More than 70 charity volunteers have been recognised for their outstanding work during the pandemic and beyond at this year’s Jewish Volunteering Network awards.
Some 73 charity awardees were recognised at the star-studded virtual event which featured appearances from comedian Matt Lucas, broadcaster Esther Rantzen and TV’s Rob Rinder.
The event was dedicated in memory of JVN’s former chairman, David Lazarus, who was movingly remembered by wife Gaby as a person “who encouraged all of us to be the best version of ourselves.”
While charities across the Jewish community received trophies before the event, an independent judging panel established the outstanding winners from four categories: Outstanding Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Volunteer Team of the Year, Innovation in Volunteering and Lifetime Volunteer of the Year award.
Ruth Green, a trustee of UJIA, scooped the top award in the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year category, with judges recognising her “seemingly limitless” energy for volunteering.
UJIA chair, Louise Jacobs, paid tribute to Ruth’s work, saying she has an “amazing ability to make everyone feel special.”
“She has made us think of issues that sometimes other people would have been too afraid to bring to the light,” she said.
Volunteers with United Synagogue’s Chevra Kadisha, who prepare deceased people for burial, were applauded as the Outstanding Volunteer Team of the Year.
“I would call them like the Jewish SAS,” said Melvyn Hartog, the head of burial at United Synagogue. “This is seen as one of the most important mitzvot, good deeds, as the deceased person cannot thank you nor can they repay you for the help you gave.”
Judges were torn on who to recognise of the many who had innovated during the pandemic and so named four recipients of the new Innovation in Volunteering Award – Bushey Synagogue, the JLGB youth charity, Kef Kids, and Jewish Blind and Disabled.
Special recognition was given for a lifetime’s worth of volunteering to Elaine Grazin, who won the Lifetime Volunteer of the Year award in memory of Judy Citron, a co-founder of the JVN.
Elaine, a founder member of Jewish Women’s Aid, was praised as an “inspirational woman” for her work in helping victims of domestic abuse.
“Elaine’s quiet, intelligent leadership has inspired our trustees, volunteers and staff – she is very humble and has never expected praise or thanks for all her years of hard work,” said the chief executive of Jewish Women’s Aid, Naomi Dickson.
To see a full list of those awarded, visit the JVN website here.
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