Norwich Lincoln Forum to highlight life, work of 16th president

Norwich - When the city celebrated the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 2013, local organizers set the framework for creating a Norwich chapter of the National Lincoln Forum, which promotes scholarship and research into Lincoln's lasting legacy.

The newly formed Lincoln Forum of Eastern Connecticut will hold its inaugural event at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Slater Auditorium at Norwich Free Academy, exploring a little known aspect of Lincoln's presidency - his relationship with the American Jewish community.

Rabbi Gary Phillip Zola, Lincoln scholar, historian and Jewish heritage preservationist, will discuss his recent book, "We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History," at the forum, which is free and open to the public. A reception with refreshments will follow his lecture. Donations will be accepted to help cover costs of the event.

The Lincoln Forum of Eastern Connecticut, which promotes public appreciation for the contributions made by the nation's 16th president.

Zola, who lives in Cincinnati, is the executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) and professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. The American Jewish Archives is the world's largest freestanding research center dedicated solely to the study of the American Jewish experience.

In 2011, President Obama appointed Zola to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, an independent agency that strives to preserve and protect cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the foreign heritage of United States citizens.

Prior to joining the commission, Zola chaired the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History, a consortium of research institutions established to promote the study of American Jewish history.

He also was the first American Jewish historian to be appointed to the Academic Advisory Council of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

For information about Saturday's forum, contact Norwich city Historian Dale Plummer at (860) 949-5784.

c.bessette@theday.com

Twitter: @Bessettetheday

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