Dear friends,
On January 1, 2021, the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation began the year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary. The Foundation’s visionary founders wanted to protect the Jewish community from the “vagaries and uncertainty of the world” and provide financial security. We celebrate 50 years of incredible leadership, 50 years of generous donors, and 50 years of impact. This interesting article explains “the fluke” that made the Foundation’s establishment possible. 
It is fitting that during the 50th, the Foundation is embarking on one of its most significant fundraising initiatives, Life & Legacy. Still in its nascent stage, 122 individual community members have already signed a commitment to leave a bequest (a gift in a will) to one of 14 partners in the program, including the Federation. I am proud to be one of those 122 community members who have signed a commitment letter and if you are interested in learning more, please let me know and we can get the conversation started. Making a legacy gift is a great way for people of any and all means to support the Jewish organizations they care most about. 
In September, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa announced the first round of allocations from its Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience of $1.1M (there have been an additional $200,000 in emergency allocations from other Federation sources). The allocation process continues to be an iterative one with Vice President of Community Building Sarah Beutel and Board member Kevin Barwin, chair of Grants and Evaluation, and his committee, working tirelessly to match dollars to where they are most urgently needed.
Most recently, our Board of Directors allocated an additional $150,634 to meet COVID-related needs, primarily increased subsidies at the Ottawa Jewish Community School (OJCS) and $56,770 for Tamir. As we all continue to endure this pandemic, our understanding of what constitutes emergency COVID-related needs evolves and sometimes even surprises. 

As an example, back in April 2020, when the Federation first conceptualized the Emergency Campaign, we were wise to include dollars to help offset additional costs to run a day school in a pandemic, without knowing what those costs would be. We now have a much better understanding that in addition to increased cleaning costs, other necessary COVID-related expenses include hiring a recess supervisor to help ensure that the children are physically distanced while enjoying the fresh air and active play.

At Tamir, Federation is funding a range of items all with one purpose – the health and safety of residents. I have learned that this means vetting requests that can appear questionable, without the appropriate context. My favourite example is Tamir’s request for a $213 remote car starter. 
Here is why our board approved the entirety of Tamir’s request, including the car starter.

Pre-pandemic, a Tamir home with three older women would travel on para-transport to their different programs and they were happy to do so, as they got into a nice warm vehicle. Their regular programs have been cancelled, their para-transport has been cancelled and their lives have been uprooted. The staff had been working with them to go to the Tamir day program, however, they were refusing to get into a cold van. This house has one staff person, and she cannot go out to start the van as these ladies cannot be left alone. The supervisor’s solution was a remote car starter so that the day starts off well and the ladies will happily get into the van and attend their activity. 

This is a great use of community dollars, a wonderful testament to the creative problem-solving abilities of the Tamir team and underscores the valued and trusted relationship between our organizations. 

Our team regularly liaises with the beneficiaries of the Emergency Campaign to update and increase our allocations. As more beneficiaries submit their requests and our board makes additional allocations, I will continue to update the community. While most resources have been allocated for essential services such as counselling, food security and infection control, I hope that the Tamir anecdote provides some insight into the subtleties, flexibility, and nuances of tackling daily challenges. 
Let’s be frank, 2021 is off to a rocky start. For many people, things are getting harder, not easier. And in some cases much harder. Now more than ever, follow public health guidelines. Now more than ever, engage in self-care -- some days, that means Netflix and others it is a brisk walk. I even tried a virtual yoga class this week (occasionally, you must try something to learn it may not be for you). And now more than ever, if you are able, make the extra effort to reach out to someone you think may be struggling.  

Shabbat Shalom,
P.S. Please join us on January 26 at 7 pm as we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a plenary discussion on "Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial." This recorded event will be available on the Federation's website. More information will be sent out soon in a formal invitation.