The Centennial Schechter Awards, presented Monday evening, October 14, recognized excellence in synagogue programming that builds kehilla – sacred community. We looked for examples of initiatives that had a long-lasting impact, especially those that connected people to one another and to Conservative Judaism, strengthened Jewish identity, or changed the greater community beyond the confines of their synagogue.
Centennial Boneh (Builder) Award
Princeton Jewish Center (Princeton, New Jersey) for “The Story of My Family Coming to America” This experiential program highlighted the uniqueness and similarity of family histories, and showed bar and bat mitzvah students and their families their unique places in the tapestry of American Judaism.
Centennial Yesod (Foundation) Awards
Beth El Temple (West Hartford, Connecticut) for “Jessie’s Community Garden at Beth El Temple” This program created a sense of community and sacred mission by planting and harvesting crops that were donated to food banks, and shared by the community at congregational luncheons.
Gesher L’Torah (Alpharetta, Georgia) for “Virtual Israeli Classroom” This learning experience was designed to immerse students in Israeli daily activities, debate Israel’s response to its challenges, and create a personal relationship with our homeland through virtual resources, curriculum, and instruction.
Temple Beth Shalom (Livingston, New Jersey) for “Teen Program in Jewish Communal Leadership” This program provided an integrated approach to service learning and mentorship to prepare high school students for leadership positions during college in Hillel or other organizations in the Jewish community.
Centennial M’tamekh (Pillar) Awards
Beth El Congregation (Phoenix, Arizona) for “Connecting With Beth El Over the Miles” This online program connects congregants who cannot participate in person to the kehilla – for example, people with health issues and children from families at a nearby military base.
Beth David Synagogue (Greensboro, North Carolina) for “A Month of Love: A Celebration of Community” This month-long program consisted of a series of educational presentations about relationships, Jewish marriage customs, and evolving views of same-sex relationships, culminating in a re-commitment ceremony for couples.
Greenburgh Hebrew Center (Dobbs Ferry, New York) for “Serving Those Who Served Our Country” This program brought together the synagogue community with the veterans community, culminating in a Veterans’ Day Shabbat dinner.
Congregation Ohev Shalom (Wallingford, Pennsylvania) for “Poreach” This “blossoming” sustainability initiative incorporated learning and action with educational opportunities about sustainability, carbon footprint reduction, and joining together to purchase sustainably produced food from local farmers.
Centennial Chesed Awards
Three programs have been singled out for special Centennial Chesed Awards. These visionary projects responded to timely needs or had an impact on populations beyond the Jewish community. They were guided by exemplary Jewish values that are the underpinning of all sacred community. We hope they will inspire our kehillot to continually look to the special strengths and challenges in every community as opportunity to bring Jewish values to life.
Congregation B’nai Israel (Millburn, New Jersey) for “Living Tzedakah in Appalachia” This program was designed to make a difference in the lives of the people and families in what is considered to be the poorest town in the poorest section of America: McRoberts, Kentucky.
Greenburgh Hebrew Center (Dobbs Ferry, New York) for “Weathering Superstorm Sandy as a Family” The kehilla used an approach that applied the Jewish value of family to engage and care for members of the kehilla and the greater community after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
Congregation B’nai Emunah (Tulsa, Oklahoma) for “Altamont Bakery” The bakery is a pro-social enterprise: a bakery with a quality, specialized product line that brings members of the congregation together with formerly homeless mentally ill citizens of the community in a shared, cooperative venture that offers support, encouragement, and a sense of community to men and women who have been marginalized by circumstance.
Centennial Schechter Commendation
Congregation Anshei Israel (Tucson, Arizona) for “The Anshei App for Apple and Android”
Congregation Kol Shofar (Tiburon, California) for “Stories from the Fringe: Women Rabbis Revealed”
Beth El Temple (West Hartford, Connecticut) for “The KNITzvah Group”
Beth El Temple (West Hartford, Connecticut) for “Shir Joy”
Temple Sholom (Greenwich, Connecticut) for “Temple Sholom Adult Torah Study”
Tifereth Israel Congregation (Washington, DC) for “Pesach Family Experience”
Tifereth Israel Congregation (Washington, DC) for “The Family Service”
Temple Beth Torah (Tamarac, Florida) for “Creating a Community of Welcoming: Teaching Tolerance and Understanding”
Temple Torah of West Boynton Beach (Boynton Beach, Florida) for “Shabbat With a Twist Siddur”
Beth Ahm Israel (Davie, Florida) for “Selichot By The Sea”
Sunrise Jewish Center / Temple Shaaray Tzedek (Sunrise, Florida) for “TGIS! Thank God it’s Shabbat”
Sunrise Jewish Center / Temple Shaaray Tzedek (Sunrise, Florida) for “Community Shabbat Dinner and SJC Shabbat Speakers Series”
Sunrise Jewish Center / Temple Shaaray Tzedek (Sunrise, Florida) for “Pasta & Prayers”
Temple Torah of West Boynton Beach (Boynton Beach, Florida) for “Torah Tots: Our little hands can help the hungry”
Ahavath Achim Synagogue (Atlanta, Georgia) for “Reunion, Renewal, Ruach”
Congregation Gesher L’Torah (Alpharetta, Georgia) for “Shalom Sing program”
Congregation Mishkan Tefila (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts) for “Hunger is No Game”
Congregation Har Shalom (Potomac, Maryland) for “Takin’ It to the Schools”
Beth Israel Congregation (Owings Mills, Maryland) for “Israel Conversations; Israel Connections”
Congregation Shaarey Zedek (Southfield, Michigan) for “The Congregation Shaarey Zedek Family Covenant Project”
Temple of Aaron (St. Paul, Minnesota) for “JNFL – Raising Money for Israel and Awareness of our Synagogue Community”
Beth David Synagogue (Greensboro, North Carolina) for “Death Practices and Beliefs of Faiths and Religions”
Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex (Caldwell, New Jersey) for “The Israel Walkathon of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey”
Adath Israel Congregation (Lawrenceville, New Jersey) for “A Symposium on Aging and Spirituality”
Beth El Synagogue (East Windsor, New Jersey) for “Building a Sacred Community for Beth El’s Next Century”
Temple Beth Sholom (Cherry Hill, New Jersey) for “Let’s Make a Meal”
Temple Israel Of Great Neck (Great Neck, New York) for “Educational Dividends as a Model of Lifelong Learning”
Temple Beth El (Rochester, New York) for “Mashgiach Training”
Jewish Community Center of Harrison (Harrison, New York) for “Jewish Community Center of Harrison Early Childhood Program”
Temple Beth El (North Bellmore, New York) for “Minyan on Demand”
Beth El Congregation (Akron, Ohio) for “Beth El’s Bestival Hanukkah Festival”
The Park Synagogue (Pepper Pike, Ohio) for “Under Mendelsohn’s Dome: Visions of Park Synagogue”
Congregation Ohav Shalom (Cincinnati, Ohio) for “Sinatra Shabbat – Our World as Seen Through a Jewish Lens”
Shaar Shalom Synagogue (Thornhill, Ontario) for “Mitzvah Knitters”
Congregation Shaarie Torah (Portland, Oregon) for “Community Minyan/Family Services for the High Holy Days”
Har Zion Temple (Penn Valley, Pennsylvania) for “Junior Congregation-Shabbat out of the Box and Class Shabbatot”
Tiferet Bet Israel (Blue Bell, Pennsylvania) for “Yad B’Yad”
Adath Israel (Merion Station, Pennsylvania) for “Adath Israel Shuk”
Congregation Beth Yeshurun (Houston, Texas) for “The Gathering Place”