Rabbi Alicia Magal of the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley received the 2014 Spirit of Sedona, Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Arizona Community Foundation of Sedona on Nov. 16 at Enchantment Resort in Sedona.

In his introduction during the award presentation, John Kincaid, a member of the foundation’s board of advisers, highlighted Magal’s annual Mitzvah (Good Deed) Day, which she started seven years ago. 

“Together with Barbara Littrel, she galvanized the enthusiastic participation of over 300 volunteers to assist in over 30 projects for nonprofit organizations in Sedona, Cottonwood and the Verde Valley,” Kincaid said. “Over the seven years, that represents over 6,000 hours of service.”

Her efforts reach far beyond the annual mitzvah day, he said, noting her use of a discretionary fund that gives her the opportunity to assist people in need, and her efforts at interfaith relations. He noted that she plans to divide her award money between the Yavapai Food Council and her synagogue’s social action team.

“Since philanthropy is actions which promote love of fellow human beings, this means that we all, all of us, can aspire to be philanthropists, each and every one of us,” Magal said in her acceptance speech. “Whenever we give of ourselves, our time, our money, our inspiration with no expectation of anything in return, that is philanthropy. For me, it springs from my Jewish belief in tikkun olam, our job of healing the world. It’s an effort we never can finish, but we are obliged to start.”

She said she is humbled by this award, the first one she said she has ever received.

“As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I have always had a feeling that it is a miracle that my mother, Nika Kohn Fleissig, survived the horrors of World War II and I was given the great gift of life. So I have tried to make my life have meaning and value.”

Watch her acceptance speech here.

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