WATCH: Night of Heroes finalists’ videos

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WATCH: Night of Heroes finalists’ videos

Before Jewish News honoured finalists at Monday's glittering ceremony, guests were treated to a short clip highlighting their achievements

Zak Cohen – Young Hero

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.

Rio Woolf  – Young Hero

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.

Lucy Ronson Allalouf  – Young Hero

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.

Natasha Kaplinsky – Special Recognition award

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Dr Lior Sasson – Israel Hero award

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’.

Norman Rosenbaum – Community Hero award

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.

Apples and Honey Nursery – Community Initiative award

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.

Rabbi Lord Sacks – Lifetime Achievement Award

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

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