Susan Werk, an alumna of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary, was honored with the prestigious Covenant Award for her work as educational director at Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, New Jersey. Werk is also a mentor for future educators in The Davidson School.
The Covenant Award, which carries a prize of $36,000 for the recipient and an additional $5,000 for his or her institution, is considered the premier honor in the world of Jewish education. The 2008 awards were presented at a gala dinner and celebration of Jewish educators and Jewish education held at the Pierre Hotel on October 28.
The event also marked the eighteenth anniversary of The Covenant Foundation, which honors outstanding Jewish educators and supports creative programming, in order to strengthen educational endeavors that perpetuate Jewish heritage and identity. Joining Werk as Covenant Award recipients are Diana Ganger, program director for the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI) in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Monsey, New York.
According to a statement made by the Covenant Foundation, Congregation Agudath Israel is led by a three-person partnership comprised of the rabbi, cantor, and Werk, “who have created a cohesive community with multi-level educational programming that incorporates congregants at all levels. She [Susan] has touched everyone from preschool to adult learners; from birthdays to hospice.”
Evie Rotstein, director of the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators, a collaborative program between JTS and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, said Werk’s “passion for creating a prayerful community is evinced in the incredible attendance at junior congregation Shabbat services and afternoon Shabbat activities every week at her synagogue. Together with Rabbi Alan Silverstein and Cantor Joel Caplan, this leadership team has built one of the flagship Conservative congregations in the country, with hundreds of Shabbat observers, both adults and children.”
Information about The Davidson School is available by calling (212) 678-8894.