UJF Announces Recipients of Inaugural Lilly Reiser Scholarship

United Jewish Federation of Stamford, New Canaan, and Darien (UJF) is excited to announce the nine recipients of the inaugural Lilly Reiser Scholarship, with each awardee receiving a $10,000 academic scholarship, renewable for up to four years.

The winning applicants all demonstrated the potential to live up to the example of Lilly Reiser, a person who overcame significant hardship, prized education, and became a responsible and productive citizen and whom the scholoarship is named after.

The 2024-2025 Lilly Reiser Scholarship Awardees:

• Sarah Berk of Stamford, CT. • Yonatan Conn of Plainview, NY, who will attend Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

• Kyra Esrig of New Rochelle, NY, who will attend Harvard College in Cambridge, MA.

• Ava Gell of NY, who will attend Brown University in Providence, RI.

• Reese Johnson of Stamford, CT, who will attend Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.

• Isabelle Kanefsky of Stamford, CT, who will attend Colby College in Waterville, ME.

• Don Mahali of Commack, NY, who will attend Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

• Roni Ziv of NY, who will attend Columbia University in New York, NY.

• Anonymous

Lilly E. Reiser (1924-2020) was born in the small town of Moravska-Ostrava in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (now the Czech Republic). Having suffered the inhumanity and indignity of forced labor and internment during the Holocaust at Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen, Lilly was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen by British soldiers. She emigrated to the United States in 1945 and was only able to obtain her degrees because of the generosity of various Jewish communal organizations that provided her with the scholarships necessary to do so. Lilly completed her undergraduate education at Hunter College and went on to achieve a graduate degree from Columbia University’s New York School of Social Work. She proudly served as a social worker in the New York City Public School system for over 50 years.

Ever thankful for the financial support she received from the organized Jewish community, Lilly wanted to provide similar support to deserving and financially challenged students of Jewish faith.

“The entire process has been so meaningful to participate in. We are very excited to honor Lilly’s memory by fulfilling her wishes to assist young Jews achieve their academic dreams like she did,” said Rachel Haron, UJF Lilly Reiser Scholarship Committee Chair.

United Jewish Federation is proud to have been chosen to administer the Lilly Reiser Scholarship, which provides academic scholarships to Jewish students with need and merit from Connecticut or New York. The application window for the 2025- 2026 Lilly Reiser Scholarship will open in early 2025. For more information, please contact UJF Deputy Director Eric Ross at eric@ujf.org. 

This article appears in the July-August '24 issue of The New Jewish Voice. To receive The New Jewish Voice delivered free to your home, sign-up today at www.ujf.org.