Jewish temple looks toward grant to preserve heritage

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Tue., Mar. 26, 2013
Temple Beth Israel on Killingly Drive in Killingly
The Temple Beth Israel on Killingly Drive in Killingly was built in the 1950s. Photo by D. Coffey.

Eighty-five-year-old Elsie Fetterman remembers when the Christian and Jewish communities in Danielson came together in 1950 to build the town's first Jewish temple. It was just after WWII, and a small group of Holocaust survivors joined a small group of Jewish farmers in the area, and with the help of the larger community, built the Temple Beth Israel. Fetterman would like to see that tradition of community support continue. She and her daughter, Judy Engel, of the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society, have submitted a grant proposal to the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program for funds to ensure that it does.

State Farm's program provides $25,000 grants to 40 non-profits working on projects to improve their neighborhoods. Those non-profits must go through a rigorous selection review, be chosen among the top 200 entries, then tally enough online votes to make them one of the top 40 entries.

Engel feels like they have a shot at getting selected to the top 200 slots. It's the online voting that has her worried. “We're up against big organizations,” she said. “The more people who vote for you, the better your chances of winning.”

If the society receives the $25,000 grant, it would hire, train and supervise student interns to compile historical records, interview Holocaust survivors and temple founders, produce a documentary, create cultural and historical exhibits, improve the website, and help design interfaith services.

“It's like this building has never stopped bringing people together,” Sheri Abrams said. She was a guest at the Community Seder held on March 17. “It's just kept evolving from one generation to the next. That unity, that community bringing all sects together is very special.”

The top 200 causes will be announced April 4 on Facebook, and anyone who has the free Facebook application can vote for their favorite causes, with up to 10 votes per day until April 22. The top 40 vote-receiving causes will be announced April 29.

For more information, go to www.statefarm.com/neighborhoodassist or contact Elsie Fetterman at elsief@umext.umass.edu or Judy Engel at 860-912-0600.


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