Two of Ottawa’s largest congregations have new executive directors who say they are thrilled to be able to share their passion for Ottawa’s Jewish community.
“Since I’ve made Ottawa home for 15 years now, it has been important for me to help the Ottawa Jewish community be all it can be,” said Rena Garshowitz, the new executive director at Kehillat Beth Israel (KBI), a Conservative congregation launched in 2016 by the amalgamation of Congregation Beth Shalom and Agudath Israel Congregation.
“I grew up in a shul environment with parents who were really engaged in shul life in Toronto,” she said, “and so it’s really nice for me to be able to come full-circle and work with the amazing community at KBI, as I know how passionate and committed shul volunteers are.”
Before joining KBI, Garshowitz worked at the Jewish Federation of Ottawa where she was the event planner and sponsorship coordinator from 2011 until 2016 before taking on the role of Annual Campaign manager in 2017. She and her husband David have a four-year-old daughter, Lyla.
Prior to joining Federation, Garshowitz worked in communications and public affairs at the Embassy of Israel in Ottawa, in several federal and provincial government roles, as well as in the private sector. She holds an honours degree in history from Carleton University.
“It’s my time to give back to the community,” said Jayson Taller, the new executive director of Congregation Machzikei Hadas (CMH), a modern Orthodox synagogue.
In a letter sent out to the congregation, Taller said he was “both humbled and privileged to serve CMH and the community which I have been blessed to be of part of for 32 years.”
The Taller family has been deeply involved in CMH since its founding, “so there is obviously a very special attachment here,” said Taller, who attended Hillel Academy (now the Ottawa Jewish Community School) and Camp B’nai Brith of Ottawa.
“I am a third-generation member of CMH, going back to my zaida, Archie Taller Z”L, who, along with his two brothers, Morton Z”L and Samuel Z”L, purchased the land on which the current synagogue is located. And my father, Joel Taller Z”L, served as president of CMH from 1999 to 2002,” he wrote.
For the past eight years, Taller worked in the financial services industry, working as a financial advisor at Scotiabank and then for TD.
“I look forward to bringing my experience in finance and management to assist the rabbis, board of directors, staff, volunteers and you – the all-important CMH shareholders – in growing and strengthening Machzikei Hadas,” Taller added.
“Any success I have achieved thus far has been the result of two things: an abiding commitment to provide value to those I am serving, complemented by an understanding that listening to those I serve is the only way to ensure that my efforts respond to their needs. I hope to bring a renewed energy to all aspects of the CMH program and welcome any and all suggestions that you may want to share to help us achieve our shared goals.”
Taller also expressed his appreciation to Rabbi Michael Goldstein, “who served as my trailblazer in the role of executive director. His innovative ideas, strategic thinking and tireless efforts to increase the visibility and enhance the credibility of Machzikei Hadas were, and continue to be so very much valued.”