JTS and JTS Alumni Receive Covenant Foundation Grant Awards

Press Contact: Beatrice Mora
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: bemora@jtsa.edu

February 25, 2014, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is honored to announce that the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS received an Ignition Grant from the Covenant Foundation in support of a new initiative to create a web-based long-distance teaching program for clergy and lay leaders.

The project, overseen by Rabbi Ute Steyer, will draw on the richness of the Jewish tradition in a multimedia study curriculum utilizing the latest technology to engage people around the country and support communities seeking greater training in the mitzvah of bikkur holim (visiting the sick). The Center for Pastoral Education's unique approach integrates the wisdom of the Jewish tradition with attunement to the ongoing needs of volunteers and professionals who devote themselves to the rigors of this mitzvah.

"This grant gives us the opportunity to develop an educational tool that brings together people in the mitzvah of Talmud Torah and provides a much-needed resource that will help them build and strengthen communities through caring for each other," says Rabbi Steyer, project director for the grant.

"Rabbi Steyer brings a unique combination of strengths to this exciting initiative," says Rabbi Mychal Springer, director of the Center for Pastoral Education. "She is deeply grounded in traditional texts, and has the technological and pedagogical savvy to create a model for a new generation of learners."

The Covenant Foundation will distribute a total of $1.6 million in Signature and Ignition Grants this year to Jewish organizations as part of its mission to foster excellence and impact in Jewish education. JTS congratulates the Center for Pastoral Education and all JTS alumni involved in organizations receiving Covenant Foundation grants, and celebrates this recognition of their outstanding work.

Of the 13 Signature Grants recently awarded by the Foundation, which provide funding for up to $250,000 for up to five years, five went to organizations that are led by or employ JTS alumni:  

  • Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, Conover, Wisconsin, run by the National Ramah Commission-the coordinating body of the camping arm of Conservative Judaism, operating under the educational and religious supervision of JTS: Jacob Cytryn (The Graduate School [GS] '06), director; Robin Rubenstein (List College [LC] '96), alumni coordinator; and Rabbi David Soloff (The Rabbinical School [RS] '74), CEO (formerly executive director for 34 years)
  • Girls in Trouble, Portland, Oregon: Alicia Jo Rabins (GS '00), singer and songwriter
  • Institute for Jewish Spirituality, New York City: Rabbi Jonathan Slater (RS '79), co-director of programs
  • RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network, New York City (for the Jewish Court of All Time project, in which students from JTS's William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education serve as mentors): Dr. Marc Kramer (GS '97), executive director
  • Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, New York City: Evita Sokol (LC '02, The Davidson School [DS] '03), religious school director

Of the eight Ignition Grants recently awarded by the Foundation, which provide up to $20,000 for one year to support "new and untested approaches" in Jewish education, five (including the Center for Pastoral Education at JTS) are led by or employ JTS alumni:  

  • Congregation Shearith Israel, Dallas, Texas: Rabbi William Gershon (LC '82, RS 87), rabbi; Rabbi Adam Roffman (RS '13, GS '13), associate rabbi; Rabbi Shira Wallach (LC '08, RS '13), director of family development and outreach
  • The Center for Pastoral Education at JTS, New York City: Rabbi Mychal Springer (RS '92), director; Rabbi Ute Steyer (RS '09, GS '09), research and program manager
  • The Shefa School, New York City: Rabbi Laurie Katz Braun (current JTS Day School Leadership Training Institute fellow), director of outreach; Dr. Yoni Schwab (LC '00), assistant head of school
  • Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, New Milford, New Jersey: Rabbi Fred Elias (RS '09), school rabbi; Martha Resnick (GS '89), teacher
  • Temple Beth Shalom, Mahopac, New York: Rabbi Eytan Hammerman (LC '99, RS '10), rabbi