Reflection from CONECT Co-chairs on the Conflict in the Middle East

CONECT was founded almost 12 years ago as a non-profit, non-partisan, membership organization made up of religious and civic institutions: urban and suburban, multi-faith, and racially and ethnically diverse, in New Haven and Fairfield Counties of Connecticut. We organize a broad, diverse, and powerful mix of faith and community institutions to build relationships, develop leadership, take action, and win concrete change on a broad range of social, racial, and economic justice issues that affect our member congregations, institutions, and communities.  

Our work is often slow, as we believe in the power of relationships built through deep listening, story telling, and the ability to hold a wide variety of views. Our work is made even more powerful, and challenging, when it is interfaith. There are many things that separate our faith traditions, but we unite to identify and take public action on the social issues that we mutually agree upon to make a real difference in the lives of people in Connecticut, something all of our global faith traditions inspire us to do. 

This past week, we spent hours in individual conversations locally, hearing pain, grief, fear, and worry for the lives of loved ones living in Israel and the Gaza Strip. We heard many in our communities feeling misunderstood, not valued, under siege, deeply connected to people thousands of miles away, with a visceral fear that “my people,” “my family” are about to be annihilated. We heard many stories, experiences, and emotions among our Jewish and Muslim leaders – mourning, anger, and anguish, fear for loved ones in harm’s way, worries about already mounting hateful backlash against each community here in the US. We are disgusted by and condemn the bomb threats against Congregation Mishkan Israel and the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center and stand in full support of their right to worship freely and safely. In addition, we are grateful for the inspiring joint statement published by two of our members, the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center and Congregation B’Nai Israel, last week.

Last night, during a two-and-a-half hour Strategy Team meeting, after a weekend of worshiping in our individual faith communities, we came together as one to listen again and strive for a way forward. To honor the voices, experiences, and communities that have historically been and continue to be the most marginalized, the Strategy Team agreed that if we could not come to a unanimous statement, we would not issue one. Instead, the Strategy Team came to a consensus for the Co-Chairs to share a reflection about where we have been and where we are now.  We, as Co-Chairs, are holding the tensions of our membership, our own personal convictions, and our commitment to remaining in relationship. Our power to act publicly for the common good is strengthened when we choose to remain in committed relationships across all lines of difference, even when it is most difficult, especially when it is most difficult

We recognize this reflection may be unsatisfying to some. Additionally, we acknowledge that we are speaking as two Christians on issues that most directly affect Muslim and Jewish peoples. Nonetheless, we feel compelled to offer this reflection on both the opportunities and challenges of CONECT’s interfaith work. We bear witness to what the best of interfaith work can be throughout our nearly 12-year track record of wins in our state. Two weeks ago, we witnessed how powerful interfaith work could be as we gathered at member synagogues to learn and engage in anti-racist relational power built on the pillars of trust, time, and togetherness. Now, we witness the most challenging aspects of interfaith work, balancing our commitment to our faith traditions and faith communities, while continuing relationships across our diverse membership. We remain committed to ongoing one-to-one relational meetings within and between our congregations leading up to our time together in our November regional gatherings.

As we have always done, we remain committed to engaging in local peaceful, democratic dialogue. We remain committed to listening to the voices of those directly impacted. We pray for an immediate cease fire, an end to all violence and terrorism, the safe return of all civilian hostages, and the immediate entry of humanitarian aid, water and food supplies to civilians in Gaza. Finally, we pray for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 


Rev. Philippe E. C. Andal, Ph.D., Co-Chair
Senior Pastor, Community Baptist Church

Elizabeth Keenan, Ph.D., Co-Chair
Friends of CONECT Action Caucus

CONECT Plans Jan 29th Kick-Off Assembly

Save the date — Sunday afternoon, Jan 29th at 3pm, CONECT leaders will gather for a Kick Off Assembly at the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center (703 State St., Bridgeport). We will continue our work on Clean Slate, Mental Health Crisis Response, and Fair Education Funding with key legislative and community allies! Flyer HERE. Register HERE.

2022 Candidate Assembly – Oct 23

Join hundreds of CONECT leaders on Sunday, Oct 23rd at 3:00pm for our 2022 Candidate Assembly at Congregation B’nai Israel (2710 Park Ave, Bridgeport) or on zoom. Candidates for Governor (Lamont & Stefanowski), Secretary of State (Rapini & Thomas) and Treasurer (Arora) are CONFIRMED to attend. Masks required & in-person attendance encouraged! Register at:

New Haven & Hamden Candidates Assembly

Join hundreds of CONECT leaders in New Haven and Hamden to seek commitments from mayoral primary candidates about taking action on public health and public safety.

Hear from mayoral primary candidates:

  • Mayor Justin Elicker (New Haven)
  • Mayor Curt Leng (Hamden)
  • Peter Cyr (Hamden)
  • Lauren Garrett (Hamden)

Wednesday, September 1st | 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Attendees will have the option to attend in-person or virtually via zoom.

  • In-person: Congregation Mishkan Israel (785 Ridge Rd, Hamden, CT). Proof of vaccination and masks will be required and social distancing will be enforced.
  • Virtual: Via zoom. Links will be shared with attendees after registration.

Proof of Vaccination: In order to ensure the health and safety of all attendees, Congregation Mishkan Israel is requiring proof of vaccination for all in-person attendees. Please have your vaccination card or photo of your vaccination card ready to show upon entering.

For the purposes of planning, attendees are encouraged to select either in-person or virtual for their ticket choice.

Register at:


Únase a cientos de líderes de CONECT que buscan compromisos de los candidatos de la alcaldía primaria sobre la adopción de medidas de salud pública y seguridad pública.

Candidatos primarios alcaldes

  • Alcade Justin Elicker (New Haven)
  • Alcade Curt Leng (Hamden)
  • Peter Cyr (Hamden)
  • Lauren Garrett (Hamden)

Miércoles, Septiembre 01 | 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Los asistentes tendrán la opción de asistir en persona o virtualmente a través del zoom.

  • En persona: Congregación Mishkan Israel (785 Ridge Rd, Hamden, CT). Se requerirá prueba de vacunación y mascarillas y se hará cumplir el distanciamiento social.
  • Virtual: a través del zoom. Los enlaces se compartirán con los asistentes después de la inscripción.

Prueba de vacunación: para garantizar la salud y la seguridad de todos los asistentes, la Congregación Mishkan Israel exige una prueba de vacunación para todos los asistentes en persona. Tenga su tarjeta de vacunación o la foto de su tarjeta de vacunación lista para mostrar al ingresar.

A los efectos de la planificación, se anima a los asistentes a seleccionar en persona o virtual para su elección de entrada.

SB 1, with REaL data, Signed!

SB 1, including REaL (Race, Ethnicity, and Language) data, was signed into law by Governor Lamont today! This wide-ranging piece of legislation seeks to equalize comprehensive access to mental, behavioral and physical health care in response to the pandemic.

More commonly referred to as a bill declaring racism a public health crisis, S.B. 1, through the inclusion of REaL data legislation, will aim to identify and address the racial inequities across healthcare in Connecticut through the standardization of data collection by race, ethnicity, and language. REaL data legislation has the potential to improve the quality of healthcare provided to all CT residents, and especially residents of color, by illuminating demographic healthcare trends across our state.

“REaL data is so important because what gets measured gets done. Data shapes the planning, the implementation, and the delivery of services and all grant proposals start with a needs assessment. 

With REaL data reporting, organizations will have an opportunity to present data demonstrating health inequities and seek the funding they need to provide real solutions. In this way, REaL data is pivotal to discerning REAL solutions.” – Therese LeFevre, Co-Chair of CONECT

Clean Slate Signed!

Clean Slate (SB 1019) was signed into law yesterday by the Office of Governor Ned Lamont – a huge victory after three years of sustained organizing work!  

“Let this hard-fought win be a model for how states across the country can begin to end the continuing harm of mass incarceration, particularly in its targeting of Black and brown individuals, and build safer, more prosperous communities.” – Rev. Anthony L. Bennett, pastor of Mt. Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport and co-chair of CONECT

How this will impact and improve the lives of an estimated 2-300,000 in CT is the real victory. Thanks and congrats to the leaders of this campaign who had the courage and strength to share their own stories to help make this happen — hear their voices in this video.