Coventant Award Winner

The following is an excerpt from The Covenant Foundation:

Covenant Foundation Announces 2009 Awardees for Excellence in Jewish Education

Three Jewish Educators are Recipients of Prestigious Award, Cited for Innovation, Inspiration and Transformative Impact on Jewish Education and Community

New York, NY, Jun 1, 2009—Three exceptional educators from across the spectrum of Jewish life are 2009 recipients of The Covenant Foundation’s prestigious Covenant Award for making significant marks in their communities, and for designing and using innovative educational approaches to achieve dramatic and lasting impact.
Dr. Erica Brown, Scholar-in-Residence at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and Director of Adult Education at the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning; Rabbi Stuart Seltzer, Dean of Judaic Studies at the Shoshana S. Cardin School in Baltimore; and Nili Simhai, Director of the Teva Learning Center in New York are the 2009 awardees.

Considered an authority and leader of the Jewish environmental education movement, she has trained and counseled hundreds of educators in the pedagogy of Jewish environmental education through seminars and other gatherings, has grown the Teva Learning Center exponentially, and has put environmental sensibilities and programs squarely in the middle of Jewish educational programming and outreach.

“In all of Nili’s programs and teachings, there is a remarkable sense of optimism and hope in the face of sobering challenges, as well as a call for people not just to learn, but to take action, both individually and institutionally,” said Jordan Dale, executive director of Surprise Lake Camp, who nominated Simhai for a Covenant Award. “She infuses the field with deep learning, a warm and optimistic spirit, an ability to attract, motivate and support incredible talent, and a phenomenal sense of personal commitment.”

Simhai said the Covenant Award is not just recognition of her work and that of the Teva Learning Center, but also underscores the growing value and place of environmental values within the Jewish community.

“It is so rewarding to see Jewish environmental education being recognized for its impact on the world and the Jewish community,” she said. “While we are tapping into a store of Jewish wisdom that is incredibly ancient and deep, this field of education is still young. But, of course, reconnecting with God’s creation is critical right now.  Receiving the Covenant Award will only help us grow in strength.  I am accepting this award not only for my work, but on behalf of the hundreds of educators who have been innovating and defining this work and this field.”

The Foundation and the Jewish community will honor the 2009 Covenant Awardees on Nov. 8 at a gala dinner event at the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Washington, DC.

“The scores of worthy educators nominated for an award this year reflect the richness and talent and devotion that is a hallmark of Jewish education and our community,” Appelman said. “Our awardees are educators with energy and vision and passion for teaching, enriching the lives of everyone they touch. We honor them, but they honor us by the work they do, and we are proud to celebrate them.”

For guidelines on nominating an educator for a 2010 Covenant Award, and to view a list and biographies of past recipients, visit

The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Foundation and the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA).

Nili Simhai

Nili Simhai

Simhai has served for the last decade as director of the Teva Learning Center in New York, a prestigious Jewish environmental educational institute that works with Jewish day schools, congregational schools, synagogues, camps, youth groups and other Jewish organizations and institutions to marry environmental and Jewish values.