Social Action

Supporting Social Action
Temple Israel Quilts and Coordinators

Making the world a better place through acts of kindness

We strive through social action to fulfill the Mitzvot of caring for others (GimilutChasadim) and repairing the world (Tikun Olam).

Human Rights Shabbat
Irwin Cotler

December 12, 2020

Anti-Racism Task Force Update

In 2021, Temple Israel created an Anti-Racism Task Force as a way to both respond to the rise of racial injus- tice faced by Black communities, and to strengthen our ability as a congregation to provide safe and inclusive spaces for Jews of Colour. Concerned about all forms of racial injustice, and focused on anti-Black racism for the 18-month pilot phase of our work, we are here to support Temple Israel’s efforts to build a welcoming and inclusive congregation.

In our work to date we have: organized a virtual tour of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to raise awareness about the histori- cal and present day racism faced by Black communities and individuals in Canada; shared information about resources and training through Temple Israel’s weekly e-newsletters; worked with the Temple Israel Board of Directors on a training session for the Board in early 2022; engaged in discussions with the Jewish Federa- tion of Ottawa about racial justice and anti-Black racism in Ottawa; and engaged with Temple Israel members and sub-committees/task forces about ways we can work together to advance our common goals of inclu- sion and social justice.

Much of our work as a Task Force at Temple Israel, is guided by the Union for Reform Judaism’s Racial Justice Campaign, which seeks to “fight the structural racism that is embedded in our society and to advance justice for all people.”

So, what can be done to address structural racism? Here are three ideas:
1) Learn more about structural racism. Structural racism is a system in which public policies, practices, and cultural norms act in ways to perpetuate racial ineq- uity – when racism is embedded into the very fabric of society, which goes beyond individual actions.

2) Learn more about microaggressions. Learning about them can help people be more intentional in their inter- actions and realize the negative impact that words can have, even if the intention is positive or neutral. Whether verbal or physical, microaggressions can make people of colour feel alienated, unwelcome, and/or unsafe. For example, Jews of Color can experience feelings of not belonging when entering Jewish spaces, if some- one approaches them and assumes that they are not members of the congregation. These assumptions can be driven by the implicit biases held about ‘what Jewish people look like’.

3) Learn more about the Union for Reform Judaism’s Racial Justice Campaign and related training events:

Finally, please keep a look out for important events happening in the community this coming February, for Black History Month!

Do you have ideas to address structural racism and to better ensure that Temple Israel is an inclusive space for Jews, in all of our diversity? Interested in learning more about Temple Israel’s Anti-Racism Task Force? Contact Robyn Aaron.

Truth and Reconciliation Task Force (TFTR)

Kim Wheatley and Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg
Kim Wheatley and Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg

We are pleased to report that a new Prayer for Canada that includes Land Acknowledgement is quickly becoming an organic part of our Shabbat Ritual (minhag). Its third paragraph states that:We acknowledge that the land on which Temple Israel gathers is situated on the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial. We are grateful to have the opportunity to freely worship on this territory, and we ask your blessings upon it, and upon us – and let us say: Amen.

We recognize, honour and respect this Nation and their right to this land. We are grateful to have the opportunity to live and work in their community on this territory.

As a Jewish community, may we always strive to fulfill our value of Tzedek Tirdof – the pursuit of justice in our society. Thus we commit to working and learning more about the history of the Algonquin people and take responsibility for building a life-long relationship. We also welcome your thoughts on this statement and its use.

The Reform Jewish Community of Canada has issued a Statement of Solidarity and a Call for Action and posted it on their website. Read this statement, Re: Discovery of Unmarked Graves of Indigenous Children at Kamloops Indian Residential School.

The Task Force on Truth and Reconciliation regularly brings to the attention of the Temple members information on Indigenous people, history, news and events.

Achievements of the Inuit Artistic Community in 2021

Some achievements of the Inuit artistic community during 2021 are listed here. Please follow the links and learn more about these individuals and their work:

January – February Update

Jan. 12- McGill University announced this week that venture capitalist Gerald Rimer, and his sons are giving $13 million to the university, which will go toward updating Leacock and the creation of an Indigenous research institute. You can read the entire story in the Canadian Jewish News HERE

Programs at Temple

We encourage you to join our exciting program of Sunday morning presentations in Winter 2022 (most likely via Zoom) on the theme of Jewish Indigenous Relations in Canada.

The first of these presentations took place on October 3 when Rabbi Mikelberg and Kim Wheatley reflected on their family histories of trauma with a focus on their grandmothers.

Upcoming events include the following:

Truth and Reconciliation Winter 2022* January 23, 2022 – Discussion by Simon Brascoupe and Michael Parkin on their collaboration to co-create an artistic expression of Temple Israel’s Land Acknowledgement. The focus will be on the process of their collaborative efforts so far.
Register for this event.

* March 6, 2022 – Dr. David Koffman (J. Richard Shiff Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry in the Department of History at York University and the editor-in-chief of the journal Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes) will present a wide-angle introduction to the history of encounters between Canadian Jews and Indigenous peoples, from the settlers and fur traders of the 18th century up to our present moment of national reconciliation debates. Touching down on several emblematic moments from coast to coast to coast, the talk argues for the intellectual and moral value of reframing Canadian Jewish history as not just a history of immigration, but as one of both migration and colonialism. There will be plenty of time for Q&A.

* March 13, 2022 – Presentation by Temple Israel congregants Charlie Khazzan and Marie-Carmen Berlie, medical doctors who live and work half-time in a Northern Indigenous community and half in Ottawa, about their experiences and their insights.

Please check Temple’s weekly e-bulletin for further information on these events as well as other educational opportunities relevant to the Task Force mandate.

About the Task Force on Truth and Reconciliation at Temple Israel

In July 2018 Temple Israel formed a Task Force on Truth and Reconciliation to respond to Recommendation #49 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that calls on “all religious denominations and faith groups who have not already done so to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius” with the goal of doing this through a Jewish lens. In 2018 and 2019 the Task Force organized events at Temple to educate our congregation and deepen our understand- ing of our shared history with Indigenous peoples and their cultures. In March 2020 in-person activities were suspended due to the COVID pandemic.


A good source of titles of books by indigenous authors can be found on the CBC website.
Here is a list of Indigenous Detective Novels that you may enjoy reading over the winter months.

More information

Contact us for more information on the Task Force or to express interest in joining as part of a group attending an event of Indigenous interest or discussion of a book. Get in touch with Anne Alper, Fran Klodawsky or Joyce Pagurek.

Giving Committee

“Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.” ― Isaac Bashevis Singer

We would like to warmly welcome members of Temple to join us. The purpose of the Giving Committee is to foster a culture of giving and philanthropy at Temple Israel:

  • that empowers our community to care for one another and others (Gimilut Chasadim)
  • expresses our value for an inclusive and welcoming congregation (Kehilah)
  • is integral to how we work together as a sacred community
  • strengthens and sustains our community for now and future generations

We have a number of projects we would like to launch and we hope that you will help us. Our focus is on developing and leading projects with the  idea that we can give of ourselves in many ways. If you like to write and edit funding requests; are interested in designing and look for funding for projects to support Temple’s community; or would like to be an active volunteer at specific events we would love to have you. The two Co-Chairs of the Giving Committee are Deidre Butler and Kim Doran.

The Oneg Project

The Giving Committee launched the Oneg Project at the High Holidays services in 2019. This project aims to ensure that all onegs are provided for throughout the year. 

The Baby-Quilt-to-Israel Project

Read online

Shaare Medical CentreJerusalem, Wednesday 10th November 2021

Dear friends from the Temple Israel Quilters Ottawa Canada,

It has been so long since we received your beautiful and amazing quilts, this delivery is especially mean- ingful as it hopefully marks the beginning of slowly going back to a “life after Covid”. Seeing these lovely blankets arriving directly from Canada brings so much joy to the parents and the staff of the NICU.

Every blanket is like a big hug from across the ocean! Being able to reconnect with people who live miles away is such a heartwarming feeling! On the photo above you can see Nelly the head nurse of the NICU who placed a blanket on an incubator immediately as I walked into the department with your special parcel!

Thank you again for thinking of us during the hard times as well, looking forward to receiving more of your beautiful work in the future!

With love from the NICU babies, parents and staff!

Audrey Gross, Guest Relations Resource Development & Public Affairs