Engaging the next generation in Montreal’s community

(l-r) Gillian Gornitsky and Laura Sonego Assor

Laura Sonego Assor and Gillian Gornitsky are two very busy women – Sonego Assor is a former mortgage specialist and is expecting her fourth child, and Gornitsky is a human relations agent at the Batshaw Youth and Family Centre. Despite their hectic schedules, when Federation CJA approached them to be the 2019 chairs of its GenMTL and GenMTL NXT campaigns, respectively, they both felt it was an important mission that they could not pass up.

GenMTL is the young adult division of Federation CJA that aims to engage and enrich the lives of members of the Montreal Jewish community under the age of 40 by offering them a variety of innovative programming and opportunities through their five “gateways”: GenMTL Connects, GenMTL Travels, GenMTL Grows, GenMTL Leads and GenMTL Gives Back.

GenMTL NXT is a subdivision of GenMTL that specifically caters to the needs and interests of 18 to 25 year olds. Some of the major programs run by GenMTL include the March of the Living, Birthright and Honeymoon Israel trips, the Richter Jewish Chamber of Commerce, PJ Library, Hillel, Moishe House and many others.

“Our goal is to focus on engagement and to see what people really want out of community and to help them make that connection,” says Gornitsky. At this stage of her life, she feels that it is vital to tap into the interests of her peers, in order to help them relate to the community in ways that are meaningful to them, enabling them to develop lifelong relationships and forge strong Jewish identities from a young age.

In addition to the GenMTL and GenMTL NXT initiatives, most people don’t realize how many other services Federation CJA provides to the under-40 crowd, says Sonego Assor. “Some people think that Federation CJA only caters to the vulnerable, but this age group benefits a great deal from the funds that are raised,” she says.

“Daycares, Jewish camps, CAPS (subsidies) for education, employment, new immigration – these all cater to the 18-40 group. We’re very lucky to have one centralized organization that really takes care of everything.”

Both women are speaking from experience. Sonego Assor has been actively involved in Federation CJA since participating in the March of the Living at the age of 16 – and has never looked back. Gornitsky’s appreciation for Federation CJA’s offerings came while in CEGEP, when she says she no longer felt the automatic connection to the community that her Jewish high school had provided.

“I felt a little bit lost in terms of my Jewish identity. I was curious about it and wanted to learn a little bit more about who I was as a young, independent Jewish woman,” she says.

Both women are committed to ensuring that their peers between the ages of 18-40 understand and utilize all that Federation CJA has to offer through its GenMTL and GenMTL NXT programs, and in turn give back in their own ways.

“The people in this demographic are going to be the future leaders of Federation CJA – sitting on boards, academics and professionals – wherever their career paths may take them,” says Gornitsky. “These are very much the next leaders and it is so important to support them and help them excel in whatever they want to do.”


For more information on GenMTL and GenMTL NXT, or to make your donation to Federation CJA’s 2019 Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign, visit federationcja.org.