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

Social evening with young professionals helps to strengthen Jewish programs and services

Editor's Note

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2019-11-16

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.

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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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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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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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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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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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— caroline@obj.ca

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