The Jewish Federation of Ottawa is thrilled to welcome Brittany Silver to the Community Building Team. Silver is the new Community Engagement Specialist and will focus her work on young adults (formally called Emerging Generations), newcomers, and volunteers.
EB: What will be your primary responsibilities at the Federation?
BS: My role will be organizing events, networking opportunities, and educational programming for the young adults (25-40) of our community. I’ll be working with the JFellows program and looking for unique and interesting ways to bring young adults together. As a young adult myself, I hope to connect with others and create opportunities that are meaningful, valuable, and where people have a good time.
For newcomers, our community is lucky to have newcomer ambassadors. These ambassadors are members of different micro-communities in Jewish Ottawa. They might be Israelis, Russian speakers, Jews of Colour, young families, or more. When we hear about a new person in town, I try and put them in touch with the right people, an ambassador who will be a welcoming face and will make sure they have all the resources they need to get settled. We can help them find a synagogue, set them up with a first Shabbat meal from Ten Yad, talk about local or Jewish schools, and invite them to a Shabbat dinner. It’s a great way to make the first connection to a new home city.
The volunteer piece works a little differently. The Federation has an online form that a potential volunteer can fill out. We then chat about how they want to give back to the community. I also reach out to all our Jewish organizations and find out what their needs are. Then we make a match.
EB: Why are you excited for this opportunity?
BS: Even though I was born and raised here in Ottawa, neither of my parents or any of my grandparents were born here. My Zaidy was born in Barbados after his parents fled Poland in the late 1930s, and he came to Canada (Montreal) when he was a young adult with only the shirt on his back. My grandparents moved to Ottawa from Montreal in the 1970s and they were warmly welcomed by Rabbi Reuven Bulka Z’L and the Ottawa Jewish community. The support they received from the community allowed them to thrive as a young family, and later enabled them to support their grandchildren in a similar way, helping to ensure we attended Jewish Day School and giving us the platform to form our own unique Jewish identities.
While on my own Jewish journey, I lived in Israel for a year and did community work where I met Jews for all over the world. It opened my eyes to the diversity of the Jewish community and all the unique needs. I saw how much work it takes to keep a community moving forward and I was honoured to be a part of that process. Now in Ottawa, I’m very grateful to be working for the community that played such a big part in my family’s story.
EB: What is your vision for this job?
BS: I'm hoping to bring people together and be a friendly face. I look forward to introducing myself, having coffee, and connecting. I attended the young adult Shabbat dinner hosted by Michael Reznick’s, Federation’s Young Adults and Families Programming Manager about two weeks ago. The dinner at OTC (Ottawa Torah Centre) was so incredible. It was great to be with other young professionals who are at the same life stage. I can relate because they're either just starting their jobs or they're a couple of years into their career. So, there's a lot of things we have in common. We're able to support each other. We're able to give each other resources. And if we're struggling with this, if we need help with that, or if we need a mentor, there are so many opportunities to work together because we're all part of this community. If you need anything, you can always come to me. I may not be able to answer your questions right away, but we have the resources here, so if I can't help you, I will direct you to the person who can.
Brittany Silver can be reached at email@example.com.