Offering a Jewish education to connect children with their Jewish roots and cultural heritage.
For 60 years, Ottawa Modern Jewish School (OMJS) has established itself as the non-affiliated, supplemental school offering quality Jewish education to all Jewish students in Ottawa for Kindergarten to Grade 7, with an optional B’nai Mitzvah program.
As the only non-affiliated supplemental school, meeting at the Soloway JCC I the centre of the Jewish community, OMJS attracts diverse families and students including non-religious/affiliated and mixed faith/culture families. Our families come from Carp to Orleans and Gatineau to Manotick.
At OMJS You can be You!
In 1953 there was a Jewish community of orthodox, secular and unaffiliated. Discussions had been going on for a long time about creating a non-affiliated Jewish school in Ottawa with many of the original “Kitchen table” meetings taking place at the home of Syd and Rhoda Abbey and others in the west end of Ottawa. Finally an open meeting for the formation of a new “Schule” was held on June 22, 1953 at the Chateau Laurier. Fifty people were in attendance, organised by Chairman (and later President) Abe Palmer. Israel Stern, of the Montreal Peretz Schule presented the experience of the Schule movement in Montreal and elsewhere. This included:
- A Jewish education in the national progressive spirit of our two languages Yiddish and Hebrew
- That it appeal to Jews who have “left the fold” and decided not to interact with the Jewish community
- A philosophy of “non-rigidity” in course content responding to change
- A determination to be positive about the beliefs of all Jews from secular to orthodox
- An absence of guilt about not being orthodox enough-that the criterion for being a good Jew (or good parent or good citizen) does not depend on ones beliefs and level of observance and
- That Hebrew and Jewish (meaning Yiddish culture instruction) should co-exist as part of the curriculum
Questions and answers ensued on minimum enrolment, curriculum and the differences between the Schule and other Cheder schools (different approach, teachers can express their views, modern Hebrew literature and the teaching of Yiddish).
A vote was taken and the school was born. Registration was $100 per family and by 1959 the school had grown to 110 families. By the 1960s, OMJS had 120 students consistently every year. The program consisted of Hebrew, Traditions, History and Yiddish. By the mid-70s the school had exploded to 154 students, a challenge for any volunteer Board, part time teachers and a very busy principal. Students attended on Wednesdays and Sundays renting space in various public schools throughout Ottawa and in the later years in the downtown Jewish Community Centre for Sunday mornings.
Ottawa Modern Jewish School has reinvented itself many times over the years meeting the needs of a unique parent group, sometimes offering more traditions and in some years offering more Yiddish. It has stayed true to its roots; to be a safe place for all families to bring their children without judgement, to share in the magic that is Jewish life, however it is celebrated.
Jodi Green, MSW, MAJS is excited to be the Principal of the Ottawa Modern Jewish School. She brings two decades of community experience with an emphasis on outreach via her work at various JCC, Tamir, and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.
Her social work has focused on families in transition and has made her a good listener and problem solver. Whether it’s the arrival of a new baby, the start of Kindergarten, or an upcoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Jodi wants to help the family make informed and appropriate choices that follow the family’s Jewish vision. She is passionate about making the school welcoming and relevant to modern Jews.
Jodi is a New York Native married to a Canadian. They have three boys and are thrilled to be making Ottawa their home.
OMJS prides itself on hiring teachers who embrace the vision of our pluralistic and inclusive school. Students generally have a teacher who focuses on Judaics including Jewish values, holidays, and culture. Then we switch it up and the Hebrew teacher arrives. Students are greeted in Hebrew and have a warm up conversation about feelings, the weather, or other Ulpan-like discussions. Once settled, they will continue to learn decoding skills. Classes are differentiated to support all types of learners.
All classes also have at least one teaching assistant to support the teacher with classroom tasks, assist students as they work, and are available for one-on-one learning.