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Greenberg Center Presents Awards and Opens New Photo Exhibition

Posted 05/08/2014
Posted by David Isgur

The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies held its annual awards ceremony on Thursday, May 1 in Wilde Auditorium, where it presented 42 student and teacher awards and distributed more than $30,000 in student and teacher scholarships to honor excellence in the classroom and innovative research and work in the fields of American Jewish history, Israel Studies, Holocaust and Genocide studies, and Jewish poetry.

Prior to the awards ceremony, the University’s Museum of Jewish Civilization (located in Mortensen Library) opened its new Minnie Goldenberg Photography Exhibition, titled Return to the Land: Jewish Farming Around the World. The exhibit features photographs of Jewish farming in Argentina, Europe, Israel, and the United States.

The exhibition will be on display through Oct. 1. The Museum of Jewish Civilization is free and open to the general public, but reservations are required during the summer months, from May 15 to Aug. 30. For reservations call 860.768.4964 or email

The evening began with the presentation of seven awards to area middle and high school teachers who received this year’s Holocaust and Genocide Educators and Professional Development Awards.

In addition to the teachers, six students who made presentations at the University’s Undergraduate Research Colloquium on projects directed by Professors Avinoam Patt and Richard Freund of the Greenberg Center were honored; Twelve Greenberg Center named scholarships were given to majors and minors in Judaic Studies for the 2014–15 academic year; more than 20 students from area elementary, middle, and high schools received Fishman Family Essay Contest Awards in American Jewish History; eight University of Hartford Fishman Family Fellows in Jewish Communal Leadership were named; and two students received named Summer Israel Study Abroad Scholarships from the Greenberg Center. The Jerome Caplan (Rogin & Nassau) Scholar, the highest academic award given by the Greenberg Center, was also named.

The Holocaust and Genocide Educator Awards

Thanks to the generosity of David Chase, the Korzenik Memorial Holocaust Educator Award was established to honor the work of a teacher in middle or high school in the innovative teaching of the Holocaust. Thanks to the generosity of Joseph Zola and Matthew Rubin and their families, the Joseph Zola Memorial Holocaust Educator Award and professional grants support an award for an established middle or high school curriculum on the Holocaust and genocide or support the development of a new curriculum for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide. The funds also help support an annual workshop on the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide, which brings hundreds of students and teachers to the University of Hartford.

This year, 15 semi-finalists were named in January and three award winners were selected. All awardees are invited to teach at the next Holocaust and Genocide Educator Workshop, which will be held at the University of Hartford on Oct. 27.

The Holocaust and Genocide Educator Award winners are:

  • Kyra Jenney of Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, is the recipient of the 2014 Korzenik Memorial Holocaust Educator Award for her project, “History 445—the Holocaust.” Jenney’s project for 11th and 12th graders is a 10-week interdisciplinary unit on the Nazi Holocaust and modern genocide. It includes history, religion, philosophy (ethics), and psychology.
  • Emily Hernberg and Christian Bonarrigo of New Canaan High School in New Canaan, are the recipients of the 2014 Joseph Zola Memorial Holocaust Educator Award for their proposal, “Senior English Elective: Literature of the Holocaust,” taught for 60–100 high school seniors for one semester. The course integrates the works of writers of fiction and non-fiction on the Holocaust, poetry from ghettos and camps, as well as novels and movies by survivors.

The Rubin and Zola families have also contributed Professional Development Holocaust Educator Awards that are intended to encourage teaching professionals to do research in order to develop new courses for middle and high school students. Award winners for 2014 are funded to come to the workshop in 2014 to begin intensive work on a full project.

This year’s winners were: Elizabeth Koperwhats (Staples HS, Westport) for her project “Literature and Lessons of Genocides”; Troy Stair, Catherine Bernoski, John Hill, Nancy Simone, and Avi Ornstein, (Classical Magnet School, Hartford) for their project “Crimes against Humanity: Yom HaShoah Project”; and Chris Sparks and Todd Szwed (East Hartford High School) for their project “Rwanda and the Holocaust.”

Creating Leaders in and out of the Classroom—The Greenberg Center Academic Awards for 2014–15

At the awards evening, the Greenberg Center also recognized its outstanding students and scholarship awardees for its majors and minors for the 2014–15 academic year.

The Greenberg Center supports undergraduate research in the classroom, and six student projects were presented at the Undergraduate Research Colloquium on April 8, 2014.  Nicole Awad, Kailee Shraiberg, Josh Gischner, Dan Fitzpatrick, Evan Bennett, and Kelly DeSalvatore all presented their research to students, staff, faculty, and the community.  Projects ranged from archaeological and geophysics studies in the field, Jewish farming worldwide, research on Jerusalem and Israel, and literary and theological responses to the Holocaust.

Fifteen Greenberg Center named scholarship awards were given for the 2014–15 academic year, including: the Millie and Irving Bercowetz Judaic Studies scholarships given to Nessa Melnick, Joshua Gischner, and Elaine Lampert; the Beth S. Kaplan Scholarship given to Kailee Shraiberg, Arieh Fried, and Isabella Safdie; the Jack and Tillie Bayer Scholarship given to Arieh Fried and Joshua Gischner; the George H. and Lottie K. Sherman Scholarship given to Floe Weinstein; the Judith Wolfson Memorial Scholarship given to Samantha Gordon and Jonah Rothstein; the Louis and Martha Silver Scholarship given to Adara Brookler and Joshua Gischner; and the Gladys Burstein Zatzkis Scholarship, which was given to Adara Brookler.

The highest academic award that the Greenberg Center bestows every year is the Jerome Caplan (Rogin and Nassau) Scholar. Elaine Lampert was named the Jerome Caplan Scholar for 2014.

The Greenberg Center Summer Israel Study Abroad Scholarships were also  announced at the ceremony in memory of Joseph and Geoffrey Zola, Michael Levy, and the Robert Fishman Memorial Israel Scholarship. Recipients for this year included Sarah Greenberg and Andrew Dwyer.

Eight Fishman Family Fellows in American Jewish History and Jewish Communal Leadership from the University of Hartford were also named for 2014.  These are students who have contributed to the general and Jewish community through their work on projects that they developed with the Greenberg Center faculty. 

In 2012, the families of Arthur, Ed, and Robert Fishman established The Fishman Family program to foster stronger connections between student leaders at the University of Hartford and Jewish communal institutions in Great Hartford. In three years, the program has expanded tremendously, a testament to the vision of the Fishman Family and an honor to the memory of Robert Fishman, a communal leader who devoted his efforts to building bridges between all segments of the Greater Hartford Jewish community.

The 2014 Fishman Fellows are:

  • Joshua Gischner for his work under the supervision of Professor Avinoam Patt as a Commission on Jewish Education and Leadership technology intern developing a website with online resources.
  • Amanda Zwirn for her work under the supervision of Professor Patt on the “In Our Own Words” second- and third-generation Holocaust survivors video testimony project as production assistant; conducting a directed study on second generation testimony.
  • Doug Bearak for his work this year as the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut intern.
  • Zosh Simonson for his work under the supervision of Professor Patt as an intern/research project and interviewer for The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, located in Skokie, Illinois.
  • Swen Steffens, an MBA student in the Barney School of Business, for his work under the supervision of Professor Patt on his social responsibility project, research on Holocaust and Genocide legislation nationwide.
  • Adara Brookler for developing a new curriculum for basic Hebrew language elementary school instruction.
  • Elaine Lampert, who worked with Professors Patt and Freund on the development of the Greenberg Center website and Facebook page.
  • Kailee Shraiberg, who worked with Professor Freund on the creation of a PowerPoint presentation to accompany the “Return to the Land: Jewish Farming Worldwide” research project.

The Greenberg Center of Tomorrow: Creating Future Jewish Leaders Today

The Fishman Family Awards in American Jewish Life and Culture, a community-wide essay contest which this year focused on the theme “Major Moments in American Jewish History,” chose more than a 20 winners from numerous submissions.

Students conducted extensive historical research to choose what they identified as the most significant moment in American Jewish history. This year students submitted essays, poems, and works of art on the theme. During the evening awards program, a PowerPoint slideshow featuring a selection of essays received from area students was presented.

Winners were selected from the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford and the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy of Greater Hartford.

Fishman contest winners were as follows:

Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford

  • Alyssa Temkin, Morissa Kranc, and Maya Patt (3rd grade)
  • Aaron Rotter and Victoria Boustani (5th grade); Honorable mention: Jamie Cowan, Russell van der Hulst and Yonah Goldberg
  • The entire 7th grade class for their Hebrew language essays

Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy of Greater Hartford

  • The entire 4th grade class
  • Menachem Hecht, Avi Loew, Chaya Brenner (5th grade)
  • Hannah Gitman (6th grade)
  • Nachi Loew and Tamar Schreiber (8th grade)

At the climax of the evening, in honor of the Muriel Hoff American Jewish Poetry Award, Freund read a recent poem by Muriel Hoff. The Hoff American Jewish Poetry Award is a national poetry award named in honor of Muriel Hoff of North Carolina.

For more information on Greenberg Center programs, please contact the Greenberg Center at 860.768.4964.