Press Release – A Surprise plus $15,000 Each for New Recipients of Jewish Educator Awards

Press Releases

November 03, 2014

A Surprise plus $15,000 Each for New Recipients of Jewish Educator Awards

Exemplary educators at Cheder Menachem and Shalhevet High School are the latest to be honored by Milken Family Foundation

SANTA MONICA, CA – What started out as a typical school day turned into the surprise of a lifetime for two Los Angeles Jewish day school educators – Cheder Menachem head of school Rabbi Menachem Mendel Greenbaum and Shalhevet High School math teacher Katya Malikov. Each was honored with the Milken Jewish Educator Award as an exemplar of excellence before cheering students and colleagues. The accolade comes with a $15,000 unrestricted prize.

  • Under Rabbi Menachem Mendel Greenbaum’s leadership, enrollment has nearly doubled enrollment at Cheder Menachem, an Orthodox boys’ school affiliated with Chabad. He has implemented education best practices including professional development for faculty, data-driven achievement and evaluation practices, and the integration of computers into both general and Torah studies. Rabbi Greenbaum has spearheaded expanded development efforts as well as raised important scholarship funds. The school has been recognized by Chabad’s national education initiative, the Menachem Education Foundation.
  • Even students known to have feared math in the past thrive under teacher Katya Malikov, who supports and encourages young minds to tackle rigorous, challenging math courses at the Orthodox Shalhevet High School. Students learn to think clearly, reason logically and apply their skills to new situations as they advance towards mastery in algebra, calculus and geometry. She refuses to give up on a student, willingly working with those needing additional tutelage before and after school. As chair of the Math Department, Malikov mentors new teachers and sets high standards for faculty instruction, professionalism and commitment schoolwide.

During all-school assemblies at each campus, Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler involved students in the presentation, together with BJE Executive Director Dr. Gil Graff.

During packed assemblies at each campus, Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler discussed the importance of talented educators not just to schools, but to our greater society. “To me, the most elegant title one can be called is ‘teacher’ because teachers change the world.”

Greenbaum and Malikov join the ranks of 2014 Jewish Educator Award recipients along with kindergarten teacher, peer mentor and technology leader Ariela Nehemne at Valley Beth Shalom and physical education coach Barry Schapira at Brawerman Elementary School West. The four will be celebrated, together with their families and community leaders, during an awards luncheon on December 16, 2014. The event is known for its inclusiveness, bringing together people from the most secular to the most Orthodox in the Jewish community.

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.

CONTACT: Bonnie Somers, (310) 570-4770 or

Jewish Educator Awards