Dalia Davis of Springfield and Deborah Fruchtman of Worcester are recipients of this year’s Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.
The award, sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and local Jewish Federations, celebrates outstanding and innovative Jewish education. Regional awards are made to one recipient in each participating community throughout the United States and Canada.
Davis was chosen by the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts from a competitive pool of exceptional educators. She holds a BA in dance and Jewish History from Barnard College, an MA in Jewish Education, and a certificate in Talmud and Halacha. Most recently she has taught in the Florence Melton Adult Mini School, Heritage Academy, and Camp Ramah in New England. She is the founder of Beit Midrash in Motion, an approach to Jewish text study that incorporates movement and meditation for a fully embodied learning experience. Throughout her career she has shared her talents, knowledge and skillful teaching with students of all ages, from preschool to adult.
Rabbi Amy Walk Katz of Temple Beth El in Springfield describes Dalia as a passionate and gifted educator who presents ideas in a way that is sensible for her students. “She is open, encourages questions and makes students from all different backgrounds feel engaged and welcome. She knows how to take complicated ideas and represent them in ways that are accessible and meaningful.”
Dalia’s Beit Midrash in Motion program allows students the opportunity to study ideas contained in Jewish texts experientially and through physical movement. The goal of her program, states Dalia, is for students to internalize lessons of the Torah in a way that is personal and relevant to their lives.
Fruchtman of The Joseph C. Foster Religious School of Congregation Agudat Achim is the 2016 winner of the Central Massachusetts Grinspoon Award, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
“Debbie loves what she does, and that shines through whenever she teaches, and whenever she supervises our teaching staff,” writes Education Committee Chair Stephen J. Weedon. “We are so lucky to have Debbie as our principal, and it really is an honor to give her the chance to have widespread recognition and appreciation.”
Fruchtman first came to Worcester from Toledo, Ohio to attend Clark University. She served as education director/principal at Beth Israel Synagogue for 10 years, and is currently in her 10th year as education director/principal at Congregation Agudat Achim in Leominster.
She has prepared many dozens of b’nai mitzvah students, taught Hebrew and Torah, history and ethics to individuals and groups, led meditation services on Shabbat, and courses at Torathon.
She has served as president of Women’s American Ort in her local and regional offices, served on the board of the Jewish Health Care Center, served as sisterhood president of her synagogue, and has been active in numerous other Jewish boards of directors and organizations.
CAP: Dalia Davis