Although the next Jewish Federation of Ottawa Annual Campaign kickoff won’t take place until September, Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka began in the role of campaign co-chair on January 1 and he’s raring to go.
“It was difficult to say no to the request to co-chair,” said Rabbi Bulka, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Machzikei Hadas and a dedicated volunteer renowned for his tireless commitment to the community.
Rabbi Bulka has joined Aviva Ben-Choreen, who is returning for her second year as co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Annual Campaign.
“I’m a big fan of getting ready earlier than later,” said Rabbi Bulka. “It doesn’t hurt to get a head start. The race may begin in August, but you have to have gas in the car early.”
He had high praise for Sharon Appotive, who preceded him as co-chair of the Annual Campaign.
“I don’t pretend that I’ll be any better than the people who preceded me,” said Rabbi Bulka, “I’ve learned, even just into it, the enormous work involved. It’s always more than they say it’s going to be.”
An experienced fundraiser, Rabbi Bulka said he knows “it’s got to be fun for the canvassers to be successful – for them to look forward to an opportunity to do something important.”
It’s important, he says, that the Annual Campaign raises enough funds to sustain the community.
“With all of the wonderful organizations, if we don’t have the money, everybody suffers. I’d like to get us in a better financial situation than we are. … Everyone involved in the community wants to see the good organizations get better and the needs be addressed.”
Ben-Choreen, also a veteran volunteer in the community, says it’s important to step up when called on.
“I know it’s not easy to find someone who will take it on,” she said. “Fundraising is everyone’s least favourite activity, but it’s necessary, and it’s what supports our community.”
Over the past year as Annual Campaign co-chair, Ben-Choreen said she realized that Ottawa’s Jewish community is filled with generous people who are willing to help. They just need to be asked.
“That’s the whole point of the campaign,” she said, “making the ‘ask.’ We do have our stalwarts who year after year take it as a given they’ll be giving, but people like to be asked. We don’t take anyone for granted.”
Ben-Choreen said she has also learned that “it doesn’t really matter whether you’re giving a large gift or a small one. If you’re giving the best that you can give, that’s the important thing. A lot of people are doing their utmost to help the community – it’s amazing to see. It’s very inspiring.”