Rabbi Alex Felch presented the Rabbi Mordecai Simon Award to Rabbi Shoshanah Conover at the Chicago Board of Rabbis Sermon Seminar Monday, Aug. 28. Here were his words during the presentation.
Each year at the Sermon Seminar we present the Rabbi Mordecai Simon Award to a deserving colleague. Many of us remember Mordy as the longtime director of the CBR and for the warm, gracious and caring colleague that he was. We are delighted that his daughter Rabbi Ora Simon Schnitzer is herself a member. Rabbi Simon was the face of the CBR and well known in our community across all religious lines.
Chicago is blessed with an extraordinary rabbinate. One of the characteristics of our community is that we have many wonderful associate rabbis who stay, work and contribute in many ways.
Rabbi Shoshanah Conover is an associate rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago. She earned a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her love of the Jewish people and Jewish texts as well as a strong commitment to social justice led her to rabbinical school. Rabbi Conover's responsibilities at Temple Sholom of Chicago reflect her passions: serving as pastoral counselor, learning and teaching inspiring (and challenging) texts, leading dynamic and engaging spiritual experiences, and finding ways to improve our world through the guidelines of our faith.
Rabbi Conover is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and is a leader in the pioneering work of the Central Conference of American Reform Rabbis' Rabbis Organizing Rabbis. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Board of Rabbis as well as the Union of Reform Judaism's Commission on Social Action. She is a vice-chair of Chicago's Jewish Community Relations Council and received AVODAH's Partner in Tzedek Award.
Shoshanah has been a wonderful voice in our community. In 2016 at the JCRC Martin Luther King celebration, Shoshanah spoke about Martin Luther King's sermon delivered in February 1968 -- the Drum Major Instinct. She used some of his words but transformed what was a powerful and correctly so, Christian sermon of King's into a powerful drasha by a rabbi. Shoshanah is one of our drum majors able to call us out to work for justice.
The most recent "Sanctuary" show produced by JUF and the CBR featured both our Executive [Vice President] [Rabbi] Michael [Balinsky] and Shoshanah. Shoshanah was the last voice of the show and concluded that now we are both, "primed to repent and primed to forgive, if we don't use the time, we lose the time." To our colleague Shoshanah, who has used her time so well on behalf of our people and the greater community, we are honored to present you with the Rabbi Mordecai Simon Award.