The Chernin Award is presented each year to an American Jew whose life work best exemplifies the social justice imperatives of Judaism, Jewish history, and the protection of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment. This award celebrates the achievements of its recipient, whose ideals symbolize the principles embodied by the work of JCPA. This award is named after Albert C. Chernin, Executive Vice Chair of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (now the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) from 1975-1990. Chernin’s leadership created a far reaching impact on American policy in the areas of church-state, civil rights, immigration, Israel, and Soviet Jewry.
Dr. David Luchins, chair of the Political Science Department at Touro College, has helped represent the Orthodox Union since his College days almost 5 decades ago. His interest in Social Justice and Communal Service was first shaped by his involvement in the Orthodox Union’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) where he served as National Social Action Chair during High School, and was deeply strengthened by his exposure to two inspirational Rabbis, Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Aharon Soloveichick, at his undergraduate years at Yeshiva College. Rabbi Aharon Soloveichick became his lifelong spiritual mentor and was largely responsible for David’s tenacious and outspoken belief in the primacy Toraho-imbued social justice for all peoples. Dr. Luchins served on the staff of United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan for twenty years as special assistant, senior assistant, and ultimately senior advisor to the senator. Prior to that, he served on the 1972 presidential campaign staff of Senator Hubert Humphrey and as a National Vice Chairperson of Democrats for Nixon. He is active in Jewish communal life, having served as vice-president of the Orthodox Union since 1976, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs since 1988. He served in the past on National Commissions of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Fund for Justice. Dr. Luchins earned his Doctorate form the CUNY Graduate Center in 1977 where he studied under Professor John Stoessinger and Arthur Slessenger Junior. He has been Chair of the Political Science Department of Touro College and University system since 1978 and served as Founding Dean of Touro College’s Lander College for Women (LCW) – The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School. Dr. Luchins has mentored students at the LCW for well over 40 years. Touro is an annual sponsor of the JCPA Plenum and LCW students have addressed the Plenum’s Chairs Dinner for the past decade. Dr. Luchins’ students share his passion for social justice and human rights and his graduates are active in Jewish Communal life, education, law and government throughout North America and Israel. David Luchins spends his summers as a guest instructor at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and is a frequent speaker at high schools, college campuses, synagogues, and communal groups throughout North America, lecturing on a broad range of political and social issues. David Luchins met his wife Vivian when they were both high school officers in NCSY and have remained deeply involved in the Orthodox Union’s youth program throughout North America and Israel. The Luchins’ are proud that all five of their children follow in their parents footsteps and are deeply involved in their local Jewish Communities.