The Jewish Federation stands with Israel, now and always

Built into the mission of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa is our dedication to stand with the people of Israel. This ongoing effort is evident in our participation in Partnership 2Gether (our partner region in the north of Israel), March of the Living (a teen trip to Poland and Israel to learn about the Holocaust), community missions, and MOMemtum trips (Israel trips for mothers to connect with their heritage). 

Since Oct. 7, we have been challenged to ensure that the community has safe spaces and opportunities to process emotions, and to gather. As was seen in our Instagram post the Federation has documented our support through numerous events and actions.

Beginning on Oct 10, 1,600 community members, politicians, and diplomats gathered at the Soloway JCC to express our shared grief at the brutal attack. Details were still being uncovered, but we knew that Israel was at war. Disbelief, tears, sorrow, and hugs were seen around the room.

Israel women had a chance on Oct. 25 to gather and deal with the unique emotions that accompany being away from home when tragedy strikes.

Teens in our public and Jewish private schools had new and different challenges. Many had never experienced antisemitism before or had been sheltered from it. On Oct. 26, activist, author and renown speaker Ben Freeman spoke to a group of over 100 teens and their parents in a teen-moderated event about Jewish Pride in a time of war.

The Federation's first event on Parliament Hill was on Oct. 30, where we gathered for a Havdallah ceremony for the hostages. Together we set up a poignant display of strollers with the pictures of the children in captivity as a grim reminder of the brutality of terrorism and to honour those held hostage. Our community’s children read the names of the young people being held by Hamas and led us in song.

Nov. 7 marked one month since the attack and students from the Ottawa Jewish Community School, Soloway JCC members, and staff of the Federation and SJCC gathered at the Israeli flagpole for a moment of silence. 

Our Jewish pride never wavered and on Dec. 4, 15,000 Jewish community members and allies from across Canada gathered on Parliament Hill for the historic “Canada'a Rally for the Jewish People.” Powerful speakers, wonderful music, perfect Star of David snowflakes, and an overwhelming sense of camaraderie marked the day.

In February, a Federation mission left for Israel. The images of the blown-out house, the faces of those killed at the NOVA festival, and the work of rebuilding made for an emotional roller coaster for both the participants and those of us back in Ottawa learning about their experience. Videos about the mission have been produced by Jewish Federations of Canada-United Israel Appeal (JFC-UIA) and can be found here. Watching the videos and bearing witness to the destruction and loss of life, obligates us to continue to stand proud in their memories.

Living in the diaspora, we can often feel helpless to provide concrete support to our brothers and sisters in Israel. One action we can take is remind them that Ottawa feels the loss of not having the hostages free and at home. For this reason, Federation created “Notebooks for hostages” as a way to communicate with the hostage families and let them know that we are thinking of them and that their loved one is never far from our hearts and minds. One notebook for each hostage was created and community members write notes to each hostage. The most recent sign-a-thon held to allow people time to sign the books was held June 27 at the Soloway JCC. If you are interested in signing them before they are sent to Israel, please email Alysha at

Every May we look forward to raising the Israeli flag at City Hall with the mayor and area politicians. This year, the event was in jeopardy due to protesters and the potential for disruption. Rather than be afraid, the community was mobilized and held two events on Yom Ha’atzmaut, both at City Hall. While there were protesters and they were loud and intentional in their actions, 500 community members, the mayor, and our allies stood strong and celebrated Israeli Independence Day.

To maintain our connection to our Partnership 2Gether community, the Federation hosted two shinshinim (Israeli emissaries). Moran and Or visited Ottawa for three busy days. They visited Ganon preschool, Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS), Hillel Ottawa, JFellows young adult mentorship program, and AJA 50+. With each group they ran activities and lessons that connected us to Israel through art, dance, film, history, and personal storytelling. This helped solidify our community’s love and connection to Israel.

On May 27, more than 350 community members gathered at the Soloway JCC to hear from Moran Stella Yanai. On Oct. 7, Moran was selling her handmade jewelry at the NOVA Festival site. After the Hamas attack began, she was able to escape them three times before being taken hostage and brought to Gaza for 54 days. She bravely shared her story and the ongoing process of healing after her release. Her optimism for the future and overall outlook on life inspired us all. Segments of her talk are available on our Instagram

It cannot be forgotten that the Ottawa Jewish community raised a staggering $3.4M for the Emergency Appeal for the People of Israel. This money combined with the funds from the other Canadian Federations totaled $55.7M. Read here about how those funds have been distributed to help with immediate and long-term needs. Funds continue to be released as new needs are identified.