A livelihood for the love of community

“We are a senior group and we do exceptionally well. And we share a great interest of raising funds for the community,” said Moe Kravitz, Co-Chair of the Codas Team. (Photo: Howard Kay)

At the heart of the Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign sits a small group of volunteers known affectionately as the Codas Team. Made up of only about a dozen exceptional people, the Codas Team calls on approximately 3,000 people each year for the annual Campaign, and over the years has raised millions of dollars in support of the Jewish community of Montreal.

$525,000

The amount raised by the Codas Team in the 2011 Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign.

“We are today 13 people… all very young people. I will give you the ages of nine. Four are women, so I wouldn’t give out their ages…,” laughs Moe Kravitz, Co-Chair of the Codas Team. For their ongoing dedication, leadership and commitment to community, Kravitz and Co-Chair Meyer Milstock were presented with the President’s Award, the highest honour a volunteer can receive, at the 2011 Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign Closing.  “We have three people who are 91, we have two that are 90 and then we have two that are 88. We are a senior group and we do exceptionally well. And we share a great interest of raising funds for the community.”

The Codas Team, though not called that at the time, was started more than 50 years ago and consisted of a group of men who would get together at the offices of the Allied Jewish Services on the corner of Aylmer and Sherbrooke to canvass the community for Combined Jewish Appeal.

“There are many people that used to come during the day, not only at night and giving up their time, but during the day of business. The community was number one for these people, which was extremely beautiful. If they could do it, why couldn’t any man do it?” said Milstock. “People help people. We found it necessary to help the others.”

As many of the group had come on board after being asked by Al Codas, and as Codas had been a natural leader to them, it was decided to name the group the Codas Team after his passing several years ago.

Moe and Ruth Kravitz, and Esther and Meyer Milstock celebrate Meyer’s 90th birthday this past summer with the Codas Team at Federation CJA. (Photo: Howard Kay)

“He was a real statesman. He was a great man and there is no question about it. He was well known for what he put in time,” said Milstock.

And the Codas legacy lives on amongst the remaining members who include Eudice Bauer, Jack Budovitch,  Ruby Cobrin, Sarah Fremeth, Jack Garfinkle, Joe Goldberg, Leo Guttman, Jimmy Indig, Hana Lipkowitz, Hyman Shousterman, Barry Simon, Joseph Sonberg and Yetta Weinstein. Each person is completely dedicated to the task at hand and fully commits themselves to the hard work during the three-month Campaign season.

“We canvass between 2,500 and 3,000 people a year and that is a lot. It’s a lot of hard work. Everybody is willing,” said Kravitz. “That’s how we can do so much. I tell any of the canvassers we get, you can do at least 50 each. We work at them.”

Part of the secret to the Codas Team’s success is that the group has a strong relationship amongst each other. They stay in touch throughout the year and they care about each other as friends.

“The camaraderie is excellent, that’s why we do so well. I keep in touch with them at least once a month, 12 months a year. I think the cohesion between the 13 people is extremely good. We’ve made friends,” Kravitz explains.

“There are people that have worked with us for many, many years and every year they come back to us. They continue. This is their livelihood. People play cards, people play golf. We appeal to people to donate,” said Milstock. “Our people are very conscientious. They come from the school of people who want to do work. There is no question about that. No matter how many people you ask them to call, they do it with their hearts.”


LOVE THE COMMUNITY?

For Combined Jewish Appeal Campaign inquiries, please call 514.345.2600.

You can read about last year’s Campaign here.

  • Rhonda Milstock Bulgtuch says:

    My parents are Esther and Meyer Milstock.
    We often refer to the word naches when we refer to our offspring.
    I’d like to say, that as their daughter, they give me and others lots of naches.
    They are so engaged with their community and with life.
    They inspire and model what it means to give back.

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