On January 24th, The Rabbi Samuel S. and A. Irma Cohon Memorial Foundation honored Rabbi Michael Swirsky, the founder of Pardes, and Rabbi Leon Morris, Pardes’s current president, with the 2020 Cohon Award for their work on behalf of klal Yisrael, and the peoplehood of Israel. Eric Levitz, the founder and Executive Director of the AZ House in Jerusalem was also honored.
Rabbi Swirsky founded the Pardes in 1972 and Rabbi Morris has been its President since 2017. By bestowing this honor on them, the Cohon Foundation is also honoring the wonderful contributions that Pardes has made to the Jewish community worldwide since its founding.
Coming at a time when Pardes is greatly expanding its work in North America while also building a multi-million new campus in Jerusalem, the award also recognizes Pardes’s insistence that a promising future for Pardes means a promising future for the Jewish people.
The Cohon Award comes with a generous $15,000 cash prize, which both Rabbis Swirsky and Morris jointly agreed to donate back to Pardes. This combined $30,000 contribution highlights their ongoing full commitment to Pardes and its students and the close place Pardes holds for them both professionally and personally.
The Cohon Memorial Foundation, beginning in 2003, has annually awarded significant funds to individuals who make important contributions to the whole Jewish people in the fields of Information and Education, Rescue, Unity, or the Creative Arts. Established by their children and grandchildren in memory of the distinguished scholar, professor, and theologian Rabbi Samuel S. Cohon and his extraordinary wife, A. Irma Cohon, the Cohon Awards are designed to encourage exceptional work in the fields they cared about deeply.
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, president of the Cohon Memorial Foundation, says, “We are very proud to honor these outstanding recipients who have done so much for the Jewish world, and continue to make a significant impact today, reaching across all lines of denomination and background to teach, inspire—and save—Jews. Our honorees this year, Rabbi Swirsky, Rabbi Morris, and Eric Levitz, are exceptional people who capture the essence of the work these awards are designed to foster.”