Youth Program Manager 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. And because she does so, her capacity for genuine connection with the hundreds of teens she serves every year is profound. Her ability to create safe space for these youth while talking about deeply personal and, often, charged subjects — like consent and abuse — is what makes Shalom Bayit’s Love Shouldn’t Hurt program so successful. She brings crucial content that students are desperate to discuss and presents it in a way that resonates so deeply with many of the youth that they often make insightful connections about how the workshop material manifests in their own lives throughout the workshop.
Zephira deeply embodies and models beautifully that idea that we are not required to complete a task, but neither are we free to avoid it. Zephira opens almost all of her workshops explaining that “her job is to work herself out of a job”, and asks the students to explain what she means by that. They are quick to understand that Zephira’s goal is to create a world where no one experiences abuse and, if that were the case, she would not need to do prevention education. She follows up this conversation by explaining that although it is unlikely that abuse will end within her lifetime, she has seen the way our culture has shifted since she (and others) have begun this work. In this opening conversation, Zephira is modeling for the students that people can have impact, even if they don’t fix everything. That when we care about an injustice in the world, it is worth our energy to try and do something about it. And that the inability to make everything “perfect” does not diminish the impact of changes we can make and the progress we can achieve.
This information was taken directly from the Award recipient’s nomination, and are the words of their colleagues.