Boilermaker’s Bash honours Al Osten: May 4

Al Osten will be honoured at the Temple B'nai Tikvah Boilermaker's Bash in Calgary on May 4.

By Judy Shapiro

(Calgary) – When Temple B’nai Tikvah hosts a party, you know it’s going to be a warm and fun evening. And when the event honours a man who embodies the Jewish principal of tikkun olam, who really does make the world a better place, you know you’ve just got to put the May 4th Boilermaker’s Bash Honouring Al Osten on your calendar. Attendees can look forward to a lively auction, an exciting silent auction, an excellent meal – and of course, a tribute to Al Osten, who is known far and wide for his kindness, friendship and generosity.

“Temple B’nai Tikvah is thrilled to honour Al,” said Roz Oppenheim, who is co-chairing the event with Caron Glickman. “He has done so much for our congregation and for the community. This is our opportunity to express our appreciation of this special person.”

Al has had an interesting and multi-faceted life. Born on January 9, 1931, the seventh child of Aron and Bessie Ostrovsky, Al was raised in Edmonton. After high school, he pursued his musical dream and became a member of The Rover Boys, whose 1956 recording of Graduation Day made the hit parade as a US Top 20 hit. With The Rover Boys, Al toured North America and hung out with the likes of Tony Bennett, Paul Anka and Bobby Darren. It was through the group that Al met his lifelong business partner and friend, Buddy Victor.

Shortly after Al and Buddy moved back to Edmonton in the 1960s, they acquired the Alberta and Saskatchewan franchises to Weight Watchers. That lucrative business allowed Al and Buddy to increasingly concentrate on philanthropy.

Al’s family was poor, but his parents instilled in him the importance of family, community and tzedakah (charity). Ever humble, Al insists that he couldn’t have done any of it without Buddy – that they were together in their business choices and in their philanthropy.

“When we had money, we decided to do things for the cities that helped us out. We could have taken trips and things like that, but we decided to contribute,” Al said.

And contribute they did – they established foundations that bear their names in both Calgary and Edmonton, and have contributed to the arts, health, and recreation. Al is particularly proud of a recent donation to the Roozen Family Hospice Centre in Edmonton and he is now working on establishing a similar compassionate care facility in Calgary.

Al is also a generous donor to many Jewish causes, and Temple B’nai Tikvah has always had a warm spot in his heart.

“Al is a long-time member, who not only generously supports the congregation, but is also an active participant in synagogue life,” said Temple B’nai Tikvah Rabbi Mark Glickman.

Shortly after moving to Calgary, Al looked to join a shul and found that he had a home in Temple B’nai Tikvah. “I loved it immediately,” Al said. “I loved the singing; I felt the spirit.”

Al even celebrated a second Bar Mitzvah at the Temple when he turned 83.

“When Al comes to services, it’s so wonderful to see him walk through the door, his smile lights up the room. It’s a blessing to lead a congregation that is energized by his presence,” said Rabbi Glickman.

Al has contributed to each of the major fund-raising drives since he joined the shul in 1990, from the purchase of the building, to the renovation, to the purchase of the grand piano. The Boilermaker’s Bash is an opportunity for the congregation – and the province – to say thank you to the man who has contributed so much to so many.

Funds raised through the Boilermaker’s Bash will help support the many repairs needed to keep the aging Temple building operational (including the new boiler!). Those repairs will allow the congregation to host its warm and inclusive worship services and important social action initiatives. And it allows the Temple building to be a welcoming hub for partner organizations.

For those unable to attend the event in person, the silent auction will be on-line a week before the event and bidding is open to anyone, anywhere in the world!

To purchase tickets, sponsor tables, make a donation, or send a message to Al, check out the Boilermaker’s Bash website at

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