Temple Israel on Soloway Jewish Community Campus?

By Debbie Holzman

With membership in many Jewish congregations in North America declining, Ottawa’s Temple Israel is a success story gearing up for further growth.

“The current facility was built 40 years ago for 100 families,” said Paul Lyons, co-chair of Temple’s Building Renewal Implementation Committee (BRIC). “We have experienced slow, steady growth over the past decade to 375 families representing 1100 people. We are Ottawa’s second largest congregation. We’ve outgrown our current location, limiting our ability to provide services and programs our members expect and deserve.”

Debra Viner, who co-chairs the committee with Lyons, notes that several locations were reviewed and that space on the Jewish Community Campus (JCC) facing Broadview Avenue best meets the needs identified by the congregation.

“Temple Israel is known for its leadership in causes that promote tikkun olam,” says Rabbi Steve Garten. “Our Shabbat and Daily services are growing. Kabbalat Shabbat services are often followed by pot luck dinners in the same hall. Shabbat morning Torah study and services often require more space than we can now accommodate.”

“A new Temple Israel on Campus will continue to provide a welcoming and sacred home for Jews of all backgrounds and a point of re-entry to Judaism for those who have drifted into non-affiliation,” says Temple president Lorne Rachlis.

According to Lyons, moving to the JCC is good not only for the Temple “but brings benefits to current Campus occupants and to Ottawa’s Jewish community. Temple Israel’s supplementary school will bring 100 young learners onto the Campus. Our adult learning programs will complement those of the JCC. There will be wonderful opportunities for joint programming. The new building will provide additional physical space with a kosher kitchen and a separate kosher-style kitchen. The Temple will contribute to Campus upkeep.”

“In renewing ourselves, we also reinforce the Campus as the hub of Jewish life in our region,” says Viner.

Conceptual diagrams and costing analysis are being collected for the business plan. There have been conversations between representatives of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and Temple Israel over several months. Approval of the JFO board and Temple Israel’s membership are necessary for the project to proceed. A decision is expected before the summer.

“I see the project as this generation’s opportunity to build for the next generation and for the one after that. We are very excited and motivated,” says Rachlis.

Everyone is invited to Temple’s Purim spiel on Saturday evening, March 19. Admission is free.

Debbie Holzman is chair of the Temple Israel Communications Committee.