Prompted by the increasing popularity of online social networking, UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America has launched a national campaign to honor “Jewish Community Heroes.”
In hopes of reaching out to younger generations, the new initiative will honor one Jewish Community Hero of the Year, who will receive $25,000 to put toward his or her community work, and also recognize four additional finalists. Since the campaign began in early August, more than 100 heroes from across North America have been nominated, including 11 from the Los Angeles area — Sadie Mintz, Yonah Bookstein, Jacqueline Rotman, Rhoda Weisman, Ilan Davidson, Diane Kabat, Josh Kaplan, Bentzion Kravitz, David Cygielman, Rabbi Moishe Engel and David Gale.
While the campaign encourages recognition of “the selflessness and courage of those who put others before themselves,” current nominations reflect a broader approach. There are heroes nominated for their social entrepreneurship and social justice, people seeking support for new community initiatives and building projects, and others who are making an impact through volunteering or during retirement.
The competition is based on an “American Idol”-style voting system that requires diligent daily voting. From the top 10 finalists selected by the public, a panel of judges will determine the Hero of the Year and all five finalists will be recognized this November at UJC’s General Assembly in Washington, D.C.
Any individual can nominate a hero online. Each nominee is given a profile on the Jewish Community Heroes Web site, where people can vote once each day for their favorite Jewish heroes. Current leading nominees have already received thousands of votes.
The online platform was developed by Blue State Digital, a leading technology and online strategy firm that helped the Obama campaign build their highly successful grass-roots network. Nominations and voting will be accepted through Oct. 8.
To nominate a hero, visit jewishcommunityheroes.org.