By Rena Greenberg – Lubavitch.com
On Monday April 6, Mrs. Devora Caytak was among 46 Canadians who received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for reaching out to others. Established in 1995 by then governor general Rom?o LeBlanc, the award celebrates ordinary Canadians who do extraordinary things helping those in need.
The certificate and pin was presented by Governor General David Johnson, the current federal viceregal representative of Queen Elizabeth II, at a special Rideau Hall ceremony honoring those “who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.”
With more than 30 years of service, Caytak is being honored for her work with Ottawa’s Jewish population, as well as the broader Ottawa community. She runs two successful charities: the Friendship Circle of Ottawa assists families of children with special needs, while the Jewish Youth Library of Ottawa offers books, classes, educational entertainment and lectures to both Jewish and non-Jewish residents. Her commitment to bridge-building between communities has been a key factor in her volunteerism.
Like so many who give of themselves, it never occurred to Caytak that the work she loves so much would earn her such a high honor. For her, supporting the local Jewish community is a calling, inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s philosophy and teachings.
“I feel so blessed,” Caytak said. “As a volunteer, working in the community, I have gained so much more than I have given.”
Caytak was selected from among 500 nominees. Honored by the recognition, Caytak hopes that the award recognizing 30 years of giving to others “will encourage others to do the same.”
Caytak and her husband were married in 1980 and, at the advisement of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, moved to Ottowa in 1981. Deeply connected to the Rebbe’s philosophy of making the world a better place, the Caytaks wanted to create an educational service for the local Jewish community and established the Jewish Youth Library in their basement. In 1989, with support from the local community, the Jewish Youth Library got a new home, and a preschool and summer camp soon followed. In 2006, in an attempt to reach out to the special needs youth they were not yet servicing, Devora helped establish the Friendship Circle.
“We are constantly looking for new, innovative, creative and meaningful projects for the Jewish community and beyond,” Caytak explains. “This award just serves as another milestone to build on and expand our activities. It recognizes the vision of the Rebbe to go out and help other people and we intend to keep on doing that. We look forward to a bright future.”