Three Jewish educators received The Covenant Foundation’s 2018 Covenant Award this evening, ever broadening the bright horizon of Jewish education in North America.
Naomi Ackerman, Founder and Executive Director of the Advot Project Los Angeles, CA; Deborah Newbrun, Senior Jewish Educator and Director Emeritus at Camp Tawonga, San Francisco, CA; and Dr. Susie Tanchel, Head of School at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School, Watertown, MA, are the recipients of the Award, which is among the highest honors in the field of Jewish education.
“This year, with the addition of Naomi Ackerman, Deborah Newbrun and Dr. Susie Tanchel, the roster of Covenant Award recipients grows to 81 educators strong,” said Barbara Goodman Manilow, President of The Covenant Foundation Board of Directors.
“We are so filled with pride when we consider the unique and inspired contributions that each and every one of them has made to the field of Jewish education and to Jewish learning and life. It is a sincere privilege to honor them for all they do.”
The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Philanthropies and members of the Crown family, including Steven Crown, Nancy Crown and Keating Crown, introduced the three recipients and bestowed the Award. Each of the 2018 recipients received $36,000 and each of their institutions, $5,000.
Established in 1991 to honor and celebrate those who those who have made an impact on Jewish life through innovative educational practices and models, the Covenant Award is presented to three educators every year after a rigorous selection process. Recipients have transformed the field in countless ways, including camping, family education, dance, music, visual arts, social action, environmental education, inclusion, work on college campuses, curriculum design, leadership, and professional development.
NAOMI ACKERMAN is the Founder and Executive Director of The Advot Project in Los Angeles. At Advot, Ackerman began a movement that uses theater and the arts to promote Jewish values to effect social change. A staunch advocate for raising awareness of domestic violence in the Jewish community, Naomi’s Home Shalom healthy relationship workshops and her one-woman show Flowers Aren’t Enough have reached hundreds of thousands around the world.
Accepting the Award from Steven Crown, Ackerman shared, “Our job as educators is to take a chance on those who are marginalized, on those who haven’t yet been seen or heard by others. We all are created in the image of god, and we should all be treated as such. No one should ever tolerate less.”
DEBORAH NEWBRUN is Senior Jewish Educator and Director Emeritus at Camp Tawonga in San Francisco. A pioneer of the Jewish Environmental Education movement, Newbrun strives to transform the outdoors into a space for deep Jewish learning. As a visionary educator and mentor, Newbrun has provided myriad campers with their first authentic connection to Judaism and created an intentional community at Tawonga that models inclusion and respect.
Upon accepting the award from Nancy Crown, Newbrun reflected, “Time spent camping in the wilderness changes you. Bamidbar is the central place many Jewish kids connect to holiness, and where they build a shared society that is so healthy and profound that we talk about how we can bring it home. Camp’s love-filled and radically inclusive community is needed to influence our civil society now more than ever.”
SUSIE TANCHEL is Head of School at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School. At JCDS, Tanchel focuses on infusing school life with intentional pluralism. The JCDS curriculum guides teachers and students through challenging conversations, strengthening the community while building a new generation of Jewish students who can thrive in an ever-changing and complex world. Tanchel’s students learn how to engage respectfully and productively with others who have different perspectives.
Accepting the award from Keating Crown, Tanchel said, “It is our highest hope that our children will use their hearts, minds, and souls to impact their Jewish community — but if this is as far as their goodness spreads, then we have failed in our mission, for it is our sacred responsibility as Jewish educators to also nurture and challenge our children to understand that working for a better society is their birthright.”