The Budd family has been a fixture in Kitchener since 1926, when Lou Budd, a traveling sales rep from Saint John, N.B., persuaded his three younger brothers — Jack, Mort and Nat — to join him in Ontario to acquire the Davis Economical Store in downtown Kitchener. They renamed the store, expanded the offerings and the rest is history. Budd’s was a general store that offered service, quality, selection and style at reasonable prices. The business was built on the personal relationships the store developed with customers, who regularly came in with memories of having shopped there years or even decades ago. Many customers were second and third generation shoppers. The store closed in 2016 after 90 years in operation.
The Budd family and enterprise was known by all to be scrupulously honest. They were also well respected for their devotion to the local Jewish community. For many years, they sponsored and organized the local Walk for Israel. In 2012, Jeff (Nat’s Grandson) revived it.
We asked Jeff about growing up in the area, his family and his community work.
‘I remember how great the Walk for Israel was when I was a kid. It’s the one program that brings the entire Jewish community together. Regardless of affiliation or observance levels, everyone comes together to support Israel, rain or shine. It’s a lively event that for everyone of all ages.
‘All funds raised at the Kitchener Waterloo Walk for Israel support Youth Futures in Kiryat Shmona. This innovative social welfare program managed by the Jewish Agency for Israel pairs at-risk youth with trustees who act as a bridge between the family, the individual, the school and public systems. These trustees are trained to create specialized programs that include counseling, tutoring or after-school activities, depending on the particular situation of the child and family. Youth Futures has a proven track record of helping ensure that at-risk youth succeed in school and navigate the issues facing their families.
‘When I worked at the Canada Centre in Northern Israel from 1993-1998, an ice skating arena funded and built by the Canadian Jewish community in the 1990s, I witnessed firsthand the tremendously positive impact of the connection between Canada and Northern Israel. Raising money for Youth Future's is a great way to form a lasting and meaningful bond between K-W and youth at risk in Northern Israel.
On his motivations:
‘I am motivated by all the past generations, including my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, that worked so hard to build the community in which I grew up. I want to pass that on to the young people and families in the area.’
On what make KW unique:
‘There's a real sense of family within the local Jewish community. Because it’s a smaller community, you get to know most of the Jews who live here. Whenever the community gets together, it’s usually like being at a family reunion.’
On how the community has changed since he was a child:
‘When I grew up here, there were many multi-generational families in the area. Grandparent, parents and grown grandchildren didn’t live too far from one another. Today, the Waterloo region is an international technology hub and the local Jewish community is incredibly diverse. People move here from all over the world, many of them young families. When I was growing up there were only two synagogues and a single Rabbi. Today, there are two rabbis and we have Hillel, Chabad and the newly formed Waterloo Region Jewish Community Council (WRJCC). We used to have to drive to Toronto for Kosher food. Now we can get it from town.'
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