Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad building city’s first new synagogue in decades
The sky darkened early and it started to rain, but that didn’t stop hundreds of congregants and well-wishers from filling the new Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad (OTC) synagogue building at 111 Lamplighters Drive in Barrhaven to standing-room-only capacity during its grand opening ceremony, September 15.
“The impossible dream has become a dynamic reality,” said Rabbi Menachem Blum, executive director of OTC.
Rabbi Blum cut the ribbon to the new, 12,000 square-foot, $4.5 million multipurpose facility indoors to enthusiastic and encouraging applause from the crowd, an occasion he said was 17 years in the making.
The grand opening was an opportunity to “commemorate, celebrate and dedicate our new home,” said Perry Medicoff, the event’s master of ceremonies, who participated in the building’s groundbreaking just 16 months ago.
Medicoff recounted how Rabbi Blum and his wife, Dina, created the foundation of the centre by reaching out to families when they arrived in Ottawa with the vision of building up local infrastructure.
“What Rabbi and Dina [Blum] did, was they went out person by person, family by family, and introduced Ottawa Torah Centre to the community. And that is the foundation on which we are standing today,” Medicoff said.
The Blums organized Jewish programming first out of their townhouse basement, and now more than 100 families make use of the OTC’s services, including Chabad Hebrew School, adult education courses, and Shabbat and holiday services.
Noah Horovitz, 14, who has been involved with OTC programming for the past decade, thanked the Blums for helping him to develop a strong sense of confidence in himself.
The occasion marked the first time a new synagogue has been built in Ottawa in 30 years said Mayor Jim Watson, who announced that Rabbi Blum would be a 2014 recipient of the Mayor’s City Builder Award at Ottawa City Council on October 8.
“We are fortunate to have, in Ottawa, such a strong and growing Jewish community as we see here tonight,” Watson said.
“I know this represents a very special time for your beautiful and bright community,” said Israeli Ambassador Rafael Barak. “Tonight represents yet another beginning for the collective Ottawa community.”
“We are humbled beyond words by this blessing and this awesome responsibility,” Rabbi Blum said.
With the newly opened building, Rabbi Blum said this achievement only pushes them to do more in the community.
“We remain focused on how much more we can accomplish,” Rabbi Blum said. “So as joyous and as glorious as this day may be, let it not only serve as a celebration for how far we have come, but also as a communal recognition of where we have yet to go.”