Oro Valley teen to receive Zehngut award

Rachel Knox

Rachel Knox will receive the 2012 Bryna Zehngut Mitzvot Award, which honors an outstanding Jewish teenage girl, at the Women’s Philanthropy Connections brunch on Feb. 19.

The award, which honors a late community leader, was created by the advisory council of Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona — made up of past Women’s Philanthropy chairs and campaign chairs — in partnership with Zehngut’s closest friends. “Bryna personified the greatest assets of the human spirit, displaying sincerity, generosity, compassion, wisdom and righteousness,” Fern Marmis, who co-chaired the inaugural awards committee, said in announcing the award’s creation in December 2006.

Knox, daughter of Robert and Michele Knox, is a junior at Ironwood Ridge High School. As the child of interfaith parents, Rachel chose to follow the path of her Jewish roots at age 10.

Rachel’s leadership in Jewish communal life and in the greater Tucson community, tzedakah (righteous giving) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) were keys to her becoming this year’s recipient. Rachel is a member of the Teen Advisory Council for the B’nai Tzedek youth philanthropy program. She is also the founder and president of Ironwood Teens Against Bullying, a student group that partners with district administrators and law enforcement to present assemblies, workshops and after-school activities to the neighboring middle school. Among her volunteer activities, she is a team leader of the Tucson Community Cares Foundation, a Parent-Teacher Organization tutor, and a volunteer with Adopt-A-BAirman, a group which provides “voice chip” teddy bears for children of deploying airmen and women. Rachel is a teacher’s assistant in the Hebrew and religious school programs at Congregation Or Chadash, a competitive hip hop dancer and is currently on the Ironwood High School track team.

The Women’s Philanthropy Connections brunch — featuring actress, author, Ph.D. and holistic parenting advocate Mayim Bialik — will be held at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Rachel will receive a gift of $613, relating to the Jewish tradition of 613 mitzvot, which she plans to use to further develop leadership skills for herself and two other teenage girls at the NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth) leadership training institution. She also will receive a Julie Szerina Stein print that was personalized for the Bryna Zehngut Mitzvot Award.