Jewish parents taking action against antisemitism

Every important school improvement was started by a parent. When parents want to be more involved in the direction of their child’s school, they join the parent-teacher association. When they want to be active in the hockey team, they coach. When they want to reduce antisemitism and make schools safer for all children, they organize.

Tamara Taub and Dave Handelman founded the Jewish Parents of Ottawa Students Association (JPOSA) in late 2023. They started to see an increase in antisemitism at their daughter’s school as well as other schools and how poorly it was being handled. They knew they needed to act. Their goal is to “ensure Jewish students feel safe, comfortable, and included at school,” says Taub. She also explains, “the group exists to support parents so they can continue to fight for their kids with appropriate resources and encouragement.”

Currently, there are over 175 members of the organization, and they communicate primarily through WhatsApp. The association has created subcommittees for individual schools, school boards, andgroups for specific issues like legal issues, policy assessment and enforcement, and communications. 

In addition, JPOSA is working very closely with the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and receiving support from Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA),the Centre for Holocaust Education and Study (CHES),  a member of the Alliance Combatting Campus Antisemitism (ALCCA), as well as collaborating closely with Jewish Educators and Families Association (JEFA). The leadership has also had the opportunity to meet with local MPPs as well as the Senior Policy Advisor at Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. 

“Dave and I founded JPOSA out of frustration for the antisemitism and Jew-hate we were seeing in schools and how it was not being addressed appropriately. Parents and students have to advocate really hard to get these incidents taken seriously and to see appropriate counter measures being taken. We realized that we were definitely not the only ones struggling with this, and we knew we could better serve the community with more people involved. So, we launched JPOSA in November 2023,” says Taub.

It is no coincidence that this need became more urgent after the events of Oct. 7. 

“While there was antisemitism in the schools prior to Oct. 7, and we had already been advocating for and supporting a good friend’s child who had been a victim, the increase in the number and nature of the antisemitic incidents has been appalling,” Taub recounts.

“In addition, through organizing and having subcommittees we have been able to accomplish so much more than we could alone. For example: the Policy Committee did some deep dives into the various school boards policies and learned they have the Safe School Act, and human rights policies that all talk about creating and protecting a safe-learning environment. They also have various policies on bullying and intimidation, but the policies are not being applied when it comes to antisemitism and the protection of Jewish students.”

In addition, JPOSA identified the need to collect data and testimony to understand the breadth of the problem, and therefore, JPOSA  created a Jewish Student survey to assess Jewish student comfort and safety at schools. To date 66  students have completed the survey. The survey results reveal that 70% of students reported that they did not feel safe identifying as Jewish at school and 60% reported that they had been the victim of/and or witnessed an antisemitic incident at school. The data gathered is essential to support the work and Taub explains that they need more students to complete the survey and more parents to report incidents that occur at schools.

Taub and the other members of JPOSA know that the answer to this challenge is to advocate. JPOSA and their partner organizations can help, but families also must report any incidents. An incident tool was developed by JPOSA and the Jewish Federation and we urge the community to use it to report incidents that take place in schools or in the community. 

JPOSA is not doing this alone. They have partnered with the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and work closely with David Sachs, the Community Relations and Advocacy Specialist. 

"For schools to respond to antisemitism is an enormous task. It can't happen without determined parents who can give voice to their kids' experiences. Only parents are able to understand their kids' school, and the school's unique issues and needs. It takes a lot of work and involvement. JPOSA is doing that work," explains Sachs. 

"They're gathering data that is invaluable for the boards and ministry to understand the school climate. We're lucky to have committed volunteer leaders giving a forum for parents to share their experiences, and then translating that into specific guidance for the boards. Federation is working with them to move Ottawa school boards toward change and provide the safe and welcoming school environment that is our kids' right." 

Students can find a link to the survey and parents and grandparents can learn more about  JPOSA  and become a member at

David Sachs, Community Relations and Antisemitism Specialist can be reached at