Shira Hammerman of West Orange has been chosen as winner of a 2014 Community Leadership Award by Areyvut, a Bergenfield-based nonprofit that develops and implements educational programming and community service opportunities for Jewish youth and teens.
Hammerman has served as the organization’s educational consultant since 2004. In that capacity she developed Areyvut’s “A Kindness a Day” calendar and played a prominent role in developing its Jewish teen philanthropy program.
“Shira has been a tremendous asset to Areyvut,” said founder and director Daniel Rothner. “She’s a visionary educator and leader who is always willing to help. Shira is a model of social responsibility and communal leadership.”
Hammerman said she is “grateful to be honored by such a special organization,” and has been inspired by the determination shown by Rothner to grow the organization over the past 12 years.
Areyvut runs training for “mitzva clowns” who cheer the sick and elderly, organizes b’nei mitzva fairs to match children with charitable projects, runs training programs for teen philanthropists, and sponsors a National Mitzvah Day. Kindness A Day e-mails match practical suggestions for good deeds with traditional Jewish texts.
“The values and actions Areyvut promotes are foundational for building a bright Jewish future,” she said. Its programs “inspire children and families to help those who are in need while at the same time fostering understanding, a sense of gratitude, leadership, and other values that are needed to strengthen our Jewish community.”
The organization’s programs are especially powerful, she added, “because they have immediate as well as long-term impact. For example, someone who is trained as a mitzva clown can bring cheer to thousands of people in his or her lifetime, and someone who becomes a teen philanthropist can use the skills they gain to guide their philanthropic giving for the rest of their lives.”
A former Wexner fellow and Davidson scholar — selective programs for Jewish educators-in-training — Hammerman has taught at various day schools. While she completes her doctorate in education at New York University, she is running a curriculum project for the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She has been recognized for her volunteer work at her synagogue, Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob & David, the Orthodox synagogue in West Orange, where she serves on the sisterhood board and chairs the youth committee.
She is also responsible for developing and implementing a new Shabbat morning tefilla program for children in preschool and kindergarten, volunteers at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, which her children attend, and helps out — with her family — at the Jewish Relief Agency.
Jessica Baer of Fair Lawn is to receive the organization’s Young Leadership Award.
The awards will be presented on Sunday, April 6, at Areyvut’s annual breakfast, at Congregation B’nai Yeshurun in Teaneck. For more information, visit areyvut.org or call 201-244-6702.