In a fitting introduction to a ceremony celebrating Rose Ruderman, Combined Jewish Philanthropies President and CEO Rabbi Marc Baker compared schools to gardens and educators and heads of schools to the gardeners tending the soil. He remarked that the seven Boston-area Orthodox Jewish day school students being honored with the Rose Ruderman Scholar Award were like “seeds beneath the earth,” ready to grow.
“We are just beginning to see how far they’ll go as they sprout forth into the world, and the impact they will have as they build our community for generations to come,” Baker said.
Last month, the Ruderman family honored these students for their acts of loving-kindness with a $1,000 scholarship for their future Jewish education. Established 13 years ago, the Rose Ruderman Scholar Award is one of the ways that the Ruderman family honors their grandmother, Rose (z”l), whose legacy of service, charity, selflessness, and humility continues to inspire her family and those who knew her.
The recipients include Avital Wasserman, Bais Yaakov of Boston; Esther Tova Levin, Maimonides School; Yisroel Solomon, Mesivta of Boston; Chemi David Rosenberg Walfish, Shaloh House; Dalia Klinger, Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon; Naomi Davydov, Torah Academy; and Sam Stolarov, Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael.
The recipients are in grades 5 through 12, and the Ruderman family celebrated them via Zoom, a change made necessary by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Participants viewed a slideshow of photos from Rose Ruderman’s life and proud school leaders enthusiastically shared examples of their students’ willingness to give of themselves, demonstrating a commitment to family; active involvement in helping the elderly in the community; a strong desire to help others; a dedication to improving their school community through kindness and respect for others; and reliability and dependability both in the classroom and out.
“We typically see people valued for being high academic achievers, their athletic ability, and leadership skills,” said Rose Ruderman’s granddaughter and Ruderman Family Foundation Trustee and Community Liaison, Sharon Shapiro. “Although these are worthy traits, one even more important quality that we are acknowledging is the kind of person we should aspire to be. This award recognizes what is really important in life: being a kind person, a respectful person, and having a strong desire to go above and beyond and to help others.”
“When we select an award recipient, we consider students who go out of their way in the spirit of Chesed [loving-kindness],” said Rabbi Jordan Soffer, Head of School at Striar Hebrew Academy. “We are blessed with a school full of students who treat others with kindness, and who care for the most vulnerable. What makes an award recipient stand out is that they step up even when it is inconvenient; it is so ingrained in them that at every moment it feels inevitable.”
Although the award’s namesake lived a life of quiet humility, Shapiro noted that recipients have gone on to accomplish great things – in college, medical school, or continuing to help those in need through volunteer work.
“It is so special for these families and my family to see these amazing young people get this recognition for being such wonderful and caring kids,” Shapiro said. “I don’t think there is anything more important than to be a good person and help others.”
Baker echoed her sentiments. “The stories we’ve heard [about the students] have provided an opportunity to pause and reflect on – not only the people you are – but really on what’s important, especially as it relates to our students, our children, and our hopes for the future.”
To learn more about the Ruderman Family Foundation and its efforts to celebrate kindness and create a more inclusive and welcoming Jewish community, visit rudermanfoundation.org.