On Monday night Jewish News and LABS shines a spotlight on acts of bravery, selfless voluntary work and lifetimes of invaluable service at a glitzy ceremony hosted by David Walliams.
We preview those shortlisted for coveted awards at the event, which is communally partnered y the Jewish Leadership Council, in categories including: Community Hero, Interfaith, communal initiative, Israel Hero, Communal Ally and Young Hero.
The launch last October of Evie’s Night Owls, an at-home overnight respite service supporting parents whose children require round-the-clock care, was an initiative by Mill Hill couple Sam and Lee Bladon. Evie, was born in 2012 with severe brain damage, and was given 48 hours to live, but her parents’ devoted care led to her reaching her third birthday before passing away. In her memory, they launched Evie’s Night Owls with two sales of girls’ party dresses in London and Manchester, raising £10,000 in three months. Proceeds went to Camp Simcha, which had consistently supported the couple.
For more than half a century, retired surgeon Norman Rosenbaum has been a dedicated voluntary leader within the community. Among his key roles, it is the 83-year-old Cockfosters and N Southgate Synagogue member’s fundraising for Magen David Adom (MDA) that is most impressive, as he has raised funds for 11 MDA ambulances and is about to donate a 12th. Not only is Rosenbaum’s individual fundraising record unparalleled, he has never missed an ambulance inauguration ceremony, and even witnessed one in use during a Tel Aviv terror attack in 2016. Rosenbaum, a grandfather of 10, is an embodiment of his profession’s values.
Over a decade ago, Kerry Rosenfeld was told her five-year-old son, Gavriel, was diagnosed with Duchenne, a severe form of muscular dystrophy. There is no known cure for the fatal condition, which affects 300,000 people worldwide, most of whom do not reach their 30th birthday. This prompted Rosenfeld to launch the Duchenne Research Fund in 2007, raising millions in an attempt to find a cure. At a gala dinner in 2016, £1.3million was raised and a video of Gavriel was shown. “Knowing my parents are going all out makes me really hopeful,” said the JFS pupil.
Many schoolchildren are thankful for their teachers’ life-changing impact on their
development, but few pupils and teachers have quite as dramatic a relationship as JCoSS student Noah Baron-Cohen and his PE teacher Ashley White. In April 2016, during a challenging but routine run, 16-year-old Noah suddenly collapsed as a result of what transpired to be a cardiac arrest. Fortunately, Mr White was on hand to perform emergency CPR treatment for 15 minutes before emergency services arrived. Mr White was honoured with a SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome) UK Lifesaver Award for his bravery and quick thinking.
Jude Williams was the galvanising force behind the Jewish community’s contribution to the Safe Passage campaign, a Citizens UK project aiming to bring child refugees to safety in Britain. Williams worked with Nic Schlagman, whose mother came to the UK with the Kindertransport. Having witnessed widespread despair during a visit to the Calais refugee camps in August 2016, Williams and Schlagman set about raising £200,000 in just three weeks through a viral social media campaign. The funds raised went to support legal work to reunite 100 young people with their families in the UK.
Rabbi Herschel Gluck is a veteran interfaith activist who, in 2000, established the Muslim-Jewish Forum to stimulate dialogue on issues of common concern to both communities. Gluck’s work in this country, as well as his participation in conflict mediation efforts internationally, led to the award of an OBE in 2013. The president of Stamford Hill Shomrim was one of the first faith leaders to demonstrate solidarity with the victims of last June’s terror attack that targeted Muslims at Finsbury Park Mosque, declaring: “An attack on the Muslim community is an attack on every single citizen in Great Britain.”
Nisa-Nashim, whose name means ‘women’ in Arabic and Hebrew, is a unique interfaith group designed at bringing Jewish and Muslim communities closer together through their women. Nisa-Nashim was launched in 2015 by Laura Marks and Julie Siddiqi, and is now the largest Muslim-Jewish project in Europe, with 24 local groups, each co-chaired by a Jewish and Muslim woman, and more than 1,000 regular participants. The forum encourages people to get to know each other on a personal level to combat stereotypes, and works to counter Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of racial and religious prejudice.
Among JW3’s numerous innovations that have impacted the community for the better, the Open Door Project stands out as a shining example of meaningful interfaith dialogue. Its pilot intake brought together 18 teenage girls of different religious backgrounds, from Muslim, Jewish and non-denominational schools. The high-schoolers took part in a series of after-school workshops, lectures, cultural activities, and educational sessions, all aimed at transcending boundaries and learning to appreciate difference. Participants’ testimonies reveal the transformative impact of the programme, which for many of the girls represented a first opportunity to make friends of different religions.
World Jewish Relief (WJR) has been at the forefront of British Jewry’s efforts to offer a co-ordinated response to the Syrian refugee crisis. The organisation has launched life-changing projects in conflict zones, among them a women’s support centre on the Turkish-Syrian border and education programmes for refugee children in Greece. For the past two years, WJR has helped Syrian refugees in the UK access employment, which attracted Home Office funding for language and vocational training. Drawing on recent memories of the Jewish people as refugees to gain communal support for their appeal, WJR has raised £1m since the project’s inauguration.
While the community’s schools, youth movements and other educational institutions justifiably remain a source of pride, only with Reshet’s establishment in 2015 was an integrated network for Jewish youth provision able to enhance the work of these diverse bodies as a collective. Reshet’s remit is to deploy cutting-edge research methods to identify sociological and pedagogical trends, which can help educators work with young people to overcome their most pressing challenges in a rapidly changing developmental context. One specific achievement Reshet has accomplished is the establishment of its Safeguarding Network Forum, bringing together communal organisations for joint training seminars.
A committee of dedicated volunteers, headed by Neil Martin OBE, works around the year to organise the community’s annual Yom HaShoah commemorations. In recent years, the flagship memorial event has taken place at Barnet’s Allianz Park, attracting more than 5,000 attendees to remember the lives of the six million who perished and to celebrate the contributions of refugees and survivors to the Jewish community in the UK. The initiative is supplemented by dozens of tributes in synagogues, schools, and other communal organisations, bound together by the threefold aim of: ‘Remembering the past; Honouring the memory; Shaping the future’.
The Jewish community was at the forefront of the response to the Grenfell Tower fire, with local synagogues working to help those left homeless by the tragedy. West London Synagogue partnered with other faith groups to organise the Grenfell Kids Day Camp, while Holland Park Synagogue became one of the main collection centres for donations, and its nursery school opened free places for children of affected families. Local rabbis, including Moshe Freedman of New West End Synagogue, Chabad’s Yosef Wineberg, Neil Janes from West London Synagogue, and Abraham Lavi from Holland Park, contributed distinctly to interfaith vigils.
The Balfour 100 campaign consisted of a series of initiatives, projects and events timed to coincide with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration last November. With the goal of raising awareness of the declaration’s unique significance in paving the way for Israel’s establishment, the campaign led by the Jewish Leadership Council was active both inside and outside the community. At its keynote celebratory dinner, historian Simon Schama delivered the Balfour Centenary Lecture at the Royal Society. In total, hundreds attended events organised by the campaign, while thousands more have explored an array of educational resources on its website.
As part of an initiative based on the rare fusion of society’s oldest and youngest members, Wimbledon-based Jewish nursery Apples and Honey last year opened a new setting on the site of the nearby Nightingale House care home. Apples and Honey founder Judith Ish-Horowicz came up with the idea after regularly bringing her pupils to visit the home. Although participation is open to all faiths and backgrounds – and a fifth of places are reserved for children of Nightingale Hammerson employees – shared activities encompass Jewish values and practices, including jointly-run meaningful and enriching Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdalah ceremonies.
Gesher Primary School, which opened last September, is the initiative of Sarah Sultman and Ali Durban. Both parents to sons with special educational needs, the pair discovered that there was no provision for this cohort of children within the Jewish community’s existing educational frameworks. The school is for children who have language and communication difficulties, and has a specialism in autistic spectrum challenges. Gesher’s impact on its maiden cohort has been so profound that the next year’s intake is already oversubscribed. Sultman and Durban have exemplified tirelessness and altruism in realising their vision of a better future for these children.
One in five Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier of at least one of nine severe recessive Jewish genetic disorders (JGDs), and if two carriers of the same JGD have a child, the child has a one in four chance of inheriting the condition. However, until the launch of GENEius in November 2016, British Jewry lacked a community-wide structure for tackling this threat. Inspired by similar campaigns in other countries, GENEius is an education and screening programme targeting teenagers and young adults, which reached 1,000 sixth-formers in its first year and also provides support for students on campus.
On 30 July 2015, 16-year-old Jerusalemite Shira Banki was fatally stabbed while demonstrating solidarity with her LGBT+ friends at the capital’s Gay Pride Parade. The incident, alongside a firebomb attack on a Palestinian family home the following day, raised awareness of the importance of countering extremism and incitement in Israeli society, leaving Shira’s parents, Ori and Mika, at the forefront of an anti-radicalisation campaign. They have established a non-governmental organisation, Shira Banki’s Way, as a means of offering education and promoting tolerance in the public sphere, reflecting their determination to transform Israel into a fairer society.
Dr Ofer Merin is a cardiothoracic surgeon who serves as deputy director-general of the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, and also heads the medical centre’s trauma unit. In this capacity, Merin and his team are the first on the scene to save lives following terror attacks in the city. His staff, consisting of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, treat victims from all religions and ethnicities – not an easy feat, given the tensions caused by decades of conflict. Merin is a reserve commander in the IDF’s field hospital, which has garnered unparalleled levels of recognition and praise from the World Health Organisation.
Paediatric cardiac surgeon Dr Lior Sasson has devoted his entire career to making advances in the field of treating children with severe heart conditions in developing countries. He is the chief surgeon of Save a Child’s Heart, which provides life-saving surgery for children in need, and trains local specialists in order to ensure sustainability around the globe. Save a Child’s Heart has trained more than 100 doctors over the past 20 years, and Sasson was named by The Jerusalem Post as one of the world’s “50 most influential Jews”, being described as ‘the epitome of what a doctor should be’.
Dr Nicola Wetherall MBE, a champion of Holocaust education, was appointed MBE in the 2016 New Year honours list for her work.
Wetherall divides her time between University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education and the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy in Swindon, where she has set up a unique programme of Holocaust and genocide education.
Her work is internationally recognised and she is regularly consulted by policymakers and government officials.
John Mann MP for Bassetlaw has for many years led the fight in Parliament against anti-Semitism.
He chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism and the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism.
He has also taken the fight to other countries and famously confronted Ken Livingstone publicly in the hours after his comments on Hitler and Zionism.
His work is more remarkable since his constituency is not home to more than a handful of Jewish voters.
Patrick Moriarty is the headteacher of JCoSS, the community’s only cross-denominational Jewish secondary school, as well as an Anglican priest.
He is honorary secretary of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), and friends and colleagues alike believe that “inclusivity” is his middle name.
He took part in the CCJ’s first Jewish-Christian leaders study tour of Israel-Palestine and gave one of the most popular JDOV talks – Are You Sure You’re
Fiyaz Mughal OBE founded the interfaith organisation Faith Matters and the Muslim hate crime reporting body, Tell Mama, modelling it on the output and principles of Anglo-Jewry’s Community Security Trust (CST).
Tell Mama and CST work closely together. Mughal is a fierce opponent of anti-Jewish elements within the Muslim community and regularly speaks out in praise of Jewish initiatives such as the fight for shechita, which has benefited those who campaign for halal meat.
Maajid Nawaz has become one of the Jewish community’s most outspoken allies on his LBC radio programme, often in direct conflict with parts of his own community.
As the host of a call-in programme, he systematically dismantles the arguments of those attacking or singling out Israel; this is all the more extraordinary given his one-time membership of the radical Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir.
A strong voice against anti-Semitism, he is the founding chairman of the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam and is a Jewish News columnist.
Mike Freer MP has represented the constituency with the largest Jewish population, Finchley and Golders Green, since the 2010 election.
Currently a government whip, he was key to securing an increase in government funding for communal security in 2015 and resigned as a parliamentary private secretary in order to vote against a motion to recognise Palestine in 2014.
He has been a strong advocate for the launch of Jewish free schools.
Dilwar Hussain, trustee of the Three Faiths Forum, has been engaged in interfaith work for many years.
A regular press commentator on combating discrimination, Dilwar is vice-chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which oversees hundreds of commemorations nationwide each year.
He set up New Horizons, a progressive Muslim think tank and is the author of a pivotal report mapping Jewish and Muslim dialogue in the UK.
Ian Austin MP for Dudley North, is one of the Jewish community’s staunchest parliamentary friends.
In the Commons since 2005, Austin has consistently advocated for Israel and is a strong supporter of Labour Friends of Israel and is also active in helping the Jewish Labour Movement.
He is a strong ally of the Holocaust Educational Trust and spearheads an annual Holocaust Memorial Day event in his constituency. He led a campaign for a statue for Holocaust hero Frank Foley.
Sir Eric Pickles is a former Conservative Friends of Israel chair, and stood down from Parliament last year with a legacy of unstinting support for the Jewish community.
The man known as ‘our chum’ played a key role in bilateral relations under the Cameron and May premierships.
He stayed on as Britain’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, travelling the world to tackle matters of restitution.
Perhaps his greatest achievement was as an architect of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.
Joan Ryan MP for Enfield North chairs the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) at a difficult time in the country’s – and party’s – history. But she has frequently spoken out against Labour’s handling of the many anti-Semitism scandals within the party and has spearheaded LFI’s successful campaign for government funding for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence projects. She is a former oral history interviewer at the Imperial War Museum and developed its first project
to record the testimony of concentration
Eleven-year-old Lucy Allalouf has inspired many through her perseverance in the face of adversity. Lucy began secondary school this year, but it was far from guaranteed that she would reach this stage with such a positive outlook on life. She was born with a rare brain tumour and survived her first brain surgery aged 14 months. A recent relapse left her with further endocrine damage, and she requires daily medications and injections and regular hospital visits. Notwithstanding these difficulties, Lucy paints canvases for Camp Simcha and sings with the choir at Rays of Sunshine – making a difference to those around her.
Nine-year-old Zak Cohen has made extraordinary steps towards raising awareness of the need for cancer research since losing his 37-year-old mother Kay to the disease two years ago. Zak encouraged his school, Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School in Ilford, to participate in Race for Life. He set up a charity event with a canine theme called Pawfect in the Park, raising £1,350. As an ambassador for the grief counselling service Grief Encounter, Zak took part in a film to highlight the organisation’s work. The Hainault resident was recently nominated by Ilford Recorder as the area’s Young Citizen of the Year.
Many youngsters dream of becoming a professional sportsperson, but few have been more determined in realising their dream than Rio Woolf. Rio, aged nine, was born with a rare bone deficiency in his right leg, which was amputated shortly after his first birthday. Despite this, Rio has grown into a sports fanatic and, in 2016, was called up to the England Amputee Football Association Junior Squad. Watching the London 2012 Paralympics inspired Rio to dream of being a Paralympian, and his ambition is to follow in the blade steps of Jonnie Peacock.
Other awards on the night include:
- Team of the year – sponsored by the Jewish leadership Council
- Special Recognition Award – sponsored by Barbara and Mick Davis
- Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by the Clore Duffield Foundation