Awards to be granted at Salute to Jewish Educators


The 2018 Salute to Jewish Educators awards are to be granted to Jerry Benjamin and Ellie Gettinger, among others.

An awards event will be held 3 p.m., Sunday, March 11 at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Whitefish Bay. The annual awards are hosted by the Coalition for Jewish Learning of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. To RSVP for the free event visit or contact Jewish Education Community Planner Tziporah Altman-Shafer at 414-963-2718 or

Benjamin is to be granted the Lifetime Impact Award. The 66-year-old has been active in Jewish communal life for many years. He once chaired the North American Jewish Students Network, as a student in 1972. Later, he co-founded the national Coalition for Advancement in Jewish Education, known as CAJE. He has been active with it for many years, on and off, even helping to bring it back to life after bankruptcy as “New CAJE,” he said.

Jerry Benjamin

Having earned a degree in education from Harvard University graduate school, he’s had a longtime interest in the culture of classrooms.

In the 1990s he was a court-appointed administrator for a settlement between the German military industrial complex and Holocaust survivors. His expertise as a co-managing partner of AB Data was helpful in that endeavor.

He chaired the National Young Leadership Cabinet of UJA in the 1990s and later served as president of Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

“I always was extraordinarily grateful to be part of a community and a people that had accomplished so much, that had such a rich history, whose story continued to unfold in my lifetime in such interesting ways,” he said. “It’s exciting to be part of the Jewish story.”

Gettinger of Jewish Museum Milwaukee is being named the CJL Grinspoon Jewish Educator of the Year. Gettinger is education director for the downtown Milwaukee museum, which is a program of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. She earned her undergraduate degree in Jewish studies and history from Stanford University and a master of arts in Jewish professional studies from Chicago’s Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

Gettinger has been in her current position 11 years, since before the museum opened.

It’s her role to develop tours and programs for the museum. She also trains volunteers (she says what the museum does would not be possible without them). She leads the “SPARK!” program, where she works with people who have memory loss and dementia. Gettinger also helps develop exhibits.

Asked about her educational philosophy at the museum, she said, “My primary focus is engaging people. It’s figuring out the stories and the narrative and finding those connections that can make it compelling and personal for people of all backgrounds.”

The Inspiration Award for Informal Education is to be granted to Rabbi Avremi Schapiro of Camp Gan Israel and CTeen Milwaukee.

The Rabbi Emanuel & Deborah Lifshutz Mitzvah Award is to go to Rona Wolfe of Milwaukee Jewish Day School.

Gill Incentive for Teachers awards are to be granted to Leah Emmer, Chaya Mann and Yael Stein.

Additional awards for teacher impact or school support are going to Jacqueline Cabessa Redlich, Jennifer Amram, Rebecca Berger, Dr. Shimon Salama, Sara Martin, Marlynn Brick, Susan Edelstein, Jody Lansing, Ilene Jauquet, Andi Patz, Tabb Patz, Loren Schmidt, Terry Salpeter, Sophie Gilbert, Marilyn Kraar, Velia Tarnoff, Rachelle Schneider, Mandy Singh, Diana Turner, Judi Viljoen, Marnie Atias, Amanda Wiedholz, Ann Becker, Janelle Shalelashvili, Leah Harlig, Rochel Leah Stein, Noah Kaufman, Florence Steinberger, Liora Bushee, Dobie Rapoport, Shira Weinstein, Eva Zussman, Linda Chernin, Rabbi Yitzchak Shapiro, Denise Metzger, Sandra Boersma, Nicole Anderson, and Beth Meister. Deborah Braatz and Lori Katz earned Chai and Double Chai awards, respectively.