Jewish Detroit’s Biggest Party of the Year Celebrates a Decade

November 7, 2014 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

NEXTGen Detroit hosts an annual holiday party that’s become quite legendary over the years. Latke Vodka, which debuted a decade ago, has grown exponentially every year — drawing a crowd of over 1,000 young adults in 2013. Celebrating its tenth anniversary on November 29 at the Royal Oak Music Theater, the 2014 edition is poised to be the biggest and best Latke Vodka yet.

“Latke Vodka is NEXTGen’s largest event of the year because it’s really the place to be for young Jews in Detroit come Thanksgiving weekend,” said Latke Vodka Committee Co-Chair Abi Liepshutz. “Everyone is home for the holiday, and it has really become a homecoming and reunion for young Jewish adults in Metro Detroit. Because people come back every year, we have to come up with ways to make it exciting and different every year, and we’ve been planning for months to make sure that we do.”

A tenth anniversary is cause for serious celebration, and the NEXTGen team and Latke Vodka Planning Committee of volunteers have been hard at work coming up with new surprises for this year’s guests. While some highlights won’t be revealed until that night, they are willing to share a few details.

“We are in ‘go big, or go home’ mode to make sure the tenth year of Latke Vodka is on an entirely different level than years past,” said Rachel Taubman, NEXTGen Detroit Outreach Associate and lead staff member for the event. “We’re bringing back Collision Six, an incredible band that the crowd loved last year. We’re also having DJ Whip, who plays great dance music while putting on a visual art show.”

With a massive crowd that keeps growing every year, NEXTGen Detroit had to find the perfect place that could hold everyone, accommodate live entertainment and provide an exciting atmosphere. The Royal Oak Music Theater has been the Latke Vodka venue of choice for the past several years for many reasons. Aside from being large enough to fit 1,000 attendees, the space lends itself to being both intimate and high-energy.

“Latke Vodka is great because it offers a variety of experiences for different people,” said Latke Vodka Committee Co-Chair Matt Barker. “Some come to dance all night. Some take a seat in the lounge area and catch up with old friends. It’s such a fantastic event, because it allows people to enjoy everything — the music, the food, the drinks, the company.”

What some attendees may not realize is that the cost of their Latke Vodka tickets go to help the needs of our Jewish community. Every ticket purchased is a donation to the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s Annual Campaign, which supports 17 local Jewish agencies as well as core partner organizations abroad.

Ex-pats from Chicago, New York, LA and all over the country have made Latke Vodka a feature of their Thanksgiving weekend plans for years. Many who haven’t been back to Detroit in a while are often amazed at how the young Jewish community has grown, both in number and in involvement.

“When I run into parents whose kids went to Latke Vodka, they always tell me how their son or daughter was blown away by the turnout and enthusiasm — and that they’d love to come back and be a part of this vibrant community,” said Federation’s CEO Scott Kaufman. “When deciding where to live, folks often start by asking two basic questions: are there things to do and are there people to meet? Latke Vodka is a prime example that Detroit has both.”

Added Amy Brody, NEXTGen Detroit Employment Specialist, “The week after Latke Vodka, we get a significant influx in calls and emails from young adults interested in moving back to Metro Detroit. Many want to learn about employment opportunities, and we’re fortunate that we have resources to help them successfully move their careers back home.”

“We put on a lot of events over the course of the year, but there is just something special about Latke Vodka. It’s really become a tradition, and I have no doubt that it will continue to be the event of the year for the next ten years,” said Taubman.

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