The From the Pulpit column is a welcome opportunity for the city’s congregational rabbis to connect with the city as a whole. This is my final contribution to the column. The next time that Congregation Machzikei Hadas will be represented in this space, the author will be Rabbi Idan Scher, a young, dynamic, energetic, engaging, personable, and immensely capable rabbi. For the past year, he has been the shul’s associate rabbi, during which time he and his wife, Shifra, have connected on so many levels with our congregational family and with many members of the broader community.
Leah joins me in wishing the Schers well as they embark on this exciting challenge, or more accurately, the challenges that define the modern day rabbinate. At the same time, I will become the synagogue’s rabbi emeritus. Exactly what is a rabbi emeritus you may wonder? In truth, no one really knows. If you ask a group of rabbis emeritus, each of them will give you a different view of what that is for them.
What I can share with you is that, for me, it definitely does not mean “retirement.”
Retirement, I never tire of repeating, is not a Jewish concept. There is too much to do, not enough time to do it, and never an excuse for removing oneself from being involved. It means recalculating, but not in a GPS sense. The GPS recalculates when you’ve made a wrong turn, or missed an exit, or took too early an exit, etc. The wonderful years we have spent together in Ottawa have been anything but a wrong turn. My years here have transcended the wildest dreams anyone can legitimately entertain when entering the rabbinate.
I enter the next chapter full of gratitude for all the previous chapters. Many of you have suggested I put all these chapters into a book. I am somewhat hesitant about that, even though such a volume would contain many warm recollections of the wonderful people who built this community and of their successors who have further built upon the foundation. Maybe one day my arm will be twisted enough that I capitulate.
For now, the recalculating is more along the lines of what next? In the as-yet-not-fully-defined response to this question, a few things are clear. Ottawa will hopefully be part of “what’s next?” I hope to be available, when and if needed, both for Machzikei Hadas as well for the Jewish and general community. Leah and I are also looking forward to spending more time with the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I am also way behind on a number of books I have started, which are currently in permanent stall. Finally, I am happy to share with you that I am the president and CEO of a new and ambitious not-for-profit called Kind Canada Généreux. It is the first of its kind, a truly national endeavour to advance the implementation of a kindness-imbued culture at home, in the workplace, in schools, indeed everywhere.
Thanks to Michael Regenstreif and all his predecessors at the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin for always being a pleasure to work together. Thanks to Andrea Freedman and all her predecessors at the Jewish Federation of Ottawa for their leadership and dedication, and to Federation Chair Linda Kerzner and those who preceded her. Thanks, too, to my colleagues with whom it has been a pleasure to interact.
We have a great community, and great challenges. I am full of confidence that, with the vision, resolve and commitment of our leaders and volunteers, we will successfully meet these challenges.
Warmest wishes, but not goodbye,
Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka,
(Soon-to-be) Rabbi Emeritus,
Congregation Machzikei Hadas