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November 14, 2016, New York, NY – The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) proudly announces that Greg Kellner is the recipient of a 2016 Covenant Foundation Pomegranate Prize, joining four other recipients recognized this year for their tremendous promise, focused leadership, and willingness to take risks in their burgeoning careers.
Kellner is the Director of the URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA, where scientific discovery and Judaism are intertwined to create an environment of innovation and discovery. URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy hosts 500 campers each summer and boasts a 70% rate of return campers, which is 20% higher than the national average. Campers entering grades 5-10 explore robotics, video game design, environmental science, digital media, and many other activities in an environment that fosters their curiosity within the context of Jewish values and community.
Launching this summer under Kellner’s leadership will be the first-ever Sci-Tech Israel trip, as part of the NFTY in Israel family of summer programs, for teens from across North America to explore Judaism and science in the land of Israel. The URJ’s Sci-Tech Israel program offers teens a learning and travel experience in Israel—a living laboratory where science and technology meet the Jewish past, present, and future. Ventures like Sci-Tech Israel and 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy are made possible by funding partnerships with the Foundation for Jewish Camp, UJA-Federation of New York, and the Jim Joseph Foundation.
“The hands-on, project-based learning we do at camp shows young people that science and Judaism are not exclusive of one another—we can have both. The curricula and experiences we provide for campers enable them to explore what Judaism means to them, and how this complements their interests in science and technology. It is an honor for the Covenant Foundation to recognize this work by including me among the Pomegranate Prize cohort,” said Kellner
“The tremendous growth of 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy attests to Greg’s vision and creativity as a Jewish educator and role model,” said URJ Vice President for Youth Miriam Chilton. “His leadership exemplifies the mission of the URJ’s youth engagement work: to inspire more young Jews to embrace Jewish life as a path to meaning, purpose, and joy.”
“It is clear that this distinct group of creative, talented, and passionate Jewish educators will add tremendous value to the field of Jewish education for many years to come,” said Cheryl Finkel, incoming Board Chair of The Covenant Foundation, as she presented the Prize to this year’s recipients. “We look forward to enthusiastically supporting them as they develop new ideas, build relationships with one another and work together toward a promising future.”
“Very few educators teach to be thanked,” said Harlene Appelman, Executive Director of The Covenant Foundation. “Rather, they teach because it’s in their bones, in their hearts and in their souls. This Thanksgiving season, let’s join together and show our teachers how much they matter by thanking them.”
Kellner has been a camper and staff member in the URJ Camps and NFTY family for more than 20 years. Greg has served as the Senior Assistant Director of the URJ Crane Lake Camp and as the Assistant Director of the URJ Eisner Camp. Greg spent five years as the Youth Advisor for Temple Sinai in Washington, DC. His passion for Judaism, technology, and music met when he produced and launched XM Satellite Radio’s “Radio Hanukkah,” a radio station dedicated to Jewish music. He is an alumnus of the Yitro Leadership Program, a professional development program for assistant camp directors through the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Greg holds an M.A. in Public Administration in non-profit management from CUNY Baruch College and a B.A. in Music from American University.
The Covenant Foundation, a program of the Crown Family Philanthropies, honored Kellner and the Pomegranate Prize awardees at a breakfast on November 14 in Washington, DC. 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. The 2016 cohort joins an expanding network of up and coming Jewish educators—there are now 30 in the group. Together, they represent some of the most talented and creative young leaders working in the field today.
About the Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.
Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.
Visit us at www.URJ.org to learn about our social justice initiatives, camps and programs for young Jews, services for congregations and communities, and how you can work with us to create a more just, whole, and compassionate world. Enjoy related content at ReformJudaism.org and connect with URJ on Twitter and Facebook.