Federation 2021: the year in review

By Reporter staff

Although the COVID pandemic affected all Jewish organizations in the area, the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton was still able to hold 10 events during 2021. Federation Executive Director Shelley Hubal noted after several virtual events during the winter, the Federation did hold a few in-person gatherings before the pandemic numbers increased again. However, the planned Super Sunday brunch and film were cancelled, and the proposed lunch and learn became a virtual lecture. “We still held an amazing number of events,” Hubal said. “Our community was eager to gather, whether online or in person. We have plans for upcoming events that I’m very excited about. I’m also proud of this community for showing so much spirit, even during these difficult times.”

Federation events for 2021 included: 

  • A virtual showing of the Israeli romantic-comedy “Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive” directed by Yossi Atia and David Ofek. A discussion about the film was held on January 31 and was moderated by Stephen A. Lisman, Ph.D., distinguished teaching professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, Binghamton University.
  • A virtual showing of the short documentary “Space Torah” on March 4. The showing was followed by a discussion moderated by its executive producer, Rachel Raz.
  • A virtual tour of the “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” exhibit from the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland on April 1. The 60-minute private tour included narrated exploration of key objects and artifacts, followed by a docent-led question-and-answer period.
  • A virtual community Yom Hashoah program on April 8, which included a live Zoom session with Holocaust survivor Rachel Malmed Epstein, readings by local rabbis and a short introduction from an Israeli dignitary. The event also featured a documentary about Epstein. 
  • A Shavuot drive-in on May 16 in the Temple Israel parking lot, which included free ice cream, music and a food drive. Rabbis Geoffrey Brown and Barbara Goldman-Wartell offered prayers on the spirit of Shavuot. Josh Hubal, Rabbi Benny Kellman, Rabbi Moshe Shmaryahu, Steve Gilbert and Eileen Miller were among those performing.
  • A Tot Shabbat in the Park on June 11 in Arnold Park in Vestal. The event included Shabbat snacks of grape juice and challah. Rabbi Benny Kellman and Josh Hubal performed children’s Shabbat songs. There was also a reading from a book published by Kalaniot Books, a Jewish publishing house located in Susquehanna, PA. 
  • An event for young families on July 15 at Stair Park in Vestal. The event was for children of all ages and included activities and snacks.
  • The annual memorial service at the Holocaust Memorial Monument in the Temple Israel Cemetery on September 12. The service was led by area rabbis. The monument was one of the first memorial stones in the United States to acknowledge the Holocaust. 
  • A virtual lecture about “The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng,” an online exhibit sponsored by a grant of the Friends of the UW Libraries at the University of Washington Seattle, on October 1. Rabbi Anson H. Laytner, president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and editor of its journal Points East, spoke about the exhibit.
  • A community Hanukkah celebration hosted with the Jewish Community Center on November 30. The event included an outdoor torch lighting ceremony, a community Hanukkah video and kosher pre-packaged doughnuts.