Mitzvah Day Awards
The Mitzvah Day 10th Anniversary Celebration and 2018 Awards, held in partnership with the Jewish Chronicle, was a huge success, and we are incredibly grateful to all those who attended and brought with them donations of baby goods for our chosen charity Little Village.
Compared by the entertaining and engaging Nick Ferrari, we were delighted to not only recognise some of the incredible projects that took place all over the world in 2018, but to also look back and reflect on the many successes of the past ten years.
Voting closed at midnight on Monday 4th of February with over 1500 people casting their vote for their favourite in each category. The final result of the vote was as follows:-
Outstanding Mitzvah Day 2018 – Winner – Village of Hawkshead
For the community or organisation with the most impressive project, social action or other achievement that took place on Mitzvah Day 2018 – presented by Barry Toberman, Associate Editor for The Jewish Chronicle
Hawkshead in Cumbria hosted one of the most ambitious and unusual Mitzvah Days. Residents and businesses came together to bus 160 Syrian refugees to the village for a day of fun and food. Twenty family friendly events took place, including bell ringing, hill walking, chocolate workshops, a showing of Paddington 2 with Arabic subtitles and a cruise on Lake Windermere. Refugees taught the Cumbrians Arabic dance, cooked for the local community and attended a village tea. People “blink back tears” as they recall seeing refugees reunite in Hawkshead’s village square, having last met in refugee camps.
Congratulations to our other finalists: Borehamwood & Elstree Synagogue / Mill Hill United Synagogue / Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community / Mensch South Africa
Mitzvah Day International Award – Winner – Neder Barcelona
For the most impressive project, social action or other achievement taking place outside of the UK – presented by Liubov Kantor on behalf of the Kantor Foundation
Three years ago, Neder (a group of Jewish women from various communities in Barcelona) decided to launch Mitzvah Day Barcelona and their activities have grown from strength to strength.This year’s projects included: a cemetery clean up; a blood drive; a plug collection for use in research for rare genetic diseases; collectathons of personal hygiene products and medicines in partnership with the Jewish communities of Venezuela and Caracas and a youth visit to a school for children with physical and learning disabilities.
Congratulations to our other finalists: The Jewish Council of North Central Florida / ASYV Village Rwanda / JCC Krakow / Mitzvah Day Australia
Mitzvah Day 365 Award – Winner –Bushey Gives Back
For the community or organisation that impresses with social action and or building relationships all year round – presented by Raymond Simonson, CEO of JW3
At the end of Mitzvah Day 2016 as the tired gardeners returned home, the bakers delivered their cakes, and the kids tidied their arts and crafts, a small group of regulars and newcomers to Bushey Synagogue decided they wanted to help others more than just once a year. Thus ‘Bushey Gives Back’ was born. For 365 days a year Bushey does something for someone. Whether it’s Frying in February, Singing in September or Donating in December, the group help hundreds of people, from those without a home to those in a care home. Just a few volunteers, yet so much achieved!
Congratulations to our other finalists: Harlow Jewish Community Cheder / Woodford Forest United Synagogue Drop-in For Asylum Seeker Families / Alyth Synagogue Aleppo Supper Club / Stanmore & Canons Park United Synagogue – Yad B’ Yad
Outstanding Interfaith Partnership – Winner –The Friendship Circle, Manchester
For the best collaborative project between Jews and another faith group/s, with an emphasis on bringing people of different faiths together – presented by Julie Siddiqi. Founder and Director of Sadaqa Day and Co-Chair of Nisa Nashim
Working alongside people with disabilities, The Friendship Circle brought many parts of the Manchester Jewish community together with their local Muslim community and a Sikh group, to collect masses of supplies for the local homeless, make care packs for them, and hand out hot food together on the streets of Manchester.
Congratulations to our other finalists: South Manchester Synagogue (Bowdon Shul) / #ChickenSoupChallenge at East London Mosque / Muswell Hill Synagogue and LICC Wightman Road Mosque / Caritas Westminster
Outstanding Youth Achievement – Winner – Akiva School
For the best Mitzvah Day run by a school, college, cheder, youth club or any other group of under 21-year-olds – presented by Rebecca Lewis, representing UJS
Every year Akiva commits wholeheartedly on Mitzvah Day for a range of causes. In 2018, students at the school created special sensory Chanukah cards for the children ALEH support, in Israel. They also learnt about living with disabilities, and students highlighted and explored what people can achieve despite their impairments.
Congratulations to our other finalists: Meir’s 10th Birthday Party / LJY-Netzer / Henrietta Barnett School / South Hampstead High School
Following the publicly voted for awards, Mitzvah Day took the opportunity to acknowledge two outstanding individuals whose contributions towards Mitzvah Day have been absolutely invaluable.
The first of these was presented by Nicky Goldman, Chief Executive of JVN, the Jewish Volunteering Network to Abigail Mann in recognition of an individual who has gone above and beyond for Mitzvah Day 2018.
Abigail Mann’s passion for fairness and equality has lead her to spearheading ambitious, numerous and important projects, bringing the entire village of Hawkshead, Cumbria, into Mitzvah Day. Balancing a tremendous workload and her family commitments, she has worked tirelessly throughout the year to lead 24 amazing projects for the benefit of 160 Syrian refugees.
The second was presented by Trustee Lady Daniela Pears to Nick Grant to recognise someone who has embraced the values of Mitzvah Day from our earliest years. This individual has shown incredible diligence and commitment to his projects, and in doing so he has brought his entire community together year on year, to make Mitzvah Day part of their calendar.
Nick Grant has been participating in Mitzvah Day since 2009, and his background in project management has stood him in good stead as he has steadily developed more and more projects for the diverse community of St Albans Masorti Synagogue. And now, thanks to Nick’s boundless enthusiasm, over 200 of their members are actively involved in Mitzvah Day projects.
Finally, to celebrate Mitzvah Day’s 10 Year Anniversary, there was a surprise presentation by Lady Daniela Pears, to our Founder and Chair Laura Marks OBE.
To thank Laura for setting up Mitzvah Day, and for building it into what it is today, Daniela and the Trustees came together to present her with a special Award, and a framed letter of recognition and thanks from Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. They had even organised a personal video message from Home Secretary Sajid Javid, which was played on the evening, to thank Laura for her truly inspiring and impactful work.
The presentation to Laura brought a close to what was a fantastic and meaningful celebration, recognising individuals and projects that have really stood out to help important local causes around the world. Thank you everyone for coming, and here’s to the next 10 Years!