Why No Heroines Among the 'Jewish Community Heroes'?

When one of our favorite blogs, Jacob Berkman’s The Fundermentalist, over at JTA, throws down the gauntlet, we at The Sisterhood are happy to take it up.

In his post announcing that the Jewish Federations of North America-run Jewish Community Heroes contest has selected its five finalists, he notes that they are all male. Nominees for the contest are selected by popular online vote: This year, more than 311,000 votes were cast. A panel of 16 judges (six of whom are women) selected the finalists and will pick the winner, who is to be announced at the upcoming JFNA General Assembly, in New Orleans November 7–9.

My view of the contest is complex: On the one hand, this kind of popularity contest tends to be finessed by the well-organized, like the Chabad-associated nominees this year and last who are adept at using social media to generate support. On the other hand, we know many Jews who work selflessly to improve things for others and would be able to put the $25,000 grand prize to effective use. And the Jewish community is in real need of inspiration, so the idea of finding unsung heroes to highlight is, well, appealing.

According to JFNA spokesman Joe Berkofsky, the finalists were picked entirely by the judges. “It was subjective, but completely based on merit,” he said.

Whatever the contest’s other virtues or flaws, however, women ought to be among the finalists and the judges ought to keep in mind that being conscious of diversity does not mean disregarding merit.

The contest’s goals are two-fold, Berkofsky said. “One is to really honor and celebrate people who are doing service and really doing tikkun olam, repairing the world. It’s also an effort to connect people through social media.”

Here are some women who, I think, ought to be among the next round of Jewish Community Heroes contest nominees. While my list does not include rabbis, some of those listed on The Sisterhood 50, would also be strong contenders. The just-posted Forward 50 should also be plumbed, of course.

Who would you nominate?

Recommend this article

Why No Heroines Among the 'Jewish Community Heroes'?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!