Press Releases


November 05, 2001

Five Outstanding Jewish Educators Surprised with $10,000 Awards

Five outstanding Jewish educators in the Los Angeles area got the surprise of their lives when they were presented with $10,000 financial awards during notification events for the Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards.

These recipients had no idea they were even considered for the honor until Foundation officers Dr. Julius Lesner and Richard Sandler announced the first four at surprise assemblies held on October 24 at each educatorís school, joined by Dr. Gil Graff of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles.

Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken surprised the final recipient at Shalhevet School on November 1, marking the 60th presentation of this Award in the programís 12-year history.

"Every day, Jewish educators nurture the development not only of their students' minds, but also their character and identity," said Mr. Milken. "These Award recipients hold the standard of excellence high so that both religious and secular societies may respect and share in it, and students may value and aspire to it."

The honored educators are:

  • Judaic studies teacher Frida Eytanís Tu BíShevat program encourages her students at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles to help Israel, so each year students raise money to plant 400 trees there. Ms. Eytan, who has taught at Sinai Akiba for 22 years, also helped implement the innovative Tal Sela Hebrew curriculum, a brain-based model that aids student learning in all subjects;

  • Carol Goldman, a math specialist for the past 10 years at Stephen S. Wise Day School in Los Angeles, helps each of her students become intellectual risk-takers by encouraging them to try new things and not fear mistakes. She has instituted a sixth grade Probability Fair and a Math Magazine created by fifth- and sixth-graders for younger students;

  • In Vered Hopenstandís classroom at Shalhevet School in Los Angeles, Hebrew is the only language that is spoken. Her unique gifts as both a Hebrew language teacher and program coordinator are widely recognized, offering the opportunity for her to participate in the development of a new national Hebrew language curriculum being developed for high schools;

  • Rabbi Shmuel Jacobs, Jewish studies teacher at Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn in Los Angeles, reinforces his schoolís Torah studies curriculum and continuity between home and school. He builds community and develops his studentsí Jewish identities by visiting students in their homes each month; and

  • Jan Saltsman has transformed her classroom into a farm and a grocery store to develop a second grade curriculum that focuses on helping young children develop an understanding of the interdependence of people. With 30 years of teaching experience, Ms. Saltsman, now a lead teacher at Heschel Day School in Agoura Hills, evaluates other teachers, and helped coordinate the implementation of an integrated secular and Judaic curriculum.

Selected by a committee of educators and community leaders who have a long-standing concern for and involvement with education in Jewish schools, Award recipients 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.

They also demonstrate an outstanding ability to develop Jewish childrenís understanding of the connection between religion, classroom activities and life outside of school.

"Jewish educators nurture inquiry and exploration, and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and the acquisition of skills," Dr. Graff said. "These educators also model and convey such values as integrity and responsibility, respect and concern for others and for the world of which they and their students are a part."

The Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Awards were established in 1990 in cooperation with the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Los Angeles (BJE).

The program offers public and financial recognition to education professionals who have made significant contributions to excellence in education in BJE-affiliated day schools.

Nearly 10,000 students are enrolled in the regionís 35 BJE-affiliated schools, and more than 20,000 students attend part-time religious schools or early childhood education programs.