BULL BY THE HORNS PRESS SERVICES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
R’ Mordechai Tokarsky - Leading Candidate for “Jewish Community
Hero of the Year”
R’ Mordechai Tokarsky, co-founder and director of RAJE (Russian American Jewish Experience), a division of Gateways, is now the leading candidate for the Jewish Federations of North America’s second annual “Jewish Community Hero of the Year” award.
The purpose of the award contest is to honor those making strides to repair the world, starting in their own communities. Last year, the campaign attracted over a half-million online votes for several hundred nominees, with the web page receiving more than two million views.
The Jewish Federations of North America is an umbrella organization representing 157 Jewish federations and 400 independent Jewish communities. “[It is] the world’s largest Jewish philanthropic collective, and has raised billions of dollars for life-saving programs and services in North America, Israel, and around the globe,” according to Jerry Silverman, JFNA’s President and CEO.
Among the judges this year are: scientist Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway PT human transporter); filmmaker Tiffany Schlain (The Tribe); actor Elliot Gould (M*A*S*H, Friends); screenwriter/director Etan Cohen (King of the Hill, Idiocracy, Tropic Thunder); Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg; and last year’s national honorees, including Ari Teman, the 2009 winner of the prize.
Russian-born Mordechai Tokarsky is one of the first Russian-American Jews to receive rabbinic ordination since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Having been active in Russian Jewish community development for over 10 years, in 2006 he co-founded RAJE by joining with Mordechai Suchard, founder of Gateways, the grassroots Jewish education powerhouse, and business leader and philanthropist Ron Hersh.
The organization’s mission is to undo the Soviet policy of systematically obliterating Jewish culture and identity that affects many Russian-American émigrés. Recognizing that the future Jewish affiliation of this community is largely determined by the choices that 18 – 26 year olds make, Mordechai was the visionary behind the development of the ‘RAJE Leadership Fellowship’, an intense semester long educational and leadership training program, culminating in a two week trip to Europe and Israel.
With 750 completing the program each year, the vast network of RAJE Fellowship alumni are fast changing the face of the community, creating a strong foundation for grassroots development and impacting a vast network of 16,000, with alumni led programming. In a few short years, RAJE was able to demonstrate the potential of it’s model to have a transformative effect on a demographically significant scale. Over the next 10 years, RAJE’s goal is to expand its work into other cities with large Russian-American Jewish populations, such as Boston, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
“We strongly believe that with adequate funding we could ensure that an entire generation, the children and grandchildren of Refusniks, will have a future as a strong and vibrant part of the Jewish people”, says Mordechai Tokarsky. “but to accomplish this, we need the focus and investment of the organized American Jewish community in much the same way as was needed in the days of the Soviet Jewry movement. This is why this contest is so important to us; we hope that by taking center stage at the GA, we can draw attention to the demographic importance of the million strong Russian American Jewish community and to drive home the point that an investment in our future is an investment in the future of the Jewish people.”
To obtain further information regarding RAJE’s programs, please contact Mordechai Tokarsky, at (718) 812-0779, or firstname.lastname@example.org