Jewish Education Night celebrates teachers and Jewish learning in Tidewater

by | May 17, 2013 | Other News

The emphasis placed on Jewish learning in Tidewater was evident both in the number of people honored and the crowd that attended the Jewish Education Night ceremony on April 30.

Professional, volunteer and youth educators were honored at the annual event, presented by the Simon Family Jewish Community Center, sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and underwritten by the Lee A. and Helen G. Gifford Jewish Education Council Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.

Annabel Sacks, chair of the Jewish Education Council, began the program. As Sacks gave her welcoming address, honorees and supporters continued to stream into the JCC auditorium, prompting volunteers and staff to quickly find more seating for the larger than anticipated audience.

“We’re clearly a community dedicated to Jewish education,” said Sacks. “We are grateful for our teachers.”

More than 130 people came to recognize the multitude of educators listed in the program. Awards were given to teachers, administrators, assistants and staff of Hebrew day schools, synagogue religious schools and other area Jewish institutions of learning.

“When I counted all of the names of the teachers and students who are receiving awards, I saw how many people here are committed to helping move forward the continuity of our community,” said Scott Katz, executive director of the JCC. “This is truly what community is all about.”

Highlights of the evening included special awards given to educators who have served the community for chai (18) years, or are retiring. Alene Jo Kaufman, director of the Strelitz Early Childhood Center presented these honors to Amanda Becker, Yafa Bosler, Nettie Groves, Becky Winstead- Roberts and Rita Yashaev.

“The most anticipated moment of the event is the announcement of the Jewish Educator of the Year, which is intended as a surprise,” says Miriam Brunn Ruberg, director of Jewish Life and Learning at the JCC.

The 2013 Educator of the Year honoree is Becky Winstead-Roberts, who has taught students of all Jewish affiliations and levels throughout Tidewater. During her acceptance remarks, Winstead-Roberts expressed appreciation and an ongoing dedication to teaching.

Past Educators of the Year participating in Jewish Education Night included Alene Jo Kaufman, Ina Mirman Leiderman, Lorna Orleans, Kathryn Morton, and Kitty Wolf. Community leaders who participated in parts of the evening’s program included Cantor Elihu Flax, Rabbi Mordechai Wecker, Alvin Wall and Rabbi Israel Zoberman.

The Simon Family JCC is a constituent agency of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

by Miriam Brunn Ruberg