On what would have been Yocheved Gourarie’s 27th birthday, a large crowd gathered for a moving and inspiring event to announce the winners of this year’s 3rd Annual Kindness Awards; an award established to recognize exceptional kindness shown by teachers and classmates. The atmosphere in the room was pulsating with warmth, friendship, love and above all kindness.
A project of the Meaningful Life Center, and directed by the incredible Sarah Zohar, this award celebrates the acts of kindness that create a culture of empathy and support within the Crown Heights Community. In its 3rd year, the YGKA is going strong! Hundreds of nominations poured in from students and classmates who wanted to highlight teachers and classmates that have deeply impacted and changed their lives.
The evening began with words from Rashi Marcus, a team member of this incredible award, welcoming all and inviting everyone to get involved – through nominating, donating, sharing stories of kindness and of course spreading kindness. Rashi shared that the Jewish nation is “One man, with one heart.” When we do an act of kindness, lift someone up, help a friend – we are in fact nurturing our collective heart.
Avremi Gourarie, Yocheved’s dear father, then shared some personal words of inspiration on the meaning of kindness and reminded us all that we are inherently good. After thanking all the incredible people that sent in nominations, he called upon a friend to share one final nomination. The room was silent as we heard about a loving soul, a friend who went above and beyond to offer kindness and simply be there when needed. You could feel the emotional energy in the room as the friend finished off by thanking Yocheved Gourarie for her kindness.
This was followed by the moment we had all been waiting for, the big reveal of the winners! Avremi and his son Levi announced the male winners – with the top prize of $10,000 going to Rabbi Mendy Oster of Darchei Menachem, and $1,000 going to Akiva Silverman of Darchei Menachem and Gedalia Schatzkamer of Chovevei Torah.
Next, we were honored to hear from Yocheved’s dear mother, Dini Gourarie as she thanked the whole team that makes this incredible award possible, with a huge shout out to Eli and Fraidy Nash and Joe and Ruth Weingarten – whom without this award would not be possible. This was followed by the exciting announcement of the female winners – with the top prize of $10,000 going to Morah Yehudis Cohen of Machon L’Yahadus, and $1,000 going to Rochelle Moss of Bais Rivka and Chaya Mushka Bialo of Bnos Chomesh Academy.
There was not a dry eye in the audience, as one final honorary award was presented by a dear classmate to Hadassah Lebovic A”H. With quite a few nominations speaking of Hadassah’s warm spirit and loving heart, her kindness continues to live on and impact so many.
The evening closed off with a take-away address by Rabbi Simon Jacobson. He shared how a Jew came down to this earth to do another Jew a favor. It’s that simple. The point was brought home with a beautiful and powerful story which showed how the Rebbe spent his entire life looking for that favor – we never know which favor is the one we were brought here on earth to fulfill.
The crowd was then invited to partake in a delicious buffet of food and drink, mingle, and celebrate our winners!
So many beautiful and touching messages and emails have been pouring in since the award ceremony, people sharing their gratitude toward the campaign and the impact it has had on them. Parents of the classmate winners have sent in the most heartwarming notes of appreciation and attendees (live and online) have been moved to tears and want to get involved. The YGKA is spreading kindness in a very real way.
Join us in spreading, highlighting and celebrating kindness. Please visit kindnessaward.com to donate, nominate, read full nominations and kindness stories, sign up for emails and so much more.
Watch the replay here: