A doctor and a rabbi walked into Federation…

A doctor and a rabbi walked into Federation…

By Louise Rachlis

Karen Palayew is the new co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Annual Campaign, teaming with Rabbi Reuven Bulka, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Machzikei Hadas. The busy Ottawa pediatrician began her two-year term recently, when Aviva Ben-Choreen finished hers. “It has been a great pleasure working with Aviva as Campaign co-chair,” said Rabbi Bulka of Palayew’s predecessor. “She put all her considerable energies and dedication into her work on behalf of the community.

Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka is now in his second year as co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Annual Campaign. (Ashley Fraser)


“We are all delighted that Karen Palayew is following Aviva,” he added. “Her involvement with March of the Living showed her love of community, her appreciation of our history, and her commitment to our posterity. She is engaging, caring, determined, and wonderful.”

After Federation President and CEO Andrea Freedman and Rabbi Bulka reached out to Palayew about co-chairing the Annual Campaign, she contacted several past co-chairs to hear about their personal experiences. “They were all very positive, supportive and encouraging,” Palayew said. “They inspired me to accept the role.” She says she is pleased to be working alongside Rabbi Bulka during her first year.

Originally from Montreal, she and her husband, Lorne Segal, moved to Ottawa from Toronto in 2000 and their three children attended Hillel Academy (now the Ottawa Jewish Community School). “That was our introduction to the Ottawa Jewish community.” Palayew chaired the health committee at Hillel Academy and went on to co-chair the Physicians’ Division of the Federation Annual Campaign.

“While fundraising does really not come naturally to me, once I started making calls and reaching out to colleagues, it was extremely gratifying,” she said.

Palayew had been Ottawa chair of the March of the Living since 2012. The March is a program for high school students in which teens spend one week in Poland learning about the Holocaust at some of the actual sites where the Holocaust was perpetrated by the Nazis. The actual March from Auschwitz to Birkenau takes place on Yom HaShoah. The students then spend a week in Israel that includes marking Yom Hazikaron and celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut.

“It’s been my passion,” she said, “engaging teens in a program that heightens their awareness and connects them to their past and to Israel. It has really pulled on my heart strings to leave that position, but it’s in good hands with Allan Shefrin,” her successor as Ottawa chair for March of the Living.

Palayew and Segal co-chaired the 2018 Annual Campaign kickoff events on September 17, 2017 with evening keynote speaker Hillel Neuer of UN Watch and an afternoon family concert by children’s entertainers Sharon and Bram. “We really enjoyed working with the Federation team and were really happy to be involved in events with people of all ages coming together as one,” said Palayew. “Over the years, my view of Federation is that it cares for the entire spectrum of needs in the community,” added Palayew. “I hope to encourage even more individuals to engage in Federation and to fulfil meaningful initiatives. The support we give Federation today will ensure support for our cherished community for generations to come.”