USCJ has announced that Marion Haberman and Valerie Weisler are the 2019 winners of the Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership award, presented at USCJ’s General Assembly of kehillot during the 20/20 Judaism convention on Sunday, December 8. This year’s Cardin award winners were chosen because of their widespread positive impact on mental health and social justice, and for promoting the values of authentic and dynamic Judaism.
There are two award categories – one for those age 30 and above, and one for ages 18-30. Winners receive a cash stipend and opportunities to connect with other emerging Jewish leaders from across North America through USCJ and its network of synagogues.
Valerie Weisler, 21, a graduate of Clarkstown High School, is the founder of The Validation Project, an international organization that works with 6,000 students in 105 countries to turn passion into positive action through mentoring, self-designed kindness curriculum and social justice assignments. A USY and Ramah alumnus and currently attending Muhlenberg College, Valerie developed the idea for her nonprofit back in 2013 in response to being the victim of bullying as a young teenager. Through The Validation Project, teens turn their personal struggles into “teenage super powers.”
In addition to The Validation Project’s far (and increasing) reach across the globe, the organization has also created valuable companion resources for teens and educators as well. These include the Resilience Workbook, featuring prompts and activities to set goals and gain confidence, Popcorn Pop Ups, which provide young people with free screenings of social justice focused films, and the Celebrity Ambassador Program, which works with celebrities to spread messages of kindness on social media as a way to combat cyberbullying.
To date, Valerie has received numerous awards, including the USY Changemaker Award and the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award. She is one of The New York Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36, and a L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth. Featured in Oprah Magazine and on CNN, Valerie was recently chosen as the United States Delegate for G(irls)20 and has also served on the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s advisory board. She is also a recipient of the National Jefferson Award for Peace and Justice.
Marion Haberman, 34, is the content creator behind the popular YouTube channel, MyJewishMommyLife.com. A member of B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, MD, Marion discovered a gap in the online resources and information available to Conservative Jewish mothers when she was pregnant with her first son. Since founding her YouTube channel, she has posted more than 250 videos on everything from planning a bris to making menorahs with kids to hosting a Shabbat dinner.
The award is named after Shoshana Shoubin Cardin, a tireless political activist, philanthropist, and champion of women’s rights, racial equality, and the Jewish cause since the early 1960s. In particular, Cardin’s work to strengthen the Jewish people and the State of Israel was profound in its influence and reach. “Through their impressive leadership, ingenuity, and altruism, both Marion Haberman and Valerie Weisler have created important resources. They have inspired tens of thousands of people about how they can give back to their communities and make a positive impact on the world around them,” said Ned Gladstein, USCJ International President. “They are truly two women to watch.”