The Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad (OTC) will celebrate a major milestone when the doors of its new $4.5 million multipurpose facility in Barrhaven open on September 15, said Rabbi Menachem Mendel Blum, OTC’s executive director.
“We’re only getting started, and this is the next step,” he said.
As a young couple, Rabbi Blum and his wife Dina wanted to settle in an area in Ottawa where there wasn’t much Jewish infrastructure in order to make their own contribution to the local community, Rabbi Blum said.
“We figured we’d set up shop here, get the families together, and share the beauty of Judaism and teach,” he said.
The Blums started out organizing small classes, holiday programs and get-togethers in the basement of their townhouse. The popularity of their programming grew, “one thing led to the next” and they had to move to a home with a larger basement, then to rented storefronts to host services, Shabbat dinners and the Chabad Hebrew School.
Now, 17 years after their start, Rabbi Blum is preparing to open the new OTC building on a plot of land where he has been holding classes and services in temporary structures.
“Young families are moving out to what I call the ‘Western suburbs,’ which is Barrhaven and Kanata,” he said of the more than 100 families that use OTC’s various services.
The new 12,000 square-foot facility features multifunctional spaces like a gathering hall with flexible walls to accommodate prayer services and other events.
There are also classrooms that double as meeting rooms, a library and study centre, a teen lounge, staff and volunteer offices and a kosher kitchen. Architectural firm Barry J. Hobin & Associates designed the facility.
The multipurpose design of the building was one of the key considerations when designing it, so that it fits the needs of the community without losing money, Rabbi Blum said.
Funding for the new facility was raised through donations. Of the $4.5 million needed to pay for construction costs, Rabbi Blum said OTC still needs to raise about $900,000.
“Thank God, with the generosity of some of our local donors, we were able to move forward with what’s going to be a beautiful facility,” he said.
Rabbi Blum has been organizing daily meetings with the consultants and tradespersons to ensure construction is on track to be completed by the deadline, with the interior almost complete and landscaping being one of the final projects.
“We look forward to celebrating with the entire community,” he said.
The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad will be Monday, September 15, 5:30 pm, at 111 Lamplighters Drive in Barrhaven.