Camille Cohen

Sepharade Women's Campaign Chair, 2004-2005

1) How did you get involved in the Federation CJA – and why?

My community was close to my heart, so naturally I chose to offer up my help to it. Knowing that you are contributing in a real way to people’s well-being was an enriching experience. Volunteering is something that I love to do. Not only is it rewarding, it led me to surpass myself. When you volunteer, everybody wins: all of society benefits. We work and our community benefits.

2) What is the fondest memory you have today of your time working with the Federation CJA?

The 2014 Campaign was an unforgettable experience for me. As President of the Sepharade Campaign, I felt like I was inhabited by an almost supernatural energy giving me the certainty that nothing was impossible.

3) Do you remember a moment or an event in particular that deeply impacted you?

The activities that impacted me the most were the missions in Israel (4 in total). One of them took us to Auschwitz, in Poland.

Through these missions we were able to discover the experiences of the Jewish people, its joys as well as its sorrows. It was one of the most stimulating experiences for me on an intellectual and emotional level.

Because of these memorable moments, I was able to form new friendships. During these missions, I had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of new community leaders.

4) What legacy would you like to pass on?

I would certainly encourage my children and other young people to follow in my footsteps. I would like for them to have the chance to meet people who are wonderful, devoted and united in a cause. In a society like today’s, in which people are becoming more individualist, in which they’ve lost all notion of giving, whether of money or of time, it’s good for them to know and to learn that contributing to the well-being of others gives you a feeling of pride and personal accomplishment.

I would like my involvement in the community to serve as an example for my children, my family and the community. Most importantly, I would like it to inspire future members of my family.

This unique and enriching experience will forever remain etched in my memory.

I come from a very modest family. I was surrounded by loving people who gave their time to our community. They were a wonderful example for me.

I would therefore like to thank:

- my mother, who volunteered one day per week at the Jewish General Hospital, even though she also worked full time. Now that she’s retired, she volunteers three days a week at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art and the Pointe-à-Callières Museum in Old Montreal,

- my uncle Georges Niddam, who was President of the Casablanca Jewish Community in Morocco for more than 40 years,

- his wife Esther Niddam, who was a volunteer for ORT,

- my best friend's mother, Gilberte Myara, who carried out hundreds of mitzvot during her life, despite working full time and having four children at home,

- and all the dedicated volunteers at the Federation CJA who I’ve had the fortune of knowing.

And of course, I want to say a special THANK YOU to the Women’s Philanthropy for giving me the golden opportunity to serve my community and for providing me with their help and support. I have unlimited respect and admiration for the amazing work carried out by all these incredible, devoted and generous women.

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