Oseh Shalom, words of peace

By Sierra Cwinn 

As the Jewish community in Ottawa continues to grapple with the ongoing war in Israel, the loss of over 1,400 lives, and hundreds of hostages taken by terrorists, many are seeking ways to make a difference Since December 1, Jewish organizations throughout Ottawa have been coming together for a month-long "Clean Speech" campaign to hold on to the peace, kindness, and unity that has enveloped our community. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s campaign, led by Rabbi Zischa Shaps, Director of JET Ottawa, is “Oseh Shalom,” words of peace, and he believes it is needed “now more than ever.”   

“Although the Jewish people are outraged and heartbroken, we are also galvanized in solidarity to support and defend one another. Our community has more ‘achdus’ (unity) than we've seen in a long time,” said Rabbi Shaps. 
“We are one family that has put aside our differences to join together in support of our brothers and sisters in Israel and around the world. This Clean Speech campaign will enable us to lock in that peace and unity, and to outlast the current crisis.”

The 30-day campaign will draw on ancient and timeless Torah wisdom to offer practical guidance on how to improve dialogues and discussions, relying on principles of respect and understanding to navigate diverse perspectives and maintain productive conversations.  

“The campaign asks participants to take two minutes to watch a short video – one that gives a positive message about peace and tools for changing ourselves and our interactions,” added Rabbi Shaps
Rabbi Shaps believes that the exercise of learning consistently for two minutes daily, for one month will help to “lock in real change in the way to speak to each other.”  

This is the third year that the Jewish community in Ottawa has participated in the International Clean Speech program. Previous years have explored other important themes of conscious communication.  In 2021, the campaign emphasized ways to avoid gossip and slanderous speech. And last year, the program focused on avoiding offensive, disrespectful, insulting remarks to one another. 

The Clean Speech campaign was launched in 2019, in Denver, Colorado, by Rabbi Raphael Leban. It was a response to mounting concerns regarding the increasingly confrontational discourse between communities and in online platforms.  

The campaign is currently running in cities in the United States such as Cincinnati, Colorado, New York City, and Santa Barbara during November. Toronto, Cleveland, St. Louis, New Jersey, Dallas, Los Angeles, and the United Kingdom will follow suit early in 2024. 

“I’m looking forward to this campaign,” said Rabbi Shaps. “I believe through ‘Oseh Shalom’ we can remain a beautifully united people, defending, supporting, and encouraging one another through good times and bad.”

For more information go to: https://cleanspeech.com/ottawa/