Young Jewish philanthropists step up at NEXTGen Detroit’s annual fundraiser.

By Becky Hurvitz

NEXTGen Detroit, the young adult division of the Jewish Federation, returns to The Fillmore in Detroit on March 9 for its premiere annual fundraiser, EPIC. The event, brought to the community by Sue and Alan J. Kaufman and Family, is a true celebration of the community’s time-honored tradition of taking care of our fellow Jews and the commitment of EPIC guests to carry on that tradition as the young philanthropists of today.

“Our family has had the honor of being EPIC’s presenting sponsor for the last seven years,” said Alan J. Kaufman. “It has been nothing short of inspiring and exciting to watch EPIC grow over the years. It is very rewarding to see firsthand the generosity and enthusiasm that the next generation of proud Jewish Detroiters brings to our community.”

This year, EPIC attendees are invited to a cocktail hour with live music from Your Generation beginning at 8 p.m. before taking their seats in the historic theater for the main event. Ben-Gurion Society donors of $1,000 or more also are invited to a VIP reception with an exclusive meet-and-greet with this year’s EPIC talent, Nikki Glaser.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nikki Glaser to the EPIC stage,” said EPIC Co-Chair Andrew Luckoff. “Nikki is one of the most sought-after young comics right now, and it’s especially exciting because she will be the first-ever female comic to headline this event.”

Nikki Glaser headlines EPIC event
Nikki Glaser Photo courtesy of NEXTGen Detroit

Nikki Glaser is the creator, executive producer and star of the popular Comedy Central series “Not Safe w/ Nikki Glaser.” Her first one-hour standup special, “Perfect,” premiered on Comedy Central in April 2016. More recently, her half-hour Netflix special, “The Standups,” premiered in July 2017 to rave reviews. Nikki also has a Sirius XM morning show, “You Up with Nikki Glaser” on Comedy Central Radio.

In addition, she’s hosted the MTV late-night talk show “Nikki and Sara LIVE” and co-hosted the popular podcast “You Had to Be There.” She has also made appearances on Comedy Central’s “@midnight with Chris Hardwick,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “The Roast of Rob Lowe” and has been on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” multiple times.

“While the live standup show is always the highlight of EPIC, at the end of the evening it’s all about coming together to support the work of Federation and its partner agencies,” said EPIC Co-Chair Lesley Welwarth.

“The funds raised each year at EPIC are critical in furthering the mission of the Federation, which is to take care of the needs of the Jewish people and build a vibrant Jewish future here in Detroit, in Israel and around the world.”

Over the last seven years, EPIC has contributed more than $1.5 million to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan’s Detroit Annual Campaign, last year raising nearly $300,000.

“Every year, the EPIC crowd is a mix of young people who have an understanding of the work of the Jewish Federation and those who may know very little about the impact this organization has on our community and communities across the globe,” said EPIC Co-Chair Adam Bleznak.

“We want everyone to experience a fun and entertaining evening out, but we also take the opportunity to explain the importance of being a donor to the Federation because we want every young adult in that room to know the difference they are making.”

The importance of giving has been presented in numerous ways over the years. For the last two years, young Jewish Detroiters who have been impacted by the work of Federation and its partner agencies have addressed the room, sharing their personal and often poignant stories.

And the EPIC message is hitting home, as the event welcomes an average of 100 new young adult donors to Federation’s Annual Campaign each year.

“Some people will initially make a donation just to come to the event and see the show, and that’s fine,” said NEXTGen Detroit President Ryan Landau. “But we want every guest to leave EPIC with a better understanding of how this community takes care of one another and feeling really good about the gift they made.”

Registration for EPIC is open until Friday, March 1, at jewishdetroit.org/EPIC. Early registration is $60/person through Feb. 18 and general registration is $75/person beginning Feb. 19.

All EPIC guests are required to make a minimum donation of $100 to Federation’s 2019 Annual Campaign. This is a 21+ event and dietary laws will be observed.

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