2016-06-22 / Voice at the Shore

Avoda gives $100,000 in awards to three college-bound young women

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore correspondent


Avoda’s 2016 awardees (from left): Laura Naegele, Shayna Lowenstein and Hope Greenspun. Avoda’s 2016 awardees (from left): Laura Naegele, Shayna Lowenstein and Hope Greenspun. “This may be the year of the woman,” said Avoda president Lee Roseman, speaking at a dinner at the Mays Landing Country Club on June 8 honoring three high school students receiving the 2016 Avoda awards.

The dinner took place just after Hilary Clinton apparently clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, and politics was clearly on the minds of the many Avoda members in attendance. Yet Roseman wasn’t just talking about Hilary. He was also referencing the fact that Avoda’s awardees for 2016— Hope Greenspun, Shayna Lowenstein, and Laura Naegele—are all bright young women.

The three seniors at Mainland Regional High School (MRHS) will all receive a substantial financial award towards their college educations from Avoda, an organization founded in 1928 to help local Jewish students pay for college. Greenspun, the primary winner, will receive $40,000 over the course of four years toward her tuition for Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA; and Lowenstein and Naegele, who will both attend Rutgers University, will each receive $30,000.

“I think it’s very auspicious that this is the year we have three female awardees, and it is also the year that Hilary Clinton is the Democratic candidate,” said Elaine Charny, a member the committee charged with selecting

Avoda awardees. “We’re breaking the glass ceiling in so many ways! It’s the year of the woman!”

Charny also noted that while the Avoda club was started by men who gave awards to male students, for the past two years more than half of the club’s selection committee members have been women.

Although Avoda usually chooses only two awardees, this year they made an exception, said Charles Berg, co-chair of the selection committee. After whittling down the eight applications they received from students throughout Atlantic and Cape May Counties to three, the committee got stuck.

“There was just no way we could pick a primary and a secondary winner,” Thankfully, Charny came up with the idea of choosing two secondary winners. “If we hadn’t done that, we’d still be trying to decide!” said Berg.

Hope Greenspun, from Northfield, is the daughter of David Greenspun and Susan Wallace and the granddaughter of Avoda member Phil Greenspun. At MRHS, she has been active in the photography and physics clubs and in the marching band, where she served as percussion captain. Hope has been a member of Congregation Beth Israel and is a graduate of Kulanu high school for Jewish studies, where she also served as a morim (teacher-in-training).

Shayna Lowenstein, also from Northfield, is the daughter of David Lowenstein and Felicia Niven. At MRHS, she actively participated in the dance, drama and Mainland Ambassador’s clubs. She also served on the board of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Linwood. Shayna is a member of Congregation Beth Israel and a graduate of Kulanu, where she was also a morim.

Laura Naegele, of Somers Point, is the daughter of Scott and Lisa Naegele and an active member of Temple Emeth Shalom, where she helps prepare food for Oneg Shabbats and brunches. At MRHS, she was a member of the National Honor Society, tutored students in algebra and geometry, and was a member of the dance team and Gifted and Talented Dance program. Laura has also spent over a decade studying and teaching dance at Cygnus Creative Arts Centre in Egg Harbor Township, has trained with New York City’s Joffrey Ballet School, and plans to major in dance at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Avoda’s selection committee uses three main criteria for choosing awardees: financial need, scholastic performance, and Jewish activity. According to selection committee co-chair Yechiel Ahavi, students’ current participation in the Jewish community is a good predicator of their ability to make contributions to the Jewish community and to the world at large in the future. s

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