Jewish Ottawa Helps: Updated focus

By Jordan Gregory
Jewish Ottawa Helps, a Facebook group with 2,400 members, has become the largest virtual space for the Jewish Ottawa community to connect with each other and to offer and ask for support. 
The Facebook group was created in 2020 in response to COVID as a way to help those in need and to support, encourage and connect with one another. At the time, this meant uniting our community virtually during lockdowns that separated us physically. Members of the group volunteered to help our most vulnerable community members by assisting them to book vaccines, guiding them through online grocery orders, and teaching one another how to use Zoom. 
When the pandemic came to an end, the group did not. Scrolling through the group, users can witness the kind hearts of our Jewish community through the daily mitzvot that are facilitated by the group. The good deeds range from gardening help and clothing donations to stem cell donation.
Much as 2020 was an unprecedented time. Similarly, the past eight months have posed unparalleled challenges for our community. With the rise in antisemitism and Jew-hatred, it's crucial for Jewish community members to have a safe space to share issues, seek advice, and find support. We understand our community still needs help, though the tasks look different. 
To adapt to the current climate, we have expanded the scope of Jewish Ottawa Helps to include broader discussions.
New group rules: 
  1. No sales or promotions / event details can be posted once per event. This group is not for selling products or any type of sales. Posts that promote services, businesses, products, or political parties will be deleted. Please do not share the same event multiple times.
  2. Respectful communication. Posts containing vulgar language, personal attacks, or spam will be removed. Keep conversations on-topic and respectful. Avoid advocating illegal activity.
  3. Supportive environment. Posts containing vulgar language, personal attacks, or spam will be removed. Keep conversations on-topic and respectful. Avoid advocating illegal activity. 
  4. Maintain positivity. We aim to keep this group supportive and positive, especially during these stressful and uncertain times
  5. Enforcement. Posts that violate these rules will be deleted at the discretion of the group admins.
The new group parameters allow users to share news articles and make political posts that could help our community understand and react to the current political climate. Members can share their accounts of the antisemitic incidents they have faced to warn other community members of potential risks from protesters, and to seek support in all areas. It could also be important to share a news story of local figures who advocate for Jewish Ottawa. Knowing who our allies are is so important at this time. 
“Jewish Ottawa Helps continues to be an essential platform for our community, providing a safe space to connect, support, and uplift each other,” explains Pauline Colwin, VP of Communications. "It's more important than ever to lean on our community for strength and solidarity. If you have questions or need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, we can face any challenge and continue to spread kindness.”
- Jordan Gregory is a Jewish Federation of Ottawa Social Media and Communications Intern.