Educators awarded NIS 120,000 in new prize for humanities teachers

Nechama Weingarten Mintz, Dr. Gadi Prodowski and Ziv Shaham are the first recipients of the new award for distinguished teachers in the field of humanities.

 (L to R) Distinguished Teaching Award winners Dr. Gadi Prodovsky, Ziv Shaham, Nechama Weingarten Mintz  (photo credit: Courtesy, YAIR COHEN)
(L to R) Distinguished Teaching Award winners Dr. Gadi Prodovsky, Ziv Shaham, Nechama Weingarten Mintz
(photo credit: Courtesy, YAIR COHEN)

The National Library of Israel awarded NIS 120,000 to three distinguished teachers in the field of humanities on Tuesday at a ceremony held at the National Library in Jerusalem

The Azrieli Award of the National Library for Distinguished Teaching is awarded to teachers who have made significant contributions in strengthening humanities studies in schools across Israel.

The award will be given every two years, to be be split equally among three winners. The inaugural award ceremony was attended by Education Minister Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope), among other ministry officials, senior members of the library and representatives of the Azrieli Foundation.

Three months ago, the National Library invited the public to recommend nominees for the award, and the winners were then selected by a committee comprised of public officials, senior education officials, National Library representatives and the Azrieli Foundation.

Teachers were nominated from across the spectrum of humanities studies, including literature, history, biblical studies, philosophy, and more. The winners were chosen based on their ability to cultivate a desire for knowledge and learning in their students while honing their research, reading and writing skills. 

Reading room of the National Library of Israel. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Reading room of the National Library of Israel. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The three winners of the 2022 awards are:

Nechama Weingarten Mintz,  a teacher and educated at Ulpanat Noga in Beit Shemesh. The recommendation submitted by her students read: "Nehama's dedication to each of her students, the way she manages to reach each student and give her a personalized response, is exemplary to all the educators in our institution and to the entire teaching staff."

Dr. Gadi Prodowski, a philosophy and humanities teacher at the Jerusalem High School of Science and Arts. He was recommended for the award by former students who are currently completing doctorates in philosophy and literature and who attributed their academic success to his dedicated work.

Ziv Shaham, an educator and middle school humanities teacher from the Alonei Yitzhak Youth Village. According to his recommendation, he created the school's humanities department and is responsible for training a team of educators to "create their own interdisciplinary curricula that replace the traditional teaching of Bible literature and history subjects in middle school."

The National Library, where the award ceremony was held, is located on the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Givat Ram campus. It is a state institution dedicated to collecting the cultural treatures of Israeli and Jewish heritage. It holds more than five million books, as well as the world's largest collections of Hebraica and Judaica articles.

"Studies in the humanities in schools encompass worlds of knowledge and knowledge that contribute to students' broad education, curiosity and the ability to observe and understand historical and other processes and events," said Galit Gal, Philanthropic Director of the Azrieli Foundation.

To this end, the National Library was chosen to host the awards due to its position as "the natural home for nurturing the future generation of the Israeli education system and the humanities," she said.

Beyond the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Azrieli Foundation has committed to an annual donation to the library of NIS 750,000 per year for five years to support the promotion of programs for excellence in the humanities in high schools and middle schools.