This edition of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin – dated December 11, 2017 – is an important one. We celebrate Chanukah – the first candle will be lit this year on December 12 – and we have the final instalment of our Canada 150 series that has been running in every issue throughout Canada’s sesquicentennial year. The series has highlighted important contributions of 19 Jewish Canadians in such fields as politics, community leadership, the military, the arts, and more. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series.
But what excites me most about this issue is that we are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. The Bulletin has now been telling the story of the Jewish community of Canada’s capital city for eight full decades.
While the actual anniversary of the first issue of the Bulletin was October 22, we wanted to hold the celebration for this final edition of 2017. Reporter Benita Baker, a long-time contributor to our newspaper, was commissioned to look at the history of the Bulletin and her comprehensive report is at this link. To illustrate the feature I chose the front page of our first edition from 1937 and front pages from every subsequent decade from the year ending in 7. Looking at those front pages from across the decades shows how the Bulletin changed over the years with the eventual additions of photos, colour, computerized layout and refreshed designs to reflect changing times.
The Jewish Community Council of Ottawa/Vaad Ha’Ir (now the Jewish Federation of Ottawa) was founded in 1934. Just three years later, the Vaad began publishing the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, “a community newspaper, owned by the community, and maintained (we hope) by the community… a coordinating, unifying medium of expression through which our various movements and organizations will be enabled to promulgate their activities and objectives.”
Just as Ottawa’s Jewish community has grown and changed tremendously over these past 80 years, so, too, has our newspaper. Today’s community is much bigger, and much more religiously, sociologically and politically diverse than it was back then. And, as the community has developed and changed over the years, it has been reflected in the development of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.
In 1937, Ottawa’s Jewish community was traditional, almost exclusively Orthodox, primarily of the merchant class, and concentrated downtown in the neighbourhoods of Lowertown and Sandy Hill. Now, our religious affiliations encompass the entire spectrum of Jewish religious movements and expression as well as all manner of professions, occupations and lifestyles – and the community is widely dispersed across the city and even across the river in the Gatineau and Chelsea areas.
But, despite all the changes in the community, and in the Bulletin, over the past 80 years, our newspaper has always remained faithful to the central mission of serving Ottawa’s Jewish community. And when we start work on our first issue of 2018 in January it will be with that mission in mind.
It being Chanukah time let me suggest that a subscription to the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin makes a great gift. Maybe you have kids who have grown up and moved away but would enjoy keeping in touch with their hometown Jewish community. I recently heard from Bulletin reader Sara Holzman – who grew up in Ottawa and now lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. “Reading the Bulletin is a great way for me to stay connected to the Ottawa Jewish community… and make me feel not so far away from home,” wrote Sara in her email.
So if you have a son or daughter in Iqaluit or anywhere else (even in Ottawa), why not get them a gift subscription to the Bulletin. Contact our business manager, Eddie Peltzman, at 613-798-4616, ext. 256, to arrange a gift subscription.
Chag Sameach from all of us at the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin! We’ll be back in January.