Men’s poker tournament will benefit school

The Young Men’s Group of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona will take over a private dining room at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 1785 E. River Road, for its 5th Annual Poker Tournament on Tuesday, March 10, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

All men ages 21+ are invited to play in the Texas Hold ‘Em tournament, which will benefit the Federation’s Homer Davis Project. The event costs $36, which includes appetizers and prizes. A no host bar and menu will be available.

The Homer Davis Project provides snacks and weekend meal packs for needy students at Homer Davis Elementary School in the Flowing Wells School District, along with homework help, backpacks, school supplies and an outdoor beautification project. The choice of this year’s beneficiary was virtually unanimous, says Alex Chaffin, co-chair of the poker event with Isaac Rothschild. Chaffin notes that YMG has helped out with Homer Davis in other ways, including making a mountain of latkes for the students at Chanukah.

Philanthropy and social action are part of the YMG focus — as is exploring Jewish identity, says Chaffin, who is in the first year of his two-year commitment to YMG, which recruits up to six new members annually.

“We’re always discussing what this group means to us … which has helped us look into our own personal identity,” he says. “It’s been an incredible experience. It’s really uplifting.”

Chaffin, who grew up in Savannah, Ga., but has lived in Tucson since attending the UA, says YMG has given him a window onto all the services Federation and its partners provide in the community. “We’re actually very fortunate to have the organizations that we do.”

To expose more young people to the Jewish community, YMG is marketing the poker tournament to some of the Jewish fraternities at the University of Arizona, says Chaffin, which ties into one of the group’s aims this year, to foster retention in the Jewish community.

“A lot of people come to Tucson for the university, and after graduating, they leave,” he says, so YMG is seeking ways to integrate the Jewish community with UA life. “A lot of undergraduates, graduate students, aren’t really aware of the strength of the Tucson community and what the Tucson community has to offer.”

YMG held its last meeting at the UA Hillel Foundation, where discussion revolved around Zionism and what Judaism means to millennials. The consensus, reinforced by Avraham Infeld’s Feb. 10 talk on Jewish peoplehood at the JFSA Together event, was that “being Jewish is largely almost being tribal — it’s identity as opposed to religion,” says Chaffin, adding that the conversation encompassed other views.

Chaffin notes that YMG members are very involved in all aspects of the general community as well. And the group has received a lot of support for the poker tournament, including donations for prizes such as a spa renewal day for two at Canyon Ranch. T

o register for the tournament, go to www.jfsa.org or contact Karen Graham at kgraham@jfsa.org or 577-9393.