Speaking with community members of a certain vintage, one is regaled with stories of evenings and weekends spent at the Chapel Street Jewish Community Centre, today known as the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC). The stories are of life-long friendships, triumphant and defining sporting moments (real and imagined), profound Jewish experiences, and more than a little mischief.
Throughout it all, the SJCC has been a home away from home for so many.
Now located in the Joseph and Rose Ages Family Building at 21 Nadolny Sachs Private on Ottawa’s Jewish Community Campus, it is a full-service JCC with a fitness centre, library, and educational and cultural programs for all ages, from the youngest toddlers to the oldest seniors in the community. Even during the pandemic, the SJCC has held virtual classes -- from Zumba fitness to book discussions, there is still something for the entire community.
Some of this success is a credit to Jewish Ottawa’s generous donors who are passionate about the SJCC. Thanks to them, allocations from the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation have gone a long way to help support the SJCC’s special mission – distributing more than $1.5 million to the SJCC in the last decade. This has been a major component behind many of the cultural and educational activities and programs that give the Soloway JCC its specifically Jewish component.
According to Barry Sohn, the SJCC’s president and chief operating officer, “The support that we receive from the Foundation is significant. In addition to the allocation that we get from the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, it represents roughly 11 per cent of our overall budget.
“Some of the funds support significant portions of our program initiatives, particularly as it relates to our Jewish mission.
“For example, the fund that supports the Greenberg Families Library is a major factor in our ability to maintain the library and to continue to help the library grow. We are now well over 10,000 volumes in the library and it has has become a tremendous community resource in terms of Jewish literature and other activities. Even prior to the pandemic, our resources were helping to serve some of the Judaic programs at universities.
“The Vered Israel Cultural and Educational Program is a major programming department and creates a sense of connection to the State of Israel through many educational and cultural programs.”
Sohn noted that even during the pandemic, “both the library and the Vered Israel department are offering online programs for people which really helps us to drive our Jewish mission.”
In these turbulent and uncertain times, when the SJCC has been mandated to close no fewer than three times, a certainty is Foundation funding will continue because generous donors had the wisdom to create endowments, leading to perpetual revenue for the SJCC. And each and every year, that revenue stream increases as Foundationinvestments generate more and more income. In 2020, the Foundation’s investment returns net of fees was 5.4%, which now does even more to support the SJCC’s Jewish mission.
Why is this important? So that the current users of the facility can share their stories of fun, enjoyment and engagement, just as previous generations shared theirs. As the Foundation celebrates its milestone 50th anniversary, its leadership is thrilled to play a role in creating these memories and stories.