Late last fall I presided over a brief ceremony to inaugurate a plaque on Ilan Ramon Crescent about the man we named the street after. The late Ilan Ramon was an Israeli astronaut who tragically perished with his crew seven years ago. Now that the nice weather is upon us more people are taking walks and admiring this attractive plaque, which is on a stand. Today, as my family and I took a walk, we noticed that someone had left a wreath there. What a nice initiative!
More than 13,000 people attended the annual Israel Independence Day rally in downtown Montreal April 20, with most of those in the crowd marching in unison from Phillips Square to Place du Canada – locations familiar to those who were active in years past with the Soviet Jewry movement.
As the marchers arrived they were greeted by singer/entertainer Benzion Rafaely and a group of dancers. People of all ages waved large Israeli flags in the bright sunshine which has accompanied this event for the last few years.
Organizers from the Jewish Community Partnership, notably co-chairs Amos Sochaczevski and Ariela Cotler of Côte Saint-Luc, made a conscious decision to keep the speeches to a minimum. Beryl Wajsman, the editor of The Suburban Newspaper and president of Montreal’s Institute for Public Affairs, served as the emcee and he managed to keep his promise and limit the speeches to about 12 minutes in total.
Israel Consul General Yoram Elron, Conservative Senator Leo Housakos (seen above with Saint-Laurent Councillor Maurice Cohen), Liberal MP Marc Garneau and Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay each touched on all of the right words as the crowd cheered loudly. Liberal MPs Irwin Cotler and Raymonde Folco were on hand, as were a number of municipal elected officials. This included Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, myself and fellow councillors Sam Goldbloom, Mitchell Brownstein, Steven Erdelyi and Dida Berku. Council meeting regular Irving Itman was on hand wearing a neat cap that said "Hawaii" on top.
“I see many more of you this year than last year,” said Elron. “This blue and white flag is a reminder that destiny is in our own hands.”
Garneau read a message from party leader Michael Ignatieff while Housakos, pinch hitting for Treasury Board president Stockwell Day, brought greetings from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “Stephen Harper has been steadfast in his support of Israel, not based on anything but principles,” he stated. “He did not do so for political expediency.”
Mayor Tremblay remarked how “everytime I come here you say ‘thanks.’ The reason I come is to say thanks for being who you are.”
There was a heavy police presence, including officers on horseback, but no incidents.
“The Middle East has rough times for 62 years and we're here to show our support for the state of Israel," Sochaczevski told reporters.
Côte Saint-Luc City Council has taken a leadership role in the pursuit of having the Quebec government respect the Supreme Court of Canada ruling which declared Bill 104 unconstitutional. I sincerely hope that other municipalities follow our lead. Bill 104 was adopted in 2002 and has a negative effect on the English public and private school systems. The English Montreal School Board, for instance, has seen its youth sector enrolment drop from 27,000 to 22,000 students over the last eight years.
Here is our resolution, adopted on April 12, 2010:
WHEREAS in 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada (‘‘the Court’’) declared that certain portions of the Charter of the French Language (‘‘the Language Charter’’) were unconstitutional and that Canadians whose parents received the ‘major part’ of their education in English in Canada had a right to attend publicly-funded English language schools in Quebec pursuant to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Canadian Charter”);
WHEREAS the Language Charter was later amended to comply with the Court’s decision;
WHEREAS in 2002 Paragraph 2 of Section 73 of the Language Charter was then amended by the Quebec National Assembly (“Legislature”) to state that education received by students at unsubsidized private schools in Quebec should be disregarded when determining whether a child is eligible to receive instruction in the publicly funded English language school system;
WHEREAS in 2002 Paragraph 3 Section 73 of the Language Charter was then amended by the Quebec National Assembly (“Legislature”) to establish the same rule with respect to instruction received pursuant to a special authorization granted under sections 81, 85 or 85.1 of the Language Charter in a case involving a serious learning disability, temporary residence in Quebec, or a serious family or humanitarian situation.
WHEREAS Section 73 of the Language Charter is inconsistent with the principle of preserving family unity provided for in the Canadian Charter said section rendering it impossible for children from the same family to receive instruction in the same school system.
WHEREAS the Canadian Charter protects the rights of parents to educate their children in English making no distinction concerning :
the type of instruction received by the child,
whether the educational institution is public or private, or
the origin of the authorization pursuant to which instruction is provided in a given language,
WHEREAS in 2005, in the case of Solski (Tutor of) v. Quebec (Attorney General)the Court established that in determining the requirement of the “major part” of the instruction as stated in section 73 of the Language Charter calls for a global qualitative assessment of a child’s educational pathway which is based on factors that include:
time spent in different programs of study,
at what stage of the child’s education the choice of language of instruction was made,
what programs are or were available, and
whether learning disabilities or other difficulties exist.
WHEREAS the amendments to paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 the Language Charter were inconsistent with the finding in Solski; and
WHEREAS on October 22, 2009, the Court declared those revised provisions of Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 of the Language Charter constitutionally invalid but suspended the effects of its decision for a one year period to give the Legislature time to redraft the amendment to the Language Charter so that it does not contravene the Canadian Charter; and
WHEREAS the decision to be made by the Legislature will affect children and families in the City of Cote Saint-Luc (“City”) and the City Council (“Council”) wishes to ask the Legislature to consider the needs of those of its residents impacted by the amendments to Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 of the Language Charter judged unconstitutional by the Court; ;
IT WAS PROPOSED BY COUNCILLOR RUTH KOVAC
SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR ALLAN J. LEVINE
‘‘THAT the Council (‘‘Council’’) hereby requests that the Legislature carefully consider the historic rights and contributions of the English speaking communities of Quebec as it re-drafts its legislation.
That Council requests that the Legislature not amend the Language Charter to limit access to unsubsidized private schools in Quebec;
THAT Council requests that the Legislature ensures that its revisions to the Language Charter in response to the Court’s judgment respect the Canadian Charter and requests that the Legislature not invoke the notwithstanding clause when amending the Language Charter;
THAT Council further requests that the Legislature restore the situation which existed before the amendments to paragraphs 2 and 3 of Section 73 of the Language Charter were amended in 2002.’’
Popular radio personality Ted Bird will indeed be back on the airwaves. I have now had it confirmed by a number of reliable sources that Bird will join K103.7 FM in Kahnawake as part of the new Ted, Java and Paul morning show beginning Monday, April 19 from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Paul is sportscaster Paul Graif and Java is incumbent wakeup guy James "Java" Jacobs.
Meanwhile, this just in. "Sir" Patrick Charles is no longer part of the Virgin Radio 96 FM morning show. He is apparently being moved to a behind the scenes role with Virgin and CHOM. He will be part of the Andrew Carter morning show at 8:20 a.m. weekdays, talking entertainment.
Sir Patrick effectively replaced Murray Sherriffs on the Virgin morning show with Lisa Player and Cat Spencer when the station said they needed to zero in on a younger demographic. He was great to listen to, adding very creative humour to the program. Finally, Mark Bergman will step away as host of Virgin's drive home The Rush Show in June. His replacement will be Vince "Cousin Vinny" Barrucco.
If my sources are correct, then popular radio personality Ted Bird will be back on the air soon. Bird quit the CHOM FM morning show in January and he has received a great deal of exposure since that time. Last week his contract with Astral Radio came to an end and he wasted little time on his Bird droppings blog knocking his former employers. He even indicated that they offered him a chance to rejoin the company in a reduced capacity. While Ted has resurfaced in the media with an entertaining Monday night commentary on the CTV News sportscasts, it looks like radio listeners will soon be able to get their Bird fix - but at an unlikely spot on the dial.
I am told that an announcement wll be made on Monday that he will join the morning show at K103.7 FM Kahnawake. The 250 watt station can be heard fairly well on the Island of Montreal, plus their website - www.k103fmradio.com - streams live. Sportscaster Paul Graif recently joined the on air staff. Bringing Bird aboard would be a signal tthat they really want to play with the big boys.
There had been talk that Bird was a candidate for the vacant CBC Radio 1 88.5 FM morning slot, made available when Nancy Wood was told she would not stay on beyond June. Wood went on leave soon after getting the bad news and some felt that CBC might make a bold move and bring in a big name like Bird.
Jamie Elman lived on Greenwood Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc for 20 years and attended Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools (JPPS) and Bialik High School in the same municipality.
Now aged 33, but looking much younger, Jamie pursued a career as an actor immediately after graduating from high school. It is a big gamble, with so few individuals actually making it in the business. His first brush with stardom in the business in 1997 when he landed the lead role of Cody Miller in the YTV/Fox sitcom Student Bodies. It aired for three seasons, gained a cult following and set the wheels in motion for his move to Hollywood permanently in 2000. He has been one of the lucky ones, landing a number of television and movie roles. Besides appearing in such well known programs as Without a Trace, Criminal Minds, CSI New York, Crossing Jordan, and Mad Men, he won the role of Luke Foley in the NBC drama American Dreams for three seasons (2002-2005). He played the love interest of Brittany Snow, who subsequently went on to star in Hairspray.
In terms of his own favorite TV shows, Elman says he was always partial to Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was therefore the thrill of a lifetime in 2007 when he got called to be a guest star in an episode of Curb. His entire scene was with the show’s star and creator Larry David, also the genius behind Seinfeld. He played a bartender at a party hosted by Ted Danson. David strikes up a conversation and asks him why he is wearing a bow tie. When Jamie indicates it was Danson’s idea, David tells him he will raise the matter with the host. The back and forth between Elman and David
Here is that scene and a few of his other appearances:
“Curb is completely improvised,” Elman notes. “I auditioned for the role with Larry David himself. They tell you the situation and you come up with the lines. Guest starring in that show was a dream come true.”
It was also an inspiration for Elman’s new project, Crazy/Sexy/Awkward of which he is the star, co-writer and producer. For now, this is a series available exclusively on the internet at www.crazysexyawkward.com. Set in the singles scene of present-day Los Angeles, each episode is about six minutes long and follows gun-shy romantic Ben (Elman) as he tries to re-enter the dating game after a year of mourning his last relationship with his first love, Rachel. Joining Ben in his efforts, for better or worse, are Sebastien and Ashley, his hyperactive best friend and alluring neighbour, respectively played by Jewish actors Jason Kaufman and Maité Schwartz Each episode finds Sebastien and Ashley dragging Ben, kicking and screaming, into another opportunity to end his self-imposed celibacy, and follows the humiliating results as Ben pursues women with a single-mindedness that proves time and again to be his downfall.
The show is being produced and financed by Atomic Wedgie, the digital comedy production arm of Hollywood giant FremantleMedia, which is behind such top programs as American Idol and The Price is Right.
Elman and his co-writer Jerome Sable, who like him grew up in Côte Saint-Luc, pitched the idea to Freemantle and they liked it. Anyone who watches the webisodes will see the similarity of Elman’s character to David on Curb Your Enthusiasm and George Costanza on Seinfeld.
“The biggest compliment I have received so far is from people who ask if the script is improvised like Curb,” says Elman. “It is not, at least 90 percent of what we do is scripted.”
Elman says that his friend Sable was pursuing a graduate degree in film from the University of Southern California. When Elman found out Sable’s teacher was Michael Watkins, who directed him in American Dreams, he decided to collaborate on a short film which turned out to be the pilot of Sexy/Crazy/Awkward.
“We pitched it to Freemantle and they loved it,” Elman said. “We auditioned for the cast. I never met Jason or Maité before, yet we come across on film as real life best friends. As a crew, we had some of the brightest young minds from USC.”
The episodes were shot a year ago. Post production took place during the summer while the sound was completed in the fall by Montreal’s Wave Generation, an outfit which includes Jamie’s brother Michael.
Internet buzz about the show is excellent. It has been screened in Los Angeles and while in Montreal just prior to Passover Elman premiered all six episodes for close friends and family at the Segal Centre of the Arts CineSpace. Efforts are now been made to have it carried on American and Canadian television and for to develop 30 minute episodes.
Elman is keeping busy with other projects. He just filmed a two episode guest spot on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless, which will air April 23 and 26. He’ll appear in the big screen soon in The Chicago 8, based on actual court transcripts of eight anti-war protesters on trial for conspiring to cause riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. One of his co-stars is David Julian Hirsch, another Montreal born Jewish actor who has done well in Hollywood. Elman will also appear in the sci-fi drama The Scientist.
The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre is inviting citizens at large to join the Jewish community in commemorating the 65th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust and honouring the memory of all the victims of the Nazis:
Sunday April 11 from 7:30- 9:00 p.m.
Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation (6519 Baily Road, Côte-Saint-Luc)
The service will act as a public appeal to assume responsibility and take action today. All individuals have a responsibility to stand up when the rights of others are violated by prejudice, discrimination and racism. The commemoration focuses this year, on the righteous and rescuers who made a difference by saving lives.
Sixty five years later - making a difference - The Yom Hashoah commemoration is particularly relevant in Montreal, as the city became home to a large refugee survivor community after World War II. About 5,000 Holocaust survivors still live in Montreal and many are members of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. In this 65th anniversary year of the end of the Holocaust, a call to action to assure the respect of human life and dignity is of great significance.
The Yom Hashoah service will honour, as moral examples for today, those who saved lives over 65 years ago. Michael Kutz, Edgar Lion, Max Grunfeld, Saul Fenster, Renata Skotnicka-Zajdman and Thomas Strasser, Holocaust survivors, will give their testimony through videos. Through their stories, they will explain how and thanks to whom they survived.
Dr. Hans Möller will speak of his experience s in the Danish resistance. His participation will remind the public that there are important choices which can be made, even in extreme situations such as genocide.
Other participants will read texts and poems and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue Choir will also contribute to the service .
A commemoration which concerns us all - Quebec (in 1999) et Canada (in 2005) proclaimed Yom Hashoah as the day of remembrance of the Holocaust. A large delegation of political and diplomatic representatives are expected to join the community in commemorating and mourning the millions who were brutally killed.
The Yom Hashoah commemoration is organized by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. The mission of the Centre is to inform and sensitize people of all ages and backgrounds about the Holocaust, as well as antisemitism, racism, hate and indifference.