The beginning of the new year heralds the turnover of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Annual Campaign leadership. Early in January we planned on sharing this message to thank our beloved Rabbi Reuven Bulka for his tremendous work and enormous dedication in co-chairing the Campaign over the last three years. We put aside our letter when the news of the rabbi’s cancer diagnosis became public. However, we would be remiss if we did not thank him and recognize his efforts raising funds for our community and share with the community the Campaign results.
Under his compassionate and sage leadership, Rabbi Bulka helped to raise an additional $1.8M with the Challenge Fund and matching initiative, the funding from which helped to create our Jewish Superhighway and special programs like Jewish Jumpstart and the Microgrants program.
In addition, during the unprecedented challenges of the past year, Rabbi Bulka along with co-chair Karen Palayew helped lead the Emergency Campaign for Community Resilience as well as the Annual Campaign.
We are proud to share that our current Campaign has raised $4.5M along with an additional $2.6M for the Emergency Campaign to help support our community’s most vulnerable members. The impact of Rabbi Bulka’s dedication will be felt in our community for many years to come and we thank him profoundly for sharing his time, energy, humour and kindness with all of us.
Federation welcomes Josh Engel as Campaign co-chair
We are grateful to be going from strength to strength, as Josh Engel steps into the role of co-chair, alongside Karen who will be entering her third and final year on the Campaign team. Josh is the managing partner at GGFL and a long-time community leader. A graduate of Hillel Academy, Josh has deep ties to the community and has canvassed for the Annual Campaign for over 10 years, including serving as captain of the accountants' division. He has also been an active board member at Tamir and Camp B'nai Brith of Ottawa. (Visit here for his full bio)
To help introduce Josh and to share his thoughts on his time as Campaign co-chair, here is a note from Rabbi Bulka:
I am writing this after three wonderful years co-chairing the Annual Campaign.
I remember being approached by Steven Kimmel and he was accompanied by the irrepressible Andrea Freedman. The ask - a simple one. Please co-chair the Federation Campaign. Talk about a bolt out of the blue.
I had no idea then that the tenure would last this long, or that it would be that enjoyable.
Working with first Aviva Ben-Choreen and then with Karen Palayew was a real treat. They are both so dedicated and passionate about our community.
I must add that we are so fortunate to have Karen in our leadership stream.
Her passionate dedication to our community knows no limits.
And my absolute best wishes to Josh Engel, my former baseball teammate and all-around nice guy, on assuming the co-chairmanship of the campaign. He will hit it out of the park.
I was blessed with a most wonderfully dedicated Team-Fed, to whom I am so grateful. Lindsay Newman is a stalwart for our community.
Micah Garten is a unique combination of energy, vision, and dedication who made my job easy.
The team, as we call them, could always count on the dedicated Federation staff, all stalwarts.
This brings me to my final merci, to the passionately devoted captain of the ship, dear Andrea Freedman.
Working with Andrea has been a true eye-opener.
What an amalgam of care, concern, devotion, wisdom, vision, and energy she is.
We are so blessed in having her at the helm. She defines all the qualities that characterize a leader.
Thank you, dear Andrea, and the entire team, for such an enjoyable Rabbinic “interlude” over these last three years.
Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka
Our gratitude to these leaders and to our community
The Jewish Federation is grateful to Rabbi Bulka, Karen and Josh for their leadership and to all community members, who during even the darkest of days, generously and compassionately made gifts to help others. And of course, our thoughts and prayers are with our dear rabbi at this difficult time.