New Jersey native Jay Feinberg, founder and CEO of the Gift of Life Foundation, will receive the Areyvut Community Leadership Award at the organization’s annual breakfast, Sunday, May 15, at 9:30 a.m. at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck.
Feinberg was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, a normally fatal disease, when he had just graduated from college and was living in West Orange. With help from the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and other Jewish community organizations, a worldwide search was launched, a compatible bone marrow donor match was made, and his life was saved by a transplant in 1991.
Founded in New Jersey by Feinberg and his family in 1995, the foundation has facilitated over 3,000 bone marrow transplants for patients in need.
Feinberg formerly served on the board of the World Marrow Donor Association. Among the numerous awards he has received are the Charles Bronfman Prize, Hadassah International’s Citizen of the World Award, Jewish Federations of North America’s Jewish Community Hero Award, and the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award from the Union for Reform Judaism; in 2013, he was included in the Algemeiner Jewish 100 List of individuals who have raised the quality of Jewish life.
Areyvut helps b’nei mitzva celebrants personalize mitzva projects to enhance their celebration, runs teen philanthropy programs, coordinates a national Mitzva Day, and publishes the “A Kindness a Day Calendar.” It has had a longtime partnership with Gift of Life: the Areyvut Mitzvah Clowns participate in the annual Gift of Life’s Walk for Life in New Jersey, and Areyvut staff have facilitated donor drives for Gift of Life, whose own representatives have attended Areyvut b’nei mitzva fairs.
“I am honored to receive Areyvut’s Community Leadership Award,” said Feinberg. “Gift of Life was founded with the same core values of hesed and tikun olam that Areyvut instills in the lives of Jewish youth. It has been an honor to work…on service learning projects and witness the impact our organizations have in making the world a better place.”
“So many people have friends or relatives or know of people whose lives have been saved by Jay and Gift of Life,” said Areyvut founder and director Daniel Rothner. “He is literally a life-saver who has transformed the community.”
Lillian Pravda, founder and CEO (Chief Eyesight Optimist) at Vision for and from Children, will be honored with the Young Leadership Award.