Massive mazel tov to Ilana Gleicher-Bloom, Founding Vision Director of Mensch Academy at Mishkan Chicago, on winning the 2018 Covenant Foundation Pomegranate Prize!
The Pomegranate Prize, inaugurated in 2011, is designed to honor rising leaders who have been in the field of Jewish education for up to ten years. Ilana shares:
My dream is to create a world where all children feel loved enough and safe enough to take risks, and I get to do that as an educator and as a parent. My vision for Jewish education doesn’t seem like it should be radical…but it is. In my dream, children are valued and treated with dignity, they feel safe enough to take risks, to create, to say their wildest ideas, to express their inner curiosities, and to find their unique Jewish voice. My work as an educational leader drives my work as a parent, and vise versa. I am thankful that I have a “lab” at Mensch Academy where my dream is happening.”
Mensch Academy, opened just three years ago, is inspired, down-to-earth Judaism for kids and families. At Mensch Academy, kids build character, confidence, curiosity and a sense of who they are as Jews in the world through engaging in serious Jewish learning, prayer and exploration. Respecting each person’s mind and spirit, Mensch Academy is a space where kids feel loved enough and safe enough to take risks and experiment with Jewish tradition, making it their own and becoming the best versions of themselves.
The other 2018 recipients include: Rabbi Adina Allen, Co-Founder and Creative Director of The Jewish Studio Project (JSP) in Berkeley, California, Maiya Chard-Yaron, Executive Director of Texas Hillel in Austin, Texas, Oren Kaunfer, Madrich Ruchani (Spiritual Educator/Director of Jewish Life) at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School in Watertown, MA and Hannah Kearney, Director of Havayah, The Teen Community at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA.
The Prize stands next to The Covenant Award, which since 1991 has honored three exemplary Jewish educators each year for innovation and impact across Jewish education settings. The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Philanthropies.
Congratulations to Ilana on this amazing achievement!
Ilana Gleicher-Bloom is the founding Vision Director of Mensch Academy at Mishkan Chicago. She spent a year learning Torah at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem, before starting at Brandeis University, where she graduated with a BA in both Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and English and American Literature. Ilana spent three more years living and studying in Jerusalem, where she was a Pardes Fellow at the Pardes Institute, and a member of the inaugural cohort of the Melamdim Teacher Education Program at the Shalom Hartman Institute and Tel Aviv University. Before launching Mensch Academy, Ilana taught Talmud and Tanakh at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School in Deerfield, IL, and at the Heschel High School in New York City. She also taught Judaic Studies at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim, and the Beit Midrash Program at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin.