This years Latke Ball gives young Jews the VIP treatment

A private champagne and dessert party with hosted vodka tasting in the lavish upstairs balcony of a popular San Francisco club — yes, this year the annual Latke Ball has gone VIP.

The nonprofit event, sponsored by the Young Adults Division of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, is celebrating its 12th birthday this year. Once again, the event will be at the expansive Ruby Skye club near Union Square. While the basics of the party remain the same this year — young, hip Jews dancing with friends to celebrate the holidays — there are also some major additions.

While general admission tickets are $30 to $40, now attendees have the option of VIP tickets for $50 to $65 or six-person VIP table packages for $450. With VIP tickets, partygoers will have access to a special balcony and the option of noshing on desserts and sipping champagne throughout the night. Their party will even get started a little earlier than the main event, to ensure maximum VIP treatment.

The Ben-Gurion Society is a donor recognition group for Jewish youth ages 25 to 45 who make individual gifts of at least $1,000 to their federation. To say thank you, YAD has decided not only to have VIP ticket holders on the balcony, but also invite Ben-Gurion Society members free of the charge, along with representatives from Camp Tawonga.

Why Camp Tawonga? It’s because the Latke Ball is a fundraiser to fund YAD events throughout the rest of the year, and also to aid Tawonga campers. The money will go toward scholarships for needy children so they can attend the Jewish youth camp.

YAD board member Andrea Skor says the board decided to designate a local beneficiary this year to help give back to the community — and Camp Tawonga was a natural choice.

“We kept hearing people say they didn’t quite get where our money was going,” she explains, “so we felt it was important that we select an agency within the JCF that we could earmark funds for, so we can raise awareness.”

 Another YAD board member notes that the charity aspect is what sets the Latke Ball apart from other for-profit young Jewish events.

“It’s for a good cause,” he says, “It’s not just a night out so people can party.”

But they definitely do party. The board is expecting around 1,000 young adults to come out and dance — and each year the gala sells out.

“It’s always wall-to-wall young Jews having fun on Christmas Eve,” says co-chair Alexis Kershner.

For Kershner and other return attendees, the Latke Ball has been a place to meet new friends and bump into old ones. A San Francisco native, Kershner literally bumped into an old friend on the dance floor last year — a girl she hadn’t seen since they traveled to Israel together as 16-year-olds with their youth group.

And last year, one of Kershner’s friends met a girl at the ball who is now his girlfriend.

For YAD board members, the Latke Ball is a labor of love. They all have day jobs and spend their evenings meticulously planning the once-a-year event, knowing it will fund YAD’s other activities throughout the year.

Kershner is a graphic designer who originally got involved with the ball in 2005 to create the event graphics. She ended up at so many meetings that she eventually became a co-chair.

“[Planning] the Latke Ball is definitely a lot of work,” says one of her colleagues, “but getting involved with something like this is such a good outlet for people new to the community.”

The Latke Ball will start 9 p.m. Dec. 24 at Ruby Skye, 420 Mason St., S.F. Individual tickets are $30 to $65. Information: or (415) 512-6232.