© 2008 18 Pomegranates
Chidush: An Evolution

The Chidush Awards were created in Boulder, Colorado in 2001 by Francine Lavin Weaver.

The mission was to reward the efforts of Boulder's Jewish educators to innovate and share outstanding teaching ideas, while building the Chidush virtual lesson plan library and teacher resource section at HaSifria, Boulder's Jewish library at the Boulder JCC.  Chidush, which means innovation in Hebrew, was designed to honor the sparks of innovation that lie within the Jewish educators in our community.

Jewish educators were encouraged to submit ideas that inspired a commitment to Jewish values and a love of Jewish learning. In this way, innovative Jewish educational experiences could be shared between the various complimentary programs across the community. Because the educators in the community had a desire to be cooperative than competitive, lessons that were considered innovative and replicable were given the highest accolades.

The educators who participated in Chidush were provided monetary stipends in appreciation of their time and effort.  These 'mini-grants' served to recognize that educators are often part-time teachers, rarely recognized and honored for the sacred path in which they are engaged. 

The lessons were reviewed annually by a committee consisting of active and retired educators, in an anonymous process that assured an unbiased outcome.  After the review, educators were given feedback to improve their ideas and perfect their presentations for the final submission to the Chidush lesson plan awards program. 

The Chidush award winners were recognized annually at a community-wide reception.  They were honored in front of the community and received a certificate and stipend. Donations were given in the educators' name to the Boulder Jewish organization they designated.  For ten years, the Chidush Awards program spawned a community of educators that looked forward to the annual workshop and reception.

In 2010, in an effort to stay true to the innovative roots of the program, 18 Pomegranates transformed Chidush.  The Chidush Review Committee suggested publishing the "Taste of Chidush" a compilation of the winning Chidush lesson plans that could serve as a legacy to the Chidush Awards and process. The emphasis shifted from the lesson plan library to supporting teachers with creative and inspirational professional development opportunities and building community and connection among our Jewish educators.

Boulder Jewish educators have enjoyed learning from special guests, invited to share their expertise in a variety of mediums.  These guest teachers have included:
  • Rabbi Elisha Wolfin, congregation V'Ahavta, Zicron Yaacov, Israel
  • Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, California
  • Peter Pizele, the father of Bibliodrama and author of "Our Fathers' Wells: A Personal Encounter with the Myths of Genesis"
  • Debbie Krivoy, Avodah Arts
  • Rabbi Gabe Goldman, American Jewish University, and the father of Environmental Judaism
  • Matt Barr and Ori Salzberg, Bible Raps Project
  • Nachama Moskovitz, Senior Director of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland
  • Rabbi Will Berkowitz, Repair the World
  • Batya Greenwald and Ari Gerzon, PassageWorks 
  • Ron Berger, Project-Based Learning