Announcing The 2021 Mazals Honorees

This year's honorees have been at the frontlines working to build a New York that’s home to all of us who live here

Every year at The Mazals, JFREJ honors organizations and people who have transformed the social movement landscape in the past year or whose lifelong work has inspired us to action. The theme of the 2021 Mazals is A JFREJ House Party. We’re celebrating people living and making change in our home city of New York, doing the critical work to build a caring and just future for all of us.

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We can’t lift up the work that we’ve done this past year without talking about the relentless grief that continues to characterize life in a global pandemic. Because despite the headway made with vaccine rollouts, it’s been another painfully hard year for New Yorkers, and we are still a ways away from the just recovery that we need and deserve.

But even in these hard times, we’ve also won major victories. We just elected the most progressive city council ever. Our collective city-wide movement of grassroots power has won victories that didn’t feel possible two years ago: lifting the street vendor cap (after nearly 40 years of organizing!); passing the first-of-its-kind Fund for Excluded Workers; and winning debt relief for NYC taxi drivers! We’ve come together, even when we’ve had to be apart.

Our honorees embody this spirit
; they’ve been at the frontlines working to build a New York that can be a caring, sustainable, and equitable home to everyone who lives here. Learn who this year's honorees are, and a little bit about them below:

Joo-Hyun Kang

Joo-Hyun Kang, for her bold and brilliant organizing as the outgoing director of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) where she has brought determination, vision, rigor, coalition-building-savvy, and decades of experience in principled leadership, to the fight to hold the NYPD accountable and create true, equitable public safety for all New Yorkers.

Shoshana Brown

Shoshana Brown, for her leadership as a founding member of JFREJ’s Jews of Color Caucus and as co-founder of the Black Jewish Liberation Collective, a fiercely loving and determined organizer, social worker, teacher, union member, and Kohenet, and who in a few short years has made a historic impact on the Jewish community’s conception of, and commitment to, racial justice.

The Fund Excluded Workers Hunger Strikers

The Fund Excluded Workers Hunger Strikers, for their unwavering commitment, steadfast leadership, and unimaginable sacrifices—under extreme conditions—in their historic fight and unprecedented win in holding Governor Cuomo accountable and securing the largest excluded worker fund in the country.

Upper West Side Open Hearts, Shams DaBaron, and the Men of the Lucerne

Upper West Side Open Hearts, Shams DaBaron (Da Homeless Hero) and the Men of the Lucerne, for their courageous efforts banding together to expose and resist the city's dehumanizing treatment and harassment of homeless New Yorkers—often at great personal risk—and for the spirit of solidarity they embodied in the process.

Last but not least, this year's emcee is...Jaslin Kaur!

JFREJ's electoral arm, The Jewish Vote, was honored to throw down as part of Jaslin’s groundbreaking 2021 campaign for City Council. Together, we built an historic multiracial working-class movement in one of New York City’s most moderate districts. While we didn’t win the election in the end, we came extremely close to pulling off a socialist victory in Eastern Queens—close enough to absolutely shock and terrify the establishment and transform the landscape for the next election.

Jaslin's true victory came months later, on November 3, 2021, when she helped secure debt relief for NYC taxi drivers through her organizing with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. Her official bio is below.

Jaslin Kaur is an Organizer at Know Your IX where she leads civil rights trainings for education justice and student survivors of gender-based violence. She also co-organizes with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) on lifesaving medallion debt relief for thousands of taxi drivers in New York City. Prior, she worked at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) in Washington, D.C. on immigrant justice and reproductive healthcare access for AAPI women and families and at New American Leaders helping launch governance trainings for elected women of color. Jaslin’s theory of change is rooted in uplifting the multiracial working class, which guided her in her recent run for New York City Council. Running in Eastern Queens, Jaslin campaigned on issues such as transportation access, affordable housing, and worker justice. She was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Jaslin holds a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies and Human Rights from CUNY Hunter College and an A.A. from Nassau Community College. In her free time, she enjoys martial arts, yoga, and Formula 1 racing.