The kickoff of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s 2019 Annual Campaign was a marked departure from previous years that focused on guest speakers. This year’s event, September 16 at Centrepointe Theatre, was a lip-sync battle featuring representatives from many of the community’s agencies and organizations dancing and pretending to sing hit songs.
The Zaret family – Debi, Neil, Adam, Josh and Jen – chaired the event.
“Our family is honoured to be the chairs of this special event, and we thank you for joining us. We are happy to have with us tonight: no special guest!” Adam Zaret joked.
“This will not be a night of speeches. We are here to have fun, and instead of talking, we hope to show you many wonderful aspects of our community and prove why giving to the Annual Campaign is so important,” said Neil Zaret.
‘Stuntman’ Stu Schwartz was the MC for the lip-sync battle and the performances were judged by local media celebrities Abigail Bimman, Lianne Laing and Laurence Wall. The dances were choreographed by DeNeige Dojack, Elizabeth Greenberg, Karli Speevak and Gabriel Wolinsky.
After each group performed their act, the judges gave their critiques and Stuntman Stu held a short Q&A session giving each group an opportunity to talk about the organizations they were representing.
During the lip-sync battle interviews, Jewish Federation of Ottawa Chair Hartley Stern and President and CEO Andrea Freedman presented a short video showcasing the Jewish Superhighway and Rabbis Reuven Bulka – the Campaign co-chair – and Steven Garten presented a short video highlighting the 2019 Annual Campaign’s special challenge fund.
“This campaign is about raising another million dollars that will bring us forward to new programs and enhancing old ones, to really allow every single Jew in this city to have that experience they cherish,” Stern said.
The teams included Federation, Camp B’nai Brith of Ottawa, Jewish Life (AJA 50+, Hillel Ottawa and the Soloway Jewish Community Centre), Ottawa Jewish Community School, Supplemental School (Ottawa Modern Jewish School, Ottawa Talmud Torah and Temple Israel Religious School), The Rabbis (Rabbis Reuven Bulka and Steven Garten, the rabbis emeritus of Congregation Machzikei Hadas and Temple Israel), and Tamir.
The teams used unique costumes and props in their performances. For example, the Jewish Life team wore Beatle wigs for a medley of the Fab Four’s hits, while Camp B’nai Brith wielded canoe paddles while dancing and lip-syncing to the Proclaimers “I’m Gonna be (500 Miles),” the Supplemental Schools, who were dressed as cheerleaders to perform “We’re All in This Together” from “High School Musical” and The Rabbis, whose costumes were appropriate to their medley of songs from “Fiddler on the Roof.”
The Golden Challah People’s Choice Award, for the most popular act of the night as determined by the audience via the ‘Clap-O-Meter,’ was presented to Tamir for their stylistically diverse set of songs and enthusiastic performance.
The Golden Kiddush Cup for “best overall” presentation as chosen by the judges was awarded to the Ottawa Jewish Community School, whose performers included Board President Michael Polowin as a hilarious Alice Cooper.
The judges also awarded the Lead Matzoh Ball to the Federation team for their valiant effort despite the “most lead-footed” dancing of the evening.
“Thank you all so much for devoting the time and energy to rehearse and to put yourselves out there to make tonight’s event a huge success,” Jen Zaret said, after the awards had been presented.
“We hope you leave tonight with a greater appreciation for the scope and breadth of our Jewish community, the many organizations and opportunities that we have right in front of us.” Added Josh Zaret. “We all hope you will join us in giving generously to this year’s Annual Campaign.”