Ilana (Kertzman) Hirsch
Ilana (Kertzman) Hirsch, 81 died at her home in Avon on June 17, 2018. She was born January 26,1937 in Palestine to American mother Jean and Russian father Norman Kertzman. She came to the U.S. at the age of 2 and was raised in Washington D.C and Silver Spring, Maryland. Though Ilana left Palestine as a toddler, she maintained a close connection to her Israeli family, to her first language, Hebrew, and to the growth and future of the state of Israel.

Ilana and her husband Herb met as counselors at The Jewish Community Center Camp in Silver Spring, MD. Shortly after getting married, the couple moved to New York City. Ilana worked as a writer for Knitted Outerwear Times. On her first overseas trip to cover a fashion show for the magazine, she caught the travel bug, which ignited in her a life-long passion for exploring the world. When Herb graduated from NYU, they left New York and their jobs, and traveled throughout western Europe for three months on $5 a day. They returned with little money, no home and three months pregnant. They then began to build their family life together.

Herb’s career eventually took them from their beloved New York City to Detroit Michigan, Miami, Florida and then to Avon, Connecticut where they settled permanently in 1973. As New Englanders the whole family learned how to ski, and made regular weekend trips to their home in Vermont. Ilana skied into her 70s.

In 1958 Ilana earned a Bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Political Science from George Washington University and in 1987 earned a Master’s Degree in English from Central Connecticut State University. She worked as a reading/writing support teacher for the Bloomfield School district and then as an adjunct professor for the University of Hartford and UConn in Waterbury. As a teacher, she shared her passion for literature and writing with hundreds of students. After retiring from teaching, she volunteered in the Hartford public schools as a tutor, working one-on-one with students struggling with reading fundamentals.

Ilana's philanthropic interests were broad. She supported too many organizations to list. Her focus was on Jewish issues including fighting racism and anti-semitism, Jewish art and cinema, animal rights, hunger and poverty. While raising her family, she was active in the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation sisterhood. She started and organized monthly bus trips to New York City, and joined a book group which still meets today.. She also served on the Board of the Hartford Jewish Federation and was active in organizing the Hartford Jewish Film Festival.

With her family, she shared her love of travel, good food, music, art and literature. In her home, classical music played constantly on the stereo or on the instruments her daughters practiced. The walls of her home were covered with artwork she and Herb collected over their 60 years together. Her passion for animals meant that there were always dogs and cats in the house. She also filled the home with the smell of her delicious homemade meals. Her children all share in her passions. Music, art, cooking, travel, animals and literature are woven into the the professional, avocational and family lives of her children and grandchildren.

Ilana is survived by her husband of 60 years, Herbert Bernard Hirsch, daughters Suzanne Grocki (Tom), Jessica Hirsch Lynn (Tom), Elizabeth Ward (Andrew) and Emily Hirsch (Mark Grant), grandchildren Jake, Sarah, Samara, Jonah, Jeremy, Nathan and Cate, and brother Don Kertzman.

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