May 18, 2024
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The Jewish Education Project Announces 2024 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award Recipients

(Courtesy of JEP) The Jewish Education Project, an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering educators to create transformative Jewish experiences, announced the five recipients of the 2024 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award. Named for the former CEO Robert M. Sherman and launched in 2012, this award has recognized over 60 Jewish educators from greater New York who advance and innovate Jewish education. Recipients work in day schools, camps, youth groups, supplementary schools, community centers, seminaries and in foundation settings.

“Post-October 7th, the commitment and creativity of these young educators and leaders is more important than ever,” said David Bryfman, CEO of The Jewish Education Project. “Parents and families want meaningful Jewish experiences. These recipients are leading the way, now and in the future, toward this vision, and we celebrate their enormous contributions to our communities, families and students.”

The award recipients will each receive a $1,000 professional development stipend. The 2024 Young Pioneers Award recipients are:

Shoshana Balk: Shosh Balk, currently the director of Jewish Life and Chesed at Luria Academy, has taught middle school Talmud and Tanach for 12 years. She earned a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education, where she published her thesis on the importance of imaginative play during the middle school years. Prior to Luria, Balk taught at SAR, Ramaz and Heschel. She is a singer, musician, b’nai mitzvah instructor and facilitator of Jewish life cycle events. Balk is also passionate about teaching English as a second language, most recently with the Gabriel Project in Mumbai and with TALMA in East Jerusalem.

Alana Gelnick: Alana Rifkin Gelnick has been the associate principal of the Early Learning Center (ELC) at SAR Academy in Riverdale, New York, since 2015. Gelnick has a longstanding commitment to innovation and inclusion, and during her tenure at SAR, she spearheaded a Hebrew Immersion program for preschool classrooms and initiated the first kindergarten inclusion class to address the needs of students with learning differences. In addition, she was at the helm of the construction of a 36,000-square-foot new Early Learning Center. In 2021, she was awarded the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize, which recognizes emerging leaders in the field of Jewish education.

The Jewish Education Project also announced that its annual Spring Event, Tuesday, May 21, will feature an inspiring conversation about the role of Jewish education in strengthening Jewish identity, fortitude and the Jewish future with film and stage actor and podcaster Joshua Malina, and will honor former YPA recipient and trailblazing lay leader Dammara Markowitz. For more information, visit https://www.jewishedproject.org.

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