2013 Special Awards
The following special awards were presented during Hebrew College's 88th Commencement exercises, held June 2, 2013, at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Sidney Hillson/Rose Bronstein Memorial Award
For distinguished leadership and commitment to the centrality of the Hebrew language in Jewish education and for the advancement of Jewish culture and civilization
Naomi Stillman, D.M.D.
Dr. Naomi Stillman serves as associate director of NETA, Noar LeTovat HaIvrit, a comprehensive Hebrew-language program for grades six through 12 based at Hebrew College. She grew up in Manhattan, in a Hebrew-speaking home, with a father who is a scholar of medieval Hebrew literature and a mother raised in Israel.
Stillman attended Jewish day schools and spent significant time, including a full year in high school, in Israel. A Barnard College graduate, Stillman went on to earn a Master of Public Health and certificate in periodontology from Harvard University and a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Columbia University. After several years in practice, she left dentistry for the field of education and in 2002 joined NETA.
At NETA, Stillman pursues her deep passion for Hebrew and her belief in the centrality of Hebrew to the Jewish experience and Jewish education. Her work at NETA promotes excellence and intellectual challenge in Hebrew language education. Working with more than 120 Jewish day schools around the world, Stillman travels frequently to promote NETA’s mission and to visit schools.
She has contributed articles on Hebrew as a second language to a number of Jewish education journals and is an active participant in the professional discourse on Hebrew and Jewish education. Her main focus is overseeing the multiple moving pieces of NETA — the dedicated educators and mentors, the ever-changing curricular offerings in print and online, the array of intensive professional-development opportunities and the many schools and relationships that together form NETA.
Stillman lives in Boston with her husband, a doctor and Jewish educator, and son, a lover of Hebrew and an avid Hebrew speaker.
Dr. Benjamin J. Shevach Memorial Award
For distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership
Charlotte Katz Abramson, P’63, ’66
Born in Linz, Austria, Charlotte Katz Abramson was introduced to Jewish education at her preschool at the Ebelsberg displaced-persons camp, where the refugees’ first act of survival was to establish a Jewish school for their children. In the early 1950s in Boston, Abramson attended and graduated from North Shore Hebrew Academy of Chelsea, affectionately known as the Chelsea Yeshiva, where she developed a love of learning and Torah studies from elementary-school teachers and rabbis who were outstanding, albeit unwitting, models of progressive education, and who taught her to recognize the uniqueness of each individual.
Relocating to Brookline, Abramson’s parents justified her move to public education because she would attend Prozdor for 12 to 14 hours a week of Judaic and Hebrew studies. She graduated from Hebrew College in 1966 while pursuing undergraduate studies at Simmons College, before earning a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She credits her teaching coach, the late Sidney Hillson, for inspiring her to pursue a career in teaching and encouraging her to maintain a sense of humor at all times.
Abramson has been passionately involved in Jewish education since her years as a counselor and division head at Camp Ramah. As a teacher of text at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, she found that her students were challenged when reading biblical texts in Hebrew. This led to her master’s thesis, “Teaching Students to Become Independent Readers of the Biblical Text in Hebrew.”
Abramson served as dean of studies of the upper school and as principal of the middle school at Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange, N.J. She is currently the director of the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project at the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, where she is completing her doctoral work on instructional leadership and explores professional-learning communities, student learning and the art of transformative teaching.
A master teacher and a leading force in changing the discourse of educational practices in day schools in North America, Abramson has mentored and nurtured Jewish educators for many years. For her ongoing pursuit of excellence in Jewish education, she credits her husband, Rabbi Robert Abramson, P’57, ’62, for inspiring her and guiding her by his example. The couple’s children and grandchildren live in New York.