This issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin marks the final appearance of Rabbi Reuven Bulka as one of our From the Pulpit columnists. The Pulpit column rotates among the pulpit rabbis of Ottawa’s different congregations – each of them writing two or three times per year.
In about two weeks, Rabbi Bulka will become rabbi emeritus of Congregation Machzikei Hadas after serving 48 years – nearly half a century – as spiritual leader of the congregation. His tenure in the Machzikei pulpit is unprecedented in Ottawa – and very rare anywhere else.
The impact of Rabbi Bulka’s leadership has been felt far beyond his congregation: in Ottawa’s Jewish community, and in the national Jewish community; and in the broader community, where he is well known for his many books and newspaper columns, for his weekly radio program, as honorary chaplain of the Royal Canadian Legion, and as a leader who has launched so many important initiatives, from encouraging organ donations to creating Kindness Week.
Although Rabbi Bulka and his wife Leah will be taking more time to spend with their children and grandchildren, he will continue to be an important leader in the community.
Thank you, Rabbi, for so many insightful Pulpit columns in the Bulletin. You’re always welcome to contribute guest columns to our pages whenever you have commentaries to share with the community.
Thank you Mira Sucharov
This issue also includes the final instalment of Mira Sucharov’s Values, Ethics, Community column, and I also take this opportunity to thank Mira for sharing her challenging thoughts with us in every edition of the paper over the past seven years. In fact, it’s been exactly seven years, as her first column appeared in the August edition in 2008.
Mira was actually the first new regular columnist I recruited for the Bulletin after becoming editor. I’d inherited all of our other columnists at the time from my predecessor, the late Barry Fishman.
Over the years, Mira often challenged us by taking on controversial issues and by being unafraid to take controversial positions. She wrote about difficult topics in the community, in Israel, and in the wider Jewish world. Speaking personally, I sometimes agreed with Mira’s take on a particular issue and sometimes disagreed. But that’s the nature of opinion columns and, as both an editor and a reader, I want to be challenged – and Mira certainly did challenge her readers.
Newspapers are always evolving and columnists come and go – for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a columnist decides to wind down his or her column and sometimes it’s the newspaper that decides it’s time. And both scenarios have played out at the Bulletin over the years. That’s the way it works at all newspapers – from the largest dailies to community papers like ours. None of the columnists who were with us in 2008 are still writing their columns now. And, in the interim, a number of other columns have come and gone from our pages.
Of all our regular columnists, Mira has, by far, had her space in our paper the longest. In fact, our next longest serving columnist has been with us only half as long. And, as Mira notes in her column this issue, she now contributes regular columns and blogs to the print and/or online versions of several other Jewish and mainstream newspapers. So, when we decided this year that it was time to bring a fresh voice into the Bulletin, all of those factors were considered. We knew that Mira’s voice would continue to be heard in forums far and wide.
Mira, thank you, again, for your contributions to the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin these past seven years. We’re all the richer for the eloquence and passion you brought to so many issues of concern.
New column to debut
I’m also thrilled to announce that our new column, Dispatches from the Diaspora by Sarah Waisvisz, will debut in the September 7 issue. Sarah is a young Ottawa-based playwright, actor and academic – she received her PhD this year – interested in many issues in the Jewish world.
From my discussions with her, I’m sure that Sarah’s column will be insightful, thought-provoking and exciting.