Annually, the Jewish Community of Louisville recognizes teens who have demonstrated exemplary leadership skills in BBYO throughout their high school experiences with the Stuart Pressma Leadership Development Awards. This year, Pressma Awards will go to Rachel Bass, Eli Gould, Ben Koby, Deborah Levin and Maggie Rosen.
The Pressma Awards were created to honor the memory of Stuart Pressma, an influential young leader who deeply valued leadership development. In addition to recognizing the leadership and achievements of these students, Pressma Awards include college scholarships.
The Pressma Awards will be presented at the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Annual Meeting, Sunday, June 1 at 10 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center. The community is invited.
Graduating Ballard High School, senior Rachel Bass is proud that as president during her junior year, she restored Louisville’s Jay Levine BBG to holding the role of number one chapter again. She has attended 11 regional conventions and has taken part in almost every local Jewish teen opportunity. Having joined BBYO in the second half of her 8th grade year, Bass feels that this award emblematic of her journey of faith and self-actualization as a devoted, young Jewish leader in this community.
At Ballard, she has been a member of the National Honor Society for two years and of Beta Club for three years, the past two of which she has served as vice president. In addition to planning community service projects, Bass also enjoys peer tutoring for Mu Alpha Theta, a national mathematics honor society.
Bass’ favorite activity at Ballard has been participating in The Collage, Ballard’s student-produced creative writing magazine. She started working with The Collage her sophomore year and became editor the following year.
Last summer, Bass worked for Camp Beber in Wisconsin.
Next year, Bass will be pursuing her love of writing and editing by working toward a journalism degree at the University of Illinois’ College of Media. She currently has aspirations to edit for magazines such as Seventeen Magazine or Teen Vogue.
Bass is also considering a minor in psychology to gain “insight into the human psyche.”
The University of Illinois has a substantial Jewish population, which was one of Bass’ major criteria when considering colleges. Sometime during her college career, she hopes to study abroad and travel to Israel, maybe on a Birthright Israel trip.
For Bass, receiving the Pressma Award is “kind of a nostalgic feeling. I would hope that any senior who is graduating would be in my position.” She is grateful that this award provides seniors with recognition that validates such a meaningful journey of faith.
Bass also was the recipient of the Ellen Faye Garmon Award during her junior year. She is the daughter of Karen and Eric Bass and has one younger brother, Justin. The Basses are members of Keneseth Israel.
Eli Gould is a graduating athletic star from Kentucky Country Day School (KCD), who believes in leaving a legacy behind for his peers. Starting as a freshman, he played varsity goalie for lacrosse all four years of high school.
Gould was involved with the chess team for a brief period of time, as a way to practice critical thinking. A leader who thrives taking initiative, Gould started the Ultimate Frisbee Group at KCD last year, which now has 17 members.
Technologically inclined, Gould feels fulfillment for his active role in setting up KCD’s fabrication laboratory, or Fab Lab, that will benefit students even after he graduates. Fab Lab, which has cutting-edge features like 3D printers and laser cutters, allows students to make a variety of objects.
They are free for any student to use, “and the only thing anybody is really limited by is their own motivation to make what they want,” within reason, Eli said. He has made a ukulele with the 3D printer as well as a more complicated ukulele with the laser cutter.
“People have made practical things like soap holders for their bathroom or doorstoppers” as well as a variety of artistic items. Eli hopes more schools implement programs like this in the future to make students more excited about learning.
For the final two weeks of his KCD career, he is participating in a special program which pairs him with a professional mentor at GE for a unique learning opportunity.
In the Jewish community, Gould also assumed responsibility early in BBYO. He credits BBYO with enabling him to flourish, growing from a shy seventh grader into the budding leader he is today. He quickly became secretary of Drew Corson AZA, and later held the offices of vice president and president. “It helped prepare me for college and life after college,” he reflected.
Gould has attended around 15 regional conventions, and locally, has sought out every opportunity available over the past four years.
This year, he ventured to his first BBYO International Convention in Dallas, which drew 3,000 Jewish teens. Gould appreciated the chance to make global Jewish connections.
Just as Gould is leaving a positive impact on KCD, he is excited to have helped turn a chapter that had around seven active members to one that now has over 50 committed Jewish teens. The chapter doubled almost every term Gould served on the board. Now, he declares Drew Corson AZA has become one of the largest chapters in the region, “a force to be reckoned with.”
“All the fun that I had is great, but being able to realize where my chapter is now compared to where it was five years ago is awesome,” Gould says. “It’s nice to now that I’m leaving my chapter in a state where I can say with some confidence that it’ll be around for awhile.”
Next year, Gould will be attending the Miami University of Ohio, where he intends to pursue computer science and mechanical engineering.
Last December, Gould was the recipient of an award for godol, President of the Year for the Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio (K-I-O) region. Internationally, he received the Bronze Shield of David Award and the Silver Shield of David Award.
He is the son of Ken and Pam Gould, has a twin sister, Hannah, and a younger brother, Ben. The Goulds are members of The Temple.
Ben Koby’s experience as a graduating senior from DuPont Manual High School was fundamentally molded by his involvement with the Jewish community. Through connections he made through BBYO, Koby was recruited to join the wrestling team in his freshman year, and he competed in the sport all four years of high school.
In addition to wrestling, Koby was a member of Manual’s football team his freshman year and ran track freshman and sophomore year. He welcomed the athletic challenges.
Koby will always remember the first overnight he went to as an 8th grader, which led to him joining BBYO in the spring of that year. “I thought it was absolutely incredible that all these high schoolers, who seemed huge to me at the time, wanted to hang out with me,” Koby recalls. It was the second BBYO event he had ever participated in, and still remains a favorite.
That overnight was just the beginning. From the fall of 2011 to the beginning of 2013, Koby served as Drew Corson AZA chapter president three times. Koby also served on the Jewish Community of Louisville’s (JCL) Teen Committee during his presidency.
In addition, he was secretary during the fall of 2010, vice president of recruitment during the spring of 2011, and vice president of Jewish heritage and community service during the spring of 2013.
Last year, Koby went on the March of the Living to Israel and Poland – a two week educational opportunity for Jewish teens to learn about the Holocaust. He has traveled extensively across the United States for Jewish activities attending 10-15 conventions.
Koby will be a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of this next year. Currently, he is planning for a dual degree in both electrical engineering and statistics.
Last year, Koby was the recipient of the Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award.
He is the son of Risa and Chuck Koby and has one younger brother, Alex Koby. The Kobys are members of Adath Jeshurun.
When graduating senior Deborah Levin speaks of her time at DuPont Manual High School, there is a palpable enthusiasm. Levin has endeavored to make the most out of her high school experience. She has played lacrosse all four years, and for three years, has been active in Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), where she served the chapter as vice president for parliamentary law and president. She also went to an FCCLA national conference last summer in Nashville, TN.
This year, Levin has been a member of Key Club and, in her freshman year, BETA Club.
In January of 2010, Levin joined BBYO, and for four and a half years, she has been an active member of Jay Levine BBG. She also worked at Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad, where her mother Laura Levin also works.
These Jewish experiences have truly shaped Levin’s sense of self. “Joining BBYO and getting that experience and going out of town and seeing other Jewish teens from around the world has made me more of a proud Jew and a more understanding Jew,” she stated. “I really want to continue my Jewish involvement with the community and… for the rest of my life.”
As Levin graduates, she will take with her the satisfaction of having helped Jay Levine BBG to expand its membership and strengthen its bond. Levin was an officer for recruitment on the chapter board and encouraged a lot of girls to join who were reluctant to form any ties to BBYO.
With Levin’s persistence and amiability, now “those are the people who are leading our chapter – the ones who have fallen in love with BBYO.” It was crucial to her to create an “environment where there were Jewish people just like them that they could get to know and love, just like I did.”
Levin will attend the University of Cincinnati, where she plans to major in marketing. She will carry with her a continued passion for learning about Judaism.
In fact, Levin ideally would like to take Hebrew as her foreign language, taking her to either study abroad in Israel or take a Birthright Israel trip. Israel is “definitely on the bucket list.”
Ultimately, Levin wants to come back to Louisville and use her marketing skills for a Jewish organization.
She is the daughter of Laura and Gary Levin and has one sister, Emily. The Levins are members of Keneseth Israel.
Maggie Rosen is about to graduate from Kentucky Country Day School, where she has been a student for the past twelve years.
She has been playing field hockey for KCD since she was in 6th grade, and started as varsity goalie this year. Additionally, she leads the Union of Jewish Athletes Club there, the activities club, and is a part of the community service club.
Not only is Rosen an active member of BBYO in Louisville (she has been one since the spring of her 8th grade year), she also is involved internationally.
Rosen served as the president of Jay Levine BBG in Louisville during her sophomore year and has held other board positions for the chapter.
She also served on BBYO’s K-I-O regional board. As recruitment chair during her junior year, Rosen was responsible for recruiting BBYO members in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. “Seeing that my passion can be passed on to other people and inspiring them to be more in touch with their Jewish faith has been one of the coolest things,” she said, which is why Rosen was the perfect fit for recruitment chair.
Ever since her freshman year, Rosen has traveled to programs such as summer camp in Wisconsin, where she received training in chapter leadership. Rosen brought those skills back to Louisville and applied them when she served as president of Jay Levine BBG.
She was also had the opportunity to tour and discover Israel last summer with BBYO, which was “a great way to gain leadership skills, but also apply them to Israel and [her] Jewish faith.”
Rosen will attend Indiana University in Bloomington in the fall. She is already involved in Human Development and Family Studies, a branch of psychology, in the School of Public Health, in which she plans to major. Her ambitions currently lie with the goal of a type of private practice for family and relationships counseling.
Rosen loves the city of Louisville and hopes to return. She plans to instill a deep-seated connection to Judaism as a legacy for her future family (who she dreams will also be members of The Temple).
Last year, Rosen received the Ellen Faye Garmon Award.
She is the daughter of Penny and Mark Rosen and has one younger sister, Lindsay Rosen. The Rosens are members of The Temple.