December 15, 2017

CBSRZ Hosts Book Launch Event Today for ‘House of Peace & Justice’

Ellen Nodelman

CHESTER — House of Peace & Justice, a new illustrated book profiling 100 years of Jewish farming and community in the shoreline-lower Connecticut River area, is to be released in a celebration scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29, at 11:00 am, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek, 55 E. Kings Highway, in Chester, CT. The event is free of charge, open to all, and features brunch with foods linked to early Jewish farming in Connecticut.

Three years in the making, House of Peace and Justice, The First 100 Years of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek chronicles the development of the synagogue from its dual roots: in a small rural temple, Rodfe Zedek (‘Pursuers of Justice’), founded in 1915 by hardscrabble Jewish chicken farmers in Moodus, and in another small Jewish group formed in Chester and Deep River in the 1930’s that grew into the Jewish Community Center, later Congregation Beth Shalom (‘House of Peace’) in Deep River.

Author Ellen Nodelman unearthed colorful details ofmomentous events in the Jewish community of the area, including how the two synagogues merged in 1998 to form one, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek. The fused congregation moved in 2001 to its current home in Chester, a building renowned in the international art world as the only public space designed by 20th century artist, and CBSRZ congregant, Sol LeWitt.

Few American synagogues have their origins in farming communities. And few American synagogues can claim as diverse and wide-ranging a membership as today’s CBSRZ which has included not only business people, doctors and lawyers but artists, writers, teachers, politicians, musicians, media stars, and even a farmer or two. It marked its 100th birthday in 2015.

The launch event on October 29 will feature three speakers: Ellen Friedman, Jon Joslow, and Michael Price, representing Rodfe Zedek, the JCC/Beth Shalom and the merged CBSRZ. Rabbi Marci Bellows will moderate a session for long-time community members to share memories. House of Peace & Justice author Ellen Nodelman will read selections from the new book.

The general public is invited to attend the Book Launch celebration, a very special event not only for CBSRZ and the larger Jewish community in Connecticut but for everyone interested in the history of the shoreline and lower Connecticut River valley. Visit www.cbsrz.org to RSVP by Oct. 25. Books will be available for purchase at the book launch (list price: $36).  For a discounted pre-publication price of $27, books may be ordered on the website until the 27th of October and picked up at the book launch.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  For more information, contact the office at CBSRZ: 860-526-8920.

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