More Than A Teacher

Celebrating the recipients of the 2018 Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education

What is a teacher?

To a student like me, a teacher is a mentor who challenges us during each class. To a parent, a teacher is responsible for ensuring his or her child receives the best education available to them.

It’s always gratifying to acknowledge educators who are molding the minds of tomorrow, imparting their wisdom to make sure each generation creates a better future. Therefore, it is an honor to introduce a cadre of teachers who exemplify excellence in their field.

Here are the four recipients of the the Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education:

Congregational/Community School: Abra Greenspan, Congregation Etz Chayim

“To be a teacher of Judaism is to be reminded every day that what I say and do matters.” – Abra Greenspan

Abra Greenspan is a 7th grade and B’nei Mitzvah teacher at Congregation Etz Chayim, where she implements the curriculum and works in Family Programming. Another responsibility of hers is preparing students for their b’nei mitzvah. Abra began teaching not long after her own bat mitzvah, tutoring her best friend’s younger sister as she prepared for her own. Abra‘s passion for education continued through high school and, after college, she went on to instruct sixth graders while living in Tokyo at the Tokyo Jewish Community Center. In the future, she sees herself spending one-on-one time with her b’nei mitzvah students while also teaching adult learning courses on the weekends.

Day School: Adam Eilath, Jewish Community High School of the Bay

“Knowing that students and their families are finding value in Jewish Studies and its applicability to their modern-day lives is inspiring to me and motivates me to continue to do the work I am doing.” – Adam Eilath

Adam Eilath is a Jewish Studies teacher and the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) where he works with students ranging from 10th to 12th grade. His responsibilities include teaching Honors Jewish Thought and Talmud, and overseeing projects and programs to help prepare students at JCHS for the future. Adam has two goals: to “empower and encourage students to be creators and leaders in the Jewish community,” and to “help cultivate thoughtful, ethical, value-driven thinkers.” His motivation for his commitment to educating comes from the positive experiences growing up in Jewish Day School and the daily interactions he has with his students. Adam hopes to someday be the Head of School.

Early Childhood Education: Emma Schnur, Gan Avraham Preschool, Temple Beth Abraham

“I have the best job in the whole world: I get to teach young American Jews at the very beginning of their education.” – Emma Schnur

Emma Schnur is a teacher and Jewish Resource Specialist at the Gan Avraham Preschool. She believes it is her responsibility to give children an environment that is welcoming and inclusive, and to treat children with appreciation and respect. Emma was raised with a Jewish education, and often helped her mother (also a teacher) in the classroom. Those experiences inspired her to pursue a career as an educator. To Emma, the most meaningful part of her involvement in Jewish education comes with the everyday moments that she experiences in her classroom. In five years, she sees herself as the director of a Jewish preschool.

Informal Education: Carol Booth, Jewish Baby Network, Congregations Beth Am, Kol Emeth, and the Peninsula Jewish community

“Jewish wisdom is a gift that guides us through life and brings us closer to our family and friends, our local and world community. I want to share this gift with others.” – Carol Booth

Carol Booth is currently the director of Jewish Baby Network, where she teaches a Jewish birth prep workshop that educates parents on blessings, rituals, songs, and prayers they can use with their newborn children. Carol’s love for teaching started when she was very young, after helping a classmate with a math problem. Carol converted to Judaism after her college graduation and combined her love for Jewish culture with her love for educating. Carol finds “creating a community that provides friendship and support to Jewish families with young children [a] meaningful aspect of [her] role as an informal Jewish educator.” Carol hopes that the Jewish Baby Network will one day expand to reach more communities and families.

Come join us in celebration of these outstanding educators on Tuesday, June 5, at 6:30 pm at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

Categories: Awards, Endowment, Community


May 15, 2018


Cathelin Blackett