Changemakers shine

June 28, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Perth’s Carmel School graduate Talya Faigenbaum and current Year 12 student, Gila Cherny recently won in their categories at the JNF B’nai B’rith Jewish Changemaker Awards in Sydney.

Shayna Slotar and Gila Cherny

Graduate Shayna Slotnar has been selected to represent Australia at the Diplomatic Seminar for Young Jewish Leaders Summit in Israel. Each of these three impressive young people has made a huge impact on the community in different ways, resulting in many individuals being assisted and empowered. This year’s 60 nominees from across Australia, were made up of school students to young professionals. As the Awards gain momentum from year to year, they have become a platform for the discovery of outstanding talent within our community and recognition of our emerging leaders.

Gila Cherny was nominated by Carmel School Principal, Shula Lazar for her extensive community service, which includes volunteering with the Menora Charity since she was 12 years old, running a‘Share the Dignity’ campaign at the School in 2017 and undertaking food packing for Zombreros. This year, Gila also ran a high-level art exhibition to celebrate the work of two young men with Autism who together form the Really Useful Recyclers. The exhibition also raised money for families living with children with Austism. When nominating her, Mrs Lazar commented “Gila Cherny is a teenager whose maturity and insight into the needs of others is beyond her years. Her contributions to the Jewish community and her work in the wider community is vast. Gila has a heart of gold and endless energy that she constantly puts towards bettering the lives of others.” On winning the award, Gila was both honoured and humbled to be recognized in this way. “It’s such an honour to be acknowledged as a changemaker, especially to be recognised alongside all the other candidates. We all do such different things to try to make a difference with one common goal: to help others around us and make this world a better place. I can’t wait to start my next project to create positive change and continue helping others,” said Gila.

For alumnus Talya Faigenbaum, the win was also simultaneously an honour and humbling. “I was blown away to be recognised in that capacity, and to be included within a group of such committed, amazing people, all working to make our community a better place,” she said. After school, Talya completed an Arts/Law degree, spent a period of time in a women’s seminary in New York and Israel and then settled with her husband in Melbourne. She now runs her own family law practice, and was recognised for her work in assisting Jewish women achieve just outcomes in religious divorce proceedings. In her experience, these women can face difficulties when their former spouses use the religious divorce (or “Gett”) to manipulate outcomes in the civil divorce process. “I hope that one day, this project will be redundant,” Talya says. “These women shouldn’t have to face these difficulties,but as long as they do, I will be there to support and advise them.” Since commencing this project in 2015, Talya estimates she has helped 20 women navigate their way through these challenging circumstances. Talya was nominated for The JNF B’nai B’rith Jewish Changemaker Awards by her husband, who is her biggest fan and supporter.

In partnership with the Israeli Embassy, some of the Award nominees were also selected to represent Australia at the Diplomatic Seminar for Young Jewish Leaders Summit in Israel this month. Carmel alumnus Shayna Slotar was among those selected. She was nominated for the JNF Award for Contribution to the Jewish Community, Contribution to Australian Society, and Support for the State of Israel. As a seminar representative, Shayna will also experience a JNF tour of Israel, visiting iconic and life-changing projects throughout the country.

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