New school honors two couples Feb. 11
By SURA RUBENSTEIN, Special to the Jewish Review
article created on: 2012-01-01T00:00:00
By Ma’ayan HaTorah, a new community day school in Portland, will be honoring two families at a Saturday night celebration Feb. 11 at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.
Morris and Janett Engelson will receive the “Torah and Derech Eretz” Award, and Howard and Sandy Katz will be honored with the “Pioneer Builders” Award at the gala, “Building Our Children’s Future.”
The event includes a 7:30 p.m. reception with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails provided by Century Catering, followed by an 8:30 p.m. program with noted Jewish educator, Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg of Los Angeles.
Both Morris Engelson and Sandy Katz serve on the board of directors of Ma’ayan HaTorah, and have been strong supporters of the school, launched this fall with a pre-school class housed at Congregation Neveh Shalom.
Laura Leibman, Ma’ayan HaTorah’s board president, said the school was created by local families who view a community Torah day school as an essential element in building and sustaining a vibrant local Jewish community.
“We are dedicated to developing an environment of academic excellence, both in Judaic and General Studies,” said Leibman, who is a professor of English and humanities at Reed College. “We envision a school with a warm and inviting atmosphere—made up of a broad spectrum of students from the Jewish community.”
The “Torah and Derech Eretz” Award, to be given to Morris and Janett Engelson, highlights the school’s emphasis on achievement in both secular or “general studies” areas, and in religious studies.
Morris Engelson, a fellow of the Institute of Electric and Electronics Engineers and a former chief engineer at Tektronix, has authored several technical books and more than 100 technical papers, holds several patents, and has represented the United States on international scientific committees.
He also served for more than a decade on the board of Hillel Academy (which eventually became Portland Jewish Academy) as well as on the board of Congregation Kesser Israel. He devotes significant time to Torah study, and has written and lectured extensively on the connections between science and Torah, as well as on Holocaust-related subjects.
Janett Engelson also was heavily involved in Hillel Academy during the years their three children attended, and has been a strong supporter of education and community initiatives.
Sandy Katz, a former president of Congregation Shaarie Torah, has been involved with Ma’ayan HaTorah from the start, and currently serves on the school board as treasurer. She and her husband, Howard, are being honored with the “Pioneer Builders” Award for their volunteer work in launching and sustaining the school.
“Sandy has been instrumental in forming the school, and Howard has been there right along as well,” said Tuvia Berzow, a fellow board member and Ma’ayan HaTorah parent. “Their devotion to the school is incredible.”
Berzow noted that neither the Katzes nor the Engelsons have children in the school, but that both families are committed to expanding educational options for Jewish families.
Sandy Katz, who grew up in Panama and attended that country’s only K-12 Jewish school, said she didn’t “think twice” about joining the Ma’ayan HaTorah board. She said she was inspired by the dedication and vision of Esther Fischer, the school’s head teacher, and Rabbi Kenneth Brodkin, the rabbinic dean.
“They have a tremendous sense of family and selfless dedication to teach others, starting with the very young,” she said. “You can see the impact they have in the faces of every child and their parents.”
Howard Katz, who attended yeshiva as a child, said his support of the school comes from his deep commitment to Jewish education, and a belief that Jewish learning, with seeds planted at a young age, can be a part of everyone’s life.
The evening’s speaker, Rabbi Goldberg, has been director of Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov/Ohr Eliyahu in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years, and has been nationally recognized as an “outstanding educator.”
The coeducational school, which serves more than 300 students in grades k-8, also has been recognized for “valuing individualized education, promoting skill building and emphasizing character development.”
For reservations, $36 per person, contact Ma’ayan HaTorah, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 503-756-9939. Reservations for a program journal are due by Feb. 1.