Gabrielle Murrell, one of the 48 students to receive a scholarship from the Springfield Council of Jewish Women on June 11 stands with Bobby Naimark. She will attend Springfield College in the fall.
Reminder Publishing photo by Sarah Heinonen

Nearly 50 students will have an easier time paying for college this fall with scholarships totaling $70,000 from the Springfield Council of Jewish Women.

The scholarships were awarded to students from Springfield, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Hampden, Agawam, West Springfield, Ludlow and Chicopee. Selection of the 48 scholarship recipients was based on academics, financial need and community involvement. Among the 2024-25 recipients were people who were going into medicine, engineering, teaching and the art. Many had grade point averages higher than 4.0, were members of honor societies and or had worked jobs while attending school, said Ann Cowan of the Springfield Council of Jewish Women.

Cowan hosted a June 11 awards breakfast at Sinai Temple for the recipients. “This is a difficult time to be Jewish,” she said, noting that there was a police officer posted outside of the room. After pointing out that the scholarship recipients came from all religious backgrounds, Cowan asked that if the students encountered people at college protesting against the Jewish people, “remember us.”

The keynote speaker at the event was Matt Katz, the associate department chair, undergraduate program director and associate professor at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “As a faculty member at UMass, I see the impact on the students. These scholarships are life changing,” he said.

Katz attended Sinai Temple as a child and said that while he didn’t remember much of what was taught, he did remember the people. He said, “Experiencing something with others makes it more special.” Katz called the collegiate experience, “transformative” and told the students, “Experiences don’t have to be economic or in service of what’s next. Some are just fun.” While there will be an “exhaustive” number of decisions to make, he urged them to “embrace the absurd” occasionally and “enjoy something just for the sake of enjoyment.”

Fran Grosnick, a member of the committee that reviewed the scholarship applications and selected the winners, commented, “It’s wonderful. It’s great to be able to do this and give to these young people.”

Since the Springfield Council of Jewish Women began awarding scholarships., about 1,500 college-bound high school seniors and college students have received more than $2.5 million to help with their education. The scholarships are funded through private donations.