Hillel volunteers, Tampa, 2009
UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America, in cooperation with Hillel, launched the First Annual Jewish Community Heroes campaign, which celebrates the selflessness and courage of individuals who are bettering their communities through service and outreach. The campaign will honor one Jewish Community Hero of the Year, who will receive $25,000 to put towards his or her work, and also recognize four additional finalists. More than 60 partner organizations are supporting the initiative in addition to Jewish Federations across North America.
Any individual or group can nominate a hero through an open, online submission process. After screening, each nominee is posted on the Jewish Community Heroes website where people can vote for their favorite Jewish heroes. The Jewish Federations of North America will honor the five nominees who receive the most votes at this fall's General Assembly (GA) in Washington, D.C., which takes place Nov. 8-10. A panel of judges will select the Jewish Community Hero of the Year from among the finalists.
Any individual, who is at least 13 years of age and a resident of the United States or Canada, is eligible to be a nominee provided that their work impacts a community in North America. A nominee could be the neighbor running charity bake sales, a teacher building a school for the underserved, the entrepreneur donating services to neighborhood development, or the community organizer bringing people together around a cause. Nominations and voting will be accepted through Oct. 8.
"Jewish Community Heroes celebrates those in our communities who exemplify tikkun olam (repairing the world), one of the three core values of The Jewish Federations of North America," said National Young Leadership Media Co-Vice Chair Lisa Kudish, who is a consultant with Hillel. "Recognizing these inspiring individuals through the use of digital media, we hope to reach a new generation of heroes and motivate their unparalleled commitment to community service -- a responsibility we all share."
The Jewish Federations of North America has been working with Blue State Digital, a leading technology and online strategy firm that helped the Obama campaign raise more than $500 million and engage millions of volunteers, to develop and produce Jewish Community Heroes. The project's Web-based platform creates an interactive forum that brings community together around a common purpose: recognizing the invaluable contributions of committed problem-solvers and advocates. Jewish Community Heroes uses crowd-sourcing - a Web 2.0 concept of open input by individual users - to generate campaign content, including the nominees and the top five finalists. With an emphasis on social media, The Jewish Federations of North America and partner organizations are using a variety of online channels to extend the campaign to individuals from all walks of life.
The Jewish Community Heroes initiative is part of a broad effort by The Jewish Federations of North America to promote public service among the entire Jewish community. The effort includes several major outreach initiatives and provides tools for individual Federations to develop and promote hands-on service activities.
UJC/Jewish Federations of North America represents 157 Jewish Federations and 400 network communities, which raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and educational needs. The Federation movement, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).