TORONTO — Hundreds of young professionals recently gathered at Toronto nightclub The Hoxton for a night of fun and philanthropy at the Jewish National Fund Future Party.
The Sept. 12 event raised more than $65,000 to support a security planting for kibbutz Nir Oz in Israel’s Negev Desert. Bordering Gaza, Nir Oz is home to 350 residents and is exposed to frequent missile and artillery attacks.
As a safety mechanism, JNF is planting trees surrounding the area to act as green buffers to protect the community.
“The Negev is such an important part of Israel’s soul, history and culture,” said Lesley Glowinsky, who chaired the party with Darren Slavens and Maxim Zavet.
“Thousands of people visit this region every year, and maintaining its safety must be a priority to both Jewish and non-Jewish people around the world.”
Zavet said JNF Future is unique in that it specifically targets a younger demographic “that is typically not involved in Israeli community projects and related charitable and social causes.”
He said getting young people involved helps them build their networks within the community and expand them over time. “It then becomes easier to call on those networks in order to help others through charitable fundraising, social causes and community projects, and also to help themselves become pillars of their communities.”
Glowinsky said she’s been involved with JNF Future for the past few years. “I personally support JNF because I know exactly where their funds are going. Whether they take on a small task like the building of a playground or a larger one like our Negev security buffer this year, the organization makes such a huge impact on the lives of Israelis.”
Slavens said he wants the Canadian Jewish community to realize they can make a difference. “It’s important that the outside community see young Jewish Torontonians saying loud and proud that we support Israel and always will. It’s important for us to feel that pride within our own community as well.”
Young Jewish adults need to realize it’s their turn to step up to the plate, Slavens said. “Past and current leaders in our community have done such an amazing job strengthening Israel and our community here at home, but we need to build that next generation of leaders that will take over. I think JNF Future is the perfect vehicle to reach out.”
JNF Future is “a vital part of the JNF organization as it provides a gateway to involve members of our community aged 25 to 45 and serves as part of our leadership development work,” said Lance Davis, JNF Toronto executive director.
“The event chairs are individuals who are committed to JNF and the important work we do in Israel. They are dedicated to ensuring that we engage young adults into our work in order to help connect them to Israel.”
This year’s event featured entertainment by DJ Samantha Ronson, Filthy Gorgeous and Bangers & Mash.
Upcoming JNF events include Cook for a Cause on Oct. 14 and the Hoops Classic basketball charity tournament on Dec. 16.