JCC Association is proud to announce the recipients of the 2013-2014 JCC Association Graduate Education Scholarship. The five awardees are from different parts of the U.S., and will be studying at a variety of schools.
With a strong commitment to the Jewish community and the JCC Movement, recipients of the JCC Association Graduate Scholarship study in a variety of fields that have a connection to the work of the JCC, and commit to working for two years in a Jewish Community Center upon the completion of their studies.
JCC Association has been awarding scholarships for graduate school for more than thirty years, and many current JCC executive directors and senior managers were recipients of the scholarships. “I made a promise during my scholarship interview: if JCC Association would help fund my education, they would get a strong return on their investment and I would make my career in the JCC Movement,” said Dava Schub, assistant executive director, The JCC in Manhattan, a 1997–98 scholarship recipient. “I am a proud product of the JCC Movement and I will dedicate my professional life to giving back the commitment which the field has given me.”
The current scholarship awardees are:
Edana Appel is from El Paso, Texas and graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic studies and women’s and gender studies with a minor in Hebrew language and literature from Brandeis University. Upon graduation she received the Rachel Oliveri Prize for her outstanding work in the women’s and gender studies department and the Student Life Award. Since graduating, Edana has worked as the assistant director at two different Jewish overnight summer camps, Camp Young Judaea –West and Camp Livingston. During her three years at Camp Livingston, she was chosen to participate in the JCC Association’s Merrin Teen Professional Fellowship Program as well as the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Yitro Leadership Program. Most recently, Edana finished a summer at Camp Interlaken JCC where she was the Judaics director and Chizuk Fellow. In addition to her excitement about returning to Brandeis, she is also thrilled to be chosen as a JCC Association Graduate Scholar and the JFEW/Brandeis Scholar Graduate Student Mentor. She looks forward to a future of working for the Jewish community where she can create innovative Jewish and Israel experiences, build environments for personal growth, and conceive new means of leadership development.
Heather Kufert, who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, began shaping her Jewish identity through the lens of the URJ’s youth movement and camping system. At Florida State University, she studied elementary education, while becoming deeply involved with FSU Hillel. Inspired to work in the Jewish community, Heather has spent the last five years as program director and a religious school teacher at Temple Israel in Tallahassee, Florida, and she frequently led services as cantorial soloist the past two years. Meanwhile, she served on the board of the Holocaust Education Resource Council, co-founding a successful interfaith Holocaust book club. Heather is looking forward to building a richer foundation in Judaism to enhance her Jewish nonprofit skills by pursuing a dual degree in Hornstein Jewish professional leadership and Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University. Heather is excited to work at a JCC upon graduation.
Sydney Ross currently works at the Merage JCC in Orange County, California as the assistant children and camp director. She is simultaneously working towards her master’s degree in psychology with emphasis in child and adolescent development from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Upon graduation in April, 2014, Sydney is looking forward to future opportunities within the JCC field. While not at work or working on her degree, Sydney enjoys spending time with her family, rollerblading, and enjoying the outdoors.
Rachel Zoller was born in Westchester, New York and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Tulane University while actively participating in local and national Hillel programs. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Rachel studied for one semester at the College of Charleston. She returned to New Orleans in January 2006 to continue her coursework and help rebuild the city. She remained in New Orleans and was able to fulfill her passion for helping others and making personal connections through her work at the New Orleans JCC. For the past five years, Rachel has developed year-round youth programs, directed summer camp, and coordinated community-wide events for young Jewish professionals. She was chosen by community leaders to participate in Lemann-Stern Young Leadership, a selective and prestigious two-year program organized by Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. An avid exercise enthusiast and frequent half-marathon runner, Rachel seeks opportunities to challenge herself both physically and intellectually. Rachel has recently relocated to Kansas City to pursue an M.B.A. at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She is eager to learn best practices and to engage, problem solve, and think critically alongside like-minded and passionate peers, and to return to the JCC Movement at the completion of her degree.
Sara Levitt was born and raised in Orlando, Florida where she was extremely active in the Jewish community from an early age. Her love for Jewish community is rooted in her over 17 summers at Jewish summer camp and youth group. She graduated from Indiana University in 2010 with a degree in Jewish studies, and after graduation, Sara worked in various Jewish communal positions including teaching Judaica at a handful of day schools, as a synagogue youth director and camp program director. She and her husband currently live in Denver, Colorado where she will begin her graduate career in social work at the University of Denver. Sara is thrilled to be a part of the JCC Association Graduate Scholar program and cannot wait to apply all she learns in a career with the JCC Movement.