AWARDS: Professor Natan Meir honored; Sonia Marie Leikam earns fellowship

Professor receives outstanding teacher award
Professor Natan M. Meir has received the John Eliot Allen Outstanding Teacher Award, presented annually by Portland State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to recognize outstanding teachers in the college’s 24 departments. 
Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies in the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at PSU, where he also serves as academic director. 
The award, which was established in 1998, is named in honor of Professor John Eliot Allen, who founded PSU’s Geology Department and taught for more than 35 years. Allen was a proponent of televised education at Portland State and headed the college’s telecourse committee in 1961. The educational television program ran on KOAP-TV during the 1960s. Allen’s own telecourse, Geology 202, was almost too popular for the televised format in 1966, when its 223 students pressed for more face-to-face Q&A sessions.
“Just as John Eliot Allen, a proponent of remote (televised) education, was a pioneer in using new technology to teach in his day, so we too are trying to make the most of the new technologies that are enabling us to connect with our students remotely, even when the pandemic makes meeting in person impossible,” says Professor Meir. 
A scholar of the social and cultural history of East European Jewry, Meir is the author of Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859-1914 (2010) and Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939 (2020). He also serves as a museum consultant and leads study tours of Eastern Europe with Ayelet Tours. 
This is the second time Professor Meir has earned the award. This year, 22 teachers in 21 departments received the award.
“I’m honored to receive the John Eliot Allen Award again this year,” he says. “It’s gratifying to be recognized for the hard work that I put into my teaching, but the award also points to the high quality of instruction in the Judaic Studies program overall. My colleagues and I are all passionate about our teaching, and we invest a great deal in it because we want our students to succeed.”

Sonia Marie Leikam earns Hadar Fellowship
Sonia Marie Leikam has been selected for Hadar’s 2020 Jewish Wisdom Fellowship, a virtual two-month learning project that will confront questions facing the Jewish community and the world amidst COVID-19. Last month, Sonia Marie received the Laurie Rogoway Outstanding Jewish Professional Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. She is the program officer at the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation.
“I am thrilled to be having all these amazing opportunities, which are helping revitalize and motivate me to do more,” says Sonia Marie.
Hadar’s 24 Jewish Wisdom Fellows and a Fellow Cohort 10 of Clergy will lean into text, tradition and discussion to respond to the current pandemic through a Jewish lens. Jewish professionals play a unique role in this moment as those who are shepherding every corner of our community through these times of uncertainty.
The announcement from Hadar stated: “We’re confident that their collective wisdom will help us navigate deep moral, intellectual, practical and ethical questions.”
“For millennia, during times of trouble and challenge, Jews have turned to the vast resources of Torah for guidance and inspiration. We intend to do the same. … The fellowship will culminate with a final project, determined by each cohort, to share their learning with the broader Jewish professional field.”
Hadar is a New York-based educational institution that seeks to empower a generation of Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah learning, prayer and service. Funding for the fellowship is provided by the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah.


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