Pride celebrations return after two years with Shabbat dinner

Pride Shabbat is back! This wonderful event, held in partnership with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Jewish Federation of Ottawa, Kehillat Beth Israel, Temple Israel, and CJPAC, celebrates our diverse and inclusive community and allows Jewish Ottawa to build allyship with LGBTQ2S+ members as well as the broader community.

It’s been two years without a full-size celebration, which CIJA’s Sheba Birhanu said is why a Shabbat dinner is the perfect opportunity to get back at it. 

“We’re seeing a desire for people to just sit with each other, share a meal and speak to each other,” she said. “We’re excited to be able to provide that space for connection. To be able to do it at a Shabbat dinner, which is meant to have people sit down and share and speak … that makes it the perfect setting to reconvene everyone after so many years of being apart.”

Birhanu said the event is trying to accomplish a few things, most notably to make sure that queer people in the Jewish community are affirmed. 

“We want them to know they’re supported and that they matter … that there’s a space for them,” said Birhanu. 

The event wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of the multiple organizations at the helm.

“Temple Israel and KBI have both been integral in planning the service, the entire event,” said Birhanu. “They’ve come together to really create one joint event, which is great to see … members of the reform and conservative community coming together with the same objective.”

Dara Lithwick, one of the speakers for the Shabbat dinner, sees Pride Shabbat as an opportunity to celebrate two fundamental elements of herself.

‘As a Jew and as a queer person,” she said. “It is an opportunity to come together and demonstrate support and allyship and love for our LGBTQ2+ community members. My Judaism is one that celebrates us all in our brilliant rainbow diversity, and Pride Shabbat is emblematic of that. And here in Ottawa, in the nation's capital, we have the opportunity to showcase our pride in a way that is so meaningful for so many. It's great to be able to gather together face to face after two years apart.”

The event is also an opportunity to connect with partners from different ethno and religious backgrounds.

“The dinner acts as a bridge to show that ritual and queerness are not mutually exclusive. For a lot of these communities, the LGBTQ+ community is very important,” said Birhanu. “It’s inviting these partners and allies to come to this ritual event and see with their own eyes that we practice what we preach.”

Members of the Rwandan, Bahāʾīs and Christian communities will be in attendance. Other speakers include Brandon Purcell, Yasir Naqvi and Israeli Ambassador Dr. Ronen Hoffman. More will be confirmed soon. 

Shabbat services will start at 6 pm on August 26. A dairy Shabbat dinner will be served at 7 pm.

Purchase tickets at

Also returning for 2022 is the Pride Parade, which a group from Hillel Ottawa is thrilled to be marching in. 

“Pride is a special time of year where we get to celebrate the members of our community who are also a part of LGBTQ2+ community,” said Hillel Ottawa director Sasha Kathron. “Hillel Ottawa prides itself on being an inclusive and pluralistic organization. It is important to us that we practice what we preach and show that everyone is welcome at Hillel, because of this we are proud to once again be leading the Ottawa Jewish community in the capital pride parade.”

The parade is August 28. If you’d like to join Hillel Ottawa on the march, please meet at 455 Bank St. at 12 p.m. The route is approximately 20 blocks, so plan for an hour or so outside.