In 1994 the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) established the Jewish Educators Award as a way of acknowledging the work of outstanding educators who work in the field of Jewish education. The Award is presented annually to honor these individuals for the high quality of their work, their professional leadership, their community involvement and support of their schools’ families.
MFF, led by co-founder Lowell Milken believes that a Jewish Day School education will nourish a child’s Jewish identity as it guides the student to develop strong Jewish values and remain faithful to his Jewish heritage. To strengthen the Jewish Day School movement, MFF embarked on a project that would publicly honor some of the talented and dedicated educators who work tirelessly to make Jewish education an exciting and engaging experience for the students. The Award is intended to recognize the contributions that superior Jewish educators make to the Jewish community.
Award recipients include teachers, specialists and administers who work in Jewish Day School network. The Milken Foundation’s Jewish Educator’s Award has been presented to professionals representing almost 40 schools nationwide as a way of recognizing the recipients’ scholarship, creativity and compassion in their work.
In naming Award recipients the Milken Foundation considers the educator’s practices in the classroom as well the individual’s relationship with the school’s families and with the community. Educators are expected to demonstrate originality in their educational methods and leadership skills which influence policies that affect the school’s children, their families and the community.
Four educators are named to receive the Milken Educators Award each year. Nominees must teach in a Board of Jewish Education-affiliated school at the K-12 level. A committee of professional educators and lay community members select each year’s recipients who receive $15,000 each, together with the acknowledgement of the Milken Family Foundation and their own communities.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu may still be in office, but there is no question his right-wing bloc took a hammering in the parliamentary elections. Netanyahu and his conservative Likud Party just barely pulled away with a victory despite news media analysis that his party would win by a landslide.
The Likud Party just barely snagged 31 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Yesh Atid made away with 19 seats, far more than what was predicted. Labor, the dominant party of the left, came in third with 15 seats.
The results clearly demonstrate the polarization among Israeli voters and present an opportunity for the centrist Yesh Atid party to break into the political landscape that has been dominated by Netanyahu’s right-wing faction.
Yesh Atid is led by Yair Lapid, a man who is no stranger to the camera. He is an ex-journalist, published author of seven books, talk show host and even had a brief stint as an amateur boxer. Unlike Netanyahu who emphasized on national security and the threat of Iran, Lapid’s priority was on issues that had a more direct effect on the people. This included issues regarding the rising cost of living, education reform and ending military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The election campaign focused primarily on the economy and social issues with very little discussion about Iran and foreign affairs. There have also been discussions regarding the occupation of the West Bank, which Netanyahu has been criticized for after ordering the construction of an additional 4,500 settler homes. The election results also mean that Netanyahu may have to compromise when it comes to Palestinian’s demand for statehood. The Yesh Atid party is in favor of a return to negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the West Bank.
The new parliament is now virtually evenly split, which means there will certainly be heated discussions over issues like Iran and Israeli annexation of the West Bank.
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In the wake of Aaron Swartz’s death, the focus is now being shifted to the prosecutor, who some say acted over zealously in his pursuit to punish Swartz to the fullest extent for a relatively minor crime.
As it turns out, this is not the first time an Internet activist has taken his own life while being aggressively pursued by the same prosecutor.
Back in 2008, Jonathan James took his own life after his home was raided by authorities on suspicion of his involvement in the TJX Hacker case, which is regarded as one of the biggest identity hacks in history.
James maintained his innocence and left a suicide note saying that he believed the justice system is broken and will prosecute him nonetheless. Like Swartz, James was also faced with prosecutor Stephen Heymann.
According to Swartz’s lawyer, Elliot Peters, Heymann refused to negotiate on the terms of a plea deal and would not settle for anything less than the maximum 30-year jail sentence. Swartz hung himself in his apartment and was discovered by his girlfriend. It is believed that depression combined with the looming trial pushed him to the brink.
Heymann refused to compromise even though JSTOR, the online academic journal database that Swartz hacked into, decided not to move forward with charges against the Internet activist. Peters claims that Heymann intended on using Swartz as a stepping stone to elevate his own career and in order to add cybercrimes prosecution into his portfolio.
In the aftermath of Swartz’s death, Heymann has filed to drop the charges, which is routine practice when the defendant passes away before the trial begins. Petitions are now swirling around the Internet demanding the firing of Heymann. Supporters claim that Heymann acted way too aggressively against Swartz for what was a victimless and non-violent crime.