To say the emerging generation is a complex demographic is a strong understatement, and the co-chairs for Emerging Generation division of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Annual Campaign say they intend to tap into its potential this year.
The Federation defines the emerging gen as young adults, aged 18 to 45.
That is essentially where the definition ends, and it is understandable, as the age group now amalgamates two vastly different, yet equally powerful generations.
The emerging gen combines the tail end of Generation X (those born between approximately 1966 and 1971) and Generation Y (also known as Millennials), many of whom are the children of the baby boomers.
According to 2011 census data, Gen X made up only about eight per cent of the population, relatively small compared to Millennials, who made up 27 per cent of the population, creating a now somewhat “bottom-heavy” emerging gen in 2014.
These are the individuals who will be – or who already are – taking care of Generation Z, also known as the Internet generation, so-called because they were born around 1993, after the invention of the Internet, according to Statistics Canada. Even more complicated, some of those youngsters are already members of the emerging gen, as those born in 1993 are now 21 years old.
Creating a relationship between first-year university students and those who may be responsible for a gaggle of preschoolers creates a unique challenge when attempting to engage a group with potentially different priorities, but Emerging Generation division Co-chairs Adam Aronson and Arielle Kreisman said they are confident the emerging generation will continue to be committed to community and give to generations past, present and future.
The co-chairs, both born and raised in Ottawa, said they have benefited from the many programs made possible through Federation funding.
Aronson, 32, attended Hillel Academy and Camp B’nai Brith, and played floor hockey at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC) among other sports programs and activities.
An accountant at Ginsberg, Gluzman Fage & Levitz, he said that, after a childhood of community involvement, he realizes he has a responsibility to create a positive, welcoming and safe environment for future generations.
“I was involved in all of these things as a kid, but I never supported any of it. It was always my parents and that generation, and so now it’s my turn,” he said. “If we’re going to have the next generation being involved, and they’re going to go to all these camps and everything, it’s going to have to be us who does that. We have a lot of young families here, and it’s their kids who are going.”
Kreisman, 24, also said she knows first-hand how important it is to invest in future generations. A recent graduate of the University of Ottawa teaching program, she has spent the past year supply teaching at private schools such as the Ottawa Jewish Community School and Turnbull School, and as an emergency occasional teacher for the public Ottawa Carleton District School Board.
She has spent the past five years working at SJCC summer day camps and volunteers as an annual campaign canvasser.
“For me, what’s most important at this point in my life is my career and trying to get my foot in the door,” she said. “But, you know, coming [to the SJCC] every day and to see these kids around the school … makes me happy.”
The co-chairs said they also see their eight-year age gap as beneficial to the campaign.
“I think that was the idea,” Aronson said. “I’d be a little on the older end, and Arielle would be a little on the younger end, so that we’d reach more people that way.”
The challenge this year, the co-chairs said, is to engage the unaffiliated emerging generation in the community, which is best achieved through word-of-mouth, events and programming. Aronson said he got even more involved with the Emerging Gen after seeing an advertisement for the Social Action Mission and travelling to northern Israel this past winter.
The emerging generation has shown itself to be a multi-faceted group, both transforming the Ottawa Jewish community and repeating history at the same time.
Therein is its power. Aronson and Kreisman said their campaign goal is to increase emerging generation donations by 30 per cent this year, adding they believe it is possible.
The co-chairs said there is much to look forward to this year, including events like the Emerging Gen pre-party held at the Annual Campaign Kickoff, applying for the Emerging Gen grant, and the next Social Action Mission.
“There’s plenty of stuff they can do. There’s plenty of things to get involved in,” Aronson said.