With this message of togetherness in mind, since becoming Chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, I have spent a great deal of time working on creating productive partnerships. When Andrea Freedman, our CEO, and I meet weekly, we review our progress on this, and I’m pleased to report we’ve made much headway in a number of important areas while continuing to identify additional areas where we can do better.
We have specifically prioritized strengthening relationships with our agency partners.
Firstly, we have started holding monthly Federation Board of Directors meetings on the premises of our partner agencies. This allows Board members to visit and see first-hand the good work the agencies are doing on behalf of our community. Our host partner agency is also invited to present to the Board, enhancing our knowledge and awareness of its work. To date, we have held meetings at Tamir and at the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge, and we have an upcoming meeting at Jewish Family Services. We are looking forward to expanding this list.
Secondly, to further strengthen relationships, Andrea, Bram Bregman and I have begun attending board meetings of agencies, where we present the Federation’s “big picture” and discuss how we can best work together to build a stronger Jewish community. The exchange of ideas is always interesting, and I believe we all gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of unique challenges and opportunities.
Thirdly, the Strategic Plan Committee, chaired by Linda Kerzner, has held eight community consultations to gather feedback from community members. The discourse at all consultations has been extremely productive and very respectful. While we are grateful to everyone who made time to participate, it is unfortunate that the sessions were all not filled to capacity. At each session, participants were eager to understand how their input will be used by the strategic planning committee. Therefore, we have invited everyone who participated in a consultation to hear an analysis of the feedback and explore trends and what changes are being proposed to the mission, vision and values at a meeting on March 24.
Our Jewish community is experiencing similar challenges to those of many other North America cities. The Federation’s role is to be a resource to our many schools, shuls and institutions, and to try our best to work together to meet the needs of our growing and ever-changing city. We want Ottawa to be a kehilla (community) where Jewish life is strong. We believe that our mission, vision, values and accompanying goals – strengthened through the strategic planning consultations – will be instrumental tools in creating the strong kehilla to which we all aspire.
As I write, we are just days away from Mitzvah Day (which will have taken place by the time you read this). The positive buzz in the community about this longstanding event is contagious. What a wonderful annual event that engages our Jewish community to participate in Tikkun Olam and show everyone what a great kehilla we have here in Ottawa. I am inspired that mitzvot have been deliberately selected to help members of the Jewish community, as well as the broader community. Yasher Koachachem to event chairs Linda and Warren Melamed and all the staff who work so hard to make this event so special.
Am Yisroel Chai and L’shalom.