Alice Lutwak has committed her professional life to Judaism. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Temple Beth El in Chappaqua, NY, and the Fiscal Administrator and Director of Operations of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Manhattan. Alice brings to her work a comprehensive understanding of the business of running a large congregation, as well as a deep understanding of the importance of Judaism and its perpetuation. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Alice was born in the Czech Republic after the war and immigrated to the United States in 1962. A 1970 graduate of Stern College, she began her career at an insurance company. Later, she worked on Wall Street, where she acquired a much of the fiscal expertise that enabled her to move to her position at HUC. Alice’s second husband, Aron, is a dealer of Judaic books. She has two children from a previous marriage. Alice’s door is always open to all of our members, for concerns big or small. Email Alice Lutwak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Hanuka approaches Jewish education with a passion and tenacity that flows from both her roots in Israel and her immigrant experience in America. Her intense commitment – there is no other way to describe it – has had a tremendous impact on all of her students. Sarah began her career as an Educator by working as a camp counselor and Sunday school teacher shortly after arriving in America. She taught Hebrew and Judaic Studies at several Jewish Day Schools, became School Principal at Temple Anshe Sholom in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and directed the Religious schools at Temple Sholom of Chicago and Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Under Sarah’s direction, learning about Judaism happens in an increasingly contextual way – children from K-2nd are “free to just be around other Jewish kids and experience Jewish things,” students from 3rd-6th are given “real information” and get to know and love Judaism, Torah, life cycle events, history, ethics, Mitzvot, Israel and Jewish Holidays, and, by 7th and 8th grade, are involved in “intense immersion” in all aspects of Jewish life, history and faith. High School students are involved in community work, in social action programs, work in the Sunday School, and act as lay leaders in the Temple. This approach is designed to “weave young people into Jewish life.” The Religious School is at the center of Sarah’s world – “At regular school you learn how to become a doctor, a lawyer. In Religious School, we learn how to become human beings.” Sarah’s approach to teaching Judaism is through knowledge and love of the language, the land and the people. These essential ingredients are, in her thinking, crucial to the survival and strength of the Jewish people. Hebrew studies are one of Sarah’s main goals when it comes to Jewish Education. The Temple’s Social Hall will be filled with Hebrew “pods”. Using dividers to separate the large social hall into smaller “classroom” spaces, the “pods” create an environment where students hear Hebrew from all directions and enable students to easily move between levels as they progress. There is a palpable energy in the groups of young people who come to the Temple during the week for mid-week Hebrew. Sarah’s program will enable kids to listen, repeat, and read Hebrew fluently. They will also connect to the prayers emotionally. Likewise, love of Israel is central to Sarah and a huge source of pride. Sarah’s view of Israel’s importance is based on her observation that “our parents and grandparents grew up without Israel, but now it is us who are responsible for the land”. Sarah led many teen trips to Israel. Traveling to Israel connects teens to the Land of Israel, to Israelis, and to the Progressive Judaism movement. Sarah also keeps students involved by taking them away from the synagogue. She runs retreats and sleepovers throughout the year, with students from 3rd grade through High School. She shows students that you can “do Judaism” by giving them the opportunity to spend an entire weekend where Judaism is infused into everything they do and everyone they’re around. She shows them that even mundane things like brushing their teeth at night, playing sports, or just hanging out with friends can be a Jewish experience. Retaining students after completing their B’nai Mitzvah has been accomplished through an expectation and reward program that awards privileges based on commitment and seniority. Many 7th grade students have responded to the program and continue to be an integral part of the Jewish life in the community. Sarah has been a change agent in the world of Jewish education. By engaging students and keeping them involved and interested, Sarah has instilled in students, teachers, and co-workers ideals that have transformed their ideas of Judaism and Jewish education. Several generations of Rabbis, Cantors and lay professionals have been her students, and now pass Sarah’s ideas on in their own work. What is so special about Sarah is that for her, knowledge starts with love. “Do Judaism,” Sarah is fond of saying. “Carry it physically with you, and write your own chapter in the history of our people”. By all observations, this fresh approach is working wonders. Email Sarah at email@example.com.
Director, The Rabbi Barry H. Greene Early Childhood Center
Email Michele Feingold at firstname.lastname@example.org.