Canadian Jewish Experience has partnered with the Archdiocese of Ottawa. It is the first time the travelling exhibit has been shown at a non-Jewish religious facility. Louise Rachlis reports on this interfaith endeavour.
The Canadian Jewish Experience’s travelling exhibit has, by now, been to many venues across Canada ranging from museums to universities, libraries, city halls, community centres, synagogues, Parliament Hill and provincial legislatures. But a launch held January 24 at the Roman Catholic Diocesan Centre marked the first time it has been seen on the premises of a non-Jewish faith group.
Tova Lynch, a Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) organizer, said one of the main goals of the CJE exhibit is to promote understanding and reach out to people from all religious traditions. “CJE is therefore honoured that the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa has invited many Ottawans of different religious backgrounds to gather here at the Diocesan Centre to open an exhibit that tells the story of Jewish contributions to our great country.”
“We selected February for the exhibit because we have pastoral days February 22 and 23 and all the parishes from Hawkesbury to Almonte will be sending representatives,” said Deacon Gilles Ouellette of the Office of the Archbishop, who worked with Lynch on bringing the exhibit to the Diocesan Centre. “This will enable thousands of priests, deacons and lay leaders across the area to view it.”
“We wanted it to have extensive exposure, so that many will see it and it will touch them very much,” said Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Pendergast. “I want to say how pleased we are to be able to display the exhibit.”
Jewish leaders on hand for the launch were enthused the exhibit is on display at the Catholic institution.
“This is an overwhelming thing for me,” said Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Machzeikai Hadas. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing the archbishop for many years, and we’ve done many things together… You can talk, but to actually bring something here to the archdiocese about Jewish life speaks directly to action and to valuing each other. Thank you, we deeply appreciate this.”
“The exhibit wanted to celebrate what Canada has achieved and will achieve in the future,” said Victor Rabinovitch, chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Communications and Community Relations Committee. “This entire exhibit is about celebration, not just Jewish, but of the country. Let us build together a country that is better and better.”
Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor said the City of Ottawa salutes the initiative.
“What stands out is how we stand together as a people to share each other’s stories. There are many places on our planet where this wouldn’t happen,” said Taylor.
Ottawa South MPP John Fraser said bringing the CJE exhibit to the Diocesan Centre represented a “significant milestone,” noting there are families from 125 countries, 19 languages and dozens of faiths in the riding. “It takes work like has been done here today to bring people together.”
The CJE exhibit will be on display at the Diocesan Centre at 1247 Kilborn Place through February 23. Call the Archdiocese at 613-738-5025 for information on dates and times available for viewing.
As well, CJE has announced the exhibit will soon travel outside Canada with showings already scheduled for Los Angeles and Israel.