It was a warm day, but the heavy Sunday afternoon rain was unrelenting, June 5, as more than 450 community members took part in this year’s edition of the Am Echad Walk/Run for Jewish Education in Ottawa.
The annual walkathon raises funds for all of Ottawa’s Jewish day and supplementary schools with participants designating which school will benefit from the money they raise.
Among the participants was Rabbi David Rotenberg, a teacher at the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) and principal of Ottawa Talmud Torah Afternoon School.
“Jewish education means the key to the Jewish future,” he said. “Jewish education is what makes the next generation care about continuing to be Jewish, while giving them the practical tools to know how to do so.”
Rabbi Rotenberg’s thoughts on the importance of Jewish education were echoed by Geremy Miller, director of recruitment and development at OJCS. Miller also said he was pleased to see people from all segments of the Jewish community supporting the walkathon.
“An event like this, where everyone comes together, really builds community,” he said.
Jewish school graduates were among those helping support their former schools. Cassandra Starosta, an OJCS graduate now studying at Queen’s University, said it was nice to come back and see some of her old teachers and friends taking part in the festivities.
Rabbi Ari Galandauer, who was raising money for Torah Academy of Ottawa, which will become the Torah Day School of Ottawa in September when its students are joined by those from Rambam Day School, said he was very supportive of the walkathon’s ability to bring the community together and was ecstatic that Jewish education would benefit from the fundraising effort. However, he expressed concern for the future of Jewish education in Ottawa.
Rabbi Galandauer said he wished the walkathon would also inspire increased enrolment at Ottawa’s Jewish day schools, “so that we can put the theory of Jewish education into practice.”
Amanda St. Martin-Slipacoff, co-chair with Erin Smith of the Am Echad Walk/Run for Jewish Education in Ottawa, was pleased to see such a sizable turnout despite the bad weather and said she hoped participants would consider Jewish education as a viable option for their children.
Due to the torrential downpour, most participants quickly walked or ran one lap around the five-block course before returning to the Soloway Jewish Community Centre for a meal and family programming, including bouncy castles, relay races, carnival games, face painting and music.