JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner honours Ron Prehogan, raises $775,000 for Alzheimer’s disease

Ron Prehoga speaks to the attendees of the gala
Ottawa lawyer Ron Prehogan, honouree of JNF Ottawa's Negev Gala, held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

In Jewish culture, there’s no greater compliment than to be called a mensch — a Yiddish term used to describe a person who is kind and decent.

It was a word that popped up again and again Tuesday night at the Jewish National Fund Ottawa’s Negev Gala honouring Ron Prehogan for his 40-plus years as an exemplary leader and volunteer for the Jewish and broader community. Held at the Infinity Convention Centre, the evening drew a crowd of roughly 550 and raised $775,000 toward finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common kind of dementia.

Prehogan’s mother-in-law passed away a few years ago from the disease. His mother, nearly 96, has little memory left and suffers from constant bouts of confusion.

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While Prehogan wasn’t looking to be in the spotlight, he recognized a greater purpose in serving as 2022 honouree: focusing on a disease that’s becoming more common and yet still has no cure. The research into Alzheimer’s disease is being done through a partnership between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Ottawa’s Brain and Mind Institute.

The community builder also wanted to serve as a role model for his six young grandchildren. By next September, they will all be attending the Ottawa Jewish Community School, of which he’s on the board.

Prehogan is a partner in Ottawa law firm BrazeauSeller.LLP and its affiliated family business consulting firm, Equitas Consultants. He’s volunteered in various leadership roles to help such organizations as Soloway JCC, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. He also co-chaired with Bram Bregman, president of Newfoundout Family Office, the capital campaign for Congregation Machzikei Hadas.

The evening was co-chaired with impeccable dedication by Prehogan’s “dream team” consisting of Ian Sherman, founder and CEO of Relationship Capital, and Bregman. While Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre dropped into the cocktail reception, attendees included Israeli Ambassador Ronen Hoffman, former prime minister Joe Clark, Paul Hindo, honorary colonel of the Canadian Army, and former cabinet minister and deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt, vice-chair and managing director of global investment banking at CIBC Capital Markets.

Raitt took to the stage later in the evening with her son JC Raitt to have an open and honest dialogue about Alzheimer’s through a fireside chat with professional communicator Catherine Clark. Raitt’s husband, Bruce Wood, was diagnosed at age 56 with early onset in 2016.

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From left, Negev Gala co-chair Ian Sherman with this year’s honouree, Ron Prehogan, and Negev Gala co-chair Bram Bregman, at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Former cabinet minister and deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt and her son, JC Raitt, talk about their family’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease during a fireside chat with Catherine Clark at the Jewish National Fund Ottawa’s Negev Gala held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The evening marked the first in-person Negev Gala held in Ottawa since the June 2021 passing of local spiritual leader Rabbi Reuven Bulka, affectionately known as “Canada’s Rabbi”.

The rabbi had been one of Prehogan’s great mentors. The other has been Sherman’s uncle, Sol Shinder, at whose former law firm Prehogan joined when he first moved to Ottawa in the mid-1970s, fresh out of McGill law school. Prehogan and his wife, Avalee, who graduated from McGill’s faculty of education, are originally from Montreal. “I was very much drawn to Sol due to his smart and practical approach, moral compass and strong set of values,” he said.

Prehogan met Rabbi Bulka while playing in the Jewish men’s softball league, shortly after moving here. The rabbi was the pitcher. “I knew right away that he had to be someone special, as everyone referred to him as The Rabbi, as if there was the only one.”

Prehogan ultimately developed a deep and cherished friendship with the rabbi that changed and shaped his life. “He had all the time in the world for you,” said Prehogan of Rabbi Bulka, who was also founder of Kind Canada. “All those who were fortunate enough to be in his orbit all rose up and became our better selves as a result.”

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Negev Gala honouree Ron Prehogan and his wife, Avalee, were joined by their son and daughter, with their respective spouses, and four of the six grandchildren, at this year’s dinner, held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Donald Brazeau, Ron Prehogan, Najma Rashid, Fred Seller and Harold Feder, all of whom are partners at Ottawa law firm BrazeauSeller.LLP, at this year’s JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner honouring Prehogan. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Prehogan thanked his loving and supportive wife, his community-minded law partners, and Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg, who’ve had the greatest influence on him when it comes to philanthropy and civic pride. “It is impossible to imagine where our community would be without your incredibly big hearts and ongoing contributions,” he told them from the podium.

The evening served as a beautiful way for Prehogan’s friends, family and colleagues, along with the greater community, to offer their gratitude. There were also letters of greetings from the prime minister, lieutenant governor and premier. The evening included a musical performance from local musician Tara Shannon.

As Bregman earlier explained in an interview: “I think from the moment Ron came to Ottawa he’s been involved in the community, just giving. I don’t want to say ‘giving back’ because Rabbi Bulka used to always say ‘giving back’ was the wrong term because it implies that you’re getting something, therefore, that’s the only reason that you’re giving.

“I’m going to say that Ron just gives, very much in line with the spirit of Rabbi Bulka. Just gives, gives, gives, gives. I think after so many years of giving, I think it’s time for us to stop and to say ‘Thank you’ for all the contributions and the difference he’s made for the lives of people here in Ottawa.”

Mark Sutcliffe attended as brand new mayor of his hometown, having just been sworn in with the new city council that morning. The ceremony happened “just in the nick of time” for him to be in a position to help honour his friend, he joked. The mayor did a deep dive into the word ‘mensch’ and decided that it fit Prehogan perfectly.

“That’s you, Ron,” he said on stage. “There’s just a fundamental kindness and decency about you. I’ve learned so much by observing it, and I’ve strived to be more like you. Just imagine what our city could be if everyone behaved a little bit more like Ron Prehogan?

“On behalf of all the people of Ottawa, thank you for your unrelenting service, thank you for your commitment to the Jewish community and our entire city, thank you for the example that you’ve set for all of us.

“Thank you for being such a great friend to so many people, Ron. Thank you for being a ‘mensch’.”

Prehogan’s own remarks, which were intelligent, thoughtful, gracious and inspiring, ended with a quote from his dad, the late Jack Prehogan. “He was a very grateful man and always seemed to capture the essence of things with a few usually very funny words,” Prehogan explained.

“When we would celebrate a graduation, wedding or the introduction of a newborn child into the family, he often turned to me and said, ‘Ron, this is a red-letter day in our family. I must be two guys because one guy can’t be this lucky.

“That line perfectly encapsulates how I feel tonight. So, from these two guys to you, thank you very much.”

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Negev Dinner honouree Ron Prehogan spoke of how Ottawa businessman Sol Shinder and the late Rabbi Reuven Bulka have been his two great mentors in life. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg from Accora Village and the Danbe Foundation, with Stéphane Brutus, dean of the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, University of Ottawa president Jacques Frémont, and Rabbi Zischa Shaps, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner, held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Former cabinet minister Lisa Raitt, now vice-chair and managing director of global investment banking at CIBC Capital Markets, during a rare lighter moment in her conversation about Alzheimer’s disease, at the JNF Ottawa’s Negev Gala held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jacques Shore, partner at Gowling WLG, with Michal Arad and Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Ronen Hoffman, Barbara Farber, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, also MP for Carleton, and his wife, Anaida Poilievre, at the JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner, held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Stéphane Brutus, dean of the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa, with Paul Hindo, honorary colonel of the Canadian Army, and his wife, Alison McClure, at the Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Margo Blostein, co-chair of JNF Ottawa, with her husband, CIBC Private Wealth Wood Gundy’s Alan Blostein, who’s on the national executive of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, at the Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Former prime minister Joe Clark attended JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, with his daughter, Catherine Clark, president of Catherine Clark Communications. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, JNF Canada national president Beth Price with chief executive officer Lance Davis and Sharon Diamond, executive director of JNF Ottawa and Atlantic Canada, at the Negev Gala held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Farm Boy partner Jeff York with Kathryn Tremblay, CEO of Altis Recruitment and excelHR, Lorne Segal, partner at Gowling WLG, and his wife, Dr. Karen Palayew, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Josh Engel, managing partner of GGFL Chartered Professional Accountants, with business partners Natalie Evans and Jeffrey Miller at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Negev Dinner honouree Ron Prehogan with well-known Ottawa businessman Sol Shinder, chairman of District Realty, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Sam Firestone, Marcus & Millichap, with Regional Group executive chairman Steve Gordon and Jacques Emond, founding partner of Emond Harnden LLP,  at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation board member Suzanne Pellerin (RBC Dominion Securities) with president and CEO Michael Maidment, board member Candace Enman (Welch Capital Partners), ORCF team members Andrea Timlin,  Josée Quenneville and Kristin Pearson, and Dr. Hartley Stern, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ken Ages with Susan Viner Vered and Jason Shinder, CEO of District Realty, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Ronen Hoffman, and his partner Michal Arad at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Negev Dinner honouree Ron Prehogan with Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Soloway, of Soloway Wright Lawyers, at this year’s dinner, held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at the Infinity Convention Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Richard Sachs and Lawrence Weinstein, both on the board of Urbandale Corporation, with Nick Pantieras, senior managing director for Marcus & Millichap, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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University of Ottawa president Jacques Frémont with Dr. Ruth Slack, director of uOttawa’s Brain and Mind Research Institute, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner, held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, at the Infinity Convention Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Donna-Lee MacLean from Rogers Communications with Kelly Goulet and Jennifer Van Noort from The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, and Ottawa philanthropist Roger Greenberg, chair of the hospital’s $500-million Campaign to Create Tomorrow, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Ron Prehogan, this year’s honouree of JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner, seen with Shannon Gorman, president and CEO of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Chris Phillips, VP of business operations for the Ottawa Senators, alongside Ottawa philanthropists Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg, and Anthony LeBlanc, president of business operations with the Ottawa Senators, at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Local musician Tara Shannon, who performed at the Negev Gala honouring Ron Prehogan, seen with her son, Jordan Renaud, at the JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Stephen Victor, senior law partner at Victor Vallance Blais, with his wife, Gail, at the JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Negev Dinner honouree Ron Prehogan gets a hug from grandson Jackson Gottlieb. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Christine Clancy, Senators Sports & Entertainment, with the hockey club’s executive VP and CFO, Erin Crowe, Kaylee Press and senior director Brendan Du Vall at the Negev Dinner held at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jeff Clarke, CEO of Inflector Environmental Services, with Derek Noble, partner at Huntington Properties, and Chris Bockstael, president of ONELIFE Wealth Management, at the Infinity Convention Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Len Farber and Barbara Farber, president of Leikin Group, with Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and his wife, Ginny, at the JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Jason Tasse, president and COO at Lee Valley Tools, with his wife, Tammy, and Lisa Goudie and Mark Goudie, president and CEO of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), at JNF Ottawa’s Negev Dinner. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, JNF Ottawa co-chairs David Baker (European Glass & Paint) and Margo Blostein, Alan Blostein and Sharon Diamond, executive director of JNF Ottawa and Atlantic Canada, at this year’s dinner, held Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2022, at the Infinity Convention Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca

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