NEW YORK (JTA) — Alison Kur of Massachusetts, Rebecca Schorsch of Chicago and Rabbi Yisroel Boruch Sufrin of Beverly Hills are the recipients of the 2014 Covenant Awards for excellence in education.
The prizes, given out annually by the New York-based Covenant Foundation, consist of $36,000 awards for each of the winners plus $5,000 to each of their institutions.
Kur is being honored for her work as executive director of Jewish living at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, Mass., a Reform synagogue with 1,100 families. The former attorney has engaged members in collaborative ways, transforming the synagogue’s myriad educational programs and reimagining the congregation as a place suffused with Jewish learning and living, according to the Covenant announcement. As a consequence of her work, student enrollment doubled and post-bar mitzvah retention rates tripled to over 70 percent, according to Covenant.
Schorsch, director of Jewish studies at Chicagoland Jewish High School in Deerfield, Ill., was credited by Covenant with creating a culture in the school of learning for its own sake by pioneering an array of voluntary Jewish study programs, such as a series of lunch-and-learns by faculty and for faculty. Schorsch also serves as scholar in residence at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.
Sufrin, the head of school at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills, Calif., was credited with transforming his school through a student-centered approach that supports innovation and spiritual exploration as is all about joyful learning.
“These three individuals illuminate the field of Jewish education through a combination of devotion, approach, strong leadership for the present and sacred obligation to the future,” said Eli Evans, the chairman of Covenant’s board of directors. “They are models of what we all can be.”
The awards will be given out at a ceremony in November at the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.