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News from the OrH Board

2016 Mid-Term Report from the Board

It has been nearly six months since you entrusted this board to serve as shomrim, guardians, of Or Haneshamah and we would like to share with you how we have been putting our collective values into action…or perhaps, more accurately, how we have come to better understand our collective values through the actions we have taken together.

You have probably noticed the messages in the newsletter welcoming 19 new families to OrH, bringing with them new children, new energy, and new connections.  On any given Saturday morning, there are more than 20 people at Machaneh Shabbat, as children and their parents engage in creative learning together.  BaMaaGal, has outgrown home-hosting, with 25 youth and their families coming together to express and connect Jewishly, with many preparing for B’nei Mitzvahs in the coming year.

In the summer, we spoke up against violence and homophobia, after the tragedy in Orlando, when members of the GLBTQ community were the targets of mass killings in a night club and OrH members walked together with other shuls in the Pride Parade. We had two Shabbats – in – the – Park, by the water under the glorious sun, praising the beauty of the great outdoors.  Through the Shalom Group, we decided to move forward with a family reunification application to sponsor relatives of the Syrian family that Temple Israel sponsored last winter. 

According to your feedback, the High Holy Day services were both joyful and meaningful.  Members shared stories of struggles, loss, and aspirations and stepped up to bolster Rabbi Liz’s weakened voice with their own.  Members chanted, blew shofar, set-up and decorated the Sukkah, and played music for Simchat Torah. A highlight of the days of awe was the gift from Kehillat Beth Israel of a new Torah. Greeted by our founders holding our first Torah, the new Torah was boisterously paraded in under the chupah.  

The Re-imagining OrH (strategic planning group) has served as our ears and eyes bringing us important insights for our future and concrete ideas about how we can enhance our current offerings.  We heard loud and clear that room 5 in the basement is not conducive to creating the spiritual space for our Shabbat morning services. In response, we have moved most services upstairs to the Fellowship Hall for this year. 

We have continued to collaborate with other congregations in Ottawa.  We will be planning a joint workshop on how members can provide caring and support to each other during illness, bereavement, and other life-cycle events.  We have also connected with our sibling congregations in Toronto and Montreal.  We will be invited to participate in a special Shabbat in Toronto on May 12th and in Montreal on June 17th.  We will be hosting our friends at our Shabbats-in-the Park next summer.  

The Board has granted Rabbi Liz an eleven-week educational leave next spring to complete her certification in Clinical Pastoral Education.  During this time, we will be inviting members to help lead services.  A training session is being organized for January. 

Our actions over the past six months reflect OrH’s values of radical hospitality, bold experimentation, welcoming newcomers, diversity, inclusivity, caring, learning, and collaboration. Is this who we are?

We continue to be enormously grateful for the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Liz and to all of you who show steadfast commitment to Orh’s vitality. The board will continue to develop initiatives in the four priority areas:  Caring, Music, Social Action, and Resiliency.  We welcome your active participation and feedback (

See you in shul,

Paula Speevak
On behalf of the OrH Board of Directors
November 14, 2016

Summer 2016 Report from the Board

The last few years of the OrH board’s work can best be described as solidifying our foundation - developing the systems, policies, and program pillars for our community to thrive into the future.  Looking to the next few years, the board will be reaching in and out of our community to engage people in new ways, to strengthen our sense of belonging, create more open space for Jewish expression, and contribute to a just society.

Following the Annual General Meeting in May, there was a joint meeting of the outgoing and incoming board members to transfer knowledge, to gain insight into what brought out the best in the board over the past two years, to better understand the foundation from which we are building our future, and to begin to shape priorities for the next few years. 

People around the table identified the following characteristics to explain the past board’s successes: Jewishly anchored; getting things done; aiming for broad appeal; bold and courageous; innovative & experimenting; and understanding our capacity.  We think that these are important virtues to uphold and will be adding our own over time.

As you heard at the Annual Meeting, the previous board focused on launching Machaneh Shabbat, transitioning to a new web-platform (ShulCloud), strengthening our external linkages, and establishing an endowment funding.  We will continue to build upon these initiatives. We have been working closely with other congregations, having held a terrific joint Shavuot program, working together on refugee sponsorship, and marching together in the upcoming Capital Pride Parade.  Last month, I also visited our sister Reconstructionist congregations in Montreal and Toronto.

The board held a mini-retreat in July and began to explore four priority areas for our work: (1) Caring & Support to Members; (2) Social Action; (3) Music & Spirituality; and (4) Growth and Sustainability.

The Re-imagining OrH Committee has brought us research on newer models of membership, inclusivity, and community- building. Rabbi Liz has been sharing innovative outreach ideas and continuously renewing her own ritual offerings.  We  will be working hand-in-hand to respond to new trends and ideas and to listen to what you are telling us  as we shape our future together.

See you in shul,

On behalf of the Board of Directors
August 9, 2016

Resolution of the OrH Board on the Orlando Shooting

The OrH Board has passed the following resolution:

"In light of the tragic events in Orlando, the Board of Directors of Or Haneshamah unanimously resolve to stand in solidarity with Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton and the LGBTQ community. In addition, see Rabbi Liz' Words of the Spirit blog post Pride and Visibility: In the Wake of the Pulse Shooting in Orlando.”

The Board of Directors
June 14, 2016

Thu, October 18 2018 9 Cheshvan 5779