Background

2020 Pomegranate Prize Symposium

October 19, 2020
A Virtual Celebration Honoring 10 Years of the Pomegranate Prize

The Pomegranate Prize

Sowing the seeds for the next generation of Jewish educators

The Pomegranate Prize is designed to recognize emerging leaders in the field of Jewish education by encouraging them in their pursuits and offering the resources and connections necessary to accelerate their development, deepen their self-awareness, and amplify their impact on the field.

Through a variety of programs and activities, Pomegranate Prize recipients have the opportunity to work with creative leaders in Jewish education, thereby deepening the field’s “bench” of transformative practitioner-activists and reinforcing those uncommon connections among Jewish educational leaders that The Covenant Foundation seeks to create and nurture.

In addition, recipients form a cohort that grows as the Prize is awarded to more educators, learning together at gatherings sponsored by the Foundation over a period of three years. The $15,000 attached to each Pomegranate Prize constitutes a fund to help recipients pursue their professional dreams.

Through the creation of this Prize, The Covenant Foundation seeks to capture the passion that comes with new experience, to nurture new leadership for the field in an intentional way, and to enable emerging educators to take risks and make a difference.

Program

Monday, October 19, 2020
1 Cheshvan 5781
12:00 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time
Welcome

Joni Blinderman

From The Depths of our Souls to the Mountaintop

Nefesh Mountain

Presentation of the 2020 Pomegranate Prizes

Cheryl R. Finkel, Chair of the Board
The Covenant Foundation

Let There Be Art: One Person’s Path to Jewish Wisdom

Tiffany Shlain

Gazing Out From the Peak

Nefesh Mountain

2020 Pomegranate Prize Recipients

Rabbi Jessy Dressin
Rabbi Jessy Dressin

Rabbi Jessy Dressin is the Executive Director of Repair the World Baltimore and serves as the rabbi on staff for the organization nationally. Previously, Jessy worked at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, where she started as the Founder and Director for Charm City Tribe and later served as the Senior Director of Jewish Life. She has led service-learning trips and developed curriculum for multiple organizations, including Hazon and Jewish Funds for Justice. After Hurricane Katrina, Jessy produced the New Orleans International Jewish Music Festival. She holds a B.A. in History from the University of Maryland with a citation in Jewish Studies. Jessy holds an M.A. in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education as well as rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Jessie Gindea
Jessie Gindea

Jessie Gindea is the Associate Director: Abroad Experiences at KAHAL: Your Jewish Home Abroad and Senior Educator for Base Miami. Before working with KAHAL, she taught in myriad Jewish environments, including several day schools, Israel programs, camps, and experiential adventures. Jessie and her husband, Adam, currently run Base Miami, an initiative to engage young Jewish professionals in the Miami area. Jessie earned a master’s degree in Jewish Education and a Certificate of Advanced Jewish Studies from the Pardes Educators Program in Jerusalem. She also received a Certificate in Jewish Day School Education from Hebrew College in Boston. Jessie earned a B.A. in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University and a B.A. in Modern Jewish Studies from The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs
Rabbi Rachel Isaacs

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs is the spiritual leader of Beth Israel Congregation in Waterville, Maine. She is the inaugural holder of the Dorothy “Bibby” Levine Alfond Chair in Jewish Studies at Colby College, where she teaches Hebrew, public speaking, Jewish theology, and Jewish humor. At Colby College, Rachel also serves as the founding Executive Director of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. In 2014, she was named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis” by The Jewish Daily Forward, and in 2016, she delivered the final Hanukkah benediction of the Obama administration at the White House. Rachel was ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2011 where she also studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow.

Rabbi Jordan David Soffer
Rabbi Jordan David Soffer

Rabbi Jordan David Soffer is the Head of School at Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, Massachusetts. Previously, he served as the Rabbi-in-Residence at Carmel Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut. In New York, he has worked at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, Kinneret Day School in The Bronx, Abraham Joshua Heschel Middle School and Congregation Orach Chaim in Manhattan, and Hebrew Institute of White Plains. Jordan graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he studied Religion and Jewish Education. He continued his studies at Yeshivat Maale Gilboa, The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and Mechon Hadar. Jordan received smicha from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and holds a master’s degree in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University.

Laynie Soloman
Laynie Soloman

Laynie Soloman is the Director of National Learning and a faculty member at SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva. A passionate teacher of Jewish text, thought, and tradition, they believe deeply in the power of Talmud study as a healing and liberatory spiritual practice. They facilitate Jewish learning that uplifts the piously irreverent, queer, and subversive spirit of rabbinic text and theology, and have lectured on these topics in various community spaces, including at Hadar, where they served as an adjunct faculty member. Laynie is completing a Dual M.A. in Talmud/Rabbinic Literature & Jewish Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary. They hold a B.A. in Religious Studies from Goucher College and are a member of Cohort 5 of the Schusterman Fellowship.

Speakers

Oren Kaunfer
Tiffany Shlain

Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards, and author of the best-selling book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. A winner of the Marshall McLuhan Outstanding Book Award, 24/6 explores what technology amplifies and what it amputates, all through the lens of her family’s decade-long practice of going off screens weekly for “Tech Shabbats.” In February 2020, The Museum of Modern Art in New York premiered her one woman “Spoken Cinema” performance Dear Human. Tiffany’s work has received over 80 awards and distinctions, including being selected for The Albert Einstein Foundation’s Genius:100 Visions of the Future. NPR named her University of California, Berkeley address on its list of “The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever.” Her films have premiered at top festivals including Sundance. She performs and lectures worldwide on technology, humanity, and American Jewish identity. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Tiffany has been writing weekly newsletters, participating in online discussions, and hosting a weekly #ZoomChallahBake on Fridays with special guests and participants from all over the world.

Natan Kuchar
Sawyer Steele

Sawyer Steele is an Emmy-nominated producer and co-founder of the nonprofit film studio Let it Ripple. He has co-written, co-produced, and co-edited several award-winning films, including Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death, and Technology, which premiered at Sundance. He was Voice Over Director for the award-winning Sundance film The Royal Road. Sawyer produced and co-wrote the Emmy-nominated AOL Original series The Future Starts Here, which includes the episode “TransBoom” in which he shares his experience being transgender and his thoughts around the past, present, and future of being trans. Sawyer co-founded Character Day, an annual day that has grown to over 200,000 events in all 50 states and 125 countries.


Nefesh Mountain

Oren Kaunfer
Nefesh Mountain is the place where bluegrass, old-time, and American roots music meet Jewish heritage and tradition. Creators, band leaders, and husband and wife team Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg are the heart of this eclectic offering, pioneering a new world of American culture, which seamlessly blends their deep love for American and Western musical forms with their own cultural backgrounds as Jewish Americans. The result of this unexpected mix is composed arrangements of a modern folk/bluegrass band with songs of the heart and a sense of diversity, oneness, and purpose for our world today. Nefesh Mountain has been featured in Rolling Stone, BBC World News, Billboard, The Bluegrass Situation, No Depression, Bluegrass Today, Bluegrass Unlimited, The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, and Tablet Magazine.
Doni Zasloff

Doni Zasloff is a multi-award-winning singer, songwriter, and author. She is a beloved presence on stage throughout the country and is regarded as among the most influential Jewish performers of the twenty-first century. She has produced over ten albums and written two books, all while touring extensively throughout the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and Israel. Doni has been awarded three Parents’ Choice Awards and has received the Simcha Award from the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. Her unique background in singing, musical theatre, and Judaism makes her one of the most in demand and unique artists today. She brings these multifaceted talents directly to the world of Nefesh Mountain where she continues to enchant audiences with her voice and unlimited spirit.

Eric Lindberg

Eric Lindberg is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, and cultural innovator who brings his musical background in jazz and classical forms to the acoustic world of American roots music. He has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Israel, and the Middle East, all the while cultivating his skillset and deep love for the banjo, mandolin, dobro, and guitar. Eric’s influential work in Nefesh Mountain with his wife, Doni Zasloff, is known widely in both the roots/bluegrass and Jewish worlds today. He graduated with honors from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in jazz performance under guitarist and mentor Vic Juris.

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