All too often, educators – who are so vital to the learning experiences of students – are not recognized for the significant work that they do. Through the generosity of several community philanthropists, BJE is able to recognize excellence in Jewish education by honoring exemplary educators.
Milken Jewish Educator Awards
Since 1990, the Milken Family Foundation has annually sponsored Jewish Educator Awards, spotlighting outstanding day school educators at BJE-accredited schools. Each year, four educators receive the prestigious awards, including prizes of $15,000 each, at a luncheon hosted by the Milken Family Foundation.
In 1997, the late Simha and Sara Lainer, long-time supporters of Jewish education, established annual awards recognizing exemplary Jewish educators in early childhood and Part-Time Jewish education (Religious Schools). Up to three awards, including prizes of $2,500, are presented to distinguished educators in both educational settings. Early Childhood Lainer award winners receive their recognition at annual professional development conferences, before hundreds of colleagues. Religious School Lainer award winners receive their recognition during an assembly at their school, and in front of the school’s/synagogues board.
In 2002, Dr. Marvin & Mehry and Thom & Iris Smotrich established the Smotrich Family Foundation Award of Merit for excellence to recognize new teachers in the field (2-5 years) who have demonstrated excellence in teaching instruction and show great promise. Two Smotrich awards are given in Part-Time Jewish Education and one award in Early Childhood Education annually. Recipients receive $1,000, and their schools receive $500 in the awardees’ honor.