Planning for the future with the Life and Legacy initiative

By Angelica Haggert

In February 2020, 14 local Jewish organizations made a commitment to work together to support the future of the Ottawa Jewish community. A year into the four-year plan, The Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation launching of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s Life and Legacy initiative continues to promote after-lifetime giving to benefit Jewish day schools, synagogues, social service organizations and other Jewish entities.

A year later, 114 community members have already signed a letter of intent, which provides eight organizations with an amazing $45,000 U.S. in incentive grants.

Adam and Ariel Aronson are among those who recently signed a letter of intent, which states that “in keeping with Jewish tradition and an abiding commitment to my community, I wish to share my legacy with others.”

For Adam, promising to leave a gift to the Life and Legacy initiative is a way to give back to the community.

“The community has helped us for so long,” said Adam. “It’s to help sustain what these programs do. The community is very philanthropic.”

Adam considers himself a “beneficiary” of the programs and agencies that the Life and Legacy fund is designed to support. He went to Hillel Academy, went to Camp B’nai Brith and now sits on the board of CBB, in addition to volunteering for various Federation initiatives.

Ariel also grew up immersed in the community.

“I can’t describe my life without the Ottawa Jewish community,” said Ariel, who was involved with her synagogue growing up and previously worked for the Federation. “[The Life and Legacy initiative] is to ensure that when we have kids - and when they have kids - that everybody gets to benefit from the community as much as we did.”

According to Ariel, the initiative is a good way to encourage younger people to contribute to the community.

“They’re not asking for something now, but rather asking down the road for when we can make more of a commitment. It’s looking forward in a way the community hasn’t been looking forward to before.”

Ariel said the COVID-19 pandemic has only shown how important it is to think of the future, in addition to immediate needs.

“This ensures that the community doesn’t have to worry down the line. You want a guarantee in life, and this really looks forward to the next generation to have what we have without having to worry about it.”

The couple called signing the letter of intent to support the Life and Legacy fund a “no brainer.”

“It wasn’t something we’d ever thought about before,” said Adam. “But then there was this opportunity, so we thought ‘Well why not?’ We felt like it was a good way to help out.”

The local Life and Legacy partners include Camp B'nai Brith, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Hillel Lodge LTC Foundation, Jewish Education Through Torah (JET), Jewish Family Services, Jewish Federation of Ottawa, Jewish Memorial Gardens, Kehillat Beth Israel, Ottawa Jewish Community School, Ottawa Torah Centre, Soloway Jewish Community Centre, Tamir, Temple Israel and Torah Day School of Ottawa.

“We understand how important it is to invest now in order to secure the community’s future. That is why the Foundation board authorized a significant investment of both financial and human resources as part of our commitment to the program,” said Micah Garten, director of development. “It also helps that in addition to the first-class training that the Grinspoon Foundation provides to our organizations, they have committed to giving up to $400,000 U.S. in matching money!”

“I love the fact that by people making a promise to leave a gift in the future after they have passed, they are able to bring in substantial dollars from an American Foundation that will support the organizations they love right now,” said Garten.

For more information on the Life and Legacy program or to inquire about signing a letter of intent, contact Micah Garten at or call 613-798-4696, ext. 270.

Photo: The Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation was delighted to present a cheque to Sarah Caspi on behalf of  Jewish Family Services of Ottawa for their successful participation in the November Life & Legacy challenge.