We are known as the ‘People of the Book’ which means that stories are a vital part of who we are. The oldest testimonials of our people are rightfully called the ‘oral tradition’. Literally by word of mouth, our ancestors passed on our collective history, teachings and wisdom by retelling stories from one generation to another.
At Ometz, our 150th year of service to the Montreal Jewish community is about to commence. We take this moment to reflect backwards with reverence and to look forward with hope. This year’s annual report forms part of our ongoing story. In fact, our focus for this year is to capture as many stories as we can and we are counting on your help!
One summer night in July 1863 - four years before Canada was founded – 30 Jewish men gathered in a room over a store on Great St. James Street in Montreal and established the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society, an organization dedicated to the social welfare of our community. Their action took incredible foresight, considering that at the time there were fewer than 1000 Jews in Montreal and that the community was not experiencing any unusual economic hardship. Little did our forefathers realize the key role their organization would play in shaping the Jewish community in the years to follow.
A continuing tide of immigration meant that by 1890, barely 25 years later, the demand for services had exceeded the capacity of the small community. The Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society sought help from world Jewry’s greatest philanthropist of the nineteenth century – the Austrian railway magnate, Baron Maurice de Hirsch. To acknowledge the Baron’s gift of $20,000, the Society renamed itself the Baron de Hirsch Institute.
The actions of those young men that July night laid the blueprint for what has become Ometz today - a dynamic, integrated agency celebrating 150 years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Since the beginning, our mission - to help the vulnerable in our community - has not changed. Many of the services we provide today can be traced back to our roots. And many of the people who are involved with Ometz today as volunteers or as service providers can proudly point to a relative who was similarly involved in caring for our community at an earlier point in time. Continuity, collective memory and the upholding of tradition are important values to the Jewish people. We can’t think of a better way to commemorate our 150th anniversary than by collecting the stories of those individuals who have contributed to our past, present and future. Many are already recorded in this annual report.
However, given the possibilities of current technology, we want to reach out via our website to anyone who ever was or is currently involved with us – as a client, a staff member, a Board member, a volunteer, or a donor - and ask all of you to share your stories with us online. Please visit www.ometz150.ca and share your story.
Our tradition teaches us that: Our obligation is not to complete the work; nor are we permitted to desist from it. Pirkei Avot 2:20
As a community, we have much to be proud of. It is our privilege and our obligation to help the next generation build an even better society by leaving them a record of what we accomplished by supporting one another. Please help us by recording your own story as well.
Mazel Tov to us all! At Ometz we are 150 years strong!
Howard Lohner, CPA, CA
Howard Berger & Gail Small,
To consult our annual reports please follow the links below:
2012-2013 please click here
2011-2012 please click here.
2010-2011 please click here.
2009-2010 please click here.
2008-2009 please click here.
2007-2008 please click here.
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