Home > JFNA Briefing: Randy Gold Named North America’s 2011 Jewish Community Hero
Randy Gold Named North America’s 2011 Jewish Community Hero December 7, 2011
The Jewish Federations of North America today awarded Randy Gold of Atlanta the 2011 Jewish Community Hero of the Year Award. The award marked the culmination of the third annual Jewish Community Heroes campaign, in which 240,000 votes were cast online to recognize the selflessness and courage of those who are helping their communities through their careers and volunteer service.
Gold was named this year’s Hero for his work in founding the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen. The organization creates awareness and educates rabbis, doctors and Jewish couples on the importance of genetic counseling and screening for preventable and life-threatening disorders commonly present in Jewish families.
When Gold and his wife’s second child was diagnosed with Mucolipidosis Type IV, a preventable Jewish genetic disease, they were surprised to learn that they were only screened for eight of a possible 19 known diseases. This motivated the couple to found the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen, which aims to one day have screening for all nineteen Jewish genetic diseases as the standard medical practice for Jewish couples worldwide. Gold will receive a $25,000 Heroes grant for Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen.
“We are excited to name Randy Gold as this year’s Jewish Community Hero Award winner for his major contribution to the Jewish community and the positive, healthy future of the Jewish people,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA.
Four more Heroes join Randy as finalists, selected by the judges to receive a 2011 Heroes grant:
• Shana Erenberg, Chicago, Ill. • Hart Levine, New York, NY • Tessa Gerall, Houston, Texas • Jenine Shwekey, Long Branch, N.J.
Each will receive a $1,000 Heroes grant for their nonprofit organization.
"It was an honor to learn about all of these heroes within the Jewish community," said Linda A. Hurwitz, president of National Women's Philanthropy of JFNA and one of the Heroes judges. "It's a privilege to even briefly be touched by and taught by these heroic Jews. We, as the Jewish community, are strengthened by the individual passion and collective action of our people."
Actress Mayim Bialik, another Jewish Community Heroes judge, said, “To pick a Hero among heroes is a huge responsibility, and not an easy one. However, the work that Randy Gold has done is not only one of true menschkeit and selflessness; and it is not simply a matter of taking a tragedy and turning it upside down. Randy has laid the groundwork for changing the way Jewish people understand and create future generations with our genetics. Randy is literally taking one life and turning it into generations and generations of simchas as numerous as the stars of the sky!”
The Jewish Federations of North America honored Gold with his award on December 7, in his hometown of Atlanta. Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta's Chair of the Board Robert Arogeti presented him with his $25,000 grant in a surprise ceremony at the offices of the Atlanta Jewish Gene Screen.
A panel of judges selected Gold as the Jewish Community Hero of the Year from among the 20 nominees who received the most online support. This year’s judges included journalist and newspaper editor Jane Eisner (The Jewish Daily Forward); Idealist.org founder and executive director, Ami Dar; social media entrepreneur and former marketing executive of Facebook, Randi Zuckerberg; Bialik; and last year’s winner Jay Feinberg, founder of Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.
Feinberg was named the 2010 Jewish Community Hero of the Year for his work in founding a Jewish bone marrow registry after being diagnosed with leukemia. Since receiving the Heroes grant, Jay has used the funds to make life-saving matches between several people with cancer and suitable bone marrow donors.
“This year’s semifinalists are representative of the highest ideals and values we teach and strive to live by in the Jewish community,” said Feinberg. “Needless to say, it was not an easy process to select the grant winners. I am proud of each and every one and their commitment to Tikkun Olam. I wish them all great success in their individual endeavors and now, as I pass the baton, send my personal congratulations to our very deserving 2011 Hero of the Year!”
Jewish Federations also awarded Joel Marcovitch of Athens, Ga. this year’s Federation Hero of the Year Award, for receiving the most online votes for a nominee whose project is directly operated by a Federation or national partner agency of the Jewish Federations. Marcovitch was nominated in support of his work with the University of Georgia Hillel, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
Jewish Community Heroes is part of the Jewish Federations’ commitment to promoting public service in communities across the U.S. and Canada, and has brought in more than a million votes for hundreds of worthy nominees over the past three years.
It is also one of Jewish Federations’ largest social media initiatives, significantly bolstering our online and email reach. This year’s program generated more than 80,000 new contacts for Jewish Federation databases. In addition, the Jewish Community Heroes website has had more than six million page views over the past three years, enabling Jewish Federations to communicate our valuable work in support of community service to a sizable population of online users.