Jewish Hartford: European Roots programming is made possible by the generous support of the Konover Coppa Family Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, in honor of the extraordinary life of Simon Konover.
1922 - 2015
A great friend to the Dodd Center, Simon Konover made a tremendous impact on his community—as a builder, as a business leader, as a man of deep faith, and as a committed citizen.
Born in a small shtetl north of Warsaw, Simon was just 16 years old when the German army invaded Poland inaugurating the Second World War. Forced into a Nazi farm labor camp, he escaped to Russia, where he was drafted into the Red Army and served throughout the war, including during the battle of Stalingrad. He and his brother Harold survived the war, but lost nearly their entire family to the Holocaust: both parents, five siblings, nieces, nephews, and extended family. In 1949, Simon joined his brother David in the United States, after living as a refugee in France and Cuba.
In the United States, Simon built a prosperous real estate business based on strong ethics and innovation. This business, which today is the Simon Konover Company, has developed, constructed, owned and operated properties throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States. Today, its portfolio includes shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, multi-family housing, and specialty properties.
Simon’s success in the business world was matched by his commitment to his community as one of Connecticut’s outstanding civic leaders. Through the Doris and Simon Konover Family Foundation, the family supported numerous projects here in Connecticut and around the world, including Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children in Ashford, the University of Hartford, and youth projects in Israel.
Simon and his wife Doris were instrumental in the creation of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and founding supporters of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, at which a faculty chair has been established in their honor. Simon’s dedication to the University of Connecticut dates back to the 1950s, when his business laid the floor tiles in the original Student Union building, and has continued not only through his support of the Dodd Center and the Center for Judaic Studies, but also the University Libraries, UConn Health Center, and the Kosher Dining Hall. The Dodd Center’s main auditorium is named in honor of Doris and Simon Konover and was dedicated by United States Senator Christopher Dodd on May 22, 1996.
Given the range of his impact and contributions, his formal recognitions are too many to list, but include membership in the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, the Prime Minister’s New Life Award from the National Committee for Israel Bonds, and the Distinguished Service to the Cause of Good Relations from the National Conference for Community and Justice. Simon was a Founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and served as President, Chairman, and Life Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. He received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Hartford, Gratz College, and, in 1996, from the University of Connecticut.
Board Member, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford
Director of Operations and programming, Voices of Hope
Executive Director, Mandell Jewish Community Center
Executive Director, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford
Samuel Kassow, Ph.D.
Charles H. Northam Professor of History, Trinity College
Josh Lambert, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts and Academic Director of the Yiddish Book Center
Alan Marcus, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Curriculum Instruction, University of Connecticut
Glenn Mitoma, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education & Director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
Avinoam Patt, Ph.D.
Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies & Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, University of Connecticut
Jeffrey Shoulson, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Academic Operations, University of Connecticut
Daniel Weiner, Ph.D.
Vice President for Global Affairs and Professor of Geography, University of Connecticut
Sebastian Wogenstein, D.Phil.
Professor, Literatures, Cultures, and Languages Department, University of Connecticut
Vice President, Planning and Community Impact, Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and Director, Jewish Community Relations Council