USCJ Announces Winner of First Annual Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award

USCJ Announces Winner of First Annual Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award

Posted on November 21, 2014

Honoree is emerging synagogue leader working to welcome younger people to her Massachusetts congregation

NOVEMBER 21, 2014 – Jessica Katz Poscover, a synagogue leader working to attract younger people to her aging congregation, is the winner of the first annual Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Mrs. Cardin, one of the most influential Jewish leaders of our time, established the award for emerging Jewish leaders through United Synagogue on the occasion of the USCJ centennial last fall. It carries a $5,000 stipend and the opportunity to connect with other Jewish leaders through the United Synagogue network.

Rabbi Steven Wernick, United Synagogue CEO, said that Mrs. Cardin shares with United Synagogue a deep concern about ensuring the next generation of Jewish leaders. “The Cardin Award is so valuable because it furthers our ongoing mission of training and empowering people who are re-imagining Jewish life for a new era,” Wernick said. “Jessica Poscover is just such a person, and we hope that by recognizing her we will strengthen her efforts and inspire others.”

Dr. Poscover, a member of Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, has focused on welcoming younger people into the congregation, where the number of young families has shrunk over the years. Dr. Poscover has worked with other parents to revitalize the Family and Youth Engagement Committee, leading an effort to reach out personally to parents in the preschool, religious schools, and local day schools. This year, when the synagogue offered free high holiday tickets to non-members in the community, Dr. Poscover reached out to non-members who took advantage of the tickets to welcome them prior to, during, and after the holidays. She encouraged youth and family committee members to do the same. (Almost 200 people took advantage of the high holiday offer.)

“I am humbled by this recognition,” Dr. Poscover said of winning the Cardin Award. “Shoshana Cardin has moved mountains in her efforts to build Jewish community, and I am so proud to be associated with her name.”

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, a member of the award committee, said what stood out about Dr. Poscover was her focus on forging personal relationships. “She connects one-on-one with people, which is very powerful,” said Rabbi Cardin, who helped establish the award in her mother’s honor.

Rabbi Leonard Gordon, who nominated Dr. Poscover for the Cardin Award, described her as “an inspiration” to him and others in the congregation, and said what’s notable about her approach is that she realizes that when making change, it is crucial to engage synagogue leaders in the process.

Dr. Poscover, an optometrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, participated in the 2012 pilot cohort of Sulam for Emerging Leaders, a program run by United Synagogue to help kehillot (congregations) engage the next generation of Jewish leaders. She is currently a fellow in the OnBoard program, an initiative of the Legacy Heritage Fund to strengthen and develop board members of Jewish non-profits.

A total of 23 people were nominated for the inaugural Cardin Award, including several rabbis and congregational lay leaders from across North America. Dr. Poscover will receive her award at the December 7 meeting of United Synagogue’s General Assembly of Kehillot in New York City.