The Ottawa Jewish Women’s Network which grew out of a conference on Women and Judaism was held in November 1983. The conference was the first of its kind held in Ottawa and aroused such enthusiasm that it was obvious some on-going dialogue was needed.
The JWN is unique in Ottawa in many ways: it has a coordinator but no membership as such; any Jewish woman is, or can be, a part of the network, to whatever extent she chooses. It has no defined program; programs evolve as women express an interest in various issues.
For example, some women have formed a discussion group which grew out of their desire to explore feelings of marginality among Jewish women. It meets monthly to discuss topics as diverse as lesbianism, mixed marriage and wife battering among Jews.
Other women want to set up a B’rit B’not Havurah to create their own rituals for welcoming daughters into the Covenant. A first ever course in women and Judaism is being offered at the Reform religious school, and will be offered to adults beginning in January. A Jewish feminist group, and a feminist Seder are in the planning stages.
Most significantly, the JWN has brought into Jewish activity many women who felt uncomfortable with traditional Jewish groups for a variety of reasons. Many are completely non-religious; some are gay; others are unmarried and childless, either by choice or because they cannot find a suitable partner. We have housewives and career women, students and grandmothers, traditional and radical women in our Network.
The Ottawa JWN welcomes an exchange of ideas and information with any similar groups. And we welcome any woman who finds herself in Ottawa and would like to make contact with an open, searching, caring community of Jewish women.
Jewish Women’s Network, JCC— 15 Chapel St., Ottawa K1N7Y2. Alma Norman, Co-ordinator