The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh named Eileen Freedman, music director at the Community Day School (CDS), the recipient of the 2016 Ira and Nanette Gordon Community Professional Achievement Award.
The award, established in 2000, may be given annually to a professional, early in his or her career, who has demonstrated outstanding service to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, its nine beneficiary agencies and the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and overseas. The award recipient must, as a recognized role model, inspire service on behalf of the Jewish community.
In announcing the award, Community Day School Head of School Avi Baran Munro noted, “It is rare when an entire school feels the impact of a single teacher, but Eileen Freedman’s impact cannot be understated. Eileen has done no less than revolutionize the educational experience at Community Day School by creating a hands-on, integrated global music program, in a Jewish context, that inspires our students to love learning music, and she has organized events that unite and galvanize our entire community.”
Reacting to the announcement, Mrs. Freedman said, “I am both thrilled and honored to be receiving this level of recognition in our community. To know that my work in music education is valued so highly in the school and Jewish community gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride, and receiving this award as a music educator speaks volumes about the importance of the arts in the lives of our students.”
At CDS, Mrs. Freedman teaches general music, and she organizes and leads music events at the school — events such as the regular every-other-Friday Kabbalat Shabbat, the biannual Zimriah and the Drum Olam ensemble she created. She has also organized many Jewish music events within CDS and outside the school, including a recent visit by Rachman Nachman, a 28-year-old hip-hop–inspired Ugandan Jewish cantor. The award recognizes her exceptional ability and commitment to providing an excellent music education to the students at CDS and to the broader Jewish community.
Mrs. Freedman began her career at Community Day School in 2005. Previously, she worked as a music specialist at the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh’s James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp. She was a Kindermusik educator and served as a cantorial soloist at Tree of Life Congregation. She taught Sunday-school music at Congregation Beth Shalom for 10 years. She has participated in numerous workshops and certification courses, including World Music Drumming, Dalcroze, and Orff Schulwerk. She is a certified Orff teacher through the University of the Arts at Villanova University. She incorporates many aspects of this creative music and movement approach into her teaching.
The Federation seeks nominees for the Ira and Nanette Gordon Community Professional Achievement Award each spring. Chief professionals and presidents of the Federation and its beneficiary agencies select the award recipient. The winner receives a cash prize of at least $1,000. Ms. Freedman will be recognized for her achievement at a program for community professionals Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, 4–5 p.m., at Rodef Shalom Congregation.