Jewish Community Heros Award Prediction

Posted on October 6, 2009


Rabbi Yonah is perhaps the most amazing force in the “young” Jewish Community. He is brilliant. He is enormously talented. He has a global following. He is the undisputed leader in the Jewish Community Heros Award voting contest. He will win the popular vote by a margin of something like 2:1.

I will be stunned (and thrilled) if he wins the $25,000 award.

So who will the “committee” pick?  The “Jewlicious Festival” Rabbi running amazing religious and social programming in the sprawling, laid-back, and diverse Southern CA and world-wide via the web?  Or the independent JCorps”social entrepreneur” who is bringing together young Jewish adults, and in the process strengthening the Jewish communities they serve?

What about the other three candidates?  Despite having a deep appreciation for the work of Rabbi Engel (I don’t know Rabbi Mendel or Devora Benjamin) I just cannot see a committee of the UJC trying to decide among Chabad programs, despite the broad impact they have in their communities.

While I would not count Rabbi Yonah out of the money, my gut is leaning towards Ari Teman.  He is the only independent volunteer in the top five on the leaderboard.  I have a feeling that the UJC and Jewish Community Heros judges will find that an easier selection than any of the other top five candidates.

The Jewish Community here in Long Beach does not have the resources of NY,LA or any other major city with a sizable Jewish Community.  We have very few donors capable of writing a check for $25k.  The impact of Rabbi Yonah winning and bringing a donation that large to our relatively small Jewish community will be substantial.  I hope that the committee accounts for this when they decide where the money will go.

BTW–Interesting that two of the (currently) top 5 on the leaderboard are Rabbis who have made their reputations for their work here in Long Beach CA.  In fact, both have spent time as the campus Rabbi for CSULB, one of the largest universities in the state.  Could Long Beach be the next epicenter for Jewish Life in the US?  Eh…probably not. But we’re doing a great job with what we have!