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The Jewish Educator Awards Go To … Four Los Angeles Educators Honored with Surprise $15,000 Awards

Milken Family Foundation honors excellence at BJE-affiliated Jewish day schools


October 3, 2022

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – During surprise assemblies, four exceptional Los Angeles Jewish day school educators have each been honored with the prestigious Jewish Educator Award (JEA)—and an unrestricted $15,000 financial prize. The annual Awards, presented by the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) in partnership with Builders of Jewish Education (BJE), are announced to the unsuspecting recipients in front of their cheering students and colleagues. The 2022 JEA recipients are: 

  • Shoshana Braude, First Grade Judaic Studies Teacher, Bais Chaya Mushka of Los Angeles
  • Monica Daranyi, 9-10 Division Dean, Math Teacher, Milken Community School
  • Rabbi Daniel Grama, Rebbe and Director of Recruitment, Valley Torah High School
  • Larry Kligman, Head of School, Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School

Please see more information about the recipients below this release.

"I have the best job because it is not work; it is something that I love," said Jewish Educator Award recipient Monica Daranyi, upon receiving her Award presented by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken. "It is an honor for me to walk through the gates and to walk into my classroom to be able to teach all of you."

"Teachers and principals play the most important role in society today. We entrust in them the responsibility to prepare all students so that they can to move on successfully into the next stage of learning and life," said Lowell Milken. "Jewish day school educators seek to ensure that students acquire the skills, knowledge and experiences to reach their academic potential – and, at the same time, have an understanding of our people’s history, destiny and obligations to repair the world."   

"By surprising educators with their Awards before their entire school communities, we say in a very public way that excellence in education should be rewarded," said Milken Family Foundation Executive Vice President Richard Sandler, who has been involved with JEA since 1990 when the Milken Family Foundation presented the first Awards. "And by capturing the imagination of students, we hope to encourage our next generation to consider careers in teaching – in particular to strengthen the vital role of Jewish day schools to develop academic potential and cultivating lifelong respect for the values imparted by their Jewish heritage." 

The 2022 Jewish Educator Award recipients will be celebrated, together with their families and community leaders, during an Awards luncheon this winter. The inclusive event brings together leaders across LA's Jewish community, from the most secular to the most Orthodox.

The Jewish Educator Awards initiative was established 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 BJE-affiliated day schools.

Award recipients are selected by a committee of educators, professional and lay leaders from the Jewish community, according to the following criteria:

  • 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.

For photos and more information about the events and program, please visit www.jewisheducatorawards.org. For interviews, contact Jana Rausch: jrausch@mff.org or 310-435-9259 cell.

2022 Milken Jewish Educator Award Recipient Bios

Shoshana Braude, Bais Chaya Mushka
A treasure to Bais Chaya Mushka for more than two decades, Morah (teacher) Shoshana Braude provides a safe, nurturing environment for her first grade students to excel academically and socially. Mrs. Braude builds a solid foundation of her students' Jewish education while instilling a love of learning and a confidence in reaching their highest potential. She does so through innovative programs like the Nurtured Heart Approach, S'cool Moves, Bal-A-Vis-X, Brain Gym, and Sand Tray Therapy that strengthen the connection between body and mind. In all of her methods, Mrs. Braude uses a strengths-based approach to motivate her students. Positivity is also a focus in her regular engagement with parents – all to enhance the growth and development of the whole child. Mrs. Braude applies the same principles of lifelong learning to her own craft, attending professional development workshops and trainings as well as personally researching methods to remain on the cutting edge in meeting the real-time needs of her students.

Monica Daranyi, Milken Community School
Milken Community School has thrived thanks to math teacher Monica Daranyi's three decades of commitment to excellence, devotion to community and deep concern for students and colleagues. Ms. Daranyi makes geometry rigorous and relevant, helping students build math competency and executive functioning skills that serve them well beyond the walls of her classroom. She looks for cross-curricular opportunities, such as a recent collaboration with Milken's "Fab Lab" (makerspace) where students created and explored the geometry of stained glass windows. As the division dean for ninth and tenth grades, Ms. Daranyi is on the front lines helping students who are struggling academically, socially or behaviorally. The "ruach" or spirit of the Milken community, she spearheaded the school's 6-12 house system and "house cup" competition, worked with divisional rabbis to reimagine Purim week, and planned the first whole-school Hanukkahton retreat at American Jewish University's Brandeis Bardin campus.

Rabbi Daniel Grama, Valley Torah High School
Rabbi Daniel Grama exudes kindness, caring and true admiration for the young men he has taught at Valley Torah High School for more than 11 years. Rabbi Grama is the school's director of recruitment and teaches Torah to students who come to VTHS with less prior exposure to Judaism, focusing on building relationships and sharing his positive outlook on life. In addition to Torah, Rabbi Grama leads the school's Sephardi Minyan, making sure students from Sephardic families maintain their rich culture and customers. Outside of school, he is the Rabbi of The Westside Shul and hosts a weekly "Torah Tuesday" program on Instagram Live with his daughter Aliza. Rabbi Grama holds two master's degrees from Yeshiva University, in educational leadership and social work.

Larry Kligman, Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School
Larry Kligman has been an integral part of Heschel Day School for decades. A 1985 Heschel graduate, Mr. Kligman returned after college to begin his career in education and served as dean of students, middle school director and associate head of school before being named head of school in 2013. He inspires those around him to engage in the community and make a difference in the world, embodying the school's core values: integrity, justice, intellectual curiosity, empathy, and individual and communal responsibility. At the middle school, Mr. Kligman strengthened academic programs, created new leadership roles for students and expanded extracurricular activities, growing enrollment from 130 to 175 students at a time when most non-Orthodox Jewish middle schools were shrinking. He chaired BJE's Heads of School Council and is active in the California Association of Independent Schools and Los Angeles School Heads Network. Mr. Kligman led successful fundraising campaigns for capital projects and endowment tied to the school's recent 50th anniversary celebration.