Ottawa's Rabbi Reuven Bulka shares his thoughts ahead of interfaith prayer vigil
OTTAWA -- An interfaith prayer vigil for Ottawa's Rabbi Reuven Bulka takes place Monday evening following the rabbi's cancer diagnosis.
The beloved spiritual leader in Canada's capital announced that he had advanced cancer in the pancreas and liver last week. Since then, well-wishes for the man who has touched so many lives throughout his decades of service have been pouring in.
CTV News spoke with Rabbi Bulka on Monday afternoon, ahead of the virtual event set to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET.
"I'm feeling okay. It's the medical charts that are not okay, but I'm feeling okay," he said.
He told CTV's Patricia Boal that his diagnosis came as a shock, but he's grateful for the life he has been able to live.
"I'm over 76 years old. I'm grateful for the life that I've had. So, it didn't come with a sense of missing out on life entirely. It was a shock to hear but it's something that, unfortunately in my life as a rabbi, I've seen often," he said, adding that, over the decades, he has comforted families who lost loved ones of all ages.
Since his diagnosis was made public, Rabbi Bulka says he well-wishes that have been sent have been overwhelming.
"My major challenge right now is to catch up with hundreds of emails that I've gotten that I want to respond to personally. It's going to take awhile to do so," he said.
Bulka said that, oftentimes, he hears from people with medical struggles who feel isolated as their friends stop calling or don't visit. In his case, he says he's experienced the opposite reaction and he's hearing from people he hasn't spoken to in years.
To everyone who is wishing him well, Rabbi Bulka has this to say, "To everyone in Ottawa and beyond who has expressed good wishes, my deep appreciation. Every single one is like a booster shot of good will that makes me feel good. I hope and pray that all of you out there will be blessed with good health and good vigor and use the gift of life to enhance other lives and make it meaningful for others and that'll give you an added boost."
The interfaith prayer event will feature comments from dignitaries such as former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Major General Fr. Guy Chapdelaine, Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces, and several leaders from Congregation Machzikei Hadas, where Bulka has been a rabbi for more than 50 years and remains Rabbi Emeritus.