The Ruby Award

Celebrating the Work of Jewish Youth Professionals in the Bay Area

The Ruby Award is an annual award for excellence in Jewish youth education and engagement, established in 2020 in collaboration with the San Francisco Teen Initiative. Jewish LearningWorks is proud to give this award in memory of Robert Ruby, to honor his commitment to teen education.

The Ruby Award is offered to enhance the prominence and celebrate the essential work of Jewish youth professionals in the Bay Area. This annual opportunity for recognition amplifies the importance of teen engagement, and highlights the success of professionals who work with Jewish teens. Award recipients also receive an $1,800 honorarium.

Nominations for the 2024 Ruby Award are open. Please nominate a colleague who has shown excellence in Jewish youth education and engagement by December 15, 2023.

  • Have at least 10 years of experience as a youth professional working directly with Jewish teens.
  • Have made a significant contribution to Jewish teen education and engagement.
  • Works in Jewish education in the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently works directly with teens.
  • The selection committee is composed of alumni of the tikea and Shofar fellowships and past Ruby Award recipients.
  • The Ruby Award will be awarded annually; while the Ruby Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Jewish Youth Education and Engagement will be awarded every 5 years.
  • The selection committee will meet and announce the next Ruby Award recipient in March 2024.
  • Award recipients also receive an $1,800 honorarium.

In 2023 we had the pleasure to present the award at the Peninsula JCC during an in-person learning session, and celebration of teen engagement and youth professionals. You can read the teaching presented by Meg Adler, 2023 Ruby Award recipient, and view photos of the event on our blog.

Please direct questions about the award to Alisha Pedowitz at

In Memory of Rob Ruby

The Ruby Award honors beloved lay leader, Robert Ruby. Rob was one of the East Bay Jewish community’s most active and influential leaders for many years. President of Jewish Federation of the East Bay, Chair of the Berkeley Hillel Board of Directors, and officer of the BBYO national board were a few of the positions he held. Rob, who passed away in 2016, was especially committed to teen engagement. He knew firsthand from his own involvement in AZA as a teen, the power of leadership and social opportunities as critical pathways to Jewish identity and life. Above all, Rob was smart, funny, generous and kind — a true mensch. We are deeply grateful for his example.

Ruby Award Recipients


Ruby Award

Meg Adler
Associate Director of Bay Area Programs at Camp Tawonga, and Middle School Educator at Edah, Studio 70

Meg Adler is a true gem in the field of Jewish youth education. Under her leadership at Camp Tawonga, the Tawonga B’nai Mitzvah Program has grown, flourished, and deepened, now serving 130 students per year. As the lead staff for this program, it is Meg’s vision, creativity, and commitment to each family that make her a true standout. 

2022 Ruby Award, Jenessa Schwartz.

Ruby Award

Jenessa Schwartz z”l
Middle School Language Arts Teacher at Yavneh Day School

Jenessa’s authenticity made her a pied piper of Jewish teens. At Yavneh, Jenessa brought her full self to her work, and in doing so, she engaged students’ hearts and minds as Jews and as human-beings, as they are beginning to figure out their place in the world.

Zephira 2020

Ruby Award

Zephira Derblich-Milea
Senior Educator at Shalom Bayit

Zephira is an extraordinary educator in and out of the classroom; her commitment to honesty and integrity leads her to bring her full self to each and every single workshop she leads.


Ruby Award

Devra Aarons
Contra Costa Midrasha Executive Director

Devra has positively enriched the lives of hundreds of students through the Contra Costa Midrasha program in the last decade. From being a safe adult presence on…


Ruby Lifetime Achievement

Rick Concoff
Director of the Chaverim Teen Program at the Sonoma County JCC

Rick has been the Teen Rebbe of Sonoma County for over 25 years. He has put his heart and soul into all the programs he leads whether it be…

Recognizing and Honoring the Creativity and Innovation of Jewish Youth Professionals

The leadership role played by Jewish youth professionals is a cornerstone of both the vibrant present and future of the Jewish community. We trust them with the power to inspire our young to live the rest of their lives with purpose and meaning, informed by our Jewish values.

Jewish Youth Professionals

Engage Our Teens

When everything is said and done, youth professionals transform teens through the power of their presence, their loving camaraderie and the lessons of Jewish tradition.

Forever Inspire Change

Because this work today is a precious seed planted in their hearts, a long-lasting investment in their future, and the gift of Judaism as a way of life.

Make the World a Better Place

And because when we instill in our youth the pride in who they are, and the courage to embody our timeless values, we give them a blueprint to become the best version of themselves.