By Rena Garshowitz
Following the occurrences on October 7 and the surge in antisemitism, our community is grappling with increased anxiety and uncertainty. The unfolding global events in both the Middle East and diaspora communities evoke a range of emotions and fears that impact us collectively. The Jewish Community Campus of Ottawa and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa acknowledge the deep-seated anxieties stemming from this situation, encompassing worries about the safety of our loved ones abroad and local apprehensions regarding the expression of antisemitic sentiments in schools and businesses.
We are committed to doing everything in our power to help our community both be safe and secure as well as feel safe and secure.
The events since October 7 have underscored the importance of staying vigilant and proactive in addressing potential security threats. It is crucial to acknowledge that the security landscape is dynamic, and adapting to new challenges is paramount for the safety of all community members. What is currently in place in terms of security protocols or personnel is subject to change at any time: we remain agile and responsive to the world around us.
In response to the rise in antisemitism, Campus has taken significant steps to enhance security measures, and in particular increase the number of security personnel at any given time. In addition, there have been some technological advancements and changes in operating protocols. If you’re familiar with the “onion skin” theory of security, then you know that different layers of protection are required in order to secure an asset, in this case, our community members and the buildings they frequent.
We also remain extremely grateful to our partners at the Ottawa Police Service, who continue to have a notable presence on Campus when our facilities are most in use. We collaborate frequently with local law enforcement, as well as our advocacy partner, CIJA. Establishing open lines of communication, sharing information, and coordinating security efforts enhance the overall effectiveness of security measures.
In the spirit of collaboration, the Federation has made community partnership a priority to ensure the safety and security of the Campus as well as Jewish institutions throughout the city. A united front against potential threats is essential, and every community member plays a crucial role in maintaining a safe environment.
How can you help or get involved?
Community Vigilance: We encourage community members to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to security on the campus or the police, if necessary. An informed and watchful community is the first line of defence against potential threats. As the saying goes: If you see something, say something.
Training and Preparedness: In addition to the government-mandated training and drills required of some of our campus partners, we also regularly conduct campus-wide sessions, addressing various emergency scenarios. We continue to urge other community organizations to do the same. If there’s somewhere you visit, ask if you can be involved in the next training or drill. By equipping staff and community members with the knowledge and skills to respond calmly and effectively, the overall resilience of the community is strengthened. This commitment to vigilance, preparedness, and collaboration is key to addressing the challenges of today’s security landscape and ensuring the well-being of the entire community.
The period since October 7 has prompted a re-evaluation of security measures on Campus and at various organizations throughout the city, emphasizing the need for adaptability and collaboration. We are making changes to protocols, that are both visible and behind the scenes frequently. As such please understand if something is different now than it was a day or week ago. This is for your safety, the safety of the Campus, and ultimately the safety of the whole Jewish community. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa and the Jewish Community Campus of Ottawa are actively working toward creating a safer and more secure environment for all.
Click here to report an incident of antisemitism to the Jewish Fedeartion of Ottawa.
Rena Garshowitz is the VP Operations, Jewish Federation of Ottawa. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org