Covenant Award Winner Zion Ozeri
Continues his Connections with
Zion Ozeri, who attended Bar-Ilan University (BIU), has been awarded the 2013 Covenant Award that honors three exceptional Jewish educators every year. Ozeri, Founder and Creative Director of The Jewish Lens, was cited for the innovative way he combined his longtime occupation as a photographer and documentarian of Jewish life around the world with a new role as Jewish educator.
Under Ozeri's guidance, The Jewish Lens has inspired thousands of students in the United States and Israel to express and interpret different aspects of Jewish life through their own photographs and commentaries. The inspiration for this project occurred about a decade ago when a Jewish day school principal responded positively to Ozeri's suggestion that the school's teachers use some of his imagery to teach about Jewish values and community.
The program incubated from there, and it has been adopted by hundreds of Jewish schools, camps and other educational settings in the United States. More than 50 schools use the program in Israel, and a new partnership with The Center for Educational Technology (CET in Israel) will lead to the creation of a new online, interactive platform.
During an interview at his apartment in Manhattan, Ozeri said that he is grateful that this prestigious award will amplify the impact The Jewish Lens curricula will have throughout the Jewish world. Ozeri added that he is thankful that his ongoing lifetime work has been validated with this recognition.
Born in Israel, Ozeri attended Bar-Ilan after serving as an IDF tank commander. He chose BIU because of his interest in studying psychology. "Bar-Ilan has always been known in Israel for having the country's best Psychology Department. It was my privilege to study with several of its renowned professors while I was there."
When he decided that photography was his true passion, Ozeri came to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Pratt Institute. After earning degrees from these institutions, he pursued a freelance photography career that led him to travel the world to capture Jewish life through photographing often remote Jewish communities. He began this career journey in Yemen, the land of his own ancestry.
Ozeri continues to stay connected with several BIU faculty members, including Prof. Rabbi Woolf, senior lecturer in the Talmud Department whose views on religious issues Ozeri values; and David Sperber, curator of BIU's Leiber Center that exhibits Jewish inspired artwork. "It is very important for Bar-Ilan to promote Judaica and works of Jewish artists because Jewish culture, history and values can be expressed so powerfully in works of art and photography," said Ozeri.
Additional winners of this year's Covenant Award are Judy Finkelstein-Taff, head of School at the Chicago Jewish Day School; and Howard Blass, Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England who was a BIU Lookstein Center Jim Joseph Fellow.