The following article appeared on November 12, 2012 on The Covenant Foundation website.
Baltimore Nov. 12, 2012 Five promising Jewish educators are the 2012 recipients of The Covenant Foundations Pomegranate Prize for their exceptionalism as emerging professionals in Jewish educational settings across the country.
Recipients, representing a range of educational venues, activities and approaches, are: Maya Bernstein, Strategic Design Officer at UpStart Bay Area in San Francisco; Rabbi Eliav Bock, Founding Director of Ramah Outdoor Adventure at Ramah in the Rockies in Denver; Rabbi Nicole Greninger, Director of Education at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA; Rabbi Barry Kislowicz, Head of School at Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood, OH; and Sarah Lefton, Founding Executive Director of G-dcast in San Francisco.
The Foundation named the newest recipients of the Pomegranate Prize at its annual award ceremony here today during the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
We know that encouragement early on in a persons career can make all the difference in their success, said Keating Crown, a member of the Foundations founding family, as he introduced the Pomegranate Award recipients to hundreds of Jewish lay, communal and educational leaders gathered at the event.
Our goal with this Prize is to provide the means for these already remarkable educators to further develop their skills and interests, and have the chance to get to know others who, like themselves, are bringing fresh new ideas and abundant energy to the field of Jewish education, he said.
The Pomegranate Prize was established last year, taking its place next to The Covenant Award, which since 1991 has honored three exemplary Jewish educators each year for their records of innovation and impact across Jewish education settings. The Pomegranate Prize, recognizing passionate, emerging leaders in Jewish education, goes to those in the field for 10 years or less.
The Pomegranate Prize nurtures the seeds of emerging talent and publicly recognizes their potential to contribute to a more promising future for Jewish education, said Eli N. Evans, Chairman of the Board.
The Covenant Foundation is creating a growing network of Pomegranate Prize recipients and providing a laboratory and platform for them as they immerse themselves in foundation-supported professional development and leadership programs, peer-to-peer gatherings, mentorships and other educator initiatives. Each recipient receives a $15,000 fund to fuel educational projects and their development as change agents in their communities and in Jewish education.
The Pomegranate Prize recognizes that from generation to generation includes not only crossing the generations from teacher to student, but also nurturing the next generation of teachers and honoring the work of those in the early stages of their careers in Jewish education, said Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School and a board member of The Covenant Foundation. This effort allows the Foundation to celebrate great and imaginative efforts by people relatively new to Jewish education and, we hope, inspire others to follow in their paths.
The Pomegranate Prize, and the resources dedicated to the recipients, is an investment in the future of Jewish education, said Harlene Winnick Appelman, Executive Director of The Covenant Foundation.
We believe that a teachers passion can spark generations and encourage positive social growth. The Pomegranate Prize is a unique and powerful tool to support that passionate growth, not only by identifying new levels of excellence and by encouraging specific innovations, but also by creating a community of problem-solvers, building the skills of individuals, and mobilizing new talent.
Biographical snapshots of the 2012 Pomegranate Prize recipients:
Maya Bernstein is the Strategic Design Officer at UpStart Bay Area in San Francisco, a social innovation and consulting firm supporting Jewish entrepreneurs and facilitating change and growth in Jewish organizations. Her writing on the intersection of Jewish thought and change theory has appeared in The Jewish Week, Zeek, ejewishphilanthropy.com, The Huffington Post, and other publications, and she has taught in Belarus, Germany, China, and Israel. She earned a bachelor of arts in Russian Language & Literature at Columbia University, and a masters in Education at Harvard University.
Rabbi Eliav Bock is Founding Director of Ramah Outdoor Adventure at Ramah in the Rockies in Denver. He received his rabbinic ordination and a masters in Informal Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to rabbinical school, he worked in the finance industry in New York City. He is a graduate of the joint program at The Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University and has bachelors degrees in Bible, Urban Studies and Economics.
Rabbi Nicole Greninger is Director of Education at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth College and was ordained as a Rabbi and earned a masters in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. She is passionate about liturgy, prayer, worship, and ritual, and is the author of Believing, Behaving, Belonging: Tefillah Education in the 21st Century, which appeared in the Journal of Jewish Education in 2010.
Rabbi Barry Kislowicz, Ed.D is Head of School at Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood, OH. He completed his bachelors degree at Yeshiva University and received his rabbinic ordination there while completing his doctorate in education at Teachers College, Columbia University, as a Wexner Fellow. He began his teaching career at Ramaz Upper School in New York City. He has worked as a teacher and administrator at Fuchs Mizrachi since 2004, and was named Head of School in 2011.
Sarah Lefton is Founding Executive Director of G-dcast in San Francisco, which advances Jewish literacy through short animated films and games. Trained in digital art and publishing, she produced a short animated video about Parshat Balak for fun and it grew into a series. G-dcast now creates professional development opportunities for educators and innovative programming for young Jewish artists. She was named by The Forward as among the most influential Jews in 2009, and is a recipient of the Joshua Venture Group Fellowship for Jewish social entrepreneurs.
The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Foundation and the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA).