Press Releases


November 03, 1999

Five Outstanding Jewish Educators Notified of Surprise $10,000 Awards

10th Annual Presentation of Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards Recognizes Excellence in Jewish Education in Southern California

Five outstanding Jewish educators in the Los Angeles area were named the latest recipients of a $10,000 unrestricted financial award - the Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award - during notification events on November 2.

The educators are:

  • Irit Eliyahu, principal, Temple Emanuel Day School, Beverly Hills

  • Bonita Selk, Jewish and General Studies teacher, Pressman Academy, Los Angeles

  • Malca Schwarzmer, teacher and Judaic Studies principal, Yeshiva Ohr Eliyahu, Culver City

  • Rabbi Aron Tendler, Judaic Studies teacher, YULA Boys School, Los Angeles

  • Shawn Watanabe, Math teacher, Milken Middle School, Los Angeles

The five recipients were surprised by this prestigious award, for which they cannot apply. The educators did not know they were being recognized until their names were announced by Milken Family Foundation officers Dr. Julius Lesner and Richard Sandler and Dr. Gil Graff, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles, during school assemblies held throughout the day.

"These educators hold a high standard of excellence for Jewish students, not only in their secular education, but in their understanding and appreciation of Jewish history and culture," said Milken Family Foundation Chairman and President Lowell Milken. "We believe their efforts should be acknowledged and rewarded."

The Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards were established in 1990 in cooperation with the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles. Each year, the program offers major financial recognition to teachers, administrators and other education professionals who have made significant contributions to excellence in education in day schools affiliated with the Bureau of Jewish Education. Since 1989, 50 awards have been given to Los Angeles-area Jewish educators.

Selected by a committee of educators and community leaders who have a long-standing concern for and involvement with education in Jewish schools, these educators reflect the highest ideals of Jewish and secular education, fostering the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and nurturing a value system that can guide students through adulthood. Recipients also demonstrate an outstanding ability to develop Jewish children's understanding of the connection between religion, classroom activities and life outside of school.