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This is a difficult time for Jews around the world.

Here in America, six months ago, our neighbors in Pittsburgh suffered the deadliest act of anti-Semitism carried out on American soil. And just days ago, across the country, near San Diego, yet another violent act of anti-Semitism was committed – this one during Shabbat services on the last day of Pesach. Congregants of both the Tree of Life Congregation and Chabad of Poway, respectively, and their surrounding communities continue to grieve.

In Europe in recent months, swastikas have been smeared across tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in France and anti-Semitic currents have cut through political and governmental affairs in Hungary and Britain.

Acts of hate aimed at our people are on the rise. Some are merely criminal, others are appallingly heinous, but all have severe and long-lasting consequences. They ripple through our communities, creating a sometimes inescapable sense of insecurity. Such is the vile nature of anti-Semitism.

During times of such tragedy and sorrow, it is important – and can help the healing – to remember the good, celebrate the positive and invite in the light to overpower the darkness.

So, it seems an ideal time to introduce the Columbus Jewish News 18 Difference Makers, an event that will acknowledge acts of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (charity) happening in our community. The 2019 inaugural class of 18 Difference Makers will be recognized during a Sept. 19 reception at a to-be-determined location.

We feel it’s especially important to recognize and celebrate those tenets of Judaism, especially during trying times like these. We’re grateful there are so many acts of kindness taking place and thoughtful leaders showing the way within Central Ohio’s Jewish community.

Here’s where you, our readers, come in. The 18 Difference Makers will be selected from community nominations. We encourage you to submit your nominations by June 16 by filling out the online form at columbusjewishnews.com/18dm.Those without internet access can contact Events Manager Gina Lloyd at 216-342-5196 to request a form be mailed to them. Submissions returned by mail to 23880 Commerce Park, Beachwood, OH, 44122 must be postmarked by June 16. Late nominations will not be considered.

What we’re looking for is pretty simple. Nominees must be at least 18 years old by July 30 and have ties to the Columbus area. That means they could live and work here, or perhaps they live and work outside of Columbus but make an impact here.       

Nominees should be successful in making a difference in Columbus’ Jewish community; have taken an active role in the community, whether through a nonprofit organization, volunteer group or professional endeavor; and demonstrate “mensch-like” characteristics, those of honor and integrity.

Nominees need not be Jewish, but the nominee’s efforts must help better Central Ohio’s Jewish community.

Each nominee’s application can include a maximum of 300 words to explain why that person is a difference maker. Additional information will come from the candidates and other sources during the selection process.

Judges from the CJN and select members of the community will comprise the selection committee that chooses the 18 Difference Makers. The committee’s choices will be based on the available information at the time of selection and the judges’ decisions are final.

Honorees will be notified of their selection by July 12 and will then be announced in the Columbus Jewish News on July 25. The honorees will also be featured in a tribute section of the Columbus Jewish News and on columbusjewishnews.com on Sept. 19.

These individuals positively impact our community year after year, day after day. But this year, when sadness surrounds the worldwide Jewish community, it will feel especially rewarding to celebrate the accomplishments of the 18 Difference Makers and be reminded of the good and vital work people do to effect positive change.

Kevin S. Adelstein is CEO and publisher of the Columbus Jewish News and Cleveland Jewish News, and president of the CJPC.