Jewish women in Ottawa to celebrate International Women’s Day
By Louise Rachlis
Three Ottawa women, originally from Israel, have organized an event for Jewish women in Ottawa to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The International Women’s Day Celebration Party was organized by Hen Amiel Tomer, Shlomit Jacobson and Shira Alon Musafi and will take place on the evening of Saturday, March 7 at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre. Organizers say the event is dedicated to all the Jewish women in Ottawa, and is an opportunity for women “to celebrate and be celebrated.”
The three organizers are part of an informal group of Israeli women who first got together in an Ottawa café.
Among themselves, they’ve run cooking classes, parenting classes, and all kinds of activities welcoming Israeli newcomers to Ottawa. After several events within the Israeli community, they decided to create this wider celebration for the larger community of Jewish women in Ottawa.
“We strongly believe that by empowering women you empower and strengthen the whole community,” said Tomer. “International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to bring together the amazing Jewish women in Ottawa to celebrate, empower, connect and engage.”
The evening includes a buffet dinner and drinks, a live show, and an energetic dance party.
The theme for 2020 International Women’s Day is “Each for Equal,” said Tomer, “a great fit for what we are trying to accomplish here, to foster an all-inclusive community where each one feels at home, all the time.”
The goals for the event are to connect the well-established Jewish community with the relatively new Israeli community “through celebrating our social (womanhood) and cultural (Judaism) common grounds as a way to start building shared identity”; to continue to provide a sense of belonging to the growing community of Israeli women in Ottawa; to celebrate the achievements of women in general and of Jewish women in particular; and “to create shared memories through a wonderful evening with like-minded women from all walks of life.”
They note that in a previous post-event survey, it became apparent that Israeli women in Ottawa crave a deeper connection with the larger Jewish community.
“The decision to have a larger event that includes all the women in Ottawa stems from our wish to cater to this very real need to narrow the perceived gap between the newcomers and the established community. Interestingly, since the issue was brought up in the survey, we initiated conversation with many women from the established Jewish community that expressed the same need. That made us realize that there is an appetite for both communities to become one,” explained Tomer.
They feel their project is unique because most initiatives today are affiliated with a specific group within the larger Jewish community, “while the majority of the Israeli community in Ottawa are not affiliated with a certain congregation, leading to feelings of isolation and even seclusion.”
For this event, “women are invited and encouraged to have fun… to connect, form new friendships and develop a sense of belonging.”
Lynne Oreck-Wener, founder of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation’s Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program, was impressed by the desire of the Israeli women “to become a part of and engaged in the ‘established’ – as we have loosely named it for lack of another term – Ottawa Jewish community.
“These wise women sought the route of connecting with women, building trust and relationships as the conduit,” Oreck-Wener said. “It is profound that they feel their children are Canadian and want to enable them to engage in the community. To choose to hold the event in celebration of International Women’s Day is a perfect fit.”
The doors open at 7 pm (after the conclusion of Shabbat) and the party goes until midnight. Tickets were sold out at press time. Send an email to Israeliwomeninottawa@gmail.com for inquiries.