The Rashi School Recognizes Prominent Jewish Community Leaders with Inaugural Tzedek (Justice) Award, Honors Alumnus with Tikkun Alum Award

The following press release was sent after the Rashi School's 2020 Annual Dinner.
DEDHAM, MASS., December 16, 2020—The Rashi School honored community leaders and
alumni parents Dana Gershon and Rabbi Jonah Pesner of Bethesda, MD, formerly of Newton,
MA for their leadership and dedication to justice with the inaugural Tzedek (Justice) award at
the Rashi Annual Dinner “Justice, Justice, You Shall Pursue!” on December 6. Rashi alumnus
Gavin Alexander ’99 of Jamaica Plain, MA received the 2020 Tikkun Alum Award in recognition
of his commitment to equity and inclusion, including in the LGBTQ+ community. The inaugural
Tzedek (Justice) award was created to recognize extraordinary service exemplified by our
community members in the area of social justice. The Tikkun Alum Award to celebrate Rashi
alumni who demonstrate a strong commitment to social justice and tikkun olam (repairing the
world) in their lives beyond Rashi. Through personal and professional efforts, Tikkun Alums
embody the values of social justice that were instilled in them as Rashi students.
The Annual Dinner is our largest community and fundraising event of the year where we
celebrate Rashi's student-centered academic program that challenges and supports every child
and develops the next generation of Jewish leaders. This year we focused on the last 25 years
of social justice instruction and action and looked ahead to the next 25 years of social justice at
Rashi, inspired by a foundational philanthropic commitment. The event was held online with
people joining from across the country including current families, alumni, clergy, community
leaders, faculty, staff, and friends of the school. Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
who answered questions from Rashi students.

Dana Gershon has been a social justice activist and leader in the Jewish community since high
school, when she served as Social Action Vice-President of CRaFTY, then the NFTY region for
New York City. A graduate of Combined Jewish Philanthropy’s (CJP) Acharai program, Dana
held a number of leadership positions during the nearly twenty years that she and her family
lived in Boston: she served as President of Rashi’s Board of Trustees from 2010-2012, and was
Co-Chair of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection. Dana was instrumental in the founding of Parents
at the Center in Haifa, Israel, an early intervention for underserved children at risk and their
families. As of July 2020, she will become President of the Board of the National Council of
Jewish Women. Outside of the Jewish community, Dana is on the Board of Advisors of the New
England Center for Children in Southborough, MA, and Co-President of Sidwell Friends School
Rowing in Washington, DC. Professionally, Dana is an attorney with a private practice that
specializes in employment law. She represents clients both independently and through an affiliation with Ankner & Levy, PC. Prior to starting her own practice, Dana worked at Rosenman
& Colin, LLP, in New York City, as well as at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C.
and Goodwin Proctor, LLP in Boston, MA. She has also taught legal research and writing at
Boston University School of Law, and Judaism and Justice in the Genesis Program at Brandeis
University. Dana received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a
Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Cornell University,
where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner serves as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
and as Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism. Named one of the most
influential rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine, he is an inspirational leader and tireless
advocate for social justice. In 2006, he founded Just Congregations (now incorporated into the
Religious Action Center), which engaged clergy, professional, and volunteer leaders in interfaith
efforts in pursuit of social justice. Over the course of his career, he has also led and supported
campaigns for racial justice, economic opportunity, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, human
rights, and a variety of other causes.

During his tenure as a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel of Boston, Rabbi Pesner was a key
leader of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization whose successful health care campaign led
to access for hundreds of thousands of people and became a national model. Rabbi Pesner has
trained and mentored students on all four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion. Rabbi Pesner serves as a board member of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights, JOIN for Justice, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and the New
England Center for Children. He has served as a scholar for the Wexner Foundation, American
Jewish World Service, the Nexus USA Summit, and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Ordained
at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997. Rabbi Pesner was a
congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Westport, CT and is a graduate of Wesleyan University
and the Bronx High School. Dana and Rabbi Pesner currently reside in Bethesda, MD and have
four daughters who are Alumni of The Rashi School, Juliet ’12, Noa ’16, Bobbie ’19, and Cate
’19.

Gavin Alexander (formerly Alexander Fishman) ’99 was recently appointed as the first-ever full
time Fellow of the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being,
where his work involves implementing and guiding the work of the Committee as it seeks to
enhance the well-being and retention in the profession of lawyers, judges and law students,
particularly those from underrepresented populations. Ever since his first day of law school, he
has passionately worked to improve the lives of LGBTQ individuals in Massachusetts and
around the country, and to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Gavin studied Theater and Mathematics at Wesleyan University, and he graduated from
Harvard Law School magna cum laude in 2012. As a law student, Gavin worked with Massachusetts Transgender Legal Advocates providing pro bono civil legal services to
low-income transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, and after law school, Gavin
spent a year as a law clerk for former Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants at the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court. Gavin then worked at the law firm Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston from
2013-2020, where his work focused on complex corporate transactions.
More recently, Gavin has served as a Co-Chair of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association
and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National LGBT Bar Association, and he
presently serves on the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Section Steering
Committee and on the Board of Directors of The Leadership Brainery, a non-profit organized to
help first-generation and diverse college student leaders prepare for and gain access to top
graduate & professional schools.

Gavin was named one of the Best LGBT Attorneys Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar
Association in 2017, selected as one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s 25 “Up & Coming
Lawyers” for 2019, and featured on the Massachusetts Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list for
2018-2020. He was also recently named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation for his
outstanding dedication and leadership both in the legal profession and in service to society.

About The Rashi School
The Rashi School is a Reform Jewish K-8 Independent School located in the Greater Boston
area. Rashi is a leading school that lives by the principles on which it was founded: excellent
academics that integrate secular and Jewish studies, differentiated instruction, a warm,
welcoming community that represents the variety of the greater Boston Jewish community, and
social justice as part of daily life.
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