What’s new at the Calgary Chevra Kadisha

At the annual volunteer appreciation event on March 26th, 2023, President Lou Bracey presented outgoing Executive Director Rick Pollick with a token of appreciation to acknowledge his years of dedicated service. Rick retired on March 31st and the Chevra wishes him long life and good health.

by Susan Dvorkin and Harold Lipton

(Calgary) – By the time this article goes to print and is read, Pesach dishes will have been packed away for another year and all crumbs of matzah will have been swept and cleaned. We hope that the community had a meaningful Passover and that the retelling of the story of the Israelites’ redemption from slavery to freedom found relevance in everyday day life.

Many new and exciting changes have been happening at the Calgary Chevra Kadisha. We said goodbye to our former Executive Director Rick Pollick on March 31. Rick came to us during a very difficult time at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and helped us navigate through some very challenging times. We thank him for his professionalism, sensitivity to bereaved families and for all his input during the last three years.

Going forward, the Chevra’s executive made the decision to split the role of Executive Director into two distinct positions: funeral planner and office administrator. It was felt that this distinction would allow for a better focus on the duties of each position and create a more efficient flow within our organization.

We are pleased to welcome Michael Switzer to the Chevra in the role of funeral planner. Michael, a lifelong Calgarian with many family roots in the city, comes to us with the strengths and assets we feel will assist him as he grows into this role. Michael has experience in the funeral industry and was able to spend a month shadowing our Executive Director as he transitioned into the role.

We are also delighted to welcome Teresa Sofocleous as our new office administrator. Teresa comes to us from the Beth Tzedec synagogue where she was the office manager for the past 13 years. She has a wealth of experience in office and cemetery management having worked on various tasks relating to the Beth Tzedec cemetery.

Welcome Michael and Teresa!!

Both Michael and Teresa join our long time facilities manager, Scott Seimens, to complete what we feel is a very strong professional team. All staff will be supported by our President, Lou Bracey, as well as our executive and board members.

The Chevra has also recently registered with Canada Helps, a charitable organization that assists not for profit organizations with their donations and fundraising. People can now donate directly to the Chevra online either through our website using the Canada Helps link or through the Canada Helps site on the Chevra Kadisha page. The Chevra does not normally engage in fundraising campaigns, but we welcome the community’s support in assisting families who are challenged by the cost of funerals, in the perpetual maintenance of our cemeteries, or in special projects.   We invite the community to engage in the mitzvah of donating in honour or in memory of loved ones.  All donations are income tax deductible.  A beautiful tribute card has been created incorporating art generously donated by Lily Rosenberg.  Donors can request that this card be sent to people they wish to honour.

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