Federation launches Faces of Jewish Ottawa project

To showcase and celebrate our community, The Jewish Federation of Ottawa is launching a new project, Faces of Jewish Ottawa. Through submitted stories and photos, Federation hopes to share the triumphs, tribulations and experiences of diverse community members. 

The idea was developed during a staff planning meeting as a way to create authentic and engaging content for Federation’s social media in the form of an “I-can-relate” story about someone’s life, or experiences. The concept is similar to the wildly popular Humans of New York series, which began in 2010 as a photography project, but with a Jewish twist as the questions all relate to the Jewish aspects of a person’s life.  

“We were looking for new ways to share with the community,” said Pauline Colwin, Federation’s VP of Communications, “and to highlight all the amazing people who make up Jewish Ottawa. We want to learn about who and what lights them up, and what is their most meaningful Jewish experience.” 

Colwin explained Federation will be sharing a simple questionnaire that allows people to upload a photo of themselves and to share their stories by answering a few questions. The questions include: 

  • What is your most Jewish memory? 
  • What about being Jewish are you most proud of? 
  • How has the Jewish community impacted your life? 
  • Who in the Ottawa Jewish community do you look up to the most?  

Federation will then share the submission with a photo and an edited story on their Facebook and Instagram pages.  

“The hope is that the photos and accompanying stories will give people new insight into each other and their neighbours. Maybe they will be moving, and poignant, or maybe they will be silly and playful. There is always room to learn more about each other,” said Colwin. “Our community is also pretty incredible with so many doing extraordinary things. We have a lot to celebrate and showcase.” 

The posts will also hopefully provide a counterpoint to online negativity. 

“Since COVID, unfortunately, there has been a lot of divisiveness online,” said Colwin. “Social media, in particular, can be a hotbed of animosity and even cruelty where users vent the worst vitriol and even hate to strangers. We hope Faces of Jewish Ottawa will provide some positivity and inspiration.” 

Federation has a large Facebook following (more than 24,000 followers) and a growing number on Instagram. 

“We thought instead of the standard content, it would be great to create posts that made people smile, or touch their hearts,” said Colwin. “Our analytics also show that the community responds to photos of local people – we love to hear happy anecdotes about our community.” 

To take part, fill in this form, and as Colwin urged, have fun!  

“Everyone should take part. We want people to have fun with this – we don’t expect each post to be a perfect literary submission so no one should feel intimidated. Simply share with us! We all have a story to tell.”