SANTA MONICA, Calif. — On Sunday, November 13, Stephen Wise Temple and Schools celebrated the start of a new era by breaking ground on the transformational Aaron Milken Center for Early Childhood Education. Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback, Head of School Tami Weiser, Aaron Milken Center Director Keri Loventhal, Chairman and Cofounder of the Lowell Milken Family Foundation Lowell Milken, donors, community leaders, and distinguished guests gathered to mark the historic occasion.
When it opens in the fall of 2024, the state-of-the-art center will be a nurturing space for Wise’s youngest learners and their families to gather, learn, and discover, embodying Wise founder Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin’s dream of providing lifelong Jewish education to all those who seek it. Aaron Milken Center will also serve as a living tribute to the late son of lead donors Lowell Milken and Sandra Salka Milken.
“It is our hope that the Aaron Milken Center will not only perpetuate Aaron’s memory but enliven it,” said Lowell Milken. “Our emphasis today is on creating a living memorial providing tangible and lasting benefit to others—one that meets an essential and growing need in our community for a safe and nurturing environment in which future generations of children develop a love of Judaism and Israel.”
Aaron Milken Center is Stephen Wise Temple and Schools’ first new central complex construction in 32 years. The day’s celebration was marked by testimonials about the impact of a Wise School education, musical performances from Wise School children, the presentation of a flag flown over the United States Capitol by Rep. Brad Sherman, and a taste of what the future will bring. Along with remarks from Lowell Milken, Rabbi Yoshi, Tami Weiser, Keri Loventhal, and temple president Steve Bram, attendees were also treated to a presentation by the architects and building committee chair Leandro Tyberg.
“Over the last five years, the persistence, camaraderie, creativity, and drive displayed by the entire community has made this moment a reality,” said Tyberg. “It is because of our united community that we were able to overcome logistical, economical, and historical obstacles, including inflation, supply-chain issues, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
With the guidance and vision of Lowell Milken and the generous support of the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the Aaron Milken Center at Wise was conceived in 2018 as an innovative early childhood experience housed in a state-of-the-art facility. After years of planning and development, the Aaron Milken Center will offer an unparalleled early childhood educational experience in a world-class learning environment. Renowned architecture firm Abramson Architects have brought their design skills and expertise to this exciting project. With building construction commencing in late 2022, their plan will maximize the beautiful hilltop campus with vibrant facilities and a sense of connection with the natural world that will foster growth and learning for children in a nurturing community for parents and families alike. The Aaron Milken Center will also house community and sacred spaces to create a place where all ages feel welcome and inspired.
“Aaron Milken Center represents the next chapter in the Wise community’s extraordinary commitment to early childhood education,” said Rabbi Yoshi. “The investment our community is making presently is a tangible expression of our belief in the Jewish future. These past few years have demonstrated dramatically just how important it is to have the proper facilities with plenty of outdoor space for early childhood education, to say nothing of our extraordinary emergent curriculum. Through our work in Aaron Milken Center we are granted the amazing opportunity to enrich the Jewish life of children, their parents, and their grandparents, touching three generations at the same moment. I feel a great sense of gratitude to our generous community and especially to the Lowell Milken family, whose vision and commitment have made it all possible.”
For more information, visit AaronMilkenCenter.org.
“In every endeavor, people make the difference, and just one person has the power to make a profound difference in the lives of so many people.” - Lowell Milken