Federation launches Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience

By Michael Regenstreif, Editor

The Jewish Federation of Ottawa has launched its Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience in order to meet increased needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting lockdown since mid-March, which has affected virtually all sectors of the community.

“We were forced to respond overnight to this brand-new landscape of COVID-19,” says Federation Chair Michael Polowin in the opening to the brief video launching the campaign.

“We quickly realized how responsive we had to be,” adds Annual Campaign Co-Chair Karen Palayew.

“The first move was to supply emergency funding of $360,000 to support the most vulnerable,” says Campaign Co-Chair Rabbi Reuven Bulka in the video. “No one could predict how our world would change overnight,” noting that Federation is uniquely positioned to mobilize the community during the current crisis.

The goal of the emergency campaign is to raise $2.7 million in order to meet such needs as increased demands for services from the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank, Kosher Meals on Wheels, and Jewish Family Services; and for increased needs for tuition assistance for students at Jewish day schools, and to ensure that Tamir and Hillel Lodge are “given all resources necessary to protect their residents and clients,” notes the campaign’s Case for Giving document. “No community member – especially a child – should have to lose access to meaningful Jewish activity (be it Jewish education or summer camp) due to temporary job loss or financial devastation as a result of the pandemic.

The Case for Giving document also recognizes the lessons of “partnership, cooperation, volunteerism, generosity and bravery” that have marked the Jewish community of Ottawa in overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and notes, “We need to apply these lessons and values to reimagine Ottawa’s Jewish community and our vision of a flourishing Jewish Superhighway, filled with meaningful Jewish journeys, where no one is left behind. We cannot abandon our dreams for our Jewish future. To do this, we need to sustain funding for communal organizations like the Soloway Jewish Community Centre and highly successful programs such as Microgrants and PJ Library.”

“Federation has been responding to this crisis – thinking and planning ahead and doing what must be done to protect our Jewish future,” says Federation President and CEO Andrea Freedman in the video.

“And, most importantly,” adds Palayew, “to take care of people.”

“Funds are needed now in order to meet this emergency,” says Polowin, “Everything we do now, as individuals, as leaders, and as a community will define who we are when this crisis is over – and what we want our community to look like. There is a choice to be made to ensure the vibrancy of our Jewish future.”

“A generational challenge will require a generational response,” says Rabbi Bulka. “I know that we will stay strong and get through this together as a community.”

For questions about the campaign, contact Director of Development Micah Garten at mgarten@jewishottawa.com or 613-798-4696, ext. 270.

The Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience video can be viewed at this link.

The Case for Giving document can be seen or downloaded at this link.

To make a donation, visit www.JewishOttawa.com/resilience or contact Jean Myers at 613-798-4696, ext. 242.

Photo: Federation Chair Michael Polowin speaks during the Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience video.