OJCS Launches “Life & Legacy”

You may have noticed a new sign in our lobby this week.  The Ottawa Jewish Community School has joined thirteen other local Jewish organizations who have made a commitment to work together to support the future of the Ottawa Jewish community.  Under the leadership of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation, our community is delighted to be delivering and implementing the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF)’s “Life & Legacy” initiative.

Life & Legacy is a four-year partnership initiative of the HGF that assists communities across North America, through partnerships with Jewish Foundations, to promote after-lifetime giving to benefit Jewish day schools, synagogues, social service organizations and other Jewish entities.

Life & Legacy is an innovative program designed to change the philanthropic conversation in our community by creating a collaborative approach to legacy giving.  Everyone has the power to be a legacy donor and make a difference for future generations.

Why leave a Legacy Gift?

Since 1949, the Ottawa Jewish Community School has been a cornerstone of Jewish life in Ottawa.  We produce leaders and active members of the Ottawa Jewish community who contribute to Jewish life and to the quality of life in Ottawa in an extremely significant manner.  We develop leaders of Jewish organizations, schools and synagogues, all of which flourish as a result.  In addition, nearly every secular charitable initiative in Ottawa benefits from the explicit Jewish leadership and generosity taught and experienced at OJCS.  However, we cannot take for granted that what was once true will always be true.  If we want that to continue – if we want to secure our Jewish future – we need to ensure that OJCS will be here to educate the next generations of leaders.  Jewish leadership requires Jewish leaders who know how to lead – not just as Jews, but according to Jewish values.

We are so honoured to provide Ottawa’s Jewish community with a rigorous, high-quality, innovative secular and Jewish education for its children, and it is a responsibility that we take very seriously. Creating your Jewish legacy will help OJCS remain sustainable long after you are gone.  While gifts to current operations (annual campaign) are essential to meet ongoing needs, contributions like Life & Legacy are invested to provide benefits for generations to come. You can help to endow our children with the values and knowledge they need for the future by contributing to an endowment that will itself live in perpetuity.

You will be seeing more information about the program and how to participate in the months and years ahead.  You may have never thought of yourself as a legacy donor and may be surprised to learn how easy it is to become a Life & Legacy donor, regardless of age and income level.  For now, we hope that those of you – students, teachers, parents, grandparents, etc. – who are invested in our school’s sustainability will be both comforted and inspired that we are not only planning for today and tomorrow, but for generations to come.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Staci Zemlak-Kenter, our Director of Development, at s.zemlak-kenter@theojcs.ca, or 613.722.0020  x. 378.

Philanthropy is a Learned Behavior: Introducing the OJCS Maccabiah Games

At the Ottawa Jewish Community School, we believe that philanthropy is a learned behavior.  Each month as part of our Rosh Chodesh assemblies, we introduce the object of the upcoming month’s philanthropy.  That usually comes with at least one class taking a specific action, as well as the loonies and toonies we collect for that month’s “dress down day”.  Ideally, of course, our students would choose to bring tzedakah to support these charities out of an intrinsic motivation.  But it isn’t uncommon to use extrinsic rewards with children to encourage behaviors you hope get replaced by intrinsic motivation as they develop and mature.  In the same way that we would hope students would choose to participate in the Reading Challenge without competing for a reward, we know that for some students the reward encourages positive behavior.

This month, as we reinvent and reintroduce both our “Color War” and our “Walk/Run” into the new “OJCS Maccabiah Games,” our students have essentially chosen the school as the object of this month’s philanthropy.  Yes, we are for sure encouraging more active philanthropy than simply bringing a loonie or toonie, and yes, perhaps, it is different to make the school the object rather than outside charity.  But we don’t think it is out of bounds or off message to encourage our students and families to give back to the school.

Essentially what is being asked from our families is no different than what has been asked in prior years.  Children/families were encouraged to support the school through soliciting friends and family to sponsor them in the “Walk/Run”; this is no different.  What has changed, we hope, is that the event itself will be much more successful, fun and meaningful for our students.  The “Walk/Run” had essentially outlived its usefulness and so we have taken activities that were no longer functioning as we liked and repurposed them, simplifying our calendar and hopefully improving the events themselves.  Our first annual “OJCS Maccabiah Games” will bring together our North Stars of “Ruach” and “We are each responsible one to the other,” in a wonderful day of sport, sportsmanship, joy and philanthropy.  And we can’t wait!

So how will it work?

[Adapted from the OJCS Student Life Blog:]

On June 4, 2019 the OJCS Maccabiah Games will begin and our theme is “4 Teams, 1 Heart,” modelled after the actual Maccabiah Games theme of “80 Countries, 1 Heart”.

Who are the 4 teams?

  • Jerusalem- Team Blue!
  • Tel Aviv- Team Green!
  • Haifa- Team Red!
  • Netanya- Team Orange!

Which city will win the cup?  Teams will earn points throughout the day for event wins, showing sportsmanship, team cheers and RUACH!

We are excited to share that OJCS has partnered with Maccabi Canada for the event and Maccabi Canada athletes will join us for the opening and closing ceremonies.

As this is a fundraiser, please know that each student will have their own fundraising pages on CanadaHelps.org.  For each $25 raised, students will receive a ballot for a weekly draw on Fridays for prizes such as frozen yogurt gift cards, bookstore gift cards, and  movie night baskets.

Families are welcome to join us at the school from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on June 4, 2019 for our Family Maccabiah Games!  Bring your loonies and toonies and join us for some cold treats, meet Maccabi Canada athletes and learn more about Maccabi Canada, and try our 65′ inflatable obstacle course with your child(ren).

By the way, you don’t have to be an OJCS Family to contribute!  Pick your favorite team and contribute to the event simply by following the links:

Special “thank you” to the companies who are sponsoring this exciting event!