‘Embracing peace is something everyone could apply’: Chabad Jewish Centre opens

Rabbi Moshe Caytak and his wife Sheina moved to the community with their son Mendel this summer to run the Jewish centre. Photo by Charlie Senack.

By Charlie Senack 

The Chabad Jewish Centre says they are ready to make history in Wellington West as they get set to host their first ever Jewish Holiday Services in the community. 

Located in a historic home at 166 Huron Ave. N., the new Jewish centre aims to be a community hub for everyone. They first started hosting events this summer, and are now getting ready to ramp up activities. 

With the Jewish High Holidays now in full swing, the Chabad Jewish Centre hosted their first High Holiday service for Rosh Hashanah at the Great Canadian Theatre Company at 1233 Wellington St. W., on Sept. 27. That will be followed by Yom Kippur services in early October. 

Rabbi Moshe Caytak and his wife Sheina moved to the community with their newborn son this summer to run the Jewish centre.  

“Those are the holiest days on the Jewish calendar,” Rabbi Caytak told Kitchissippi Times. “Rosh Hashanah is the head of the year, which means the blessings for the entire year are given on that day. The good resolutions that we take upon ourselves leading up to those days [affect] us in a positive way leading through the year.”

On Oct. 6, the eve of Yom Kippur, the Chabad Jewish Centre will host an evening service at their new location, beginning at 6:20 p.m. 

That will be followed by a day of Yom Kippur activities held at the Great Canadian Theatre Company on Oct. 7. The day will begin at 10:30 a.m. with morning services, followed by a Yizkor Memorial Service held just after noon. At 5:15 p.m. there will be a Mincha/Neila closing, with the festivities ending at 7:19 p.m. 

“There has been a tremendous response because there is such a need, especially in these times when there is so much happening in the world,” said Caytak. “It’s a great time to increase acts of goodness, kindness, prayer and a connection to God.”

The Chabad Jewish Centre on Huron Avenue. Photo by Maureen McEwan.

Yom Kippur occurs annually on the 10th of Tishrei, the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. For the community, it’s a day full of prayer, fasting and repentance. 

While there are many synagogues across Ottawa which plan activities to mark these important days in Judaism, Caytak noted having services in Wellington West allows local Jewish people to be part of a community. 

“It makes it very accessible for people to come,” he said. “This is the first Jewish Centre in Wellington West and we are reaching out (differently) by making ourselves accessible to every single person regardless of background. That makes us unique.”

Last December, before the centre was even up and running, the Chabad Jewish Centre hosted a grand menorah lighting for Hanukkah in the Osgoode Properties Parking Lot in Kitchissippi. Hundreds of people came out and it was a great success, said Caytak. 

This year, a similar event will take place again, but will grow in size with one-on-one teaching sessions and Chabad dinners. 

The centre will also soon be home to the Jewish Youth Library of Ottawa, a long-running organization that was founded in a local basement in the 1980s. It ran out of the Chaya Mushka Building, located at 192 Switzer Ave., until it ran out of space. With a collection of over 20,000 books, Caytak said it will be a huge resource for Jewish people in the community. 

Caytak hopes the Wellington West community will become more interested in the Jewish culture, and will get involved with the facility’s activities. Their goal is to spread some kindness and love at a time of turmoil for many. 

“We have seen, in the media every day, wars going on and terrible things happening,” said Caytak. “Embracing peace is something everyone could apply and take it to heart while really making a difference in both our personal lives and throughout the community. The way to combat darkness is through light.”

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