Press Releases


October 15, 2013

Jewish Educator Awards Surprise Top Talent at Four Schools With Honor – and $15,000 Prize

Milken Family Foundation celebrates educators who prepare students for both 21st-century success and the Jewish tradition’s age-old values

SANTA MONICA, CA (Oct. 15, 2013) – Four LA-area Jewish day school educators received the surprise of a lifetime today with an honor they didn’t even apply for—the Milken Jewish Educator Award (JEA) and its $15,000 unrestricted financial prize. The four include:

  • Deborah Raskin, principal at Or HaChaim Academy, an Orthodox elementary school for girls and boys with a middle school for boys in North Hollywood.
  • Mickey Rabinov, Hebrew and Judaic studies teacher and administrator, at Beth Hillel, a K-6 Reform Jewish day school in Valley Village.
  • Osnat Bernstein, middle school Hebrew teacher at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School, a K-8 Jewish community school in Northridge.
  • Benny Ferdman, founding artistic director and visual arts teacher for grades 9-12 at New Community Jewish High School in West Hills.

(Note: Clicking on recipients' names above will open their notification photo galleries.)

During all-school assemblies at each campus, Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler, who also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation involved students in the presentation, together with BJE Executive Director Dr. Gil Graff.

The Jewish Educator Awards initiative was established in 1990 by the Milken Family Foundation, in cooperation with BJE: Builders of Jewish Education, to provide public recognition and unrestricted $15,000 cash awards to teachers, administrators and other education professionals in the Greater Los Angeles area who have made significant contributions to excellence in day schools affiliated with BJE.   

According to Sandler, “The Jewish Educator Awards call upon others in the profession to emulate the high standards of those we honor today – educators whose intelligence, scholarship, creativity and compassion help guide children to greater success, while preserving the heritage that gives meaning to that success.”  

Award recipients are selected by a committee of educators, professional and lay leaders from the Jewish community. To be eligible for consideration, educators must teach a minimum of 15 hours per week at the kindergarten through 12th grade level; they must have been teaching for a minimum of seven years in a BJE-affiliated school; and they must hold a class "A" or higher scale rating (for Judaic teachers) or a state teaching credential (for general studies teachers).

Criteria considered for the selection of Jewish Educator Award recipients include:

  • Exceptional educational talent and promise, as demonstrated by outstanding practices in the classroom, school and community.
  • Evidence of originality, dedication and capacity for leadership and self-direction.
  • Commitment to influencing policies that affect children, their families and schools.
  • Strong long-range potential for even greater contribution to children, the profession and society.
  • Distinguished achievement in developing innovative educational curricula, programs and/or teaching methods.
  • Outstanding ability to instill in students character and self-confidence.
  • Outstanding ability to develop Jewish children's understanding of the connections between their religion, their classroom activities, and their activities beyond the classroom.
  • Commitment to professional development and excellence and the continuing Judaic and/or secular study necessary for it.
  • Personal involvement in responding to the needs of the Jewish and secular communities.
  • Criteria for administrators also include outstanding ability to attract, support and motivate committed education professionals.

Recipients, together with their families and community leaders, will be honored during an awards luncheon in Los Angeles on December 17, 2013.  The event is known for its inclusiveness, bringing together people from the most secular to the most Orthodox in the Jewish community.

For more information about the Jewish Educator Awards, visit www.jewisheducatorawards.org.

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