SPRINGFIELD – Members of the Western Massachusetts Jewish came together to honor outstanding educators and other “Unsung Heroes” at the Resource Center for Jewish Education’s Educators Banquet on May 29.
A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the banquet honored teachers from the local Jewish day schools, as well as professionals in the community for their leadership, volunteers for their commitment and teens for their hard work and involvement in the community.
Deborah Bromberg-Seltzer, director of Judaic Studies at both Heritage Academy and Lander-Grinspoon Academy (LGA) was named the Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award Winner for 2012. The prestigious Grinspoon-Steinhardt award is given by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, in partnership with JESNA, the Jewish Education Service of North America, to educators across thre country, to “recognize, honor, and support, outstanding classroom Jewish educators on the local level.”
Bromberg-Seltzer has been on the staff at LGA for 10 years and has been at both schools for two years. She serves as a mentor teacher at LGA and is active in classrooms at both schools teaching grades 2-8, Tefillah, (prayer), Hebrew, Torah and Holidays.
Bil Zarch, Head of School at LGA, says there are many words one could use to describe Deborah and her teaching style but the one that comes to mind most is “creative.”
“Morah Devorah, as her students affectionately call her, is an educator that inspires students to reach their highest. She works with her faculty in a collaborative process that allows for each of them to attain personal
growth. She is a teacher’s teacher.”
Besides Bromberg-Seltzer, the three other educators honored at the banquet with 2012 Grinspoon Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education were Heather Page who teaches Literary Genres (Academic), Literary Appreciation (Honors) and AP Language and Composition at the Hebrew High School of New England;
Heather Lewis, who teaches toddlers and 3-year-olds at the Springfield Jewish Community Center Preschool; and Julie Seay, a preschool and third-grade secular studies teacher at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy in Longmeadow, Mass.
The two individuals honored as 2012 Unsung Hero for Outstanding Professional Leadership were Marla Shelasky, director of admissions and marketing at
LanderGrinspoon Academy in Northampton, and Rabbi Shimmy Trencher, dean of students at the Hebrew High School of New England.
Rabbi Trencher’s students describe him as a “mentor; a Jewish role-model; a
teacher; a friend; a parental figure; and a life coach.” Besides his work at HHNE, he is also the founder of Heart Mind & Soul, a non-profit that runs inspirational weekend workshops for Jewish teens.
In her capacity as admission director, Shelasky welcomes new families to LGA, and she is the artist behind the marketing materials that spread the word about LGA. She is a native of the Pioneer Valley.
Yaffa and Haim Gunner of Amherst were named 2012’s Unsung Heros for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership. Pillars of the Jewish community in Amherst since their arrival in 1963, they have been actively involved in many facets of the Jewish Community of Amherst’s (JCA) activities, from acquiring a synagogue in the 1970s to organizing annual activities through the World Jewish Concerns and Action Committee with particular emphasis on raising Israel consciousness, and Holocaust remembrance.
The 2012 Unsung Heros for Outstanding Teen Leadership are Jackie Chipkin & Randi Katz. Both teens have been members of the B’nai Tzedek Youth Foundation board for the past three years. They are responsible for co-leading meetings, and act as fundraising coaches to newer members. Both are students at Longmeadow High School and attend Temple Beth El.
Winners announced at the 2012 Harold Grinspoon Foundation Awards for Jewish Excellence were, from left to right, (back row) Marla Shelasky, Deborah Bromberg Seltzer, Heather Page, Julie Seay, Heather Lewis, and Rabbi Shimmy Trencher; (front row), Yaffa Gunner, Jackie Chipkin, Diane Troderman, Harold Grinspoon, and Randi Katz.