Talmud Torah Award ó 2011
Congratulations to Marty & Shirley Levinson, recipients of the 13th annual Talmud Torah Award, honoring a congregant who has contributed significantly to the Temple by engaging thoughtfully in our adult education programs, presented on May 13, 2011.
“Here you have two kids growing up in Brooklyn where to us the world was ALL Jewish — friends, neighbors, etc. Everyone we knew basically followed the same guidelines: ate no treif in the house, lit candles on Shabbat and only the boys were expected to be Bar Mitzvah.”
|Watch video of the Talmud Torah Award presentation May 13, 2011.|
For some reason, Marty was determined to be Bar Mitzvah, but paying for the schooling was difficult with a family of five and a house-painter father who was far from a steady income earner. So when the bills came in the mail, Marty just tore them up. He shared his secret with his zadie, who belonged to a Shul in Queens. Together they devised a plan where Marty, when he was prepared, would take three buses from Brooklyn, go to the Shul in Queens and have his Bar Mitzvah there. They lent him a jacket and a bunch of old men kvelled and ate herring, challah and schnaps. What more could you want? Not even his mother knew about this.
After college and law school, Marty became a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force as a Judge Advocate General attorney, and his first post was in Shreveport, Louisiana, where their last name clearly defined them. Three years later, they made Miami their new home, and it wasn't long before it was time for preschool and raising three children. During those years, Marty & Shirley participated in services and children's activities, but never Torah Study. Several years later, Judy Bittel suggested attending Torah Study, which “we did and we do and will because it gives meaning to life!”
The Temple Beth Am community proudly honors Marty & Shirley Levinson on this well-deserved achievement!
|The Talmud Torah Award|
(Special Award to Rabbi Morris Kipper z"l)
2004 Steve Simon
2003 Paul Distenfeld and Anabela Moskovitz
2002 Judith Bittel
2001 Edward Schwartz
History and Purpose
During the late 1990s, our clergy determined that the Temple Beth Am community should illustrate its commitment to Jewish adult learning by recognizing and honoring those congregants who are committed to adult learning. Congregants who contribute to the Temple in other ways — financially or volunteering time — already receive formal awards, such as the Harry Gunther Service Award. There was a consensus that devotion to adult Jewish learning also was a contribution to Temple life equally worthy of formal recognition. An award for Jewish learning also would serve to publicize Beth Am’s adult education programs and encourage participation in them.
With the approval of the Adult Education Committee, Temple Beth Am in 1999 instituted the Talmud Torah Award to honor congregants who contribute to the Temple by engaging thoughtfully in its adult education programs.
Nature of the Award
Recipients receive three forms of recognition.
• An article in the Commentator provides the congregation with the winner’s biographical sketch and photograph.
• A plaque on the wall of the sanctuary lobby records the names of the recipients.
• And, most importantly, the recipient receives recognition at a Friday night service in the Spring, and then delivers a D’var Torah on the weekly torah portion.
Selection Process and Criteria
The award is presented to a congregant who has demonstrated superior commitment to adult Jewish education in general, and to the Temple’s adult education programming in particular. The award may also be given to related congregants to honor their joint participation. Recipients should demonstrate both breadth of commitment by participating in a variety of activities, and depth of commitment through consistent and thoughtful participation. Ordinarily, recipients should be members of the congregation not associated with the clergy, although an exception was made in 2005 when a special award was presented to Rabbi Morris Kipper (z"l).
A subcommittee of the Adult Education Committee selects the recipient, based on recommendations from the Clergy, participants in Temple adult educational programming and other interested members of the Temple community. Prior recipients are included in the selection subcommittee.