Constantiner Prize goes to educators who serve a 'human mosaic' in Israel

May 31, 2011

One of Israeli education's most prestigious prizes, the Dr. Jaime Constantiner Prize in Jewish Education, awarded annually by Tel Aviv University at its international Board of Governors Meeting, was presented on May 16 to the Department of Education of Or Yehuda and its director, Tamar Hakimi. The educators were recognized for developing and implementing unique programs for the children of the town of Or Yehuda, advancing their academic achievements and consolidating their Jewish identity.

The award honors the late Dr. Jaime Constantiner for his contributions to Jewish education in the Diaspora. This year it was presented by TAU Rector Prof. Aron Shai in a ceremony held at the Trubowicz Building of Law. Attending the ceremony were Dr. Constantiner's son, Dr. Arturo Constantiner, his wife Caren, and their daughter Claudia; Or Yehuda Mayor David Yosef; Head of the Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education Prof. Rafi Nachmias; many Tel Aviv University Board of Governors members; and a large delegation of educators and administrators from Or Yehuda and Israel's Education Ministry. Entertainment was provided by Uni-Ron, TAU's own choir of campus employees.

Educational leadership at its best

American Friend Dr. Arturo Constantiner, son of Dr. Jaime Constantiner, is a long-time supporter of Israel and Tel Aviv University, part of a vibrant familial legacy spanning three generations. "I represent my family -- my brothers, my wife, my children," he said at the ceremony. "This award is very special to us. It is our way to honor my late father, who devoted his life to medicine, and to Jewish education in the Diaspora."

Prof. Shai presented the award to Ms. Hakimi, commending the Or Yehuda educators for "advancing the children of Or Yehuda while addressing their special difficulties and socioeconomic status, supporting high school students and improving their matriculation performance, successfully reducing educational gaps with regard to written and spoken language, and implementing an extensive curriculum that enhances Jewish identity and knowledge."

Ms. Hakimi spoke passionately about her organization, which encompasses eight elementary schools and three high schools, totaling 4,300 students and 400 teachers. "Or Yehuda is like a human mosaic, with immigrants from all over the world," she said. "The Jewish heritage is the bridge that connects them all. Our mission as educators is to strengthen the children's roots, and give them a sense of belonging -- to make them feel that they are part of the nation, in a state that is both Jewish and democratic. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow."

Across the generations

The Constantiner-Sourasky family's decades-long commitment has produced a number of major university projects. Tel Aviv University's Central Library is named for his grandfather, Elias Sourasky, whom TAU awarded an honorary doctorate in 1971. His father, Jaime Constantiner, was a leader in the movement to spread Jewish education throughout the diaspora, and served as Vice Chair of TAU's Board of Governors; he was made an honorary doctor by TAU in 1980. His mother, Joan Constantiner, played an important role in spreading Jewish culture throughout Latin America.

To honor their parents, the Constantiner brothers -- Roberto, Arturo, Victor, Teodoro z"l, and Leon -- contributed to the School of Education, naming it The Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education. The Constantiner brothers are actively involved with the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), and continue to build on their family's passionate legacy of support for Jewish continuity and Jewish identity.
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American Friends of Tel Aviv University (www.aftau.org) supports Israel's leading, most comprehensive and most sought-after center of higher learning. Independently ranked 94th among the world's top universities for the impact of its research, TAU's innovations and discoveries are cited more often by the global scientific community than all but 10 other universities.

Internationally recognized for the scope and groundbreaking nature of its research and scholarship, Tel Aviv University consistently produces work with profound implications for the future.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University

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