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2020 Teen Awards

David and Irene Cole Essay Contest Winners

1st Place​ – Ben Zion Gisser

2nd Place​​ – Jane Shevkin

3rd Place​​​ – Gillian Herszage

David and Janet W. Goldsmith Teen Kavod Gadol Award

Leah Ryzenman and Jordan Herman​

Don Erkis & Lou Berliner High School Jewish Scholar/Athlete Award

Emma Segerman​ and Matthew Cammeyer​

Watch our 2020 Teen Awards ceremony in full here!

Click Here for Slideshow from 2020 Teen Awards


David and Irene Cole Essay Contest

Explore the evolution of your Jewish Identity as a college student. How will you be active on campus? What, if anything, will distinguish you from other students? Why is your Jewish Identity part of your story and how will you express it? This contest asks students to describe in a 900- to 1,200-word essay how they will perpetuate their own Jewish knowledge and practice as a college freshman and why. The David and Irene Cole Essay Contest is accepting submissions from high school seniors, where the winner will receive $1,000. The second-place winner will receive $500 and third-place, $250.

David and Janet W. Goldsmith Teen Kavod Gadol Award

Demonstrate how your commitment to community service, leadership, and compassion for others will strengthen and improve the Jewish community. What specific steps have you taken to accomplish these goals?  Established in memory of David and Janet W. Goldsmith by their daughters to honor their commitment, leadership involvement, and support for community service.  This award will be given to a high school senior who has a desire to use their talents to work towards goals that improve and strength communities and who through their actions will help others improve. The legacy of Janet and David Goldsmith will continue through these young people and the work that they do to help others. To apply, please submit along with your application, a 600 words or less description of involvement in Jewish service and leadership to improve the Jewish community and how you will stay involved in service and leadership beyond high school.

Don Erkis & Lou Berliner High School Jewish Scholar/Athlete Award

This award remembers two outstanding community leaders who had a love and respect for young people and a vision about the importance of becoming the leaders of the future.

Their vision: that scholastically strong and athletically gifted young people would use their skills, proven in competition and in the classroom, to become the leaders of their generation. They carry our hopes for a better tomorrow.

Click Here for Eligibilty Guidelines and Application Requirements for Erkis/Berliner Award.


Don Erkis

Don was an East High School graduate where he was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball and baseball. After high school, he signed a professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and played with them until work in the family business called him home. Starting in 1930, he played softball at least two nights a week at the JCC. Don was voted Most Valuable Player in the JCC Sunday Morning Softball League in 1944 and again in 1978 at the age of 60 in the AK League. He won the Grossinger’s Pro Amateur Golf Championship in 1960 and the JCC’s Racquetball Master Division in 1980. Don was also instrumental in the development of youth sports at the JCC. He was responsible for the first little league baseball team and the first youth basketball competitive league. Until his death in 1983, Don was actively involved as a player in JCC basketball, baseball, softball and racquetball.

Lou Berliner

Lou was a Columbus Dispatch sports writer from 1931 to 1975, covering high school and amateur athletics, and widely known and respected throughout the state for his work. He was an active participant in the Top Sunday Morning Softball League for 23 years. In 1966 Lou received the Milo Roc Mendel award. He received the Agudas Achim Brotherhood “Flowers for the Living” award in 1968 and the Agonis Club “Flowers of the Living” award in 1973. Lou was involved in community service through his work with Charity Newsies, United Jewish Fund, and Bonds for Israel, and served as President of Agudas Achim Brotherhood. He also served as Co-Chairman of the Agonis Club Athlete’s Scholar Award. The Berliner Sports Park in Columbus, which includes the largest softball complex in the United States, was dedicated to Lou in 1985.