By: Alexandra Orbuch and Emily Vanek
On Monday, January 20, the Milken Community lost a beloved mentor and teacher, Nehama Meged. Ms. Meged demonstrated a passion for teaching and educating the Jewish community, and most of all, creating a personal bond with everyone she met. Fittingly, her name, Nehama, means comfort and consolation. In the words of her fellow Hebrew teacher and friend, Ms. Dikla Krems, “She touched and impacted everyone who had the privilege of knowing her.”
When asked about her professional life, almost everyone interviewed had the same thing to say: she was a wonderful educator. “Ms. Meged just knew how to be a teacher,” Milken Principal Dr. Schwartz told The Roar, “like it was a gift she was born with. When I think of Ms. Meged, I mostly imagine the hours we spent together in my office, dreaming and planning and problem solving the present and future of our Hebrew department.”
Ms. Meged spent three years at Milken as the Chair of the Hebrew Department. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel, she attended Hebrew University, where she received her B.A. in Biblical Studies and Jewish History. After serving in the IDF, she immigrated to the United States and obtained her M.A. in Judaic Studies from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. She then took a job as the Chair of the Hebrew Department at Albert Einstein Charter Academy and later went on to teach at Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School for eight years.
More than simply teaching, Ms. Meged went the extra mile to create relationships with her students and see to it that they received the best education possible. During her time at Einstein, Ms. Meged’s fellow Hebrew teacher, Ms. Ben-Haim, recounted, “she took the kids to Spain, Morocco, and Israel. She wanted to show them the world.” At the time, Einstein was a struggling, nascent school and Ms. Meged put in her own money to try and get the institution off the ground. “She cared about Israel and the Hebrew language. She was very passionate,” explained Ms. Ben-Haim. In the words of Dr. Schwartz, “For her, the students were always at the center and she knew it was her job to teach kids Hebrew, yes, but also to teach them how to learn and how to be in the world and of the world.”
Every single member of the Hebrew Department spoke of Ms. Meged’s kindness and openness. “I shared everything with her about my professional life and my personal life. She was a good listener. She always gave the right advice,” said Ms. Ben-Perlas. In the words of Ms. Krems, “there was not a day that she did not give a compliment or a good word to the people around her.”
Ms. Meged was truly a dedicated teacher, but she was also a mother, wife, and friend. According to Hebrew teacher Ms. Limor Giladi, “she had an amazing relationship with her husband of 40 years. He said that she was a gift of god to him.” She was also very close to her two daughters and one son. “They were a loving and close family,” Ms. Giladi went on to explain.
Ms. Meged’s passion for educating touched many of her students, including her student, junior Brandon Tavakoli. When asked about his relationship with her, Brandon said, “We came to Milken together, we were new to Milken together so we figured out how to overcome the obstacles and we learned how to persevere together.” He told The Roar, “I mean, even for people who weren’t in her class, she really found a way to enrich their lives, make them feel special, and make a connection to them.”
Brandon and all of those who knew Ms. Meged can agree that she was so much more than a teacher to them: she was a mentor, educator, maternal figure, and friend. She found a way to enrich people’s lives, make them feel special, and connect with them. Her generosity inspired students like Brandon and should continue to inspire the Milken community to welcome friends, family, and community members with open arms.
May her memory be a blessing.