Epstein Hillel School is pleased to announce Joshua Heerter, ‘99, as this year’s recipient of the Adam Madorsky Social Justice Award. The award, created in 2016 in memory of Adam Madorsky, son of Karen and Jerry Madorsky, recognizes alumni who have continued to pursue social justice in their personal or professional lives. Joshua was chosen because of his compassion for the underserved. He lives in Chelsea with his wife, Rasha.
For over a decade, Joshua has been tutoring, mentoring, and teaching English to non-native English-speaking students at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. Joshua is a tenured member of the Language Lab, which is an especially diverse and dynamic space at the college whose mission is to provide a welcoming environment and academic support for students from underprivileged populations. The high school class he tutors is comprised of primarily Spanish-speaking immigrant students. Through his work, he embodies the Jewish value of welcoming the stranger by supporting his non-English speaking students with their transition into the United States.
“Since I often work with relatively new immigrants, I am also often the first Jew my students have ever met, and I have learned to navigate sharing that aspect of my identity in my work in interesting ways,” said Joshua.
Joshua is proud of the highly social justice-driven scope of his work, a value he credits back to his days as a student in Karen Madorsky’s classroom.
“My work wouldn’t be successful without the care and strict dedication of Karen Madorsky. My three years of language arts instruction with her were the most rigorous of my entire life, leading me to not only earn a letter of specialization in professional writing during my undergraduate studies, but also enabled me to go on to pursue my master’s in the teaching of composition as well as led to the career that I have had thus far,” said Joshua.
Joshua has two younger sisters who are five and nine years younger than he is. Using the skills he had learned in Karen’s classroom, he became the girls’ tutor, helping them with their studies and teaching them many of the skills he had honed. Little did he know, the hours spent helping his siblings were a foreshadow of the future.
Following Hillel, Joshua attended New Jewish High School (now Gann Academy). While a student there, he interned for the Jewish Journal. As student at UMass Amherst, Joshua earned a degree in English Literature and did a capstone project on creative writing. He said that none of this would have been possible without the rigorous learning he was provided by Hillel.