Federation Report: Emerging Generation – The future of our community

Federation Report: Emerging Generation – The future of our Jewish community

By Emma Mallach and Zev Kershman

Co-Chairs – Emerging Generation Division

Jewish Federation of Ottawa

We are excited to share an update on the Emerging Generation (EG) in Jewish Ottawa. EG is a division of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa made up of young professionals aged 40 and under. It’s a crucial demographic since this age group often includes the unaffiliated and less engaged. Until, of course, people start having kids, at which time it is common to form or re-establish links to the Jewish community.

It’s with this outlook that we are co-chairing the EG Division for the 2020 Annual Campaign. We take pride in showcasing the amazing programs, opportunities and people that define our Jewish community. We encourage participation and listen attentively to reservations people might have about getting involved, in the hope we can identify some common ground.

Some defining programs over the past year that served individuals and families include: the annual EG Chanukah party with nearly 100 guests (we’d like to see that number grow at this year’s party on December 14!); this summer’s PJ in the Park event with close to 200 parents and children in attendance; and a growing pool of EG volunteers to help us with EG and PJ events, canvassing for the Campaign, and creating the best quality events for the Ben-Gurion Society, young adults who donate $1,000 or more to the annual campaign.

Thanks to the generous donations of local families who participated in the 2019 Challenge Fund gift-matching incentive, Federation was able to broaden EG grants to create the Jewish Experience Microgrants program, which is now available to individuals as well as Jewish organizations that serve the Ottawa Jewish community. Have a great idea that brings people in the Ottawa Jewish community together? You can get up to $2,500 to make it happen.

These funds are providing seed funding for interesting and innovative programs for young Jews in Ottawa. An example of a recent and ongoing project funded by Federation Microgrants is the Stock the Freezer program. This project is a series of group cooking events in which various community members (b’nai mitzvah students, families, co-workers) come together to cook and freeze healthy meals for later distribution to Ottawa Kosher Food Bank clients. Several successful cooking events have taken place with three more coming up. So far, the grant has supplied lasagnas, honey cakes, and apples and honey packages to 28 families.

Another new program is Jewish Jumpstart. This was a membership incentive grant for Jewish individuals and families who were not yet members of an Ottawa synagogue or the Soloway Jewish Community Centre. Within a few months, the program reached capacity with 118 approved applications!

Clearly, Federation understands that it is people who are at the core of this community. It’s the personal connections that we’re building for ourselves, and which persist over generations, that motivate us to stay involved. Countless volunteers are devoting time, energy, and resources to the community and the Annual Campaign and we thank them for this investment.

EG represents the future of Ottawa’s Jewish community. Over the past seven years since the division was formed, we’ve demonstrated that we are dedicated to the Federation’s goals. Our numbers may be small, but there’s no question we are strong and mighty.

We thank you in advance for your support and hope to see you at our next event!

Zev Kershman