B’nai B’rith & JNF Youth and Young Adult Jewish Changemaker Awards 2019

June 27, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Sydney’s B’nai B’rith and JNF have held their annual Jewish Changemaker Awards acknowledging the inspiring contributions made by Youth and Young Adults within the Australian Jewish community.

JNF CEO Dan Springer with honourees

This year’s nominees, from school students to young professionals, all showed exceptional passion, creativity and dedication towards their chosen causes.

Emceed by Haim Ayalon and comedian Liora Baram, the event was a wonderful platform to celebrate over 60 young activists who demonstrated outstanding leadership, service to the Jewish Community, Australian Society and the State of Israel. There were 10 winners and 5 honourable mentions over the 7 categories.

The judging panel consisted of Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of Israel Ron Gerstenfeld, JNF NSW Executive Director Gabbie Budai, CEO of Jewish house Rabbi Mendel Kastel, Councillor William Nemesh and Co-Executive Director of ECAJ Peter Wertheim.

Congratulations go to Miriam Itzkowitz who won the JNF Award for Contribution to the Jewish Community in the Youth Category.  Miriam volunteers for Friendship Circle, JNF Green Sunday, MDA Red Sunday, JCA phone campaign, Legacy and the Smith Family Student 2 Student programme. She is Madricha for Betar, a chorister and Torah reader at Sydney’s North Shore Temple Emanuel and works in many other organisations.

Haim Ayalon with Dan Springer

Roy Halberstadt and Leanne Juter, both Tzofim Madrichim, were joint winners in the youth category for Contribution to the State of Israel.

Elia Gil Munoz won the award for Contribution to Australian Society.  Elia took part in the Emanuel School Generosity Abroad Kenya trip and is a member of Generosity Abroad Youth. Elia also gave an impassioned speech to former MP Kerryn Phelps at last year’s student ‘Climate Rally’.

Nine-year-old Benjy Orwin from Melbourne, the youngest ever nominee, received an honourable mention for his contribution to Australian Society.  Benjy initiated a campaign called “Socks 4 Support” collecting over 5000 pairs of socks that were distributed to those in need.

In the Young Adult category, Haim Ayalon and Jordan Cohen shared the prize for the JNF Award for Contribution to the Jewish Community. Haim has been a committed member of the UIA Young Leadership Executive for over three years and has played a role in events across JCA, UIA, Friendship Circle, JNF, MDA and Dover Heights Shul. Jordan volunteers for Sydney Hatzola and is unconditionally available at all times as a first responder, saving lives. He was an active member of CSG and head of NSW AZYC last year, a youth leader for Bnei Akiva, a Madrich on the 2017 IST and a volunteer Bondi lifesaver.

Jake Leibowitz, Hila Tsor and Jonathan Paratz received honourable mentions. Jake is a strong advocate for the Perth Jewish community and Israel, dedicating his time to numerous communal organisations. Jake was a presenter at Limmud OZ Perth 2018 and at Perth’s Carmel School Zionist seminar 2019 and joined the executive of the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia as the Youth Representative.

Hila is the Community Relations Officer for the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. The project Hila is most passionate about is ‘Yallah’!, an organisation dedicated to remembering the narrative of the Jews from Arab Lands and the persecution to which they were subjected.

Jonathan has been heavily involved in the Brisbane CSG over the past 7 years and currently holds a senior voluntary position. He is also an active member of AUJS and the QJBD Inter-faith Sub-committee.

Dion Esterman won the award for Contribution to the State of Israel. Dion was Rosh Tarbut, Madrich, Gizbar and Rosh Machane federally for Bnei Akiva. Dion also volunteered for Maccabi Australia, helping to develop their gap year leadership program and became Assistant Manager of the junior delegation at the Maccabi Games. Dion took on the Presidency of the Beit Midrash Minyan in Mizrachi and served on the shul’s board. When the ACT Zionist Council was established, Dion took on the presidency to help grow it and become a part of the wider ZFA community.

Gali Blacher and Maddy Jones together with Ben Wilheim won awards for their contribution to Australian Society. Gali and Maddy recognised the need to make the homeless feel accepted and created an enterprise called The Good Box, designed to provide people living on the street with a gift box of essential basics. They came second at JCA’s Shark Tank, winning $15,000 which gave them the funding to officially launch an online store.

Ben created “Remember September” in 2015, following the death of his father Danny from pancreatic cancer. Ben aims to raise awareness of and funds for research to find a cure for this dreaded disease. So far, he has raised over $175,000.

Sarah Greenbaum won the B’nai B’rith Award for Leadership. Sarah was the previous Vice President of the ACT Jewish Community, Chair of the ACTJC Progressive Congregation and a member of the Board of Progressive Jewish Education. Sarah played a critical role in establishing a formal Progressive congregation committee and formalised the congregation through registration with the Union of Progressive Judaism. She also negotiated a contract allowing for a visiting Rabbi to run services and programs to the Progressive congregation on a monthly basis inspiring a social network that has now evolved into deep friendships and community connections. Sarah achieved all of this whilst working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading.

Gareth Milner received an Honourable Mention for his continuous efforts in engaging Jewish Young Adults through AUJS and JNFuture.

This event brings our communal organisations together nationally in celebration, acknowledgment and support for our next generation of leaders.

To nominate for next year’s award follow the link: https://www.jnf.org.au/changemaker/

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