Dear Friends,
As Federation Chair, I was honoured to be in attendance at this week’s public school board meeting to witness the unanimous decision taken by the trustees of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) to hire a Jewish Equity Coach. All trustees expressed the need to support Jewish students. Jewish Federation of Ottawa President and CEO, Andrea Freedman spoke at the meeting, along with seven other approved delegates, addressing the OCDSB's inaction to date on antisemitism in the schools. (Read the story in the Ottawa Jewish E-Bulletin.)  

Watching the meeting, I could not help but reflect upon "old wounds" my own public high school experience, starting immediately upon arrival in Grade 9 when I began to live in a more secular world. I was no longer Ian or Yitzchak, I was "Jack the Jew's son" simply because my father made a modest living as the owner of a popular grocery store in my high school's neighbourhood. There were religious slurs, pennies tossed at my feet, and on several occasions, my pant belt buckle chain-linked and locked to my locker with a "crowd of onlookers" demonstrating helplessness to assist me simply because I was a Jew. Honestly, I don't remember ever getting any form of meaningful support from the administration or faculty. Through those years, I generally lived in fear with a persona best described as weak and timid. 
On Tuesday night, I could only admire and applaud how our Jewish students today are speaking up with confidence and resolve to fight antisemitism. When young people are the targets of antisemitism, they feel isolated and vulnerable and often become afraid to share their Jewish identity. Suppression of identity, as I experienced, being afraid to bring your whole self into your daily world, is a horrible challenge. Today, however, antisemitism is being recognized and challenged in the community and Jews are finally starting to feel that they have allies. 

In addition to Federation, I want to thank and applaud the many students, parents, community members and Jewish organizations who lobbied and advocated for the OCDSB to take action. Ahead of the vote, the OCDSB board also heard from concerned members of the Jewish community, all of whom highlighted the need for the position and addressed the antisemitism experienced by students and staff in Ottawa. The motion was brought forward and championed by OCDSB trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth. A petition by tireless community organizer Lisa Levitan, the founder of Rise Up! Ottawa, which garnered more than 1,000 signatures, also contributed to the unanimous vote. 

I also want to acknowledge the exceptional role that Andrea Freedman plays as our community’s spokesperson. Along with others, she has delivered frequent, passionate and articulate media interviews over the last few months. Here is this week's interview from CTV Morning Live following the OCDSB trustees' meeting.

It is important to note that Andrea and her team will continue to meet regularly with the senior administration of the OCDSB and offer input and support into overall plans. It has been an extremely important week and a step in the right direction in relation to our community's efforts in combatting antisemitism. Your Federation will continue to keep you informed of these efforts. 
Meanwhile, it is not antisemitism that defines us as Jews; rather, it is our traditions and the positive aspects of our identities. With this in mind, I am thrilled to share some good news from the Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut (OVH)
New kosher eatery opening soon!

Federation and the OVH are happy to announce a new addition to our kosher community: Keepin’ it Vegan, a bakery, café, and delicatessen at 3 Chartwell Ave. The owners, Jordan Pett and Eva Laflamme promise to offer artisanal vegan croissants, macarons and upscale desserts along with a full espresso bar and plant-based deli options. Their estimated opening date is in February 2023. Follow them on social media @keepinitveganbakery and keep your eye out for more news on their grand opening.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD)

An in-person commemoration event featuring Holocaust survivors, Jewish community leaders, elected officials and diplomatic representatives will be held at the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa (Friday, January 27, 11 a.m. EST). The event is hosted by the National Holocaust Monument, CIJA, the Embassy of Israel, and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. The ceremony will be live-streamed at facebook.com/cijainfo. 

For more information about this and other IHRD events, including the #WeRemember social media campaign, visit here
Come Join Us for Israel @ 75: April 24 to May 1, 2023

Israel is reaching a milestone birthday this spring and I invite you to be a part of it. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa, Congregation Machzikei Hadas and Temple Israel are joining the Toronto Federation for an Israel trip to remember, April 24 to May 1, 2023. We will experience the emotions of Yom HaZikaron followed by the biggest celebration Israel has ever seen for the 75th Yom HaAtzmaut. Being in Israel is always special, however, being in Israel at this momentous time is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Information, including pricing, can be found here.

The Ottawa bus is already filled to two-thirds capacity! It is not too late to join us, but please note payment is due at the time of registration as we are nearing final confirmation dates. Please let us know if you are interested in taking part Andrea Freedman, Rabbi Idan Scher or I would love to speak with you if you want to learn more details.
Shabbat Shalom,

Ian Sherman