Collaborative, community events return for Yom Ha’atzmaut

The Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s PJ Library program has partnered with the Soloway JCC and Jewish National Fund of Canada to host a special in-person Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration for young families on May 1 at the SJCC.

“This is a hopeful moment for our community,” said Lindsay Newman, Federation’s former Emerging Generation Director. “As we safely gather to celebrate Israel’s birthday we remember past years when the SJCC was full of families waving flags and are excited that this is possible again.”

The event will be an hour of dancing, crafts and take-home snacks. A dance instructor will teach Israeli folk dances. 

“It’s an exciting opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces, including community leaders, and to welcome new faces who have joined the PJ program the past two years,” said Newman. “In March alone, 31 new families subscribed to the PJ Library program” 

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with caution, this is an excellent opportunity to introduce the youngest members to what may be their first Jewish holiday experience at the SJCC.  Due to conscious crowd spacing, you’re asked to pre-register for the SJCC Yom for a time slot. Register here.

Please also note to access the Soloway Jewish Community Centre proof of vaccination is required for all guests five years and older and will be checked prior to entrance.

A partner in the event, JNF Canada’s Sharon Diamond is excited to bring the celebration to fruition.

“JNF Ottawa knows so many of us haven’t been able to travel to Israel, so we are bringing Israel here! Participants will have the opportunity to visit different “destinations” and get their passports stamped,” explained Diamond. 

The event is especially exciting to Newman from a PJ Library perspective. 

“It marks a return to partnering with organizations who share Federation’s commitment to connection and community growth,” said Newman. “In a community the size of Ottawa, we are strongest together: sharing talent and resources.”

For Diamond and JNF, it means connecting with the community on a more personal level. 

“Families especially have had a rough time during the pandemic. The challenges of sick children, school closures, and the abundance of screen time has created a sense of disconnection, so community gatherings are a way to start repairing those divides,” said Diamond. 

“We understand that our community has different needs, so by working together with organizations that address those different audiences, we help to enrich the experience for both the organization and the participants,” said Diamond. 
Yom Ha’atzmaut is a holiday that resonates with all ages and while the youngest will appreciate all the fun activities at the SJCC, others will enjoy proudly watching the Israeli flag raised over Ottawa’s City Hall. Community members are invited to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day with a flag raising ceremony at CIty Hall on May 5 at 10 am hosted by Mayor Jim Watson, the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.


For the past two years, while Israel’s flag has flown over City Hall on Yom Ha’atzmaut, the in-person ceremony has not taken place due to the pandemic. Standing together with elected officials from all levels of government, as the flag is raised to the stirring sounds of Hatikvah, is always a proud moment. Register here for the flag raising.

To help prepare for Yom Ha’Atzmaut here are 10 interesting facts about Israel:

  1. Israel has the highest number of altruistic kidney donations per capita in the world: 1,005 in the past 11 years, and counting.
  2. The oldest tree in Israel is a jujube tree in Ein Hatzeva on the road to Eilat, which is thought to be between 1,500 to 2,000 years old.
  3. Scientists in Israel managed to grow fresh dates from sixth century seeds found at Masada and Qumran.
  4. The Israel Postal service has a special “Letters to God” department, for all the letters arriving in Jerusalem from around the world addressed to God. They are opened and placed into the cracks of the Western Wall.
  5. About 1 million notes are left in the Western Wall every year.
  6. Israel is the only country to have revived a dead language and made it the national language.
  7. Israel has 137 beaches.
  8. Israel recycles 90% of the waste water it creates, making it the leading nation in the world for water recycling. 
  9. Babies in Israel are 10 times less likely to be allergic to peanuts than in other countries. Studies suggest it’s because they eat Bamba peanut snacks from an early age.
  10. An Israeli company has developed an atmospheric water generator that can create clean drinking water from the air. It has been deployed in disaster situations all over the world