Each year, outstanding Kansas City Jewish classroom educators are nominated for the honor of being the Grinspoon Educator of the Year. This award recognizes excellence in teaching Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
This year’s winner is Zohar Flacks, director of Jewish Life at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. Flacks will be presented with the award at Jewish Federation’s Annual Meetingon Sept. 5 at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. The award comes with $2,000 to give educators additional access to professional development so they can continue to enhance their work in the field.
“I am very appreciative to be recognized by Jewish Federation with this award,” Flacks said. “It’s an honor to be able to do what I do. My goal is to make Judaism relevant to my students, and I’m happy I can do that in a meaningful way.”
“Jewish education is an integral part of making sure future generations understand the importance and value of their heritage,” said Andi Milens, Director of Engagement & Leadership Development for Jewish Federation. “Educators who go above and beyond, like Zohar, deserve to be recognized for their contribution to our Jewish community.”
Tahl Ben-Yehuda, who nominated Flacks for the award, said Flacks has revamped Israel education at HBHA, and is an educator whose love and attachment to Israel deeply impacts her students.
“She changes their lives,” Ben-Yehuda said. “She brings them closer to each other and she turns their hearts toward the shared Jewish experience and a love of Israel.”
For the past several years, Flacks has taken HBHA students to Israel to share her personal experience with them. She was born in Israel and grew up in a kibbutz in the Yizrael Valley. After serving in the IDF, she came to the U.S. as the Israel emissary in Omaha, NE.
As part of her work at HBHA, Flacks takes students on the Jewish Heritage Trip to Poland and Germany so they can better understand their people’s history and what their forefathers went through during the Holocaust.
“She imparts on our students an understanding of what our people have suffered,” Ben-Yehuda said.
According to Rabbi Avi Weinstein, head of Jewish Studies at HBHA, Flacks’ passion for her work enables her to truly engage with her students.
“Zohar is able to make a real connection with the students at HBHA,” he said. “Her love of Judaism and Israel comes through every day in the work she does, and the students can feel that.”
In addition to her role at HBHA, Flacks has also been a congregational school teacher, a Bar and Bat Mitzvah tutor and a USY advisor.
Reprinted courtesy of The Jewish Chronicle