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The Natalia Twersky Educator Award

The Natalia Twersky Educator Award honors and celebrates inspiring educators who use primary sources to integrate the stories of Jewish women into their teaching. The annual award is named for Natalia Twersky, a champion of Jewish education and the mother of JWA's founding director, Gail Twersky Reimer.

The submissions deadline for the 2015 Twersky Award has passed. Winners will be announced in the fall.

  • Prizes: $2,000 to the winning educator, plus $400 for their school or program. $500 to the finalist, plus $100 for their school or program.
  • Eligibility: Any educator working in a Jewish setting with students in grades 6–12.

About the Award

Natalia Twersky
Full image
Natalia Twersky with her grandchildren, December 1985. Photo courtesy of Gail Twersky Reimer.

Named for Natalia Twersky, a champion of Jewish education and the mother of JWA's founding executive director Gail Twersky Reimer, the award is given annually to a teacher working in a formal or informal Jewish setting. The winning educator must demonstrate a commitment to integrating the stories and voices of Jewish women into her/his curriculum through the creative use of primary sources. With the Natalia Twersky Educator Award, JWA honors the work of educators committed to gender-inclusive curricula while also recognizing the schools that support their efforts.

Natalia Twersky grew up in Cracow, Poland, and survived Auschwitz before coming to the U.S. in 1945. Although she lost any simple faith and orthodox practice, she remained steadfast in her belief in Jewish education, recognizing its power to guide a next generation to know who they are and from where they have come.

Winners & Finalists

Lesson plans are available on each individual's page.

Ramona Brand

Ramona Brand

2015 Winner

Ramona is Director of Education at Congregation Beth Ahabah in Richmond, VA. Her winning lesson plan, “Our World Through a Jewish Lens,” introduces students in grades 8–10 to photojournalist Ruth Gruber, whose work was influenced by her Jewish identity, and asks how they might express a Jewish point of view through photography.

Michelle Boyle

Michelle Boyle

2015 Finalist

Michelle is sixth-grade Humanities Teacher and Middle School Advisor & Community Engagement Coordinator at the Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, MA. Her lesson plan, “What Does It Mean To Be A Jewish Feminist?,” is an elective for students in grades 5–8, who learn how women and men might define themselves as feminists, then conduct independent research and present their findings to the class.

Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen, 2014 Twersky Award Winner

Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen

2014 Winner

Deborah is Director of Congregational Learning at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, MD. Her winning lesson plan, “Confirmation: Joining the Legacy”, teaches students about the history of Confirmation.

Rabbi Michael Rothbaum

Rabbi Michael Rothbaum

2014 Finalist

Michael is a rabbi and educator at Beth Chaim Congregation in Danville, CA. His lesson plan, “Selling Soap, Smashing Sexism, Seeing Ourselves” uses Torah and images of art and advertising to teach students about how women are viewed in the media, as well as to create their own artwork inspired by Jewish artist Barbara Kruger.

Judy Sandman

Judith Sandman

2013 Winner

Judy is a middle school teacher at two synagogue schools. Her winning lesson plan called “What Will It Cost Me To Work For You?” connects Jewish stories from the Labor Movement to contemporary labor issues in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Reuven Travis

Rabbi Reuven Travis

2013 Finalist

Reuven is a religious studies and American history teacher at a Modern Orthodox high school. His lesson plan uses primary sources as the basis for exploring Jewish experiences from two important tactics of the Civil Rights Movement: The Freedom Rides and Freedom Summer.

Ariel Horn Levenson

Ariel Horn Levenson

2013 Finalist

Ariel is a humanities teacher at a Modern Orthodox middle school. Her lesson plan introduces students to Jewish voices from Colonial America through a teacher role play and encourages students to hone critical analysis skills.

Allyson Mattanah

Allyson Mattanah

2012 Winner

Allyson was a teacher in a 4-6 mixed grade class at a Montessori-inspired supplemental school. Her winning lesson plan “Esthers and Vashtis in the Labor Movement” asks students to compare Jewish labor activists to the well-known Purim characters through audio recordings, articles, and photographs.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "The Natalia Twersky Educator Award." (Viewed on November 28, 2015) <>.


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