Congratulations to These Outstanding Teachers!

Recipients of the Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education have been selected in four categories.  The winners receive a $10,000 cash prize and $2,500 for their institutions. The Helen Diller Family honors exceptional teachers in Jewish education because outstanding teachers encourage youth to explore the rich traditions of the Jewish heritage, to incorporate Jewish values into their own lives, to help build Jewish community, and to take responsibility for the common destiny of the Jewish people. Hear how students themselves describe what they think makes a great teacher.

Meet This Year's Award Recipients:

Marla Kolman Antebi, Chochmat Halev
Congregation/Community School

Israel has been a prominent feature of my life for a long time, visiting family and friends, even creating a non-profit to develop Israeli youth as peacemaker leaders. But my life work took a back seat when I became a parent and looked for more convenient work close to home.   

Recently I announced to my husband with complete conviction “I don’t know how I am going to do it, but I am taking us to Israel next year.” I knew I had to get Israel back in my life and prayed for a miracle. This award is allowing that dream to become reality. I stand in complete gratitude for life’s magic and for this incredible honor. Read more.

Adam King, Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School
Early Childhood Education

There is a moment after I say a blessing paddling out to surf and look down a wall of turquoise green water, when bliss overcomes me realizing that I am doing what I love.

I find myself having a similar experience as I reflect upon all the people who have helped me become the teacher  that I am today. I have just begun to stand up on the wave that is Teaching, and as I look down the line and prepare for the barrel ahead, I am excited to take on the wipe outs, all while singing a song of shalom with the ocean. I am humbled to receive the nomination and award and feel lucky to have the opportunity to do what I love—teach.  Read more.

Rabbi Joshua Ladon, Jewish Community High School of the Bay
Day School

Since my first job as a teacher's assistant at my family's synagogue at age 14, through the years I have spent learning and teaching, I have collected mentors who have shared their wisdom and guidance. 

The past three years as a teacher at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay has given me the opportunity to engage in my Judaism and learning at whole new levels. This special recognition is really a tribute to all the teachers upon whose shoulders I stand, to my colleagues who teach me everyday, and most of all to my students, who keep exposing me to new faces of Torah and pushing me to explore new and innovative strategies for creating deep and meaningful connection to Jewish learning. Read more.

Rabbi Akiva Naiman, NCSY
Informal Education

I am truly humbled and honored to have received the Helen Diller Excellence in Jewish Education award, and I am so excited that my organization will receive extra funding which I intend to dedicate, most if not all, to scholarships for teens, for local and summer programming. I am a big believer that every Jewish teen should go to Israel at least once in their high school career, and I am excited to collaborate with programs that offer subsidies for those experiences.

I would never have been able to come this far without the amazing support that I get in my shul, community, and professional life. Thank you to all of those who have given guidance, advice, and support. Read more.


July 30, 2014