The Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education Announces Two Members of the HUC-JIR Community Amongst This Year’s Winners

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards of Excellence in Jewish Education is delighted announce that two members of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion community, Cantor Miranda Kark Beckenstein, Coordinator of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music Alumni Association, and Dr. Betsy Stone, Instructor of Pastoral Counseling are recipients of the 2012 Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards of Excellence in Jewish Education. 

Cantor Miranda Kark Beckenstein graduated from HUC-JIR’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music with a Masters in Sacred Music and investiture as cantor. She has a great and abiding love for both music and education. Currently, she is a 6th and 7th grade teacher at Temple Beth Abraham in Tarrytown, New York. Here she is the creator of an American Jewish History Course that involves innovative techniques including group work, media integration, storytelling, high level discussion, and experiential trips. This course is run in conjunction with the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Her desire to empower the members of her congregation in living and learning Judaism is just one of the many reasons why she is so deserving of this award. 

Dr. Betsy Stone continues to share her love of education with the HUC-JIR community as a lecturer.  She earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Yale and has her Post Doctorate in marriage and family therapy. She has a private practice in Stamford and teaches Responsa to teens at Kulanu. Dr. Stone has been teaching in various schools since 1981, and she is currently teaching critical Jewish thought through the lens of text study at Temple Sinai, where she is also a congregant. Through her love for Judaism, her love of community, and most of all her love for her students, she is very excited to be a recipient of this Award. 

The Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education are generously funded by The Harold Grinspoon Foundation and The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. The Awards are administered by the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA). Additionally, the list of this year’s 48 winners, representing 40 communities is available here. 

JESNA is dedicated to innovation in Jewish education and to building a strong Jewish future where learners of all ages lead Jewish lives infused with purpose and meaning. Functioning as a hub in a many-spoked wheel of community federations, central agencies for Jewish education, foundations, social entrepreneurs, families and others, JESNA transforms and strengthens Jewish education in North America across all denominations and venues.


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