Recognizing community leadership and philanthropy

The Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation is proud to offer scholarships and grants along with philanthropic programs with the shared purpose of benefiting our community. The awards, presented yearly at the Foundation’s Annual General Meeting, are meant to enhance the work of individuals or organizations in our community and to grow Jewish leadership and scholarship.

The George Joseph Cooper Scholarship is presented to a member of the Ottawa Jewish Community between the ages of 18 and 30, who has displayed leadership qualities, and academic excellence and who has an interest in the Jewish community. The award must be used for formal education or apprenticeship in the artistic, literary or social sciences.

Anna Frenkel was the 2017 recipient of the award and had this say about its impact:
Receiving the GJ Cooper scholarship in 2017 was a catalyst for both my personal and professional growth. I used the scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Education at Queen's University which allowed me to teach over 500 French Immersion students, while taking on various leadership roles within the school system. As mentioned in my GJ Cooper application, I have always had the goal of pursuing my masters in speech-language pathology. After teaching for a few years, I continued to the University of Western Ontario to follow my dream of becoming a speech-language pathologist. I now live in Ottawa and am currently working as a speech-language pathologist at the school board where I am able to support both students and teachers, and I am also working as a curriculum writer for the Ministry of Education to develop the new Ontario Language Curriculum. 

I am grateful to be a part of the Ottawa Jewish community where I have taken active leadership roles in the Young Adult Division of Jewish Federation. My husband and I have helped coordinate the annual Chanukah Ball, participated in the J-Fellows Mentorship program and love to attend community shabbat dinners. The GJ Cooper scholarship not only facilitated my educational pursuits, but also instilled a sense of responsibility to contribute meaningfully to both my professional career and my community.

The Women's Collective Philanthropy Program (WCPP) is designed to use the power of Collective Philanthropy to nurture and maintain a systemic difference in the status of women and children. The WCPP goals are to engage, educate and empower women to become catalysts for social change. They do this through the growth of the Women's Collective Endowment Fund (WCEF), which supports initiatives and training that expand and improve opportunities and choices in the lives of Jewish women and children.

The WCPP grant supports initiatives that strive to expand and improve opportunities and choices in the lives of women and children in Ottawa's Jewish community. This can include training and education, with projects undertaken by organizations or individuals.

Most recently, the WCCP sponsored the event Hear Our Voices, which explored the gender-based violence in the Hamas attacks. You can view a recording of this powerful event 

Hillel Ottawa has been the recipient of two WCPP grants. Scott Goldstein, former Ottawa Hillel Director, shares the impact of the WCPP support:
Shortly after some troubling incidents on campus involving safety concerns for women, Hillel was very grateful to receive a grant from the Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program (WCPP). 
Hillel launched a campaign that focused on promoting safety practices for women through informative resources and social media awareness efforts, including physical information cards with helpful contacts and best practices. 

A unique initiative introduced in the campaign was an education session for men on campus that provided crucial guidance on how to prioritize women’s safety and how to demonstrate effective allyship. The campaign also included the distribution of specialized devices that can detect drugs in drinks.

Thanks to the generosity and visionary trust of the WCPP grant committee, Hillel Ottawa was able to launch an impactful campaign that improved the lives of all students on campus by focusing on women’s safety and security.

The Norman Lesh Philanthropy Award honours the legacy of a tireless community leader. Norman Lesh, who was born and raised in Ottawa, gave unlimited time, and boundless energy to the betterment of the Jewish and broader community. His devotion transcended philosophic and religious differences. Above all, he inspired and supported initiatives that were both innovative and creative. As a philanthropist and a businessman, he displayed an ability to see outside of the box.

The recipient(s) of The Norman Lesh Philanthropy Award must propose an idea for an innovative and creative philanthropic, entrepreneurial activity that offers the potential for ongoing benefits to the Ottawa Jewish community, or surrounding communities.

In 2019, the Ottawa Torah Centre was the recipient for the First Annual Ottawa Kosher BBQ Cookoff and Festival. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Blum shares what this award meant to his Ottawa Torah Centre Community:
I knew Norm Lesh and I knew he loved entrepreneurial ideas, so the idea for the Kosher BBQ event was to bring community together in a way that is non-threatening and enjoyable for all. Kosher BBQ festivals are a big deal in the US, but there isn’t one in Canada, so this was the first-of-its-kind for Canada. Therefore, there was a lot of excitement and a deep commitment to its success.

After the first year, we partnered with Tourism Ottawa, and it is now listed as an annual summer festival in their calendar. We are looking forward to the 2024 event. The date will be released soon. 

The Norman Lesh Award gave us the seed money to launch this event and to generate buzz around having it as an annual occurrence. This never would have happened without their support.  

The Ilana and Steven Rubin Education Scholarship is open to high school students in Ontario and the Maritime provinces, and landed immigrants of three years or more, who wish to attend a post-secondary institution in Canada or Israel. The Ilana & Steven Rubin scholarship was established in 2016 as a promise by Steven Rubin to his wife Ilana. Students applying for this scholarship must graduate from high school in 2023 with grades averaging between 60%-79% for Grades 11 and 12 combined.

The award is open to Jewish and non-Jewish students and has been given to students studying a wide variety of subjects at many different post-secondary institutions.

Information on all the awards can be found here. Micah Garten, Interim Foundation President, can also be reached at