The Jewish Education Project

The Jewish Education Project Announces 2021 Young Pioneers Award Recipients

Recipients of the 2021 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award

The Jewish Education Project announced the five New York-based educators to be honored with the organization’s Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award for creating exceptional educational experiences for their students and their families during challenging times. Their accomplishments include launching an app to help teens facing mental health challenges, facilitating meaningful conversations about race with students and colleagues, creating captivating lessons for preschoolers over Zoom, studying current events through the lens of Torah, and extending the length of their program to better accommodate student needs.

The recipients of this year’s Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award are:

  • DiCo DiColandrea, Congregation Beth Elohim
  • Melissa Hume, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue Early Childhood Center
  • Dammara Kovnats Hall, Rodeph Sholom School
  • Pamela Schuller, HereNow/The Jewish Board
  • Avi Siegel, Temple Israel of Great Neck

“The recipients of the Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award showed deep dedication to their students and colleagues during an incredibly challenging year,” said David Bryfman, CEO of The Jewish Education Project. “Their creative thinking and passion for Jewish education helped countless students and families in greater New York City not just survive in 2020, but in many ways thrive through inspiring learning experiences We are so proud to honor these educators for their outstanding achievements and innovations.”

The award recipients will each receive a $1,000 professional development stipend.

“Working with The Jewish Education Project has been transformative. I am honored by this award, recognizing not only the work I bring to my community but the personal growth that The Jewish Education Project has helped me achieve,” said Avi Siegel.

“I am humbled to be acknowledged by The Jewish Education Project, an organization that has inspired me and supported my growth with programs that are meaningfully aligned with the Jewish values of chesed, loving connection and tikkun olam, the repair of the world," said Dammara Kovnats Hall.     

The Young Pioneers Award is named for Robert M. Sherman, the CEO of The Jewish Education Project from 2007 until July 2019. Since 2012, the Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award has recognized 40 Jewish educators from greater New York that push the boundaries in Jewish education. Recipients work in Jewish educational spaces ranging from traditional school settings to camps, seminaries, and private foundations.

The recipients of the 10th annual Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award will be recognized at The Jewish Education Project’s Virtual Benefit, on Monday, March 22, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

In addition to celebrating the Young Pioneers Award recipients, this year’s Jewish Education Project Virtual Benefit will also celebrate all educators for their heroic work over the past year. The Benefit is free and open to all. Learn more about the Benefit at

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