Recognizing a leader

Joe AllenIn 2009, JCC Rockland named its community service award after Rubin Josephs, who had recently died at age 82. Ruby, was noted in his obituary as being a “champion of charity.”  More than this, he defined what it meant to be a community leader. He led the way on so many causes, founding both the former Monsey Jewish Center and the Holocaust Museum and Study Center. He gave generously to the Yeshiva of Spring Valley, the former Ruben Gittleman Hebrew Day School and to so many more organizations. As well, he was a key supporter of the Rockland Jewish Community Campus on West Nyack Road.

In light of that, the JCC rethought the meaning of the award this year and decided that really, an award that carried Ruby Josephs’ name should be about leadership. This year, the award has been redubbed the Rubin Josephs Community Leadership award, and I’m pleased to note that the first recipient is my fiend, Joe Allen. I can’t think of a better person to honor. Joe is passionate and caring, and when he believes in a cause, he really throws himself into it.

At work, Joe is a senior vice president of employee communications and community affairs at Active International. But he is also the founder of Active Cares, the company’s cause-related program. Active Cares, which supports close to 600 charitable organizations in which its employees participate. As well, Joe is president of the board of directors of People to People, in Nanuet — Rockland County’s largest food pantry.

Joe is also a writer and storyteller, as anyone who has checked out his Facebook wall will know; and he has published “Goodbye for Always,” a book about Cecile Kaufer, a friend of his who survived the Holocaust.

I know Joe best through his efforts on behalf of the Munich 11, those Israelis who were murdered at the 1972 Olympics. When Active International became involved in the JCC Maccabi Games it was through Active Cares, which supported Change4Change, the teen tzedakah project that was part of our Games. This coin collection project was to help alleviate hunger in Rockland County and Israel.

As I mentioned, Joe is a natural-born storyteller, and knows a good story when he sees one. The JCC taking on the International Olympic Committee, demanding that it hold a minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics in memory of those Israeli athletes who were killed, well, that was one good story. Joe followed the JCC’s efforts throughout and made a film, ’20 Million Minutes,” detailing the J’s efforts all the way to London, where they presented a petition of more than 112,000 signatures to IOC President Jacques Rogge.

But Joe hasn’t stopped there. He’s now making another film, “The Great American Food Fight,” about why in a nation that has surplus food, we cannot get it to those who are hungry. He is filtering this story through the prism of People to People.

I’m always impressed by Joe’s dedication and passion (not to mention his extensive knowledge of truly fine whiskeys and the Pogues’ music catalogue) for the causes he believes in. He is certainly a fitting candidate to receive the Rubin Joesphs Community Leadership Award, for he has led the way for so many.


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