Since 1995, the JFREJ community has gathered each year (with just two exceptions) at the Mazals to lift up the incredible vision, courage, and dedication of the people in our community and wider movement who’ve demonstrated — whether quietly behind the scenes, or loudly and proudly on the frontlines — creative and bold leadership. The Mazals is also a time and place for us to bask in the glow of our collective accomplishments and to ground ourselves in our love, respect, and admiration for one another.

WHEN: Tuesday, September 17th, 2024 | 6:00-9:00PM

WHERE: 9 Bob’s Note
(270 Meserole St, Brooklyn, NY 11206)


Rabbis for Ceasefire

Rabbis for Ceasefire is a group of Rabbis and Rabbinical students across political affiliations and denominations. At this moment of great moral reckoning, they are speaking out with one voice to fulfill the most sacred obligation in Jewish tradition. Pikuach nefesh: Saving a life. Grounded in Jewish values and leveraging their moral leadership, Rabbis for Ceasefire has demanded an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Since launching in October, Rabbis for Ceasefire has staged action across the US and on the Gaza border. Here in NYC, Rabbis for Ceasefire partnered with JFREJ to organize a Hannukah for Ceasefire action at Columbus Circle that drew hundreds of participants. JFREJ also worked with Rabbis for Ceasefire to stage a high-impact action at the United National Security Council, demanding an immediate ceasefire. 

This year, JFREJ will be presenting a Mazals award to a slate of three extraordinary leaders who, both as individuals and in partnership together, have devoted themselves to supporting immigrants and refugees arriving in NYC. Where Mayor Adams has failed, their work and collaboration embody New York at its best, fulfilling the promise of the welcoming home to all that this city could be:

Ruth Messinger

We are honoring Ruth Messinger, a founding member of JFREJ, in recognition of her leadership and commitment to support migrants arriving in NYC. Ruth Messinger now works as an independent social justice consultant in the Jewish and interfaith communities in New York.  She previously had a twenty-year career in public service/elected office in New York City and then served as the CEO of American Jewish World Service, an international human rights and development organization, from 1998-2016.  She continues as the AJWS Global Ambassador, teaches rabbinic students at the Jewish Theological Seminary, advises at the Meyerson Jewish Community Center of Manhattan; and facilitates the leadership and management training program for several cohorts of the Elluminate program. For the last 20 months Ruth has worked extensively on the challenges of the City’s newest New Yorkers, negotiating with the City for more humane responses that fully incorporate the informal help and support being provided by community groups and houses of worship.  Ruth is married to an educator and has 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Adama Bah

Adama Bah is an immigrant rights advocate and the founder of Afrikana, a nonprofit that provides direct services and advocacy to new immigrants arriving in New York City. She works tirelessly to advance equity and highlight the struggles and contributions of Black immigrants. Adama grew up in East Harlem after immigrating from Conakry, Guinea, and was deeply connected to her community and its residents. But as a sixteen-year-old after the events of September 11, 2001, she began experiencing discrimination and dehumanization as prejudice toward Muslim people grew. Then, on March 24, 2005, FBI agents arrested Adama and her father. Falsely accused of being a potential suicide bomber, Adama spent weeks in a detention center being questioned under suspicion of terrorism. Today, she greets every bus that arrives at Penn Station and migrants coming from all Ports of Entry into the city, welcoming new immigrants, directing them to available services, and offering care that the city has failed to provide.

Murad Awawdeh

Nationally acclaimed strategist and organizer, and longtime JFREJ partner, Murad Awawdeh has been leading the charge for immigrants across New York & the nation. Murad, a Palestinian-American Muslim, son of immigrants, has dedicated over two decades of his life fighting for low-income communities of color. As the President and CEO of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), he leads the nation’s oldest and largest immigrant rights organization. Through his work, he has successfully expanded rights and protections for New Yorkers and delivered over $10 billion in community reinvestment. Murad has been tapped by Governor Hochul to support post-COVID Recovery efforts to pave a new way forward for our city and state. Over the past two years, he has worked to welcome tens of thousands of recent arrivals, advocate for their needs, and strengthen the ecosystem of community organizations serving immigrant communities. Murad has successfully led electoral, legislative, and policy campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels and mobilized hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers at demonstrations against anti-immigrant policies. As the President and CEO of NYIC Action, the NYIC’s sister 501(c)4 political advocacy and action organization, he has successfully run grassroots electoral campaigns to elect progressive candidates. Murad has been featured in the New York Times, Vice, Washington Post, and various other outlets. He serves as a member of the Justice 2020 Committee, as a board member of the National Immigration Law Center, Advocacy Institute, National Partnership for New Americans, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, ImmigrantArc, Race Forward, and as Commissioner of the New York City Civic Engagement Commission.

Shelly Weiss ז״ל - Member Bedrock Leader Award

Shelly Weiss was a longtime, beloved JFREJ member who passed away this past February. She was a member leader in the New York Caring Majority, in JFREJ’s Poor & Working Class caucus and the Disability caucus. 

After college she moved to Park Slope, where she became known as the first “out” lesbian in the Brooklyn neighborhood. (Weiss gently denied this, reminding people that there were undoubtedly “out” lesbians among the Native Americans who previously settled the area.) She strongly identified as a lesbian feminist in the 1970s, and in 1986 worked with Rabbi Helene Ferris and the feminist writer Elly Bulkin to organize a “Lesbian & Gay Jews in the Jewish Community Conference” at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan, the first citywide gathering of lesbian and gay Jews.

In the early 1990s, as a single mom raising a young son in Park Slope, she became a proponent of public school curricula that would teach tolerance for different groups, including gay men and lesbians. She was one of three spokespeople for the Coalition for Inclusive Multicultural Education, leading actions that would anticipate some of the cultural battles surrounding gay and transgender activism three decades later.

In 1994, Weiss put aside her career in social work and health administration to found OUTMedia, booking LGBTQ performers at college campuses. Shelly was an active member of Kolot Chayeinu, a Jewish Congregation in Brooklyn. At Kolot Chayeinu, she served as chair of the Social Justice committee and was a member of its Gemilut Hasidim committee, White Anti-racist Affinity Group and the Queer & Trans Working Group.

She is missed dearly by the JFREJ community and was nominated for a Mazals Award by representatives of all four of JFREJ’s identity-based caucuses.  


Information about the Venue

Location: 9 Bob’s Note (270 Meserole St, Brooklyn, NY 11206)

Covid Safety:

  • The event will be held outdoors in a large enough space to spread out.
  • The entrance to the building and the restrooms are indoors. Masks are required in all indoor spaces. We will not be requiring masking in the outdoor space, though we encourage you to do so if that is more comfortable for you. 
  • We ask that everyone take a covid test on the day of the event and we will provide covid tests at the venue if you need. We ask that you stay home if you don’t feel well.

Rain Plan:

  • In the event of rain, we will be moving the event indoors and requiring masking. We are working with covid safety experts to maximize air purification and air flow in the indoor space. There will be limited outdoor and tented space for those who prefer to be outside. 


  • The venue is ADA accessible and has an ADA accessible restroom.
  • The venue is two blocks away from the closest train line and stop. We will provide ASL & Spanish translation during the event program. Please let us know if you require translation to other languages in order to participate.
  • The main program will be livestreamed 
  • JFREJ is committed to the safety of all of our guests. Just like at street actions, we will attempt to make sure that no one leaves the venue alone. We will arrange for guests to walk in groups and will provide buddies to accompany anyone walking to a car, car service or subway. 
  • The event is being held at a queer bar. In addition to a volunteer safety and security team arranged by JFREJ, the bar is providing traditional security. Please note that there are metal detectors at the entrance and that a bouncer will be checking IDs at the door. Unfortunately, there is not a workaround for these venue policies. We will have greeters and access support at the entrance to welcome you as you arrive.  
  • We will be providing childcare (more information to come for how to sign up for childcare). 


Click here to volunteer at The Mazals!