Federations launch ‘Jewish Community Heroes’ campaign

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has launched the Second Annual Jewish Community Hero Awards, aimed at connecting people through social media to recognize the selflessness and courage of those who are helping their communities through volunteer service.

The Jewish Community Heroes initiative, created by The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), is part of a broad effort to promote public service in the St. Louis area.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

More than 65 organizations are supporting the initiative, which will honor one Jewish Community Hero and four additional finalists. Each finalist will receive a Heroes grant-$25,000 for the winner – to support their projects, which can range from running charity bake sales or low-income literacy projects to helping neighborhood development programs or mobilizing people around a good cause. Any Canadian or American resident at least 13 years of age is eligible to be nominated through Oct. 8.

Last year, St. Louis nominees included:  Rabbi Mark Fasman, senior rabbi, Shaare Zedek Synagogue; Eric Geitens, a veteran wounded in Iraq who founded an organization for wounded and disabled soldiers; Rick Recht, local Jewish rock star with an internationally enthusiastic following; Rabbi Mike Rovinsky of the Jewish Student Union – who had the most nominations and was St. Louis’ nominee for the national “Heroes” honor; Michael Staenberg, major league philanthropist, and Barbara Herman, pre-eminent Jewish educator in Jefferson City.

The Jewish Federations of North America will recognize the five 2010 honorees and unveil the Hero of the Year at JFNA’s General Assembly (GA), in New Orleans Nov. 7-9. A panel of judges will select the Jewish Community Hero of the Year from among 20 nominees who receive the most online support.

This year, in addition to the Jewish Community Hero of the Year, JFNA will also honor a Federation Hero, who will be selected from the pool of Heroes nominees taking a leading role in a project the Jewish Federation movement supports.

Nominate and vote for your 2010 Jewish Community Hero at www.jewishcommunityheroes.org/StLouis.  See videos from the 2009 Jewish Community Hero Awards at www.youtube.com/jcommunityheroes.