In the season of Grammys, Golden Globes and the Oscar nominations, Mitzvah Day staged its own awards at JW3 in north London on Tuesday. And as with other award ceremonies, the winners — voted for by JC readers — had many people to thank for their supporting roles.
Sonia Muscovitch, who is both employed by and volunteers for Langdon, was stunned at her selection as outstanding Mitzvah Day individual. She led the learning disability charity’s Mitzvah Day programme, which involved more than 100 people in cooking and other creative projects.
“I was shocked when I was short-listed,” said the Woodford resident, who was nominated along with Nick Grant (St Albans Masorti), Michelle Becker (Radlett United) and Gloria Stoll (Norwood).
“I was too embarrassed to even promote it on my Facebook. Langdon did it for me.”
Ms Muscovitch has dedicated most of her professional life to working with young people with learning disabilities.
As well as her role in shaping the Langdon Brady Club, she co-ordinates the charity’s participation in activities such as the Maccabi GB Community Fun Run and the Maccabi Challenge Tour in Israel.
“Seeing the young people from Langdon involved in Mitzvah Day is really rewarding,” she told the JC.
“It made them feel confident about giving back, rather than people giving to them all the time. It is empowering and increases their independence.”
Although the recognition was wonderful, “I’d do it regardless. I think Mitzvah Day is a great way of bringing people together.”
The outstanding group award went to Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue for delivering the biggest and most inclusive Mitzvah Day taking place under one roof.
It ran 18 activities in a week, ranging from making soup for the homeless to interfaith gardening with a Hindu temple. “People in our community like to give back,” said Juliette Harris, who accepted the award with Samantha Jacobs on behalf of the shul.
“We wanted to have something for everyone to get involved in and we wanted to help Jewish and non-Jewish charities.”
Ms Jacobs said the Mitzvah Day programme also brought in people who were not normally involved in synagogue life.
Recognising year-round good deeds, the Mitzvah Day 365 award was presented to the Nottingham Liberal congregation and Muslim social justice organisation Himmah for establishing and running the Salaam Shalom Kitchen for the needy in the city. It supports asylum seekers, refugees and others in food poverty.
“It is amazing to be recognised for what we do,” said the shul’s Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich. “Our project doesn’t just help those in need. It helps the Muslims and Jews involved to build better relationships.
“There are things I wouldn’t know about the Muslim community were it not for this project.
“It has allowed people to make genuine friendships. We think of ourselves as a family.”
Other awards went to JCoSS and Lady Nafisa schools (youth achievement); the Together Plan, Belarus (overseas activity); Golders Green Synagogue and Interfaith Matters (interfaith partnership) and the Apples and Honey Nursery on the Nightingale home’s Clapham site (inter-generational achievement).