By: Lori Lowenthal Marcus – Jewish Press
The waning interest of young Jews in committing themselves either to activism on behalf of the Jewish State or to commitment to observing and learning about their own religion has been a recurrent theme in recent years.
One rabbi decided he was going to take a fresh, creative approach to the problem.
Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm of Chabad Young Professionals of the Upper East Side of Manhattan committed himself to making Jewishness cool and instilling pride in the people with whom he comes in contact.
One of his ideas was to create the Jewish People’s Choice Awards. The JPCA ceremony highlights the work that young Jewish activists all across New York City engage in on behalf of their communities and the state of Israel.
The goal of the JPCA is to reward the activists and showcase them as a model for others. Rabbi Wilhelm hopes that other young people in the Jewish community will realize that they also can and should be taking on similar roles.
The first Jewish People’s Choice Award ceremony took place last year. The event drew a crowd of close to 1,000 people.
The second annual JPCA will take place on Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street.
This year there will be seven distinct categories for which nominees have been selected. They include the “Chabad’s Choice Award”, “Making a Difference Award”, “Business Person of the Year”, “Wedding of The Year”, “Lover of Israel”, “Open Heart, Open Home Award”, and lastly the “Doctor of the Year” award.
Presenters of last year’s awards included Shahar Azani, the consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel, as well as Lori Zaslow formerly of Bravo TV’s Love Brokers and founder of Project Soulmate.
Chabad Young Professionals of the Upper East Side of Manhattan is a home for the 13,000 young Jews living on New York’s Upper East side.
Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm, the man behind the JPCA, hopes that this kind of event will help “change the paradigm of apathy and ennui, and instead instill the sense of pride that’s needed in our community.”