Volunteers do the crucial work of Combined Jewish Appeal

Eddie Wiltzer

Eddie Wiltzer

Canvassers – those people who meet with prospective donors and explain why it is so critical to support our Combined Jewish Appeal – are the backbone of the annual Campaign. Eddie Wiltzer has been canvassing for forty years.

“I’m proud to be Jewish, proud of this community, and I take very seriously our need to look after one another,” he says when asked to explain his motivation.

He points out that he is part of the generation that grew up in the aftermath of the war with a strong awareness of the struggles endured by Jewish refugees and who experienced, first hand, pride in the birth of the State of Israel. It is a generation that saw the Jewish community emerge from the darkest days of its history and evolve into a vibrant, successful, and confident people.

“I grew up with my grandmother, who taught me about what European Jewry went through,” he recalls. “Also, living with her sensitized me to the needs of seniors and how we must ensure their dignity as they age. It was knowing that I could actually improve the lives of seniors that first led me to participate in Combined Jewish Appeal.”

Wiltzer, who chaired the 1989 Combined Jewish Appeal, takes seriously the need to be there “for one another,” as the Campaign theme stresses. “It’s an unfortunate fact that we are our own best friends. It is important that everyone in our community understands the needs and why we have to keep our community strong.”

He also points out that, when canvassing, it is essential to show appreciation for every gift, because, in truth, every gift counts.

“After all,” he says, “I’m not asking for myself, I’m asking for the person who doesn’t know where their next meal might be coming from.”

Gail Knafo, who grew up on the West Island, is canvassing for her second year.

“At first, I was really intimidated to ask people to donate,” she admits. “But, now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I realize that all I have to do is explain all the good that is accomplished with the money given to us and people are really receptive.”

She is very committed to the idea of community involvement. In addition to her volunteer work, she sends all three of her children to Jewish day school.

“I just think it’s really important that every one of us does whatever we can to help one another,” she said. “If we all participated to that extent, our community would be that much stronger.”

A gift to Combined Jewish Appeal touches more lives than any other charitable gift because of the range of services and programs funded through Federation CJA. And every gift really does make a difference.