The brave and the squeamish alike came out to Canadian Blood Services (CBS), August 25, to donate blood and make a difference at Congregation Machzikei Hadas’ Rabbi Bulka Blood Drive.
The blood drive, named in honour of Rabbi Reuven Bulka, the congregation’s rabbi emeritus, attracted 62 donors, saving up to 168 lives (as each donation can save up to three lives). A number of other blood donors deferred their donations to later dates due to low iron levels or because they were unavailable that day.
Rabbi Bulka, who has donated blood and platelets 345 times, said he was more than happy when Canadian Blood Services asked to name the event after him.
Rabbi Idan Scher, who succeeded Rabbi Bulka as spiritual leader of Machzikei Hadas, has given blood 20 times to date and said he was in particularly high spirits to witness a day of Jewish community action.
“The Talmud tells us ‘whoever saves the life of one saves the entire world’ and, today, we have the opportunity to do exactly that,” Rabbi Scher said. “We have the special occasion to save lives while showing our respect for a man that has profoundly impacted all of our lives, our rabbi emeritus, Rabbi Bulka. What better way to show our admiration for Rabbi Bulka, and what would Rabbi Bulka appreciate more than continuing his legacy of donating blood?”
“This is something that’s so quick, easy and lifesaving,” Rabbi Bulka said. “Where else do you get the chance to save so many lives?”
While Rabbi Bulka was happy to see so many community members come out to save lives, he lamented the fact that only four per cent of eligible Canadians give blood.
The need to give blood becomes all the more important when you realize that half of all Canadians will either need blood or know someone who will need blood at some point in their lives.
After giving blood, donors could be found in the CBS lobby, eating doughnuts and party sandwiches donated by Rideau Bakery.
While both rabbis and donors alike brought an atmosphere of joy to CBS, perhaps the happiest person was Glenn Crowe, the event co-ordinator for CBS, who proclaimed that “Rabbi Bulka wins the Olympic gold medal for 100 metre mensch!”
Machzikei Hadas has been a CBS Partner for Life since 2007. This year, the shul has pledged to donate 118 units, which, thanks to the blood drive, they expect to exceed.