Nominate, vote for Jewish Community Heroes

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona is seeking nominees for the Second Annual Jewish Community Hero Awards, a Jewish Federations of North America initiative aimed at connecting people through social media to recognize those who are helping their communities through volunteer service. To nominate a Jewish Community Hero, go to http://www.jewishcommunityheroes. org/southernarizona.

To build on the success of last year’s inaugural program, the largest Jewish social-networking campaign to date, JFNA is planning a massive online campaign in conjunction with Blue State Digital, the online strategy firm that helped the Obama campaign raise more than $500 million and engage millions of volunteers.

“This Jewish Community Heroes initiative illustrates the power of the individual and the power of the collective, which matches the Federation mission to bring Jewish community activists together to repair the world,” says JFSA President and CEO Stuart Mellan.

More than 65 organizations are supporting the initiative, which will honor one Jewish Community Hero of the Year and four additional finalists. Every 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.

The five 2010 honorees will be honored at JFNA’s General Assembly, which will take place in New Orleans, Nov. 7-9. A panel of judges will select the Jewish Community Hero of the Year from among the 20 nominees who receive the most online support. This year’s judges include scientist Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway); filmmaker Tiffany Schlain (“The Tribe”); actor Elliot Gould (“M*A*S*H,” “Friends”); screenwriter and director Etan Cohen (“King of the Hill,” “Idiocracy,” “Tropic Thunder”); four-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg; and last year’s national honorees, including Ari Teman, 2009’s Jewish Community Hero of the year and founder of JCorps, a program that connects young people to volunteer opportunities around the world.

“This award gave us a major opportunity to grow and get many more people involved in service projects around the world,” Teman said.

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 nominees taking a leading role in a project the Jewish Federation movement supports.

In 2009, there were eight nominees from Southern Arizona, including Jill Rich, a long-time social justice activist and founding member of the Refugee Resettlement Committee of Jewish Family & Children’s Services, and Ariel Tinney, who was nominated for volunteer work through American Jewish World Service at a domestic violence center in Cambodia. The other local nominees were Dina Afek, Isaac Greenberg, Brenda Landau, Matt Landau, Lee Silva and Patty Vallance.

To watch videos from the 2009 Jewish Community Hero Awards, go to http://www.youtube.com/jcommunityheroes.