Seated front row: Councillor Mitchell Brownstein; Rabbi Moise Ohana, spiritual leader, Congregation Or Hahayim; Councillor Mike Cohen, Intercommunity Relations Committee Chair; Councillor Allan J. Levine
Standing left to right: Arnold Rosner, Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel; Sharon Bitensky, B’nai Brith Canada; David Smajovits, JPPS-Bialik; Momy Bouzaglou, president, Congregation Or Hahayim; Sheldon Weinstein, executive director, Beth Zion Congregation; Roger Dahan, executive director, Congregation Or Hahayim; Ruth Najman, Agence Ometz; Brita Brown, CSSS Cavendish; Claire Valiquette, CSSS Cavendish; Joseph Panunto, St. Richard’s Parish; Armand Moyal, Congregation Kol Yehuda; Tye Hunt, Assistant Waste, Environment and Safety Technician for the City of Côte Saint-Luc; Rabbi Yehuda Benoliel, Cong. Juive Francophone Chouva Israel.
Côte Saint-Luc Intercommunity Relations Committee
Meeting of Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Congregation Sépharade Or Hahayim
5700 avenue Einstein
Attendance : Councillor Mike Cohen (Chair), Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Allan J. Levine, Rabbi Moïse Ohana (spiritual leader, Congregation Or Hahayim), Momy Bouzaglou (president, Congregation Or Hahayim), Roger Dahan (executive director, Congregation Or Hahayim) Arnold Rosner (Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel), Sharon Bitensky (B’nai Brith Canada), David Smajovits (JPPS-Bialik), Sheldon Weinstein ( executive director, Beth Zion Congregation), Ruth Najman (Agence Ometz), Brita Brown ( CSSS Cavendish), Claire Valiquette (CSSS Cavendish), Joseph Panunto ( St. Richard’s Parish), Armand Moyal (Congregation Kol Yehuda), Tye Hunt, (Assistant Waste, Environment and Safety Technician for the City of Côte Saint-Luc), Rabbi Yehuda Benoliel, ( Cong. Juive Francophone Chouva Israel), Howard Magonet (Federation CJA)
Councillor Cohen welcomed all to the meeting and thanked Rabbi Ohana and the administration of Or Hahayim for hosting this meeting. He noted that this committee meets twice a year, bringing together representatives from community organizations and institutions operating within the city. Past meetings have been hosted by the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, Beth Zion Congregation and CSSS Cavendish. This body represents an excellent opportunity to gain new contacts, learn more about initiatives being taken by the city and share information. Councillor Brownstein represents District 7, where Or Hahayim is situated. He credited Rabbi Ohana for inspiring the creation of this committee, noting that the rabbi had suggested meetings with councillors and community leaders would be a plus. Councillor Cohen took this idea and ran with it upon his election three years ago. Councillor Brownstein said that he has had an excellent and longstanding relationship with Or Hahayim since he was first elected in 1990.
Everyone around the table was given an opportunity to introduce themselves.
2. Words of Welcome from Rabbi Ohana
Rabbi Ohana gave everyone on hand a copy of a beautiful agenda book prepared by his synagogue and Nahar Shalom Congregation in Hampstead. He expressed his appreciation for the work being done by the mayor and city council and for the cooperation always shown with his synagogue. The quality of Jewish life in Côte Saint-Luc, he said, is wonderful. Rabbi Ohana explained that he was born in Morocco and came to Montreal via City University of New York to become principal of École Maimonide in Côte Saint-Luc. He eventually assumed the pulpit at an expanding Or Hahayim, which is now 30 years old and has a membership of about 400 families – mainly Sephardic and French speaking.
3. Update on Côte Saint-Luc issues
Councillor Levine provided a brief update on the Cavendish Mall dossier and previewed the February winter carnival while Councillor Brownstein spoke about the new double left turn on Cavendish and Fleet, the new collective agreement the city will sign with its workers and positive developments that continue to occur three years post demerger from the city of Montreal. Darryl Levine spoke about the new street signs that will soon be up across the city.
4. Brown Bin Lecture Circuit
Tye Hunt, Assistant Waste, Environment and Safety Technician for Côte Saint-Luc, gave a much appreciated overview of the city’s new brown bin project and volunteered to come speak to any organization. There was some interest in the room for him, in fact, to come to do that. Tye’s presentation also solicited a number of good questions.
5. Ometz - The Good Food Box
Ruth Najman from Agence Ometz, which caters to many new Jewish immigrants residing in Côte Saint-Luc, spoke about a program called The Good Food Box - a food security program that has been serving the Notre-Dame-de-Grace community since September 2003 and became a regional program in 2007. The idea arose from a conference held in March 2002 where a number of community groups from the area agreed that a collective food-buying program would be the next logical step to address food security and make healthy food more accessible in the area. Moisson Montreal coordinates the regional Good Food Box program in collaboration with an advisory committee made up of Aliment’Action & CLSC – St-Michel, the NDG Food Depot & TCSA, Federation CJA, TCSA – Côte-des-Neiges, La Table CIGAL & Rencontre cuisine 25– Centre-Sud, Table de quartier du Nord-Ouest de Montréal – Pierrefonds, La Corbeille – Bordeaux-Cartieville, SESAME – Mercier-Est. Ruth now overseas the Federation CJA part of the operation. She explained how environmentally friendly this program is. For example, damage to the environment from transporting food over long distances is greatly diminished by buying locally. According to one study conducted in Arizona, if only one tenth of their food was produced locally, hundreds of thousands of gallons of fossil fuel would be saved and carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by millions of pounds. She put out a call for someone from Côte Saint-Luc to be willing to help out and serve as a depot for the program. She was connected with Tye Hunt who will invite her to a meeting of the Eco Action Committee. Tye believes there would be support on that committee for the initiative.
6. Update from organizations on activities of interest
St. Richard’s Parish has turned 45 and is undergoing significant renovations. They also have a new priest, Father Lou Curelli. Mr. Panunto expressed interest in hosting a future meeting.
Copies of the new CSSS Cavendish magazine were circulated. The CSSS Cavendish is in mourning following the murder of one of its doctors, Michael Moss, in Mumbai. Next May the CSSS Cavendish plans to hold a health forum and it wishes to involve the city.
Sheldon Weinstein recently assumed his post at Beth Zion, after retiring as principal of Herzliah St. Laurent. He noted that Beth Zion has a large scale renovation underway at its banquet hall and roof. Rabbi Ira Ebbin, who hosted a meeting with this group last year, will be formally installed at a ceremony May 3.
Arnold Rosner of Magen David Adom for Israel expressed interest in working with the city in its May blood donor clinic. In Israel, this is part of its mandate.
Rabbi Benoliel spoke about his congregation on Parkhaven, noting it attracts a lot of youth. He asked that the city consider organizing more programs for religious Jews, such as possible special swim times at the pool. Armand Moyal said that his small congregation on Baily Road has 30 families.
David Smajovits said that the Bialik facility on Kildare continues to expand. Phase 1 of the expansion added a fourth floor, which will soon house the JPPS-Bialik head office, currently located at Decarie Square. Phase 2 will involve an athletics and performing arts facility.
Sharon Bitensky noted that B’nai Brith recently relocated from Decarie Square to the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre. She asked for assistance from the French speaking educators in the room to help in Operation Thank You in which students write letters to Canadian soldiers overseas. She also spoke about a group she runs for 40 to 50 new families from Argentina and Latin America. These people reside in Côte Saint-Luc and once a month they convene for meetings. She is always seeking guest speakers and later spoke to Tye Hunt about doing so.
7. Tour of the facility
Once again Councillor Cohen thanked Rabbi Ohana for hosting this meeting. The rabbi then took everyone for a tour of the beautiful facility.