Mark Zarecki & Abdi Karod speak at Limmud Ottawa

On November 1st, 2015, hundreds attended Limmud (“Learn”) Ottawa at the Jewish Community Centre (J.C.C.). Participants were invited to choose from an impressive list of 30+ literary, religious, political, cultural and cross-cultural workshops for a full day of learning and dialogue.

One of these cross cultural workshops was delivered by executive directors Mark Zarecki and Abdi Karod on the collaborative model developed by Somali Center for Family Services and Jewish Family Services (model launched ca. 1995). Key messages of the workshop included mutual hearing, mutual learning and gaining more from model than you give.

abdi and mark 1.0

Below is a very brief overview of how this partnership got started:

  • 1980: Jewish Family Services (JFS) opens its doors on Chapel Street with a staff of 3. Clients are primarily Holocaust survivors & Jewish Russian immigrants
  • 1990: Abdi Karod is hired by the ED of JFS, Elaine Rabin, to provide front line settlement services to arriving Somali refugees.
  • Retaining Abdi represents a tremendous opportunity to assist large numbers of newcomers settle to Canada. Between 1989 and 1991, approximately 13,000 government sponsored Somali refugees arrive each year.
  • Settlement Challenges include: Interpretation, housing, trauma counselling, social services, health, foreign credential recognition
  • 1996: with the support of JFS, Somali Centre for Family Services (SCFS) opens its doors on Bank Street. Elaine Rabin joins SCFS’s first board of directors and offers capacity building supports
  • 1998: Elaine Rabin retires and current ED, Mark Zarecki, continues to collaborate with SCFS on integration & senior services
  • 2000: Professor Allan Moscovitch of Carleton University works with JFS and SCFS to encourage Somali students to earn a BSW or MSW and starts process to open school of social work in Hargeisa, Somalia
  • 2001: Mark Zarecki & JFS receive an award from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) for mentoring SCFS
  • 2010: Jewish Somali Mentorship program is launched. Project idea starts in Toronto with initial Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) support. Program delivered at a local level. Idea to host services for postsecondary youth – majority first generation Canadian – some with limited professional networks.



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