Offering a Jewish education to connect children with their Jewish roots and cultural heritage.
Ottawa Modern Jewish School is a contemporary school that provides a stimulating, enjoyable and high quality Jewish education. We recognize and honour the principle of individual choice and welcome all members of our diverse Jewish community.
A Little History of OMJS
In 1953 there was a Jewish community of orthodox, secular and unaffiliated. Discussions had been going on for a long time of 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.
Our daughter learned a lot about Jewish history which contributed to her Jewish identity.
I have been extremely impressed with the quality of education offered by OMJS. They offer a flexible and animated approach to Jewish education that is not only engaging but extremely respectful of the diversity of backgrounds of the children attending. The teachers have been wonderful and the school welcoming to our family.
Get to know OMJS’s amazing teaching staff here.