Celebrating leadership, Jewish education and innovation, Hebrew College honored Louis Grossman, Me’ah’00; Rabbi Ma’ayan Sands, MAJS’93, Rab’16 and 2017 Esther Award recipient, Susan Ain, Me’ah’02, MAJS’11 at its annual Gala, attended by almost 350 people at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston. In an evening characterized by heartwarming and inspirational stories and narratives, the three were recognized for their exemplary leadership and commitment to Hebrew College and the Greater Boston Jewish community.
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, President of Hebrew College said of the 2017 honorees, “They exemplify a commitment to Jewish learning that has enabled them to draw from Judaism’s wells of wisdom as the source of their leadership. Each has studied in Hebrew College’s programs which have provided them with the intellectual and spiritual resources to form a deep foundation of Jewish leadership.” He went on to further note his appreciation, commenting that, “Hebrew College and the entire community have benefited greatly from their dedication, generosity and hard work.”
Rabbi Dan Judson celebrated Hebrew College through stories, also serving as the evening’s emcee. He recounted his experience delving into the Hebrew College archives, reading through minutes of board meetings from the 1930s and learning how truly important women have been to the success and sustenance of Hebrew College. He went on to illustrate how fitting it was for Susan Ain to be presented with the 2017 Esther Award, as she continues to perpetuate that commitment and spirit both in tangible and intangible ways.
2017 honorees, siblings Louis Grossman and Rabbi Ma’ayan Sands, have continued the Grossman family legacy – established decades ago by their grandparents – of leadership, philanthropy and commitment both to Jewish learning and to Hebrew College. With its roots set firmly in Jewish tradition, the Grossman family has built community, in the literal sense through the family’s lumber business, as well as through its generosity within and beyond the Jewish community.
Louis, a 2000 graduate of Hebrew College’s Me’ah adult learning program, serves on several boards, including Hebrew College’s Board of Trustees, and is actively involved with many organizations. Ma’ayan received her Master’s in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College in 1993, with certificates both in family education and pastoral care. She went on to receive rabbinic ordination from The Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2016 and now serves as a visiting rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Tefillah in Brookline. Each has embraced lifelong Jewish learning and remains committed to building upon the foundation laid by the generations that came before them.
Hebrew College presented Susan Ain with the 2017 Esther Award, celebrating the history of Jewish women’s philanthropy and leadership, and honoring her for her ongoing commitment to both, not only at Hebrew College, but also in the Greater Boston Jewish community. Always a champion of innovative and lifelong Jewish learning, she is, herself, a 2001 graduate of Me’ah and received her Master’s of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College in 2011. She has previously chaired and currently serves on Hebrew College’s Board of Trustees.
In a musical expression weaving together both innovation and tradition, The Israeli Jazz Quartet performed new arrangements of traditional melodies as well as more recent works throughout the evening.
The Gala also marked the beginning of Hebrew College’s annual scholarship appeal. Two of Hebrew College’s current students had the opportunity to relate their own stories and how the scholarships they have received have made the opportunity to study at Hebrew College a reality for them.
The first speaker, Andrea Shapiro, is a candidate for a Master’s in Jewish Education (MJEd`19). She explained that, when she, a single parent working full-time, was applying to master’s degree programs, what really helped her decide on Hebrew College were the people she encountered during the application and interview process, “Every single one of them who I interacted with made me feel like I was the student that mattered – that my successes would be their successes – and they were truly invested in helping me turn my dreams into a reality.” Her scholarship made this possible and she went on to emphasize, “This is my learning opportunity; this is my opportunity to change lives.”
Next, Aliza Berger, Hebrew College’s first Rav-Hazzan candidate, slated for ordination this spring, took us on a journey. She started with her dream in high school to be an opera-singing rabbi, on to college, then to study in Israel and, finally, here to Hebrew College, which she described as, “the ONLY place in the world where I could pursue simultaneous ordination as a rabbi and a cantor,” going on to share that, “Hebrew College taught me how to open into myself, to become who I am meant to be. Hebrew College taught me to open my heart to wonderful surprises.” In closing, she impressed upon those gathered, “I’ve always known I wanted to become a rabbi. I discovered that I wanted to become a cantor along the way, but each step of my life has been guided by scholarships. Scholarships are more than money. They are the power of affirmation in a world which can be overwhelming. Scholarships remind us that we are God’s agent on this scene, guiding each other toward a brighter tomorrow.”
Robert Snyder stepped forward to launch the campaign with the establishment of a generous new scholarship fund for students in the Jewish Studies program, named in honor of his wife, Myra, a member of the Hebrew College Board of Trustees and a 2001 graduate of the Master of Jewish Studies program.
The evening’s festivities concluded with The Israeli Jazz Quartet celebrating Jerusalem at 50 with a jazz arrangement of Jerusalem of Gold.
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the many individuals, families and corporate sponsors who supported Hebrew College through their tributes to our honorees, and by celebrating with us at the Gala. Please take a moment to read through our Gala 2017 Tribute Book to learn more about our 2017 honorees and the many kind words shared in the tributes.
For giving opportunities or to make a donation in celebration of one of the 2017 honorees or to the scholarship appeal, contact Lisa Keshet, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at 617-559-8674. To learn more about Hebrew College’s degree, ordination and lifelong learning programs, contact Bob Gielow at 617-559-8610.