Teen honored with Bryna Zehngut award

Sarah Schultz, right, presents the Bryna Zehngut Mitzvot Award to Sarah Cassius at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Women’s Philanthropy Connections brunch. (Martha Lochert)

The advisory council of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona Women’s Philanthropy awarded Sarah Cassius its ninth annual Bryna Zehngut Mitzvot Award at the annual Connections brunch on Sunday, Feb. 22.

The award recognizes an outstanding Jewish teenage girl. The council, which includes past Womenís Philanthropy chairs and campaign chairs, created the award in partnership with friends of the late Zehngut to honor her example as a community leader.

Sarah, the daughter of Mark and Jennifer Cassius, is a senior at Catalina Foothills High School. She was nominated for the award by Rabbi Robert Eisen of Congregation Anshei Israel. As a student at Tucson Hebrew High, Sarah has always brought “insight, sincerity, warmth and cheerfulness to the classroom,” Eisen wrote in his nomination letter. She has served in leadership roles in her local United Synagogue Youth chapter, currently serves as the executive/programming vice president for the Far West United Synagogue Youth’s regional board and was the Far West USY delegate for the USY International Convention in December.

Sarah has participated in her high school’s speech and debate club, winning the title of state champion in public forum debate and sixth place in prose interpretation in March 2014. She is also a participant in the B’nai Tzedek teen philanthropy program. She was a camp counselor at Camp Ramah in California last summer and recently represented the camp as a teen leader participant at the Song Leader Bootcamp in St. Louis.

At the Connections event, Sarah received a gift of $613, relating to the Jewish tradition of 613 mitzvot, which she plans to donate to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger and to Anshei Israel’s Youth Department to ensure that the USY chapter’s level of religious, educational and social action programming is maintained. She was also presented with a Julie Szerina Stein print that was personalized for the Bryna Zehngut Mitzvot Award.