Dear Friends,
Today marks the beginning of my second year as Chair of the Board of Directors of your Jewish Federation. I reflect on the past year with humility and appreciation.  
 
Federation is about Community (that’s big “C”) – an entire Community of Constituents - and it takes both the Federation and our exceptionally generous donors and volunteers to ensure that the Federation can fulfill its mission to serve those in need, guarantee a perpetual connection to the State of Israel and her existence, and to build and sustain a vibrant Jewish community for decades to come.
 
I am blessed to work with the Federation Board, our committees, donors, staff, and volunteers as well as our agencies, constituents, partners and stakeholders, all of whom have an unwavering commitment to the objectives and successes of Federation.
 
Trust me, it isn’t always easy. However, I know that most in our community stand squarely behind our efforts, and they value and cherish Federation, even though we aren’t perfect. In fact, perfect doesn’t exist and I’ve always said that I won’t let perfection stand in the way of excellence and very, very good.
At its core, Federations are uniquely positioned to address the broader community’s needs as well as those of the global Jewish community. Federations are skilled at helping convene and mobilize as was shown during COVID and most recently in Ukraine. With unending community needs and deeply concerning and growing antisemitism, your Jewish Federation of Ottawa is critical if we expect future generations to maintain our proud Jewish heritage and to fulfill our most sacred obligation of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world.

As we work to advance our collective agenda, I hope that our communications, including our Shabbat greetings, have resonated, and have helped impart the important highlights of the work Federation is undertaking while also connecting you to the members of your Board of Directors. Over the course of the summer, we will switch to bi-weekly messages with a return to weekly Shabbat messages after Labour Day.

I respect the fact that as Federation strives to fulfill our mandate, not everyone agrees with every decision Federation makes. However, I will never focus on those differences to the exclusion of the many areas in which we undoubtedly agree. I also know that we share far more values, opinions, and agree on more topics than on ones we differ. Working together, Federation has real impact and makes a meaningful difference in the future of this Jewish community that we all hold so dearly.
A few examples over the past year, Federation has:

  • Maintained annual allocations as well as continued emergency allocations, which now total $2.65M since the start of the pandemic.

  • Made investments in Microgrants at our highest level ever ($70,000+), supporting a host of Jewish engagement experiences for all ages.

  • Stepped up to help amidst the terrible devastation in the Ukraine. To date, we have sent $350,000 overseas to assist with emergency needs on the ground and Aliyah to Israel, while working with and funding Jewish Family Services to assist with resettlement efforts here in Ottawa.

  • Worked tirelessly to combat antisemitism. We have deepened our investments and work in a challenging landscape.

  • Exceeded our annual Life & Legacy target with 26 additional community members signing Letters of Intent to support Federation with a bequest. 

  • Launched Generations Trust to help make Jewish education more affordable to middle-class families.
I am so grateful and appreciative to our dedicated Board of Directors. Todah Rabah! 2021 was not the year that any of us expected, or quite frankly wanted, but it was one in which your Federation rose to meet every challenge in support of, and in partnership with, all our community agencies, constituents, partners, and stakeholders. We continue to build the Jewish Superhighway – a metaphor for meaningful Jewish experiences and journeys, where Jewish life is vibrant and diverse, and where no one is left behind.
 
Thank you to four Board members whose terms expired at this week’s AGM – Stacy Goldstein, Jessica Greenberg, Nikki Shapiro, and Danya Vered. I could write another full column to express my appreciation! Your engagement at the Federation Board table has helped anchor the foundation of this community for years to come.
 
I also welcome our four new Board members – Leila Ages, Marina Milyavskaya, Tal Scher and Marci Surkes – I know that you will help us go from strength to strength.
 
Your Federation. Our Community. I hope you choose to continue to invest in our Jewish future through the critical work of Federation.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers in our community.

Ian Sherman