Twersky Award

From 2012-2018, JWA presented the Natalia Twersky Educator Award to educators who used primary sources creatively to integrate Jewish women’s stories into their teaching. Learn about the winners and finalists.

Julie Rezmovic-Tonti and Jessica Kirzane

2018 Winner

Julie Rezmovic-Tonti teaches middle school Jewish history and serves as Outreach Coordinator at Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, Virginia. She has a BA in Women's Studies from the University of Maryland and an MA in Jewish Studies from Siegal College. She also studied at Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.  She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband, three children, typewriter, pottery wheel, and garden.

Jessica Kirzane is the Lecturer in Yiddish at the University of Chicago and the Editor-in-Chief of In geveb: A Journal of Jewish Studies. She is also a literary translator from Yiddish and has taught Jewish Studies at multiple grade levels. As a contributing author and editor for the Teach Great Jewish Books website of the Yiddish Book Center, she has created several resources to bring literary and historical documents into the high school classroom.

Rachael Cerrotti

2018 Finalist

Rachael Cerrotti is a documentary photographer, writer and educator. Her storytelling focuses on narratives of resilience with a unique interest in family history. For nearly a decade, Rachael has been pursuing her long-term project, Follow My Footprints, retracing her grandmother's route of displacement during and in the wake of World War II. She is now writing a book about this journey and regularly speaks in communities and classrooms across the country and abroad.

Tali Puterman, 2017 Twersky Award Winner

2017 Winner

Originating from Cape Town, South Africa, Tali Puterman now lives in Boston and works as the Social Justice Educator and Community Organizer at Temple Israel of Boston. Tali received her MA in Educational Studies from Tufts University and her BA from Brandeis University. Reacting to her own experiences of miseducation growing up White in post-Apartheid South Africa attending an Orthodox Jewish day school, Tali challenges students to question and confront injustices and see themselves as Jewish leaders of change.

Aya Baron, 2017 Twersky Award Finalist

2017 Finalist

Aya Baron is Wilderness Torah's Youth Programs Director. She joined the staff in 2015 after three years in serving as a lead field instructor. Previously, Aya worked as an educator and program designer at Urban Adamah and Eden Village Camp. She is passionate about cultivating a regenerative Jewish culture, developing rites of passage experiences for youth, and working with adolescent girls. Aya holds a degree in Contemplative Education from Brown University.

Yedida Kanfer, 2016 Twersky Award Winner

2016 Winner

Yedida Kanfer serves as the Coordinator of Education Services at the JFCS Holocaust Center, where she teaches high school students, educators, and the larger community about the Holocaust and patterns of genocide.  She also manages the Tauber Holocaust Library.  Prior to her position at the JFCS Holocaust Center, Yedida served as a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and worked for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC.  Yedida received her PhD in East European and Jewish history from Yale University in 2011; she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship (Russia) and a Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Fellowship.  Having studied Russian, Polish, Hebrew, and German languages for research purposes, her favorite language is Yiddish, which she reads and speaks fluently.

Audrey Abade

2016 Finalist

Audrey Abade is the Jewish History Department Chair at Magen David Yeshivah High School. Her research has focused on Sephardic Jewry, particularly the role of women within Syrian and Egyptian Jewish communities. Her study of Egyptian Jewish women and their immigration to the United States was published in, “A Jewish Feminine Mystique?: Jewish Women in Postwar America.” Her lesson focuses on Syrian Jewish Americans during World War II and looks at the process of identity formation through the lens of young first and second generation women.

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

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; cropped

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Twersky Award." (Viewed on April 22, 2024) <>.