Julia Reitman

President, Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, 2007-2009

1. How did you get involved with your agency and why?

I was shown the example of volunteerism by my late father and also by my older brothers. I internalized it at a very young age and continue to act on it to this day. When I was approached to take on positions of leadership, it was an easy decision.

2. What is your fondest memory to date of your time working with your organization?

I was, and still am, privileged to work with excellent professionals, as well as very dedicated and passionate lay leaders. I now count many of these individual as my friends and that is what makes it special.

3. Can you recall a particular moment or event that impacted you profoundly?

Fortunately there are quite a few moments that impacted me. On my first trip to Israel in my capacity as President of Jewish Federations of Canada/ UIA, I assisted at a kabbalat shabbat at which we welcomed the 35,000th Canadian Taglit-Birthright Israel Participant. It was humbling to be present at this ceremony to acknowledge the transformative experience of Birthright; a program that has impacted the next generation and indeed the future of the Jewish people.

Again, as President of JFC/UIA, I was asked to introduce Justice Rosalie Abella at the General Assembly in Washington in 2015. The Honorable Irwin Kotler and the Honorable John Baird were also speakers at that same conference. It was a proud moment to be Canadian and to see how well-respected we are among other Federated communities.

4. What advice would you give to young women following in your community minded footsteps?

Our community is varied and multi-faceted and I believe that anyone can find a place in which to engage and make a difference. So I would encourage involvement in our own community and in society at large because it brings so many rewards. It is often said that volunteers get more than they give. This is not a cliché for me. I truly believe it and I would pass that message on to our younger community members.

5. What motivates you?

I am motivated by the knowledge that really doing even a little can make a huge difference. It is very uplifting to be in a position to make even the smallest of changes that might have an impact on people and their lives and ultimately to better the society in which we live. I have three daughters and I hope that they will follow my example and get involved. That would be my true legacy.

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