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GA DAILY

SPOTLIGHT: Jewish Community Heroes

Today’s plenary generated much anticipation for the announcement of the Jewish Community Hero of the Year, which marked the culmination of a campaign that brought in a startling tally of over a half-million votes for 430 laudable nominees. 

As Michael Gelman, chair of the Jewish Federations of North America's Executive Committee said upon presenting the award, "We hope to inspire a new generation of heroes." 

Gelman also thanked the many Federations and partner agencies that helped make the success of this program possible (See the full list of Heroes partners here.)

After setting a goal of amassing 10,000 contacts via the Heroes campaign, Gelman said, the initiative gathered 40,000 geographically sorted e-mail addresses of people who have shown an interest in taking part online in Jewish community activity; they will be sorted and sent to the relevant local Federations to help build new ranks of supporters.

The announcement of Ari Teman, founder of JCorps, as the Jewish Community Hero of the Year, who will receive $25,000 to put towards his work, met with wide enthusiasm. 

JCorps is a non-denominational volunteer force of Jewish adults ages 18-28. JCorps pairs diverse and dynamic groups of volunteers with organizations in their neighborhood.

Teman’s four fellow honorees will receive $1,000 toward their initiatives. As one of the semifinalists, Alex Budnitsky, said in a video he taped for the Heroes site, "in my opinion, this project has only winners."

Many nominees said that the Heroes campaign brought them more volunteers, more partnership possibilities, and more people who now know where to go when they need help. This was one of the goals of the initiative: viral volunteerism to strengthen the Jewish community.

This effort has sparked a sense of community involvement and an awareness that Federations are not just learning to be online, but leading the way in building and strengthening online relationships that will pay dividends in the future. 

 
Click here to view the video showing the five honorees recognized at the GA.