As chair of Jewish Family Services of Ottawa (JFS), I would like to urge our community to begin the New Year by thinking of those more disadvantaged Jewish people in our city.
Here is a quick snapshot of the many groups JFS helps throughout the year.
Miriam’s Well feeds 500 individuals a month with fresh fruits and vegetables on the last Monday of every month right before welfare cheques are sent out. Many of our Jewish clients have empty food cupboards and are grateful for the assistance that arrives at this point. Our Shalom Bayit program helps Jewish women, and their children, who are in violent relationships or have left violent relationships.
Many of the senior members of our community are ashamed to seek help after leading a fruitful and independent life and are often stunned by their physical and mental deterioration. JFS is filling that gap and helps them to sustain independent lifestyles through our Kosher Meals on Wheels program, our friendly visitor program, and our memory programs for those with early dementia. We also serve Holocaust survivors in our community who, to this day, continue to suffer consequences of their experiences during the Shoah.
In addition, JFS is a bridge builder in the broader community and works hard as the lead organization in the Ottawa Jewish community helping with the Syrian Refugee Program.
JFS is helping ensure that refugees are welcomed and find comfortable homes in Canada. This is an important project for Jews to support because, sadly, this was not the case for Jewish refugees. Indeed, Jews were not welcomed to Canada at the time of the Holocaust.
On a personal note, my father lost his eight brothers and sisters and their immediate families, and my mother lost her parents and her younger sister and her family during the Holocaust. Had my father not come to Canada prior to the Second World War to marry my mother, I would not be here today.
Refugee support is one of the ways JFS has continued to expand its role in helping other communities. The agency does this with help from the Local Health Integra-tion Networks, Ministry of Health, the federal government, Ministry of Citizenship, and others. This work, of which JFS is a proven leader, illustrates the Jewish commitment to positive change and highlights our entire community’s commitment to tikkun olam. It is precisely this type of inter-community co-operation that will bring our fractured world together.
All this is possible because of JFS’ wonderful staff led by visionary Executive Director Mark Zarecki, our volunteers (Board included), and, of course, our generous and understanding donors. It is due to all of your help that JFS achieves such successful results. We are a community and, together, we are so much stronger.
For myself, I continue to be honoured to be a part of this wonderful organization that has grown to become the voice of so many people.
We know there are many Jews in our community in need who are simply too proud to ask for help. We are here for them. We will help. Please join us in our mission and let us reach all those who need support.