Come springtime, students are often recognized for academic excellence or sports achievements. But the season also marks the celebration of the Rose Ruderman Scholar Awards, which celebrate something more expansive: These $1,000 scholarships recognize Jewish day school students who demonstrate kindness and respect for their families, peers and community, in addition to academic excellence.

The awards acknowledge the students’ contributions to propagating the spirit of chesed (lovingkindness) and honor the memory of Rose Ruderman, z”l, who died in 1994. The 16th annual ceremony took place on Wednesday, May 22, with remarks from Ruderman’s granddaughter, Sharon Shapiro, trustee and community liaison for the Ruderman Family Foundation, CJP executive vice president for philanthropy Jennifer Weinstock and the heads of each recognized Jewish school.

“We typically see people being valued for their high academic achievements, athletic abilities and leadership skills. Although these are worthy traits, there is one more important quality that we’re acknowledging this afternoon, and it encompasses the kind of person that we should aspire to be. The Rose Ruderman Scholar Award recognizes what’s really important: being a kind person and having a strong moral compass to go above and beyond and helping others,” Shapiro told the crowd.

“During challenging times like those we have experienced, the need for helping each other has become even more important. It is by helping with compassion that we make a significant and lasting impression in the lives of others,” she added.

Meet this year’s recipients, in their school’s own words:

Yehudis Aldrich (12th grade), Bais Yaakov of Boston

Bais Yaakov of Boston – Rabbi Tsvi Levin and Yehudis Aldrich
Rabbi Tsvi Levin and Yehudis Aldrich (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Yehudis Aldrich has a real passion for chesed, and it is a reflection of her essence. She is there for the elderly, providing them with assistance and companionship. She is there for families in the community who need help and support. She is there for students who need something extra, whether academic or otherwise, with her trademark care, kindness and endless patience. She is there for her school as a Mishmeres leader and production head, injecting the atmosphere with warmth and ruach. She is there for everyone.”

Avi Berlove (12th grade), Maimonides School

Maimonides School – Rabbi Yaakov Green and Avi Berlove
Rabbi Yaakov Green and Avi Berlove (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Maimonides School is proud to nominate Avi Berlove for the Rose Ruderman Award. Avi is a young man who dedicates himself not only to his learning but also to his community. In his various leadership and chesed roles, as gabbai of our minyan, as someone who starts tzedakah initiatives and as a volunteer with the elderly and with those less fortunate, Avi exemplifies the values for which Rose Ruderman z”l stood. We are very proud to present such a special award to such a special young man.”

Akiva Feuerstein (12th grade), Mesivta of Boston

Mesivta of Boston – Rabbi Moshe Wilhelm and Akiva Feuerstein
Rabbi Moshe Wilhelm and Akiva Feuerstein (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“We are proud that Akiva Feuerstein is the Mesivta Rose Ruderman Scholar this year. Akiva is a stellar student with a deep understanding of learning. The chesed that he does for his rabbis and fellow students uplifts the whole Mesivta. We are proud to bestow him with this honor.”

Yehonatan Kamoun (6th grade), New England Hebrew Academy

New England Hebrew Academy – Rabbi Ilan Meyers and Yehonatan Kamoun
Rabbi Ilan Meyers and Yehonatan Kamoun (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Yehonatan is a very sensitive young man. He is blessed with a beautiful voice and enjoys organizing concerts and talent shows. He sincerely enjoys hosting friends and guests for Shabbat meals. In school, he does his work very thoroughly. You can be sure that when his class takes a test, Yehonatan will still be working after everyone else handed in their work. At home, he is a super help to his mother. He shleps the laundry up and down the steps and also takes good care of his younger siblings, all without kvetching. He is sensitive to animals and is in charge of feeding the fish and taking care of the aquarium at home. Taking after his father, Yehonatan has a beautiful voice and likes to organize family concerts and talent shows starring none other than himself. When everyone gets hungry, before his mother can blink, Yehonatan is organizing a family barbecue, which is executed to perfection. Additionally, he enthusiastically shares divrei Torah with family and guests at his shabbat table.”

Benjamin Uvaydov (5th grade), Shaloh House

Shaloh House – Rabbi Dan Rodkin and Benjamin Uvaydov
Rabbi Dan Rodkin and Benjamin Uvaydov (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Ben is respectful and compassionate toward elderly people. He spends a lot of time with his elderly neighbor and has even written his essays about these experiences. Ben is our ‘small spokesperson.’ His charisma and ability to express himself make him consistently chosen for interviews about school and community projects. ‘Ben is a joy to have in the classroom. He is highly motivated to do well, and I believe he has a very bright future,’ says his English teacher. ‘He is very well-behaved, quick to help others, popular among his friends and dearly loved by his teachers,’ another teacher adds.” 

Libby Rosenthal (5th grade), Striar Hebrew Academy

Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon – Rabbi Jordan Soffer and Libby Rosenthal
Rabbi Jordan Soffer and Libby Rosenthal (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Libby has a heart of gold. Whether it is supporting classmates or thinking of special programming, Libby is quick to volunteer, and quicker to follow through. Bake sales, movie nights and any other chance to volunteer: they are all in Libby’s wheelhouse. She is gentle and caring. We are so proud of her.”

Dassi Halpern (8th grade), Torah Academy

Torah Academy – Rabbi Shmuel Ochs and Dassi Halpern
Rabbi Shmuel Ochs and Dassi Halpern (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Dassi Halpern is a kindhearted young woman who is sensitive to the needs and feelings of those in her school community and beyond. She happily offers to volunteer to assist with younger students’ activities and with programs within the school. As part of the Khal Tiferes Yosef synagogue community, she involves herself in shul events and programming. She acts with modesty and is a role model for all those who know her.”

Akiva Whiteman (12th grade), Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael

Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael – Rabbi Uri Feldman and Akiva Whiteman
Rabbi Uri Feldman and Akiva Whiteman (Photo: Anna Bloxham)

“Akiva Whiteman is a young man who has embodied the definition of mensch in every sense of the word. During high school, he has developed into a mature, driven young man, devoted to spiritual growth and a leader of his peers. Outside of class, Akiva is engaged in a wide variety of programs, including president of the YOY Yachad Club, basketball team and student council. He is a great friend and mentor to all those around him and genuinely concerns himself with the well-being of others. It is for these reasons that Akiva was selected as Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael’s recipient of the Rose Ruderman Award.”