GARETH NARUNSKY, Changemakers Honoured, April 8, 2015, The Australian Jewish News, http://www.jewishnews.net.au/changemakers-honoured/41340

THE Cricket World Cup final didn’t stop more than 150 people attending B’nai B’rith and JNF’s Jewish Changemakers Awards at the B’nai B’rith Centre on Sunday, March 29.

This year saw 78 nominations from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia vying for awards in the youth and young adult categories.

B’nai B’rith Alfred Dreyfus Unit president Ernie Friedlander said the “uplifting” evening exceeded his own expectations. “Everyone there that was nominated is really a winner … The judges must have had an extremely difficult task,” he told The AJN.

JNF national executive assistant and its driving force behind the project, Etty Ayalon, added: “It was an inspiring evening and an honour to be involved in an event that acknowledges and nurtures our future generation.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) president Jeremy Spinak, 32, was thrilled with the award for Leadership in the Young Adult category.

“Encouraging young people to get involved in communal life is extremely important and the JNF and B’nai B’rith are to be congratulated for this great initiative,” he said. “It is really the Board of Deputies’ award, an acknowledgement of our excellent staff and volunteers, and the generous prize will be donated to our organisation.”

Also in that category, the Online Hate Prevention Institute’s Andre Oboler won the award for Contribution to Australian Society, while Joshua Koonin – who organised an Israel study trip for young political aspirants – won the award for Contribution to the State of Israel.

The award for Contribution to the Jewish Community was shared between Gina Simon and Boris Sherman. In the Youth category (under 18), Lucy Steigrad and Sam Mart were joint winners of the award for Contribution to Australian Society, while Steven Ligoff won for Contribution to the Jewish Community. “I was really surprised,” Ligoff, who volunteers at Masada College and is a Betar madrich, said.

Queensland native Ciaran Frazer, who is currently living and studying in Melbourne, won the Contribution to the State of Israel award for organising pro-Israel activities in Brisbane last year. “I didn’t expect what I did to be so marvelled at,” he said.

He added “the Changemaker Awards are a really great idea” and said he’d been inspired to continue giving his time to the community through B’nai B’rith in Melbourne.

The awards were judged by Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim, former JBOD president David Knoll, former Shalom Institute president Ilona Lee, former NCJWA president Dalia Ayalon Sinclair and Betar NSW shaliach Ortal Dary.

GARETH NARUNSKY

Jeremy Spinak and Ernie Friedlander.