Dedication, inspiration propel Freedman, music director at CDS, to Gordon Award

Dedication, inspiration propel Freedman, music director at CDS, to Gordon Award

Eileen Freedman (right) is congratulated by CDS head of school Avi Baran Munro. (Photo courtesy of Community Day School)
Eileen Freedman (right) is congratulated by CDS head of school Avi Baran Munro. (Photo courtesy of Community Day School)

Eileen Freedman, music director at Community Day School, received the 2016 Ira and Nanette Gordon Community Professional Achievement Award at a program for community professionals on Jan. 7 at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

“This award is a recognition of how important Eileen has been to the Jewish community, not just to Community Day School, but to the entire Jewish community in Pittsburgh,” said Adam Hertzman, director of marketing at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “Jewish education is a vital part of the Jewish community and is critical to a vibrant and thriving Jewish life in Pittsburgh.  Eileen has added music to that vibrant life and made everyone’s lives better in the Pittsburgh Jewish community.”  

Avi Baran Munro, head of school at CDS, praised Freedman and her contributions to CDS.  

“It is rare when an entire school feels the impact of a single teacher, but Eileen Freedman’s impact cannot be understated,” she said. “Eileen has done no less than revolutionize the educational

experience at Community Day School by creating a hands-on, integrated global music program in a Jewish context that inspires our students to love learning music and by organizing events that unite and galvanize our entire community.”

Freedman has been at CDS since 2005.  During that time, she has taught general music, organized the monthly full-school Kabbalat Shabbat service and biannual Zimriah and lead the Drum Olam ensemble that she created.  Outside of school, Freedman has organized music events including communitywide Yom Ha’atzmaut programming and a recent visit by Ugandan Jewish Cantor Rachman Nachman.

Freedman earned a Bachelor of Science in music therapy from Duquesne University and Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh.  Prior to CDS, she served as a music specialist at J&R day camp, Kindermusik educator and cantorial soloist at Tree of Life Congregation and taught Sunday school music at Congregation Beth Shalom.  

In her work at CDS, Freedman has integrated past studies in creative music and movement.  This knowledge stems from workshops and certification courses in world music drumming, Dalcroze (a self-described approach to music education that “teaches an understanding of music — its fundamental concepts, its expressive meanings and its deep connections to other arts and human activities — through groundbreaking techniques incorporating rhythmic movement, aural training and physical, vocal and instrumental improvisation”) and Orff Schulwerk, a creative music and movement approach developed by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman.

On winning the Gordon Award, Freedman claimed, “I am both thrilled and honored to be receiving this level of recognition in our community. To know that my work in music education is valued so highly in the school and Jewish community gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride, and receiving this award as a music educator speaks volumes about the importance of the arts in the lives of our students.

“I am honored to be counted among the list of awardees.  I am really humbled that I was counted among those past winners.”

Most recent recipients include Emily Richman, Rabbi Sam Weinberg and Jennifer S. Friedman.  

Established in 2000 through an endowment by Ira and Nanette Gordon, the award may be given annually to a professional, early in his or her career, who has demonstrated outstanding service to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, its nine beneficiary agencies and the Jewish community in Pittsburgh and overseas.  (Nanette Gordon passed away on Monday. See her obituary on page 19.) According to the Federation, the award recipient must, as a recognized role model, inspire service on behalf of the Jewish community.

“This award recognizes the often underappreciated heroes among Jewish professionals,” said Hertzman, “The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh supports a large number of Jewish organizations, so we get the chance to work with these professionals every day.  Eileen is a great example of the extremely high level of professionalism and dedication that Jewish professionals bring to their jobs every day.”

Peter Gordon, whose parents endowed the award, added, “Eileen is a shining example of the incredible leadership we have in the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh’s agencies.”

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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