COPE-Camp Erin NYC Receives HUC-JIR’s Highest Honor: Roger E. Joseph Prize

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lilly Julien (center) with the Joseph family and Rabbi Aaron Panken (left) and Chairman Irwin Engelman (right)

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D., President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), awarded the 2014 Roger E. Joseph Prize to COPE-Camp Erin® NYC at HUC-JIR/New York Ordination at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York on Sunday, May 11, 2014.  The Prize was accepted by Lilly Julien, President and Founder of The COPE Foundation.

Rabbi Panken stated, "Over the past thirty-six years, the Roger E. Joseph Prize has been presented to exceptional individuals or organizations, and institutions whose work fulfills the highest ethical values of our tradition. The Joseph Prize recipients have been recognized for eradicating racial prejudice and religious discrimination; commemorating the Holocaust; demonstrating exceptional the altruism as righteous rescuers; promoting peace in the Middle East; combatting genocide; supporting the victims of trauma; ending hunger; and advancing the cause of human rights and social responsibility.  It is our privilege to present the 2014 Joseph Prize to COPE-Camp Erin NYC and Lilly Julien, President and Founder of The COPE Foundation.  This remarkable organization is a lifeline to children and families struggling with the tragic loss of loved ones – a cause that is so close to the hearts of the Joseph Family."

In 1992, Lilly Julien, mourning the untimely loss of her 20 year-old daughter, Michelle, helped gather a group of parents living with the loss of a child to come together for solace and support. They began meeting informally in the safety of each other's homes, finding comfort and support by being together and freely expressing their grief with people who could understand. Through this sense of community, they were able to heal and impact each other's lives while remaining eternally connected to their children. They began reaching out to other parents living with the loss of their children, and their group grew into a larger network. Their experiences together resulted in the creation in 1999 of COPE (Connecting Our Paths Eternally), a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing emotional support to individuals and families who are struggling to live with the loss of a child or sibling.  COPE has grown into an organization serving the needs of approximately 680 families in the tri-state area, providing emotional, spiritual and therapeutic programs including parent and sibling support groups, alternative healing workshops, a grief hotline, and resources and referrals.

In 2011, COPE partnered with The Moyer Foundation and expanded its mission with the inauguration of COPE-Camp Erin® NYC, a free weekend bereavement camp for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or someone close to them.  The mission of COPE-Camp Erin NYC is to empower children in distress and give children the tools and skills  to express their emotions, share their grief, learn positive coping skills, and overcome life’s greatest challenges.  COPE-Camp Erin NYC is a relaxed, safe, and supportive setting that combines recreational camp activities with grief education and emotional support, facilitated by grief professionals and trained volunteers. Through interactions with other children and adults, campers learn that they are not alone in their grief. The COPE Foundation provides families with long term support following the camp weekend.

About the Joseph Prize and Previous Recipients

The Roger E. Joseph Prize was established 36 years ago by a generous gift from Burton M. Joseph, z''l, and his sister, Mrs. Betty Greenberg, in memory of their brother, a lawyer, World War II hero, and polio victim.  Although almost completely paralyzed, he resumed his law practice and advanced causes of social justice, inspired by his own exceptional personal courage and passionate devotion to principle and justice.

The first Joseph Prize was awarded in 1978, to Victor Kugler, who risked his and his loved ones’ lives to shelter Anne Frank and her family. Over the past thirty-five years, the Joseph Prize recipients have included:

  • The people of Le Chambon, a Huguenot village in France which rescued thousands of Jewish children during the Holocaust;
  • Helen Suzman, a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa;
  • The Center for Legal and Social Studies, the most prominent human rights group in Argentina;
  • Rosa Parks, the “mother” of the American civil rights movement;
  • Vu Than Thuy and the Boat People SOS Committee, responsible for the rescue of thousands of Vietnamese refugees stranded in the South China Sea;
  • The First Congregational Church of Billings, Montana, and the Montana Association of Churches for their moral and spiritual conviction in combating prejudice and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
  • The Center for Victims of Torture and the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture;
  • Morris S. Dees, and the Southern Poverty Law Center;
  • The Humanitarian Law Center and Natasa Kandic for their courageous research and dissemination of the documentation of genocide in Kosovo;
  • Daniel Pearl, posthumously, and the Daniel Pearl Foundation, to honor the memory and mission of this inspiring and courageous journalist, of blessed memory, whose integrity was grounded in a commitment to justice and a love for humanity;
  • Jan Egeland, under Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations, for rescue efforts in Darfurand around the globe;
  • Morris S. Dees, and the Southern Poverty Law Center;
  • The Humanitarian Law Center and Natasa Kandic for their courageous research and dissemination of the documentation of genocide in Kosovo;
  • Chaplain Mychal Judge, of blessed memory, and the City of New York Fire Department, for their heroic efforts to rescue and provide comfort on September 11th, 2001;
  • Daniel Pearl, posthumously, and the Daniel Pearl Foundation, to honor the memory and mission of this inspiring and courageous journalist, of blessed memory, whose integrity was grounded in a commitment to justice and a love for humanity;
  • Jan Egeland, under Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations, for rescue efforts in Darfur and around the globe; and
  • Father Patrick Desbois for devoting his life to confronting anti-Semitism, furthering Catholic-Jewish understanding, and preserving Holocaust memory.

Click here to view the National Graduation and Ordination press release.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu