In a fitting introduction to a ceremony celebrating an exceptional and memorable Rose, CJP president and CEO Rabbi Marc Baker compared schools to gardens and educators and heads of schools to the gardeners tending the soil. He remarked that the seven Boston-area Orthodox Jewish day school students being honored with the Rose Ruderman Scholar Award were like “seeds beneath the earth,” ready to grow.

“We are just beginning to see how far they’ll go as they sprout forth into the world, and the impact they will have as they build our community for generations to come,” Baker said.

On Thursday, June 3, the Ruderman family honored these students for their acts of lovingkindness with a $1,000 scholarship for their future Jewish education. Established 13 years ago, The Rose Ruderman Scholar Award is one of the ways that the Ruderman family honors their grandmother, Rose (z”l), whose legacy of service, charity, selflessness, and humility continues to inspire her family and those who knew her.

The spirit of chesed

“We typically see people valued for being high academic achievers, their athletic ability, and leadership skills,” said her granddaughter and Ruderman Family Foundation trustee and community liaison Sharon Shapiro. “Although these are worthy traits, one even more important quality that we are acknowledging is the kind of person we should aspire to be. This award recognizes what is really important in life: being a kind person, a respectful person, and having a strong desire to go above and beyond and to help others.”

The recipients include students in grades 5 through 12, and the Ruderman family celebrated them via Zoom, a change made necessary by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Participants viewed a slideshow of photos from Rose Ruderman’s life and proud day school leaders enthusiastically shared examples of their students’ willingness to give of themselves, demonstrating a commitment to family; active involvement in helping the elderly in the community; a strong desire to help others; a dedication to improving their school community through kindness and respect for others; and reliability and dependability both in the classroom and out.

“When we select an award recipient, we consider students who go out of their way in the spirit of chesed [lovingkindness],” said Rabbi Jordan Soffer, head of school at Striar Hebrew Academy. “We are blessed with a school full of students who treat others with kindness, and who care for the most vulnerable. What makes an award recipient stand out is that they step up even when it is inconvenient; it is so ingrained in them that at every moment it feels inevitable.”

“I don’t think there is anything more important than to be a good person and help others.”

Although the award’s namesake lived a life of quiet humility, Shapiro noted that recipients have gone on to accomplish great things—including college, medical school, or continuing to help those in need through volunteer work.

“It is so special for these families and my family to see these amazing young people get this recognition for being such wonderful and caring kids,” Shapiro said. “I don’t think there is anything more important than to be a good person and help others.”

Baker echoed her sentiments. “The stories we’ve heard [about the students] have provided an opportunity to pause and reflect on not only the people you are, but really on what’s important, especially as it relates to our students, our children, and our hopes for the future.”

Congratulations to the 2021 recipients

The following quotations were shared from the students’ nomination forms.

Avital Wasserman, Bais Yaakov of Boston

“Avital is a superb student who is following a family tradition of dedication to community service and doing it quietly and without fanfare.”

Esther Tova Levin, Maimonides School

“Esther is a quiet but capable leader who promotes inclusion among her peers and within the larger community. This year, Esther is co-president of Maimo’s Yachad Club and has been on the board for four years. Esther is kind and compassionate and consistently seeks to improve the lives of others. At Yom Chesed programs, Yachad programs, and Shabbatons, Esther capably engages with children and young adults with disabilities, drawing them out to converse, play games, or daven together. Even in this year of COVID-19, Esther joined virtual activities and two Shabbatonim, maintaining her strong connections with her Yachad friends. Particularly in her hometown of Sharon, Esther regularly engages with individuals with diverse abilities, treating everyone with kavod (respect) and friendship. She is a role model to so many and has maintained a culture of chesed (lovingkindness) at Maimonides.”

Yisroel Solomon, Mesivta of Boston

“The Mesivta is pleased to present Yisroel with the Rose Ruderman Scholar Award this year. Yisroel is a stellar student who is a model of diligence and achievement for his peers. He is an expert Bal Koreh (Torah reader) and organizes the other students to do the same. We are proud of Yisroel’s accomplishments.”

Chemi David Rosenberg Walfish, Shaloh House

“Chemi is an intelligent, inquisitive, and creative student. He always sets higher challenges for himself in his studies and successfully conquers them. His peaceful and dignified manner earns him the respect of his peers.”

Dalia Klinger, Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon

“Dalia is sensitive, caring, and remarkably aware of other people’s needs and desires. She is quick to volunteer, whether it is coming early to school to set up or staying late for take down. From a young age, Dalia has been amazing with our youngest children: She is ready to be a teacher. Even our teachers look to Dalia for support and motivation. She is warm and kind, caring and affectionate. Dalia is a true baalat chesed.”

Naomi Davydov, Torah Academy

“Naomi is an extremely impressive young woman who is liked and respected by her classmates and her teachers. Her well-developed sense of integrity, combined with humility and a refined personality, highlight her essence and enable her to accept responsibility in many areas. She is a strong student who consistently reaches out to her classmates and provides them with outstanding role modeling. These qualities have made her our choice to be the recipient of the Ruderman Award.”

Sam Stolarov, Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael

“Sam is an outstanding leader, promoting a warm and welcoming environment within YOY by helping everyone connect to the Yeshiva. Sam has served as the Yachad Club co-president for two years and has been on the club board since its inception four years ago. Sam is kind and compassionate and consistently seeks to improve the lives of others. At Yachad, he was very hands-on, planning sensitivity workshops, rock climbing, mini golf, and many other outings so that the YOY students could meet up with their Yachad friends. Whether acting as gabbai or planning a Yeshiva Shabbaton, Sam is a reliable young man who embraces leadership and responsibility.”

To learn more about The Ruderman Family Foundation and their efforts to celebrate kindness and create a more inclusive and welcoming Jewish community, visit their website.