The Beginning

The dream of Beth Shalom West began in the Spring of 1980, led by Rabbi Basel Herring and a small group of Jews from Ottawa’s west end. As this dedicated group grew in size, so did the dream of a permanent facility. Travelling from party room to roller disco cafeteria to daycare centre became such a tedious task that in June 1982 the first plans for Beth Shalom West “The Building” were unveiled. Along with these plans came a price tag of $674,000 and a fund raising campaign. Although the members and community were receptive, it quickly became apparent that we could not raise adequate funding for this structure.

In November 1983, the Project Management Committee was formed and given the task of inventing a building which could house our needs and fall within our financial boundaries. Ideas ranging from a basement structure to a slab-on-grade building were examined but finally after reviewing drawing upon drawing from the the Architect and estimate upon estimate from the builder, the structure as it now stands was decided upon.

Beth Shalom West is situated on Chartwell Avenue in the heart of Craig Henry on one acre of land, generously donated. The structure consists of a basement and main floor, each composing 5,500 sq. feet. Included in this is a social hall, kitchen, office, and multi-purpose rooms. After numerous delays in site plan approval and obtaining building permits, construction finally began on April 30, 1985. With a scheduled completion date of September 14th (Rosh Hashanah) all contractors were aware that everything had to run smoothly. With services in place, the excavation began on May 21, 1985 followed quickly by the pouring of concrete foundation walls and construction of the concrete block walls on the main floor level.

All proceeded according to schedule until mid June when we were notified that structural steel delivery would be delayed. In early July, construction stopped and the community began to wonder if we would ever finish on schedule. Finally, in late July, the steel was erected and Beth Shalom West became a beehive of activity. Mechanical, electrical, and structural contractors worked feverishly through August, all the while questioning the ultimate completion date.

In late August the drywall contractor moved on site, windows were installed and washrooms fitted. Hope for completion was again alive and finally September 10 1985, we were informed that services could be held in our new home.

It was decided to hold Shabbat services on September 12th and on September 11th with Shabbat services starting at 7:00 p.m., the final pane of glass on the front doors was installed at 6:50 p.m. Beth Shalom West was now a reality.


The congregation was inspired in their new home which still required numerous finishing touches. Finally after months of work including painting, flooring and carpeting, Beth Shalom West now has a “home” of which they and all of Ottawa can truly be proud.

In closing, thanks are extended to all those, too numerous to mention, who contributed to making the dream a reality. Engineers, architects, contractors, contributors, members, and clergy should take great pleasure in this outstanding achievement.