FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 11, 2013
NEW YORK—The Hadassah Foundation honored Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, the first Orthodox institution to train women for religious leadership, with its Bernice S. Tannenbaum Award, at a ceremony in New York on June 11. The prize honors an outstanding young female leader who advances the status of women and girls in Israel or the United States.
"Rabba Sara Hurwitz exemplifies the ideals of the Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize through her groundbreaking work with Orthodox women," said Donna Gerson, Chair of the Hadassah Foundation. "Her intelligence, courage and determination make her worthy of recognition, and we are excited to bestow this prize on a truly innovative leader."
The prize was designed to honor professionals in the early stages of a career devoted to social change for women and girls. Hurwitz, the first Orthodox woman to be ordained as a "rabba," has had significant influence on Orthodox religious leadership in the United States. The prize is awarded based on the nominee's contribution to the field and her leadership potential, the merits of her proposal for professional development, submitted as part of Yeshivat Maharat's application nominating her, and her potential to affect the field beyond the scope of Yeshivat Maharat.
Named in honor of Bernice S. Tannenbaum's lifetime of service to the Jewish people, the state of Israel, and Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, the Tannenbaum Award connects the recipient to the accomplishments of Tannenbaum, who served as Hadassah National President from 1976-80. In the late 1990s, Tannenbaum chaired Hadassah's Strategic Planning Committee that proposed the creation of the Hadassah Foundation, and she now serves as the National Board's liaison to the Hadassah Foundation. The Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize was conceived and implemented through generous contributions from Joan and Leonard Leiman with additional funding provided by The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation.
In addition to serving as Dean of Yeshivat Maharat (www.yeshivatmaharat.org), Rabba Sara Hurwitz is part of the rabbinic staff at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx, where she fulfills all functions of a rabbi, including teaching, speaking from the pulpit, officiating at life cycle events such as funerals and weddings, and addressing congregants' halachic (Jewish legal) questions. Following graduation from Barnard College, Columbia University, she entered and subsequently graduated from the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education's three-year Scholars Circle program in New York. After another five years of study under the auspices of Rabbi Avi Weiss at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, she was ordained in 2009 by Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Daniel Sperber of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel. Rabba Hurwitz helped create the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance's (JOFA) Gender and Orthodoxy Curriculum Project and lectures often. She was named as one of the Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" in 2009, as a "top pick" in the Forward's list of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders the same year, and in 2010, as one of Newsweek's 50 most influential rabbis in America. She is also a Bikkurim fellow.
Rabba Hurwitz, the first person to be given the title of "Rabba," grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, before moving with her family to Boca Raton, Fla., at the age of 13. She lives with her husband, Josh Abraham, and their three children, twins Yonah and Zacharya, and little brother Davidi.
"I am humbled and honored to receive the Hadassah Foundation's Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize for helping women use their talents to become e Jewish religious leaders," said Hurwitz.
The Hadassah Foundation, which seeks to augment the work of Hadassah, is dedicated to refocusing the priorities of the Jewish community through funding innovative and creative projects that serve women and girls from diverse cultural groups within Israel and the Jewish community in the United States. The foundation is a philanthropic pioneer in the fields of economic security for low-income Israeli women and leadership and self-esteem programs for adolescent Jewish girls and young women in the United States. Since 2000, the Hadassah Foundation has awarded grants totaling almost $6 million to nearly 70 nonprofit organizations.
Past prize recipients are: Ifat Baron (2012), Executive Director of IT Works; Danielle Cantor (2011), Design and Communications Manager, Jewish Women International; Lena Gurary (2010), (former) Director, Supportive Community: Women's Business Development Center, Israel; and Vardit Dameri Madar (2009), Director, Legal Department, Yedid, Israel.
The Hadassah Foundation, founded in 1999 by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is dedicated to refocusing the priorities of the Jewish community through innovative and creative funding for women and girls in the United States and Israel. For more information, visit www.hadassahfoundation.org