Cynthia Hoefler, a kindergarten teacher at the Bernard Weinger JCC in Northbrook, has been chosen as the first recipient of the Sue Pinsky Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, administered by JUF's Community Foundation for Jewish Education (CFJE).
Starting this year, The Pinsky Award will be given annually by CFJE to a Chicago area congregational or JCC teacher of children ages 3-12.
"Mrs. Hoefler is the type of Early Childhood teacher that children remember for the rest of their lives," said Rachel Weber, director of Early Childhood at Weinger. "You can hear her singing out in the hallways, you can see her modeling values for the children in all of her lessons and you can see her listening attentively to every child's unique wants and needs. Her support is unwavering and her engagement with the children is constant and active."
Hoefler, a Deerfield resident who originally hails from Skokie and attended Niles West High School, has been teaching for 35 years. She joined the Weinger team in 2004.
"To my son, and our family, Mrs. Hoefler is larger than life," said Melissa Berman, a Weinger parent. "She has led by example in teaching our children that it is their responsibility to take care of the world around us and each other. She has changed their mindset, from that of someone who is taken care of, to that of someone who is in a position to help take care of others."
At the award presentation on June 11, Hoefler thanked JUF and the Pinsky family for the acknowledgement.
"It is such an honor to receive this award," she said. "Teaching has always been my passion and my joy."
The Pinsky Award was established in honor of Sue Pinsky, a long-time Jewish educator who was instrumental in the founding of the North Suburban JCC. In her 50 years of being a Jewish educator, it is estimated that Sue worked with over 5,000 children in the community.
Sue's son, Mark Pinsky, and his wife, Lisa, generously established an endowment fund in Sue's honor to ensure the award in perpetuity through JUF's Agency Endowment Program
"My mother devoted her career to Jewish education, with a focus on young children," said Mark. "She taught countless children how to braid a challah, sing 'Shabbat Shalom' or make their first menorah. Generations of children in the Chicago area benefited from her enthusiasm, creativity and profound gift for building joy in Jewish identity. We are hoping to inspire future generations of teachers to passionately pursue a career in Jewish education."
For more information, please contact Rabbi Scott Aaron, PhD, Executive Director of JUF's Community Foundation for Jewish Education, atScottAaron@cfje.org.