Summer Institute is moving online for summer 2020

Dear Havurahniks,

With great sadness, love, and hope, I’m sharing the news that the Board, with the recommendation of the COVID19 Response Committee, voted to cancel in-person Institute this summer at Hartford and move programming online.

We are deeply sad that we will not be gathering at Hartford in person – there is no true substitute for being together in one place. We are full of love for our community, which we want to protect, safeguard, and sustain. And we have true hope that our community will find a way to gather meaningfully online this summer, and continue to have many more in-person Institutes in future years.

In that spirit, we want to invite our community to a kehillah gathering on Sunday evening, May 24th (see below for more details). We want to meet in fellowship – to share our love for this community, to share information and feelings, and to brainstorm creatively about how we can contribute to an online summer Institute that preserves its heart even as it transforms and innovates. We will create this online Institute together, as we have always created Institute together.

The specific shape of this will come together based on the abilities, needs, desires, and wants, of our community. What I can say now is that we plan to have rich and meaningful online programming, with an emphasis on havurah: community-sharing and building and learning Torah in fellowship and friendship.

The amazing Core Team – Glenda McKinney, Eliana Roberts Golding, and Rebecca Wassell – has stepped up for a challenge that none of us saw coming. They are leading us forward with their work and vision.

The University of Hartford has been completely understanding and supportive, and are themselves thinking of ways that they might participate online in some way to keep us connected to our summer home.

We expect online Institute to happen over a period of time, likely longer than a week, at the end of July and/or beginning of August. As in previous years, we plan to have a sticker price that will cover NHC’s sustaining expenses for the year, alongside an extensive sliding scale for fees. We are hoping to be creative and resourceful in finding ways to reach and support everyone who wants to participate.

“Everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student” – I can’t imagine this being more true than it is now. We will learn and teach one another how to co-create an online Institute this year. And we will gather in fellowship, learning, and Torah.

With hope for the future, I am also glad to announce that earlier this year, we signed a contract with the University of Hartford for 2021 (7/26-8/1) and 2022 (7/25-7/31), so please mark your calendars and save the dates!

Finally, with deep appreciation for the enthusiasm and optimism represented by each person who already registered for Institute-at-Hartford, the Office is processing refunds for all fees and dues, and will be in touch about donations.

Please register here for our Kehillah gathering, Sunday, May 24, 8pm. It will be a great joy to connect with one another, and also a meaningful step in co-creating online Institute.

With love,

Tara Bognar
Board Chair

Kehillah Gathering
Sunday May 24th (Rosh Hodesh Sivan), 8pm
Connect with each other, connect with our love for Institute, and imagine the summer together. We will use a mix of webinar-style and break-out rooms on Zoom to facilitate community, communication, and creative imagination.

Pre-register (required) here.

If you have never used Zoom before, we encourage you to try and can help you get set up! If you have used only too much Zoom and are willing to act as a mentor/buddy, please let us know by emailing

Summer Institute

At the Summer Institute, every teacher is a student and every student is a teacher. People who are usually called “rabbi” or “professor” throughout the year go by their first names here. And people who rarely take active leadership roles in their communities discover that they, too, can teach and contribute to the community.

One of the NHC Summer Institute’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its participants. We are musicians, doctors, students, furniture makers, retirees, Jewish professionals, homemakers, teachers, activists, and just about everything else:

Intergenerational: At Summer Institute, participant ages have ranged from a month and a half old to over 80 years. Children between 6 months and 12 years old can spend the week at Kidstitute. Participants from all age groups shared meals, stories, teachings, songs, and talents all week long.

Pluralistic and Inclusive: The NHC Summer Institute includes people committed to various forms of traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, Jews from birth, Jews by choice, Jews with multiple religious heritages, non-Jews, and people exploring Judaism.

Diverse backgrounds and lives: NHC Summer Institute participants hold a variety of identities including LGBTQ and straight; people of color, Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi; urban, rural, and suburban; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels.

Learning for Everyone: NHC Summer Institute participants also have a variety of Jewish learning backgrounds, from those with no formal Jewish education to those with Ph.D.s in Talmud.

The dynamic process of exploring together what Judaism and Jewishness means in our lives is a highlight of the Summer Institute.