This year, the Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education go to four women from very different classroom settings: early childhood, day school, synagogue Hebrew school and informal education. But what the four have in common is a passion for teaching.
Outi Gould, Naomi Dardik, Lizet Shamash and Stephanie Levin exemplify the Diller Awards’ purpose of rewarding educators who encourage youth to explore Jewish heritage, incorporate Jewish values and build Jewish community.
The four educators will be honored at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s annual meeting June 11 at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Each award carries a $10,000 prize for the teachers and $2,500 for their respective institutions.
Gould teaches at Temple Beth Abraham’s Bet Sefer Avraham in Oakland. After her conversion to Judaism at that synagogue in 1997, the Finnish-born Gould deepened her study of Judaism and Hebrew. In 2001 she joined the staff at Bet Sefer Avraham, where she now teaches fifth and sixth graders as well as adults.
Dardik has taught Jewish studies at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco since the school opened its doors. She has taught every grade and just about every class in the Jewish studies department, specializing in Bible, Talmud and Hebrew. She is married to Rabbi Judah Dardik of Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland.
Shamash was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, in a traditional Sephardic family. She made aliyah in the 1970s, married and moved to California in 1982. She joined the Osher Marin JCC as a teacher’s assistant, rose to a position as a senior educator and has been there ever since.
Levin, a teacher at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, has served in a variety of roles since 1999, when she started there as summer camp program director. In January 2008 she was named youth and family director, developing Jewish family programs as well as supervising camp and teen services. Levin is a graduate of the Tikea Fellowship for Educators of Jewish Teens.
The Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education is a program of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.