Young Pioneers Award Reflection: Dina Newman
It’s hard to begin to put into words what it has meant to me to be named one of the 2020 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneer Award Recipients. This past summer, I lost both of my grandparents, who were an enormous influence on my Jewish identity. My Grandma Bette of blessed memory was someone who especially fostered my passion for Jewish studies and Jewish education. It made her immensely proud that I not only became a Jewish educator, but a passionate one. As an involved member of the Jewish community herself, she was aware of the Young Pioneers Award and had spoken in recent years on numerous occasions of how much she wished to give me the award herself! I wish so much that I could share this moment with her but I know she is looking down on me and truly kvelling, as any good Jewish Grandma would! She and I spoke once a week about my passion for Jewish education and my wish to ignite that same passion in the youth I’m so privileged to work with.
When my grandmother and I spoke of this passion for Jewish education, it was impossible not to mention The Jewish Education Project. She often clipped articles from The Jewish Week for me about the work The Jewish Education Project was doing.
To me, The Jewish Education Project has always been a pillar of this field I feel so blessed to be working in. It has been a resource, an inspiration, and a vehicle for growth in my career.
To me, The Jewish Education Project has always been a pillar of this field I feel so blessed to be working in. It has been a resource, an inspiration, and a vehicle for growth in my career. I am already fortunate to work at an institution that has continuously indulged my wildest curricular ideas, but to also have a network of experts and people I admire to bounce these ideas off of and grow them with has been absolutely invaluable. As a Jewish Educator, The Jewish Education Project serves as the “Yes, AND” response for me, helping me to take out-of-the-box ideas to the next level while thinking critically about my audiences.
Few other professionals I know have such an incredible resource and network at their fingertips. Over the course of my career I’ve had the opportunity to get certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid with The Jewish Education Project, giving me the opportunity to provide crucial support to the kids I work with. I’ve gotten to see Broadway shows and use them as a vehicle for important conversation with my learners about their development as Jews and teenagers, I’ve gleaned the statistical knowledge of expert research about the demographic I serve, and I’ve found an endless number of mentors and friends.
It is an honor to count myself among the network of The Jewish Education Project, and beyond a privilege to be recognized by my peers as a standout among us. In my role as a 2020 Young Pioneer, I hope to continue to contribute to this incredible network and usher new Youth Professionals into this “club” I love to be a part of!
Dina Newman is one of five recipients of The Jewish Education Project's 2020 Robert M. Sherman Young Pioneers Award. She is the Associate Director of Youth Engagement at Congregation Rodeph Sholom. Celebrate Dina at The Jewish Education Project's Virtual Benefit on April 2nd at 7:00 pm EDT.