Ensuring the future of Jewish education in Ottawa will be his top priority, said Jewish Federation of Ottawa Chair Hartley Stern in his inaugural address at the Federation’s annual general meeting, June 14.
Stern succeeded outgoing Chair Linda Kerzner who completed her two-year term during the meeting.
“We need to find ways to ensure the survival of a high quality and affordable Jewish Education in Ottawa,” he said.
Stern pointed to the hiring of Jon Mitzmacher to be head of school at the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) and the restructuring of the school’s board with Michael Polowin as chair, as key elements which will help ensure the day school’s future.
The viability of Ottawa’s Orthodox schools, and the supplementary schools, are also essential, said Stern.
Giving to the Annual Campaign, Stern estimated, will need to increase by 30 per cent in order to provide the necessary funding to ensure the long-term viability of Ottawa’s Jewish schools.
Stern also expressed cautious optimism that an integrated living centre (ILC) will be built for Tamir residents on the Jewish Community Campus, a cause he has championed over the past two years as a Federation Board member.
For several years, he noted, Tamir leadership has worked tirelessly towards its vision of an ILC for people with developmental disabilities on campus. Stern noted that significant capital funds have been pledged from private sources for the project.
In the near future, Tamir will be competing with numerous other organizations for scarce resources for social housing projects.
Stern said he was excited at the prospect of bringing the ILC dream to fruition. While success is not assured, he said Tamir and Federation will inform the community of developments on the file as they unfold.
In her address, outgoing Federation Chair Linda Kerzner thanked the community for the opportunity to serve as chair over the past two years and pointed to the dedication of fellow board members and Federation staff – as well as to the boards and staffs of Ottawa’s various Jewish agencies and organizations.
Federation President and CEO Andrea Freedman talked about recently running her first 10K race and drew parallels between training for the race and Federation’s ongoing community work.
Commonalities, she said, include having a vision, setting milestones with transparent reporting, having cheerleaders (and being a cheerleader), taking the first steps (and helping others take their first steps) and taking a team approach.
“The one fundamental difference is that a race has a clear finish line whereas community work continues.”
The most emotional point of the evening came during the presentation of the community service awards, when Gillian Presner accepted the Freiman Family Young Leadership Award and the Lawrence Greenberg Young Leadership Development Award.
Presner talked about letters she wrote to her young daughters last summer before undergoing brain surgery. She said she wrote the letters in case she did not survive the surgery because she wanted her children to know her enthusiasm and passion for the community, “that my work here is not yet done.”
Jeffrey Miller received the Gilbert Greenberg Distinguished Service Award. Now presented every second year, it is the highest tribute the Ottawa Jewish community bestows.
“You are a true mensch, and I’m honoured to present the award to you,” said Robert Greenberg, one of the late Gilbert Greenberg’s sons, in presenting the award to Miller.
The Shem Tov Community Volunteer Award was presented to Hyman Reichstein, while Eyal Podolsky received the Student Award. Podolsky accepted his award via an audio recording sent from France where he is a student intern on a breast cancer research project. His brother, Tommy, picked up the award on his behalf.
Tributes were also offered to Sharon Appotive, who chaired the 2016 and 2017 Women’s Campaigns, and Michael Polowin, the 2017 Annual Campaign chair. Polowin had been scheduled to lead the 2018 Annual Campaign but stepped down due to his new role as OJCS board chair.
Kerzner announced that Appotive will return to chair the 2018 Annual Campaign with Aviva Ben-Choreen as Women’s Campaign chair.