Larry Diamond Memorial
Human Rights Shabbaton

Human Rights Shabbat 5780
December 14, 2019

featuring the Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award

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What is HBT’s Human Rights Shabbat?

Since 2009 our congregation has participated in Human Rights Shabbat, a project of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. In 2011, T’ruah honored our rabbi as a Rabbinic Human Rights Hero. Each year, we hear from a leader in one aspect of Human Rights work. We have been honored to learn about a range of human rights issues in the US and worldwide, including the plight of refugees, criminal justice reform, and the impact of climate change on poorer countries and individuals. Our congregation initiated the idea of using The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the place of the haftarah, or prophetic reading, for the day.

In 2014, we added the Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award to our Human Rights Shabbat events, and dedicated the entire Shabbaton to Larry’s memory.

the Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award

Are you a young social justice activist?

The Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award honors a young member of the HBT community who has made a longstanding commitment to a cause or to an organization that works to repair the world. One intention of the award is to inspire more young people to get involved. The awardee receives a small financial award from the Larry M. Diamond Fund at HBT, a commemorative certificate, and travel expenses up to $200. In addition to speaking to the congregation, they also address the Chaverim School students. This award honors the legacy of Larry M. Diamond, who was chair of the Tikkun Olam Committee at HBT for two years until his death in 2013.

HBT seeks students in high school through age 26 to apply for the
to be awarded at the Annual Human Rights Shabbat at Hillel B'nai Torah
Saturday, December 14, 2019

  • The award is open to anyone from high school to age 26 who is a current member of the HBT community. Candidates will submit an essay describing a longtime project, volunteer activity or other commitment to social justice work, why they got involved, and what they have learned.

  • Candidates will supply one recommendation from someone who has supervised or worked with them in the project or activity described.

  • Candidates must be available to come to HBT for the weekend of Human Rights Shabbat, December 14-15. The honoree will speak during the Shabbat morning service, be our guest for lunch with our Human Rights Shabbat speaker, and then address our students on Sunday morning.

Deadline for submission is October 19, 2019

Send all materials to:
Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award
Temple Hillel B'nai Torah
120 Corey Street
West Roxbury, MA 02132


Many thanks to Larry Diamond's family, including his son, Jonathan, brothers Darryl and Jeff, and partner Linda Chernick, for making this award possible.

Previous Honorees

2016 Julian Cranberg

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As a Latin American Studies major at Oberlin College, Julian always expected he would study abroad for a semester during his junior year. He spent the semester in Tucson, Arizona and in the Borderlands between Mexico and the United Statesstudying in the Border Studies Program sponsored by Earlham College. There, he worked with both La Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (The Human Rights Coalition) and No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths). He became so committed to this work that he exceeded the 12 hour work requirement and frequently put in 20 hours or more on top of studying, participating in a homestay experience, and other community commitments.As a final project, Julian created The Borderlands Haggadah, chronicling some of his experiences and drawing a connection between the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the migration of Mexicanxs and Centroamericanxs through the deserts of the Borderlands to the United States.

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2015 Rachel Klepper
2015's honoree is Rachel Klepper, a graduate of Boston University who is the Director of Content and Learning at DC Scores, an after-school program in fifty schools in Washington, D.C. that empowers primarily low-income elementary and middle school students through self-expression, physical fitness and a sense of community. Rachel credits her experience teaching in the Chaverim School for her interest in working with youth.

In his letter of recommendation for Rachel, Sean Hinkle, Chief Program Officer of DC Scores wrote, that Rachel “is a perfect balance of dedication, resilience, thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, and creativity that allows her to positively contribute to everything that she is a part of….she is now taking on a greater leadership role and able to create an even greater impact in the lives of DC youth by training our coaches in ways to best implement our program.”


2014 Tali Smookler
Tali Smookler received the first Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award as part of Human Right Shabbat on December 12, 2014. With a full house, we heard how she became passionate about working on environmental issues and her advice for social justice activists. On Sunday, she shared her story with Chaverim School students from grades 5 - 8. Tali grew up at Hillel B’nai Torah, attending Shabbat services every week with her family. She attended the Solomon Schechter Day School, Gann Academy and Brandeis University.

Tali has been interested in the environment since a young age; in high school, she spent her summers volunteering on Newton Community Farm, and worked at the Waltham Recycling Department. During her college freshman summer of college, Tali deepened her involvement with green issues with New England Climate Summer during which she biked with a team of four other college students across the state of Massachusetts, community organizing around climate change in each of the eight cities they stayed in. That summer, she developed a clear understanding of the reality and urgency that the threat of climate change poses to humans, our planet, and social justice, and also gained skills in community organizing that she could use to continue to be involved once the program ended. Back on campus, Tali continued to be a leader in climate activism through a student group called Students for a Just and Stable Future through a variety of campaigns, and has spent summers working at the Brandeis Office of Sustainability, the EPA, the Massachusetts State House, and the Sierra Club. 

After graduating Brandeis in 2013, Tali became a fellow in the launch year of a new Jewish year-in-service fellowship called Repair the World. At Repair the World, she worked to mobilize Philadelphians to get involved with their community and with social justice issues, focusing on food justice. Through a partnership with the Jewish Farm School, she launched the Philly Farm Crew in Spring 2014, an initiative that organizing volunteer opportunities at a variety of urban farms in Philadelphia while providing community building and educational components to the work. Her passion for environmental work stems from how these issues are related to social justice, how they impact people, and how they are related to larger systemic inequalities.

Who was Larry Diamond?

Larry came to HBT with his partner, Linda Chernick, after over fifty years of Jewish engagement and social justice activism. Larry grew up in Chicago with his parents and two brothers, and was drawn to all kinds of learning. He became a consultant and a professor and a life-long-activist. Larry combined integrity and commitment to progressive values with a deep spiritual side that he nurtured throughout his life.  

Larry and Linda quickly became leaders in our community, helping to shape adult study and spiritual life, encouraging the creation of a men’s group, and generating more congregational involvement in Tikkun Olam. As chair of HBT’s Tikkun Olam committee, Larry Diamond worked tirelessly year-round to draw attention to a wide variety of issues. He convened an important community meeting addressing gun violence in the city of Boston, and also arranged a neighborhood meeting with candidates in the 2013 Boston mayoral election. That drew a large crowd from the community. As a citizen, activist, advocate, teacher, and leader, Larry ambitiously changed the landscape of our culture, often attacking several issues at once.

Following Larry’s untimely death in October 2013, the Diamond family, along with Linda’s brother, contributed a generous gift to Hillel B’nai Torah in Larry’s memory to support the annual Human Rights Shabbat.  This gift also established the Larry M. Diamond Tikkun Olam Youth Award, which is awarded on the Friday night of the Human Rights Shabbaton. Now the weekend is filled with Tikkun Olam awareness and action.