The 5 finalists will be honored at UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly (GA), which takes place Nov. 8-10. The Hero of the Year will be named on Tuesday, November 10 at the GA and receive $25,000 to put towards his or her work. The four additional finalists will each be presented with $1,000 to put toward their own community service work.
A panel of 10 judges selected the 5 finalists from among the 20 semi-finalists, who received the most public votes during the online voting process. The judges will also select the Jewish Community Hero of the Year.
The 5 finalists are as follows:
Yonah Bookstein (Los Angeles, CA) is the founder of Jewlicious Festival, the largest Jewish college student weekend gathering in the country, and has helped inspire students to start their own grassroots organizations to help the Jewish People, advocate for Israel, fight hunger, and the protect the environment.
Ari Teman (New York, NY) is the founder of JCorps, an organization that groups Jewish young adults of all denominations together to help in hunger-relief, children’s hospitals, senior centers, and park and environmental projects.
Shmuly Yanklowitz (New York, NY) is the founder and Co-Director of Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice movement, and is a leader in affirming greater transparency in the Kosher food industry and worker rights for all employees of Kosher restaurants.
Devora Benjamin (Brooklyn, NY) has personally assisted less-fortunate couples with their wedding arrangements for over 15 years.
Levi Shemtov (West Bloomfield, MI), who with his wife Bassie, founded and run the Friendship Circle, an international organization dedicated to children with special needs and their families.
The GA is the premier annual North American Jewish conference, attracting Federation lay leaders and professionals as well as the leadership of partner organizations and other important national Jewish organizations. Not only will the 5 finalists for the Jewish Community Hero Awards be honored at this fall’s GA, but President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are both attending.