These two new Federation staff members share the goal of engaging community in their respective new roles.
It’s not always easy being the “new guy,” but Arieh Rosenblum, the new director of Development for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation, said the community and his colleagues have made him feel like he truly belongs.
A former investment adviser with a flair for the written word, Rosenblum left the corporate world of Bay Street in 2000 to build on his years of volunteerism as a professional with a series of Canadian Jewish organizations – work that he finds much more fulfilling.
Moving to Ottawa to spearhead community development and fundraising for the Federation and Foundation has been a big change, but from past visits, Rosenblum said he knew it would be a great place to be.
“I felt it was a natural progression. This is the next step,” he said.
Rosenblum is responsible for all Federation and Foundation fundraising, including the Centre for Jewish Philanthropy and the Annual Campaign.
“What I hope to accomplish, first of all, is to engage with what is appearing, ever more clearly, to be a wonderful community,” Rosenblum said just one week after relocating to the nation’s capital from Toronto. “I’m already very impressed with the community.”
Rosenblum said his challenge now is to get to know community members on a one-to-one basis so he can learn what the priorities are in all elements of the community, as well as introduce himself and become a familiar face at events and around the city. He spent his first Ottawa Shabbat at Congregation Machzikei Hadas and intends to spend time at each of Ottawa’s congregations, he said.
Rosenblum added that he is confident the skills he developed working for Jewish organizations will serve him well in Ottawa. Rosenblum came to the Federation and Foundation after five years as the operations and communications director for NCSY Canada and Torah High.
He has also worked for B’nai Brith Canada, was director of Israel Affairs and Crisis Management at the National Jewish Campus Life, and has done advocacy consulting with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
All those experiences are “just more tools in the toolbox” to improve upon the past fundraising initiatives, he said.
“I’m honoured to be able to work with people who I know have been volunteering, have been giving themselves, of their time, their effort and of their cheque books,” he said. “Learning from all the great volunteers who are so much a part of what makes it tick and grown it to this point has inspired me to take it to the next level.”
Rosenblum said the Federation and Foundation’s strategic plans are solid, and he plans to work within its framework to achieve the benchmarks set out from 2014 to 2019 to increase the resources to meet the needs of the community. He also said he hopes to add some innovative new initiatives in the process.
All of his work will be done with the welfare of the community as his motivation and he will be listening closely for feedback and constructive criticism, he said.
“I think the key elements are building constituencies, and you only build constituencies by listening and hearing what the concerns, the needs and the observations of the Jewish community are.”
Rosenblum started work in Ottawa as Operation Protective Edge was underway in Israel and he praised the community for quickly raising more than $170,000 for the Israel Crisis Fund.
Ariel Fainer becomes the Federation’s director for the Emerging Generation following a year as event planner and sponsorship co-ordinator during Rena Garshowitz’s maternity leave.
“I was really excited to get back into the Jewish community and really excited to see how I could build my connection,” Fainer said. “I’d been sort of isolated for a while and it was my way of getting back into the community and finding my place within it.”
Fainer, 27, will be only the second person to hold this relatively new position, which was established almost three years ago to engage the emerging generation of Jewish adults aged 18 to 45 in community and networking events, social action missions, fundraising and initiatives.
Fainer said her background in events and recreation goes back to when she was a 16-year-old working as a lifeguard at City of Ottawa wading pools.
She quickly worked her way onto the special events team at the City’s recreation department, organizing events at the pools, and then the city-wide sports division. She later spent two years running recreational programs and facility management of the Rideau Canal for the National Capital Commission.
Fainer said she is excited for her experience to be tested as the emerging generation director acts as a liaison and co-ordinator with such local organizations and community programming groups as jnet, the Glebe Shul, the Jewish Medical and Law Students Associations and the Young Women’s Leadership Council.
Fainer succeeds Samantha Banks as director for the Emerging Generation.
Banks, who recently moved to Toronto to work with The House, an organization for young, Jewish adults, said she is “overjoyed and extremely excited” to hear that her former colleague is taking on the role she held for almost three years.
“I think she will be able to move the division and bring it to what the community needs,” Banks said.
Fainer said engaging the emerging generation requires a meaningful approach because of the challenges facing this unique demographic.
The many single people and the many couples starting families have both similar and drastically different needs, and it is important to find out what matters most to them. This ensures that they can find their own place within the community and create the foundation for their children and future generations, Fainer said.
“Personally, I was totally unengaged before working at the Federation. I sort of had a vague idea of what was going on, but I wasn’t compelled to participate,” she said.
Fainer said she is now an active community member at her shul, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, and said she has noticed that, while many young families are also active members, they do not take advantage of additional resources for themselves and their children, such as supplemental Jewish schooling.
“It’s really important that we create a community feel, rather than isolating ourselves in pockets of the community,” she said. “I think with the young families, they’re really preoccupied and there’s a lot of family stuff going on and new experiences happening. And it’s really important that we find ways for them to be involved as a family unit.”
As a member of the emerging generation herself, Fainer said she understands how important it is to take risks now in order to avoid having regrets. Getting directly involved with the Jewish community in a big way was one of the best decisions she could have made, she said.
“I couldn’t have imagined how well it would turn out and how much I would learn and get out of the opportunity,” Fainer said.