Jewish Federation of Ottawa's Emerging Gen builds support through Chanukah Ball

Social evening with young professionals helps to strengthen Jewish programs and services
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Forget about the conga line, the best way to get people moving — particularly at the Chanukah Ball — is with the traditional hora dance.

It had guests rushing to the dance floor to form a circle and hold hands as they danced together at this year’s annual event, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Emerging Generation division.

More than 100 young professionals attended the Chanukah Ball at its new location, the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Jacob Polowin, a lawyer and member of the business law group in the Ottawa office of event sponsor Gowling WLG, was back to co-chair the event with his wife, Sarah Polowin, a parliamentary affairs advisor at the Senate of Canada. They’re also both members of the JFO's Emerging Generation’s steering committee.

"As members of Emerging Gen, we recognize that we want to be involved, we want to help make our community as great as it can be," Jacob told the room.

"One of the ways to make that possible is by donating to the Jewish Federation of Ottawa's annual campaign, whether it's donating your time and money or money and time," added Sarah.

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Jacob Polowin and Sarah Polowin were back for their second year together as co-chairs of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa's Emerging Generation's Chanukah Ball, held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in the Alma Duncan Salon of the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Jewish Federation of Ottawa's Emerging Generation Chanukah Ball was held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in the Alma Duncan Salon of the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Jewish Federation of Ottawa Emerging Generation Chanukah Ball was held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in the Alma Duncan Salon of the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The Chanukah Ball is considered a big night for Ottawa’s young Jewish professionals, many of whom are busy with new careers, relationships and families. It's a opportunity for them to get dressed up and enjoy a night out, with dinner and drinks, while seeing old friends and making new ones. The food is catered by David Smith's Creative Kosher Catering. 

The evening also features a DJ, games and Chanukah trivia.

“It’s a fun time to reconnect with all of my Jewish friends in a meaningful way,” said Zev Kershman, co-chair of the federation’s Emerging Generation campaign and the broker of record with DigiBrokerage. “I don’t get to see them as much as I would like to.”

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Jordan Waldman, director of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa's Emerging Generation division, with its campaign co-chair, Zev Kershman, at the Chanukah Ball, held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in the Alma Duncan Salon of the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The title sponsor was Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Solomon Friedman, managing partner of Edelson Friedman Black LLP and a founding director of charity group Barristers for a Better Bytown. 

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Friedman was ordained as a rabbi. He completed his rabbinical training, while in his early 20s, in Israel's capital city of Jerusalem. He soon realized it wasn’t the path for him but “it was definitely something that added richness to my life,” said Friedman. He went on to earn his law degree at uOttawa and remains involved with his alma mater as a part-time law professor in the faculty of common law.

Friedman’s guests that night were Laura Berger, assistant dean with uOttawa’s Faculty of Law (Common Law Section), and Danielle Lussier, the faculty's Indigenous learner advocate and advisor of Indigenous relations. The faculty recently received $1 million from an anonymous donor to provide better support to its Indigenous students through scholarships, bursaries and emergency funding. 

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From left, title sponsor Solomon Friedman, managing partner of Edelson Friedman Black LLP, with Laura Berger and Danielle Lussier from uOttawa's Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, at the Chanukah Ball, held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in the Alma Duncan Salon of the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Also spotted from the sponsors were lawyers Bryan Thaw and Ira Marcovitch from Nelligan O’Brien Payne, and Raphael Brass from local public affairs firm Bluesky Strategy Group. From the federation were vice-president Sarah Beutel, Emerging Generation director Jordan Waldman, and Micah Garten, the federation's director of development. 

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From left, Bryan Thaw, associate lawyer at sponsor Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP and a member of the firm’s real estate and development practice  group, with Cynthia Thaw, Jill Friedman and Ira Marcovitch, an associate lawyer with Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP and a member of the firm’s family law group, at the Chanukah Ball. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ryan Goldberg, principal at Averkai Capital, with his fiancée, Arielle Kreisman, who teaches at private elementary school Turnbull, and Marshall Rothman, from Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT) Consulting, and Yael Kamil, a systems analyst at CHEO, at the Chanukah Ball. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Raphael Brass, senior consultant with sponsor Bluesky Strategy Group, with Dr. Lee Reichman, Julia Van Drie and Isaac Bushewsky at the Chanukah Ball. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Jonathon Greenberg, an analyst with the CRTC and member of the steering committee with the JFO's Emerging Generation, and his new fiancée, Elyssa Nassi, to whom he just popped the question a week prior, at the Chanukah Ball. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The crowd watched, via giant video, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein and his wife, entrepreneur Lindsay Taub, explain why they say #yep to backing the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. The high-profile couple points up to 'think' bubbles to express how the federation supports the poor and vulnerable, enriches Jewish education, fights antisemitism, builds community, strengthens Jewish identity and connects with Israel.

The party was held in advance of Chanukah, which runs Dec. 22 to Dec. 30. 

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Ottawa criminal defence lawyer and title sponsor Solomon Friedman at the Chanukah Ball alongside his clever Better Call Sol ad, which references acclaimed television show Better Call Saul. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jewish Federation of Ottawa's director of development, Micah Garten, who very recently became a father for his second time, seen with JFO's Emerging Generation campaign co-chair, Zev Kershman, at the Chanukah Ball. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Shira Brass with her husband, David Plotkin, an associate in Gowling WLG's Ottawa office, at the Chanukah Ball. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Jewish Federation of Ottawa's Emerging Generation Chanukah Ball was held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in the Alma Duncan Salon of the Ottawa Art Gallery. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca