The young Jewish professional organization, Jewish and Modern (JAM), focuses on building and strengthening the Jewish Russian-speaking and Russian-Israeli community in the Greater Toronto Area. Through social and educational events, the organization aims to bring together 22-40 year olds in a familiar community.
“We host a variety of events to meet our community’s religious, educational, cultural, and social needs,” says Ilia Dobkin, executive director of JAM.
Events include Shabbat dinners, challah baking classes, and singles events. Special events include Kushai & Slushai, which translates to Eat and Listen, and allows participants to have lunch while learning about Judaism.
The organization also introduced an offshoot series of Kushai and Slushai called Grill the Rabbi, where participants are encouraged to ask questions about Judaism, providing anonymity if they prefer.
“Not everything has religious or traditional content. Some events are created simply to provide opportunities for networking, socializing, and having fun in a stress-free environment,” says Dobkin.
The organization was founded by Roman Rubinshteyn in 2013 after he participated on a trip to New York with a similar organization.
“I thought that we could use something like this in Toronto. I wanted to create the same warm and inviting environment for young professionals from a similar background as myself,” says Rubinshteyn.
He looked to the source of his inspiration for guidance on starting his own version of the organization in Toronto but realized he would need more.
“I reached out to the American organization to see if they wanted to do something, but they were still working on their presence in the States, ” he says, “So I called a small group of contacts and friends who were excited about the idea. And everything snowballed from there, with multiple people wanting to get involved.”
Creating a community for young Jewish adults allows students who were involved in the Jewish community in their post-secondary schools to continue being involved.
Natan Simchovich is a 22-year-old aspiring doctor, who recently graduated from York University with a kinesiology degree. He was very involved at York, especially in the Jewish community, and attended many Hillel events throughout his four years.
“I really liked participating in Hillel events at York, because it gave me a chance to be more engaged and involved in the Jewish community, as well as meet other Jews on campus. JAM is almost like a continuation of Hillel, and on top of having a lot of great events that are both fun and meaningful, they help you with your professional development and host networking events that are so useful, especially right after graduating,” said Simchovich.
JAM is supported by a number of volunteers and organizations.
“JAM is very proud to have a dedicated volunteer base, community support, and sponsors who empower us and without whom none of these events would be possible,” says Dobkin.
Supporters and sponsors include United Jewish Appeal (UJA), Genesis Philanthropy Group, Rajet Ameinu, and the Natan Giving Circle. JAM also accepts donations of community resources.
The organization has a Facebook page where general information can be found and a separate events Facebook page for participants.