just months removed from the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust, antisemitism around the globe is surging, and misinformation is rampant as journalism and social media are too often intertwined with politics.

The room was filled with the images of the 125 hostages still held in captivity with flags identifying the American hostages. The GJWC and the featured panelists hosted an open dialogue with the community to address the toughest questions and offer insight into the Jewish and Israeli communities, while tackling the topic of antisemitism.

Panelist Sigal Kanotopsky shared: “In Israel 52% of the Jews are not white and European. They are not Ashkenazi. They are from Africa and Asia, 20% of Israelis are Muslim Arabs including a Supreme Court justice. If you ask the majority of Israel, of course we care about the lives of the people in Gaza.“

Ofek M. offered this perspective: “Life is not a Marvel superhero movie. It is too simple to frame this conflict as good guys and bad guys. Instead of asking who is good and bad, you should ask what does the future look like in Israel? It’s about the future of democracy and freedom. We have peace with many Muslim countries.”

Dr. Andrew Pessin shared: “Israel wants to live in peace. And many Israelis would bend over backwards to do that if the other side wanted to live in peace. But Hamas doesn’t want to live in peace. … If there is hope, I can quote Mark Twain where he marveled at the immortality of the Jew.”

The panelists consistently highlighted the ways in which Israel is disproportionately scrutinized, and how that is driven by antisemitism. GRJW emphasized the group’s commitment to combating antisemitism through educational outreach and honest open dialogue. The event is just the first of many in which the Greater Hartford Jewish community can connect with its neighbors and friends.

For further information, email Grassrootsjewishwomen@gmail.com.

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