Congratulations to the 2011 Helen Diller awardees for Excellence in Jewish Education

Congregation/Community School: CHARNA SCHAKOW, Temple Isaiah in Lafayette

For 27 years, Charna Schakow has endeavored to inspire in her students a sense of awe and pride in our Jewish history and culture. From her early years in Hebrew school and participation in the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist youth movement, through her studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she has nurtured this sense of pride. Currently the fifth grade teacher at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, she has sought to bring Jewish history to life for her students and their families, designing family workshops and organizing field trips, with the ultimate goal of enriching their appreciation of the eclectic cultural tapestry of the Jewish People.


. Day School: SIGAL GAVISH, Brandeis Hillel Day School

Sigal comes from a family of educators. As an Israeli- American her intention is to give back to the community and help children connect to their Jewish identities. She began travelling the path of Jewish education as a music and chorus teacher at the age of eighteen and as the years progressed, she found herself teaching K-8 students Hebrew, Jewish Studies, General Studies, Israeli Dancing, Music and Art. Passionate about the integration of General Studies and Jewish Studies, through the use of project base learning she reveled in how children exhibited enthusiasm as they discovered and explored new curricular areas. She has dedicated her career of over 23 years to Jewish education, spending the past five years teaching General Studies to second and fourth graders at Brandeis Hillel Day School. Sigal stated, “It has been a blessing teaching in the Jewish community, and although I hope I have taught my students much, I have learned even more from them.”


. Early Childhood Education: ROBIN MENDELSON, Gan Shalom Preschool

I grew up in Chicago and played at the Henry N. Hart JCC. I lived and worked in Israel for a year and then returned home to complete my Montessori credential. In 1984 I moved to California and finished my undergrad work at Mills College. I began working in Jewish education in 1986. My kavannah is to convey and impart my passion for the values, traditions, and words of wisdom of Judaism. To create sacred space where children build a relationship to their Jewish identify and the world around them with a sense of awe, wonder, and amazement. To build a community of seekers, who with understanding, wisdom, and compassion, help repair and transform the world from generation to generation."


. Informal Education: ALAN SCHER, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

Alan Scher never sat straight enough for his kindergarten teacher, but managed to make something of himself, nonetheless. Besides receiving a Master’s degree in Education, he is an alumnus of the Progressive Jewish Alliance’s Jeremiah Fellowship, the JCC Association’s Merrin Teen Professional Fellows program and a founding Advisory Board member for Brothers on the Rise. Since 2008, Alan has served as the Teen Program Manager at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, where he is responsible for the development of successful and innovative programs for more than 1,800 middle and high school students. It's the little things, truth be told, that bring him joy. Doing a spot on Otis Redding at karaoke, keeping his house plants alive, retraining his New Jersey-born tongue to pronounce the "t's" in words such as "fountain" and perfecting the art of baby massage with his daughter. Not to mention “praying with his feet” by working to realize an ground-breaking, multicultural community built upon Jewish values and true to our ideals.

Categories: Awards, Endowment, Events


June 13, 2011


The Federation