OJCS @ 75: A Miracle Built Through Teachers

Good afternoon, fellow teachers…

As we gather today to celebrate the incredible milestone of 75 years of the Ottawa Jewish Community School, formerly known as Hillel Academy, I am overwhelmed with a deep sense of gratitude and pride.  This celebration is not just about the passage of time but about the enduring legacy of commitment, passion, and excellence that has brought us here.

I believe deeply in stories and narrative, and that both lives and organizations are best understood as such.  This school was born from founding visionaries who told a story of what could be and each generation of the board, administration and faculty has taken its place to co-author each chapter of the school’s narrative up until today.  Those of us lucky enough to currently hold the pen owe a debt to all of you in the room who held the pen before us, and owe our commitment to pass the pen forward to those who will write chapters when our time is done.  Our collective story can be read through the lives of the students and families who came through our doors, and it echoes throughout our community, both Jewish and otherwise.  You simply cannot tell the story of Jewish Ottawa without our school, and our story could not have unfolded without the collective contributions of those in this room, and all those who contributed throughout the decades.

To our school’s extraordinary teachers, your dedication and tireless efforts are the foundation of our success. For seventy-five years and counting, day in and day out, you inspired and continue to inspire our students, nurturing their minds and souls. Your passion for teaching and your unwavering commitment to each child’s growth were and are truly remarkable. Teachers are the heart of OJCS, and it is your spirit that shapes the future of our community.

To my fellow devoted administrators, your leadership and vision have been instrumental in guiding us through challenges and triumphs alike. You work behind the scenes, ensuring that our school remains a place of excellence and innovation. Your strategic thinking and dedication to our mission have paved the way for our continued growth and success.

As it says in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” This powerful teaching reminds us that while we may not see the completion of our efforts, our responsibility is to contribute, to build upon the work of those who came before us, and to pave the way for those who will follow.

Our more recent achievements, such as the remarkable $2 million reimagination of our classrooms, seven consecutive years of enrollment growth, and the creation of the Rabbi Bulka Kindness Project, are just the most recent testament to what we can accomplish when we come together with a shared purpose. We have introduced cutting-edge technologies, embraced new teaching methodologies, and expanded our curriculum to ensure our students are well-prepared for the future. These advancements are a direct result of your hard work and commitment both past and present.

As we embark on the next chapter of our journey, we are filled with hope and excitement. I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to each one of you. Thank you for your commitment, your passion, your talent and your dedication. Together, we have built, not just a special school, but a unique and thriving community.

Here’s to the next 75 years.

Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek.

(From Strength to Strength May We Be Strengthened.)