UJC Launches Jewish Community Heroes Project

n127935416612_9327UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, announced today the launch of the First Annual Jewish Community Hero Awards, which celebrates the selflessness and courage of individuals who are bettering their communities through service and outreach.

The initiative – to-date the largest-ever Jewish social-networking effort – 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. About 50 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 Web site, where people can vote for their favorite Jewish heroes.

UJC/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.

“Too often the heroes among us, who do the most for our communities, go unnoticed,” said Adam Smolyar, senior vice-president, strategic marketing and communications, UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America.

“The Jewish Community Heroes initiative aims to spotlight devoted individuals who work incredibly hard for others, whether their efforts affect five people or 5,000. We’re absolutely thrilled to launch Jewish Community Heroes in collaboration with so many of our community’s Federations and partner organizations.”

UJC/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 content, including the nominees and the top five finalists.

“Jewish Community Heroes celebrates those in our communities who exemplify tikkun olam, one of the three core values of UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America. 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.” said National Young Leadership Media Co-Vice Chair Lisa Kudish.