Makings of a mentsch

Rabbi Ezagui awarding Joseph Nekava, Grade K, with the Mentsch Award for showing kindness and Midot Tovot.

Educators at the Silverstein Hebrew Academy in Great Neck have recently created a new award that elementary school students can strive to win. The “Mentsch Award” will be given out every Friday throughout the school year.

In the Jewish culture, a Mentsch is somebody whom every adult aspires to be—it is a person who respects Jewish values and models kindness, empathy, and resilience.

“To be a Mentsch takes a lot of work,” said Shireen Deen Butman, head of school at SHA. “It takes a significant amount of training, coaching, modeling, and encouraging.”
The students look forward to the revealing of the award winner all week and even remind each other to use proper vocabulary that would be used by a Mentsch.

Elementary staff, together with SHA administration, created the Mentsch Award Program to help develop the attributes the school believes all SHA graduates should have by the time they enter high school.

Every week classrooms role-play different scenarios and ask students how a Mentsch would behave or react. Students also have been supporting each other knowing teachers are on the lookout for students that exhibit Mentsch behavior.

“The goal of this award program is to foster a culture of respect within the SHA academic environment and school community,” said Chanie Geisinsky, associate head of school. “Implementing programs like the Mentsch Award is part of SHA’s mission to promote a school-wide culture of acceptance and anti-bullying behavior.”

For more information on the Silverstein Hebrew Academy and programs for Pre-K through 8th grade students, please call 516-466-8522 or visit

About the author

The Island Now

Share this Article