Most Monday nights, between 6 and 9 pm, you will find me in my kitchen for an amazing evening that incorporates my five life priorities: family, friends, food, fun and filanthropy (forgive the spelling!).
Six months ago, I wouldn’t have believed that I’d be spending my Monday nights with eight to 10 family members and friends sitting at my kitchen table having a fabulous dinner followed by a fun-filled hour playing Kiwanis TV Bingo on Rogers Channel 22.
It started with our desire to have my mother-in-law over more often for a nice dinner followed by an enjoyable activity. Then I heard about TV Bingo and we decided to give it a try.
Now Sundays are a flurry of finding the right store to buy the cards, along with the ingredients for a gourmet dinner.
Table set, delicious dinner assembled, our regular and often special guests scurry from their homes and offices to be sure to arrive before 6 pm so we can enjoy our sumptuous meal with enough time to do our well-orchestrated tear down and set up for Bingo.
TV channel is set and on it comes at 7 pm. At 8 pm it’s over. And, with disassembly complete, we dive into the outstanding desserts always provided by one regular friend.
So what inspires this wide range of participants to flock over once a week?
Our core group includes senior business owners and a variety of different professionals in addition to young entrepreneurs and retirees. Our special guests to date have included accomplished physicians, accountants, CEOs, CFOs, interior designers, hotel staff and senior vice-presidents.
I attribute the draw to a combination of factors. We laugh, we eat great food, we drink some wonderful wine, which makes us laugh even more, we catch up with each other, and we discuss and debate life – resulting in often missing the Bingo number bring called.
Any one of any age can play and everyone 18-plus has a chance to win. And, all the while, we are also contributing to a worthwhile charity in the greater Ottawa community.
You may be wondering about the connection between Bingo and my role as chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa – and what is the message here?
As I thought back over my involvement in the Jewish community, I realized how very integral Bingo has been.
In my own history, prominent Jewish community members owned two major Bingo halls, and one still does. The proceeds have funded and sustained countless Jewish organizations over many years.
As a teenager and young adult, I volunteered Sunday nights at one hall. My days as CEO of the Soloway Jewish Community Centre had me heavily involved in the world of Bingo as a beneficiary charity. During the time, I had family members at Hillel Lodge. I attended the weekly Bingo with them. Even my time as a camp counsellor for the JCC and Camp B’nai Brith incorporated Bingo as a rainy day activity. Many of my friends and fellow community members have all spent volunteer time at Bingos. And, interestingly enough, the president of Kiwanis is a friend and member of our community.
Aside from all these fascinating Jewish connections to the world of Bingo, my message, coming during the week of our resoundingly successful community Mitzvah Day, is that each one of us can incorporate a mitzvah into our daily, weekly, monthly lives.
In our case, Monday night Bingo achieves our goal of bringing family and friends together in a unique and enjoyable way with a charitable component. We are all, however, still waiting for that night when we actually win something! And, no doubt, when that day comes, part of the proceeds will go to a Jewish charity.
So, our Bingo group leaves you with this final thought – Under the B- Be I- Inspired to be Involved, because your community N- Needs G- Generous and Giving people like you to O- Open your hearts today and tomorrow – and we will all be winners!