Liberal Jews win major volunteering awards

6 December 2016

Liberal Judaism communities and members have won a series of volunteering awards.

Simon Cooper and Rebecca Woolfe were named The Jewish News and Mitzvah Day’s Community Heroes for 2016, in a moving ceremony.

Simon, who suffered from cystic fibrosis, was an ambassador for NHS Blood & Transplant, raised money for many different charities and, as a brilliant drummer and musician, devised Liberal Judaism’s Friday Night Rock service.

When Simon was diagnosed with lung cancer in January this year he planned to raise more money for good causes, together with Rebecca, by putting on the ‘Simon says Let’s Party’ event.

After Simon sadly died in July at the tender age of 33, Rebecca took over the organisation and running of the fundraising dinner and dance on her own – doing a wonderful job and raising more than £20,000.

Rebecca, who picked up the award with mum Angela and Simon’s wife Claire, said: “We all see Simon as a hero and inspiration in more ways than one. When you think about what he went through health wise, and what he achieved in his life, most people don’t achieve that in a lifetime of 100 years.”

A festive charity single can be bought via iTunes here, featuring Simon and the Friday Night Rock Service singing Light A Candle For Chanukah, written by Debbie Friedman but arranged, recorded and produced by Simon. It will raise money for both the North London Hospice – who cared for Simon and where Simon and Claire got married – and the Debbie Friedman Trust. The family are also setting up a charity in Simon’s name.

At the same ceremony, Dublin Jewish Progressive Congregation won the Mitzvah Day 365 Award for its work with Inner City Helping Homeless (pictured).

After first volunteering last year, the community now spend all year collecting and sorting clothes for the charity, as well as now moving on to creating hygiene packs and training volunteers in outreach.

Last month, Ben Combe was honoured at the Jewish Volunteering Network Awards as a result of his work for Liberal Judaism’s youth movement LJY-Netzer.

Ben, like many LJY-Netzer volunteers, works very hard to deliver numerous high quality youth events all year round.

See more in the upcoming edition of LJ Today, which will be with communities next week.

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