June was a festive month with a return to in-person Annual General Meetings for both the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, where each celebrated the year’s achievements, recognized the impact of community leaders and volunteers, and shared gratitude for Board Members and pride on the recipients of scholarships and grants.
“2021 wasn’t the year any of us planned or frankly wanted, but it was one that we as a community were able to get through, thanks in part to the Foundation’s tremendous support,” CEO Andrea Freedman began in her comments. at the Foundation’s AGM, which was held on June 7. “As of December 31, 2021, the Foundation had $81.5 million in assets under management and distributed $3.2 million in aid to valuable organizations when they needed it most.”
Foundation Board Chair Lawrence Soloway echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that as the Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary, it took such pride in how deeply the organization has helped and continues to influence the community, expanding its legacy.
Of particular note is the success of the Life & Legacy initiative, a program that promotes afterlife donations to Jewish day schools, synagogues, social service organizations and other Jewish entities.
“In particular, we are completing Year 2 of the Life & Legacy Initiative, an initiative that is transforming philanthropic conversations in Jewish Ottawa,” Soloway said. “We rightly feel that a lot has been accomplished by participating in the program and motivating community offices to go out and get estate gifts.”
Foundation now has approximately $48 million in unrealized expectations, of which $12 million is directly attributed to the efforts of the Life & Legacy program.
After more than two years of pandemic-hampered celebrations, Soloway was also proud to bring back personal check presentations.
“It was fun handing out checks and seeing the smiles on the agency’s reps’ faces,” he said, adding that the $3.2 million handed out was the highest in the Foundation’s history.
A highlight of the AGM was the award ceremony of the evening. The GJ Cooper Scholarship Award, worth approximately $19,000K and which recognizes academic excellence and leadership. was awarded to Jordan Geist, who studies law at the University of Ottawa.
The Ilana and Steven Rubin Education Scholarship was awarded to two deserving students, Maddison deBeaupre and Morgan Shusterman, who received their award from Mr. Rubin in their high school.
The Norman Lesh Philanthropy Award, worth $10K, went to Jewish Family Services and Suzi Shore Sauve’s From House to Home for their work supporting refugees. The Women’s Collective Philanthropy Grant went to Jen Perzow for her workshops on women’s resilience with a focus on self-care.
For more information on the Foundation’s awards and grants, please visit: https://ojcf.ca/programs_awards. To watch the AGM livestream, visit here.
Likewise, a highlight of the Federation’s AGM, held on June 15, was the celebration of the Community Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteers and, new this year, Jewish community professionals.
Danya Vered received the Freiman Family Young Leadership Award and the Lawrence Greenberg Young Leadership Development Award for her passionate volunteer service on the Federation board, where she led the strategic planning process. Vered has also co-chaired the Emerging Generation’s annual campaign in the past and is heavily involved in community initiatives outside the Jewish community.
“I don’t know any other way than to say yes to community work,” Vered said. “We grew up knowing this was an extension of us and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Rabbi Reuven Bulka Shem Tov Award for Community Service and Kindness, renamed this year in honor of Rabbi Bulka Z”L, was awarded to Harold Feder for his contributions to the enrichment of Jewish life. Feder has served on the boards of both the Foundation and the Federation for many years and has served on multiple committees.
“I will cherish being the first recipient of this award dedicated to Rabbi Bulka,” said Feder. “They say this award is for a lifetime of service, but I can assure you I have a whole life to live and give.”
Sarah Beutel, the Federation’s vice president of community building, received the Jewish Communal Professional Leadership award, a new award this year, for the federation’s mission of promoting and advancing exceptional Jewish living and her deep dedication to the community.
“What motivates me is to be able to pay this in advance,” says Beutel about her Jewish upbringing. “I am optimistic about our Jewish future and I am inspired by the many volunteers in our community who work hard every day to ensure that we have this vibrant Jewish life.”
The optimism Beutel expressed in her acceptance speech echoed earlier comments by CEO Ian Sherman in a fireside conversation with Andrea Freedman. Sherman said that while it was a challenging year, there was still much to celebrate.
“It’s been very, very satisfying,” he said. “I am deeply honored to fill this role and I do not take that honor for granted. It was emotional at times, with some sleepless nights.”
When asked about his proudest achievement, Sherman pointed to the valuable work of the board, committees and volunteers. Special thanks go to outgoing board members Jessica Greenberg, Danya Vered, Nikki Shapiro and Stacy Goldstein; and new board members Tal Scher, Marina Milyaskaya, Marci Surkes and Leila Ages were warmly welcomed.
“They offer so much insight and a lot of foresight, so I’m proud of that,” he said. “We’ve been able to keep our allocations, which is a lifeline. Our current initiatives (Generation’s Trust) to make Jewish education more affordable are exciting — we already have $6 million in commitments.”
For Freedman, the challenges of the year were also bandwidth and the fight against anti-Semitism. She explained that the time invested in the fun aspects of community building and engagements needs to be weighed against crisis management – be it the pandemic, Ukraine or anti-Semitism. the highlights of the year have been upholding the five-year Strategic Plan in which the Federation seriously taught about truth and reconciliation, supporting community micro-grants for Jewish experiences, to the growth of the Life and Legacy initiative.
In keeping with the positive theme, however, Sherman and Freedman expressed their optimism as they looked forward to more face-to-face meetings.
To watch the Federation AGM livestream video, visit: https://fb.watch/dNAQZe1wvn/