JTS Students Win Coveted Jewish Innovators Contest

Ami Hersh and Dana Levinson Receive Top Honors at the Jewish Futures Competition

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

May 9, 2012, New York, NY

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is delighted to announce that two of its students, Ami Hersh and Dana Levinson, are winners of the Jewish Futures Competition, which recognizes innovators who strive to create a dynamic Jewish future. The Jewish Futures Conference—which will be held in New York City on June 4, 2012—and its affiliated competition are sponsored by the Jewish Education Project and the Lippman Kanfer Institute of the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA), in collaboration with UJA-Federation of New York.

Mr. Hersh is both a fifth-year rabbinical student to be ordained this month and a student at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of JTS, where he will complete his MA in Informal Education and Israel Education in May 2013. Ms. Levinson will finish her MA in Jewish Experiential Education at The Davidson School next May, as well. They will present their winning entry—Ramah 365, an app that connects transformational in-person experiences to virtual platforms in a remix of technology and real life experiences—at the Jewish Futures Conference in June.

Mr. Hersh is the program officer of the National Ramah Commission, and the assistant director of Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, New York. In his capacity as a Rabbinical School student at JTS, he has a concentration in Nonprofit Management. He is a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alumnus and an iCenter Israel Education fellow.

"It is a great honor to have won the Jewish Futures Competition along with Dana Levinson on behalf of the Ramah 365 project (which is generously funded by a grant from the Covenant Foundation)," said Mr. Hersh. "The selection committee [was] particularly excited by two aspects of our application: we were able to demonstrate how new technology can help sustain communities of practice during the non-camp season, and show that established organizations can remain creative and innovative. I look forward to sharing more about the project at the Jewish Futures Conference on June 4. Stay tuned for the launch of the Ramah 365 app over the course of the next year."

As a graduate student at The Davidson School, Ms. Levinson is currently a member of the first-year cohort of the new MA Experiential Education track and the pilot semester-in-Israel program, Kesher Hadash. She was a teaching fellow at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has worked for eight summers at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, where she currently serves as a rosh edah (division head).

"It is both an honor and a privilege to represent Ramah at the Jewish Futures Conference. With seemingly endless possibilities in the fast-paced technological world, Jewish education is on the precipice of something truly exciting. The ability to create and effect change within our local and global Jewish communities is an empowering and inspiring reality. As a Jewish educator seeking to bridge the gaps between Jewish communities in a way that is both meaningful and relevant, I am hopeful that this project will be the start of a new chapter in Jewish education," said Ms. Levinson.

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