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Milken Head of School Addresses AJU Campus Acquisition

Shulkind, who leads the senior academic staff at Milken Community School, was delivering Milken’s fifth annual “State of the School” address when she discussed the anticipated acquisition.
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February 7, 2024

Milken Community School Head of School Sarah Shulkind expressed confidence that the school’s recently announced agreement with American Jewish University (AJU) to purchase AJU’s 22-acre Familian Campus will benefit the entire L.A. Jewish community.

”The stronger Milken becomes, the more vibrant the Jewish future will be, especially in our city.” – Sarah Shulkind

“We view this expansion opportunity as the single most important initiative in a generation for the Los Angeles Jewish community,” Shulkind said. ”The stronger Milken becomes, the more vibrant the Jewish future will be, especially in our city.”

Shulkind, who leads the senior academic staff at Milken Community School, was delivering Milken’s fifth annual “State of the School” address when she discussed the anticipated acquisition. The annual speech provides updates on the strategic vision, goals and achievements of the private day school.

Appearing on Jan. 30 at Milken’s Bel Air campus before Milken families, supporters, faculty, alumni and students, Shulkind traced what led to Milken’s acquisition of the AJU campus — which is located less than a quarter-mile away from Milken — including the steady growth in enrollment experienced by the pluralistic school community in recent years. 

Enrollment in the school’s grades 6-8 “is too big for the capacity of the [Saperstein] middle school campus,” while “the Upper School campus can use enhancements and expansion to accommodate our strategic and educational programmatic needs,” she said. 

The acquisition will also provide Milken with expanded “communal, athletic and performing arts facilities,” Shulkind said, adding the acquisition will make “Milken even more of an important communal resource, serving one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.”

Milken currently has more than 700 students in grades 6-12. 

The day school’s board of trustees signed the agreement with AJU to purchase the property on Nov. 29. During her remarks, Shulkind noted the significance of the date, Nov. 29: On that day in 1947, the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted the Partition Plan for Palestine, which recommended the creation of an independent Jewish state.

Shulkind also spoke of ways that Milken students embody the school’s values outside of the classroom. Following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, student leadership sprang into action to demonstrate their support for Israel, from attending local rallies and organizing vigils to traveling to Washington D.C. for the historic “March for Israel” gathering in November. “At Milken, what our students are actually doing is rehearsing for the world they will help to create,” Shulkind said.

The evening also featured remarks from Rabbi Ed Feinstein, the longtime spiritual leader and former head rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom, and Dr. Leon Alkalai, a retired technical fellow of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The two are the inaugural participants of Milken’s recently launched scholar-in-residence program.

Many of the questions revolved around the campus acquisition, which was announced in emails sent out by the school and by AJU in late December. Little information has followed the separate announcements by the two institutions — financial details of the sale agreement between Milken and AJU, for example, have not been made public — and Shulkind’s comments were eagerly anticipated. 

Withholding comment about the acquisition until the final section of her speech, Shulkind acknowledged the 22-acre elephant in the room before finally delving into the topic. “Okay, shall we talk about AJU?” she said, eliciting laughter from the crowd of several hundred.

Shulkind is a well-known educator in the Los Angeles Jewish community. Before being named Milken’s head of school ahead of the 2020-21 academic year, she served as Milken’s middle school principal as well as the head of school at Sinai Temple’s Sinai Akiba Academy. 

The theme of her address was “The School We Build Today.”

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