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Hadassah Honors Outstanding Jewish Education Units

Genever McBain


(New York, NY -- July 30, 2007) -- Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has honored five local chapters with the Hannah L. Goldberg Award, recognizing their outstanding group-study programs in Jewish education. The units, chosen from study groups across the nation, were announced at Hadassah’s 93rd National Convention in New York, New York. The award was presented by National Board member Debbie Friedman.

The 2007 winners are:

First Place:

Glens Falls Chapter of the Upper Mid-Atlantic Region for their three innovative educational programs: two distinct Rosh Hodesh programs and a “Celebration of Life” Holocaust education project.

The first Rosh Hodesh program utilized the “Moonbeams” curriculum as well as material culled from various outside sources. Topics included spiritualism in prayer, psalms, and women rabbis “claiming a feminist heritage.” The second Rosh Hodesh program was formed this year for the 20-45 year age group with the goal of perpetuating Jewish life in northeastern New York. This group focused on holiday celebrations by planning activities such as Lag B’Omer bonfires or discussions regarding the relevance of Jewish holidays to their lives.

Finally, the “Celebration of Life” Holocaust education project was aimed at 8th and 10th graders and the area’s general adult population. The program began in November 2006 when the program chair approached English and history teachers at local high schools to inquire about the possibility of Holocaust survivor Rena Bernstein speaking at their schools and, later, creating a follow-up project on the Holocaust in conjunction with other local schools. The idea met with an overwhelmingly positive response, and Bernstein spoke at a large number of local high schools.

Sunny Buchman accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

Second Place (TIE):

Golda Leah Chapter of the Florida Atlantic Region for their study group of 80 to100 participants who gathered monthly to focus on a different Jewish community from various world locations and points in history. Areas of study included, among others, 15th century Seville, 16th century Venice, and 19th century Frankfurt. Participants learned about Jewish history and communities interactively, thereby better understanding the impact these past communities have on our lives as Jews today. Each meeting was facilitated by a group member who used Allan Levine’s book, Scattered Among the Peoples, to help them present a community, often by impersonating one of its more famous members with the assistance of visual aides and handouts. Many of the sessions also included relevant speakers, such as Diane Abravanel, a descendant of the famous Abravanel family, who attended the Seville session.

Lois Cohen and Barbara Grau accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

Pasco Chapter of the Florida Central Region for their study group that focused on Sephardic Jewry, with special emphasis on the methods Jewish people use to adapt to exile and maintain Jewishness as a minority in America. The first meeting featured Sephardic dishes, cookbooks, and music. Each member received a folder with timelines and maps and was given access to the group’s lending library. In each subsequent meeting, one Sephardic dish was presented and members opened the session by sharing what they had read from the library that month. Topics included “The Golden Age,” “Sephardic Life in Latin America,” and “Destruction of Cordoba and Formation of City States,” among others.

Sharon Lee Sisselsky accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

Third Place (TIE):

Pearl Landau Main Line Group of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter for their study group that focused on “Our Extraordinary Jewish Women Scientists.” Members researched female scientists and educated other participants during the study sessions. Scientists presented included Dr. Devra Davis, a contemporary epidemiologist and toxicologist at Carnegie Mellon University, and Rita Levi-Montalcini, a neurobiologist and Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine.

Shirley Chalick accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

Teaneck-Hackensack Chapter of the Northern New Jersey Region for their study group, which has been meeting since 1993 and this year focused on the Holocaust. Since many of the members were Holocaust survivors, this year’s topic was an extremely emotional one, inspiring members to bring pictures, mementos, and stories to the discussions. Subtopics included “Art during the Holocaust” and “FDR and the Holocaust.”

Marilyn Saposh accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

Hadassah launched the Hannah L. Goldberg Study Awards in 1981 to emphasize its commitment to interactive Jewish learning. Since its inception in 1912 as a study circle, Hadassah has encouraged and facilitated peer-led Jewish study for thousands of women of all ages across the nation. The award is named in honor of the late Hannah Goldberg, a woman profoundly committed to Jewish education, who served Hadassah as executive director from 1953-1971.


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