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September 2010

Rain does not dampen Beth Hashoeva celebrations

  There was non-stop rain on the evening of September 27, 2010, at times very heavy. But that did not stop Beth Chabad Côte Saint-Luc from holding its annual Beth Hashoeva celebration at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park. Entertainer Yehuda Piamenta and his band performed all night long on the big stage. When I arrived, following a city council meeting, a group of Chabad members grabbed my arm and had me join in a celebratory dance. In my capacity as city councillor and acting mayor, I was called upon to bring official greetings.

“Congratulations!” I shouted. “No amount of rain will stop Beth Chabad!”

Rabbi Mendel Raskin  (with me at the right) told me that despite the inclement weather there was still a nice crowd earlier in the evening.  As I arrived towards 10:30 p.m. many people were congregated under the covered Confederation Annex building near the stage where the folks from Chez Benny and Pizza Pita were serving up some delicious food. And as the rain continued to come down, hundreds watched a video on a large screen describing the history of the Chabad movement.

Beth Chabad’s new premises on Kildare Road and Marc Chagall are still under construction. Fortunately, Bialik High School has made an arrangement to give them space for the time being. Rabbi Raskin continues to fundraise and we look forward to his team getting what is needed to get the building completed. For more information go to

What is Beth Hashoeva? When sacrifices were offered in the Holy Temple, there was also a special pouring of wine and oil at the altar. On Sukkot there was also a special ceremony entailing the pouring of water. The water was drawn the night beforehand from the Shiloach spring, and this was done with great joy and hapiness, with singing and dancing. This was called "Simchat Beit Hashoeva" -- the "joy of the drawing." Today's Simchat Beit Hashoeva is a commemoration of that one, and a fulfillment of the Mitzvah to rejoice on the holiday of Sukkot.

Man builds village for cats and Elizabeth's "purrfect" story

My efforts to launch a Trap Neuter Release (TNR) program in Côte Saint-Luc has attracted a lot of loyal followers. One of them is Elizabeth Stuef from Powell River, B.C.

Elizabeth sent me   this news item about a man in Florida who started a "cat village"  for feral cats.   He has hundreds of feral cats.  "Someone has referred to him as the 'Brother Teresa' of cats," says Elizabeth.

Elizabetth also said we have some fans in B .C. " I hope things are going well for your project," she noted. " I have told many people I know about you and Cote Saint Luc. All of them think that you are unique. We cannot even imagine anyone from our city council doing what you want to do for feral cats."

How Elizabeth got in touch with me was via a CBC News Report on my TNR meeting in August.   "The SPCA in Powell River has a policy of 'no kill and release' since 2005," she explains. " When I moved here in 2004 it was not so. I bought a house that came with a group of feral cats and decided to  use some of an inheritance I received, to spay and neuter all of them and also give them the necessary shots so there was less risk of disease. My next door neighbour pledged to feed them "forever" and another neighbour continued to provide shelters outside for them. The local vet had me bring them in one or two at a time every two days. He also gave me a good discount as there were 15 cats and more than half were females. The cats were captured in a cage -rented from the SPCA- and then taken  in to be operated on. They had no problems with the surgery and were back on my property and released in the evening.  They hid out for a day or two but came around when my neighbour put the food out as she usually did. Some of the cats survive to this day. They are healthy, non-aggressive and do not fixate on killing birds as they receive food from us. They do keep the rodent population in check, however. That for me is a good thing.
"We did lose some of the cats to the road traffic. Two others died of internal problems and some we were able to adopt out. There are five cats remaining. We have found that unneutered cats do not hang around, as there are no females to mate with. Female cats have never shown up. This could be because unspayed females have their own area and do not roam too far.
"Our cats know us. They allow us to pet them and two of them can be picked up. These cats are a family and group together in the evening for food, socializing and other 'cat affairs.' I have learned much about the secret lives of felines from these animals.After I did this, the SPCA decided to have a spay and neuter program for stray cats. They also offer free spay and neutering to low income folks. This is made possible by a  fund setup by a woman who died and left money for this purpose.
By not killing feral cats we make ourselves into better humans. These animals are there because someone   didn't care. I really believe, that by not treating feral cats as throw away garbage we recognize their lives as beings. I have never regretted the action I took in 2004. It did make a difference in my life, my neighbours lives and the life of my community."

Sukkot at Congrégation Sépharade Or Hahayim

I had the pleasure today of attending Sukkot Services at Congrégation  Sépharade Or Hahayim on  Einstein in the company of fellow city councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who represents that area. Many of my constituents from District 2, though, are members and were on hand. It was a beautiful ceremony run by Rabbi Moïse Ohana. What Mitchell I enjoyed the most was the absolutely beautiful singing from all of the members. Interestingly, at certain points the rabbi or cantor  would stop leading the ceremony and a member in the audience just picked things up with energy and style. After the ceremony Councillor Brownstein and I were invited to the kiddish (ceremonial meal), where members gave us a warm greeting. Executive Director Roger Dahan was charming as usual and introduced us to his bright young son, Emmanuel, 26, who is in the electronic signage business.

Famous Delly Boys Restaurant in good hands

The Famous Delly Boys Restaurant has been attracting satisfying diners for 48 years at a small strip shopping centre at the corner of Westminster Avenue and Côte Saint-Luc Road. Originally established in 1962 by brothers Guido (Chico) and Sonny Broccoli, the business was sold three years ago and changed hands again last January  when brothers Tahir and Kharson  Lifanov,  with their mom Fatima, stepped in to oversee operations.FatimaKharsonTahir They are pictured below.

Regular customers have greeted the charismatic Lifanovs with a big thumbs up and they have the place humming.

 People still come from across the island to enjoy their extensive menu, which contains such   items as smoked meat and other deli delights, club rolls, their famous party sandwiches, pizza, pizza burgers, chicken, veal, fish, steak, ribs, pasta, salads and desserts. Whether dining in, taking out or ordering a catered meal, you will never be disappointed.

Tahir and Kharson are putting in long shifts these days. They have gotten to know their regulars, some of whom come there virtually every day of the week, on a first-name basis.  The place has been modernized, with an attractive glass dessert display case, a large flat screen television, the Interac payment option and a new glossy takeout menu. There is even a website ( in its infancy stages.

Tahir says he appreciates the history the restaurant has. He’s already noticed how many ex-Montrealers, when in town for a visit, stop by and make large orders to take back with them. “We are working on introducing some new dishes to the menu and promoting our different breakfast specials,” he notes.

“We know this place has a reputation for excellent customer service and it is our goal to make sure that never changes,” Kharson adds.

It is also great to see Sonny Broccoli coming by often and getting behind the counter, much to the delight of customers. Chico has been spotted back there as well. These men are icons in the community and the Lifanov's recognize that.

Tahir, incidentally, just became a dad recently. His wife gave birth to baby boy Ilyas.

The Famous Delly Boys is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  The address is 5509 Westminster Avenue. For more information or to make an order call 514-484-8555.






Bialik students build a succa

A very passionate group of Secondary V students at Bialik High School in Côte Saint-Luc’s District 2  completed another mitzvah – a good deed – for all students at Bialik! They spent last week hammering nails, transporting lumber, removing scrap all so that Bialik would be equipped with a succa (a structure that has since been decorated and can now be  used by all students during Succot on a year-to-year basis).BialikSucca2010_small

 Many Jewish families have been busy building their own succot, in preparation for the seven-day long Festival of Sukkot which began on the evening of September 22. It is in honour of the holiday’s historical significance, remembering the children of Israel wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters over forty years. Bialik’s succa was built to Judaic law specifications under the direction of Rabbi Mark Fishman, Bialik’s Judaic Life Coordinator. Now Bialik will have one to call its own, and be able to focus on the yearly ritual of its decoration and eating in it.

The students who participated in this project were more than happy to volunteer to make this happen. As Hanna Eliashiv, Bialik’s Judaic Studies Curriculum Coordinator, explained, they see it as their “legacy” to the school, as a lasting testimonial of special Judaic significance. The mitzvah of “Kol Israel arevim ze laze”, all Jews are responsible for one another, has been demonstrated by the volunteers.

None of this would have been possible had JPPS-Bialik parents not donated their time, expertise and materials. This includes architectural design services, foundation work, general contracting and carpentry services, from Georges Elbaz, architect, Steven Miller, John Mendelson JPPS ’77, Richard Stern ‘87, and Ron Mashaal. Hanna Eliashiv and Rabbi   Fishman encouraged this project as being mission-appropriate and a tangible way in which to engage the students, not just in its building, but also in its use throughout the Succot holiday.

 Large enough to fit a class of 25 students, it is not a small undertaking, and involved some heavy lifting and getting dirty. This did not bother any of the students, probably because they are following in the footsteps of students who have come before them who had participated in Habitat for Humanity projects in New Orleans and San Diego. And, as Principal Butman said, why not start at home!

In the photo at the top  we have,  from left to right, Shireen Butman, Principal, Bialik High School;  Secondary V students Sydney Wajcman, Max Segal, Adam Amar, Zachary Neuman, Samuel Sheiner, Kyle Miller, and kneeling Michael Landsman and Dylan Halickman.

Momesso named CJAD colour commentator for Habs broadcasts

CJAD 800  announced today  the signing of free agent Montreal-native Sergio Momesso to join the  Broadcast Team for Montreal Canadiens hockey in the 2010-2011 season. I  had predicted his candidacy a few weeks ago on Twitter and in my Suburban Newspaper column. 


I have known Sergio since he was a teenager starring for Shawinigan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. As an NDG native, he was indeed a local boy makes good story when he was drafted by the Habs and stuck with them. His family still owns Momesso's Restaurant on Upper Lachine  Road (amazing subs) while Sergio got into the restaurant business on the West Island.

Momesso spent 13-years  in the NHL. He will now be heard on every Canadiens' pre-season, regular season and playoff game.   He will also contribute daily to the Andrew Carter Morning Show (Weekdays 5:30-9:00AM) at 8:25AM and weekday afternoons on the Ric Peterson Show (Weekdays 4-7PM) at 6:25PM.

 “I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences on the ice, and in the dressing room, with Habs fans everywhere”, said Momesso. “It’s really exciting to be part of such a legendary franchise and radio station."

"Momesso had a great following as a player and I'm sure he'll quickly build one as a broadcaster...he'll proudly take the torch from a true champion Murray Wilson," says CJAD 800 Sports Director Rick Moffat.

I know Rick speaks highly of Murray, but I sure won't miss his boring contribution to the broadcasts.

Momesso made his NHL debut with the Habs at the age of 18.   He wore  number 36 and scored 29 of his 152 career regular season goals in "bleu, blanc, rouge" while racking up more than 1,500 penalty minutes.  Momesso earned his Stanley Cup ring as a member of the Canadiens in 1986, and went to the Stanley Cup Final as assistant-captain with the '94 Canucks.

All Smiles at Seniors Garden Party

It is always a pleasure for me to participate in the annual Côte Saint-Luc Seniors Garden Party. Located off the parking lot of Cavendish Mall, just next to the Kellert Avenue entrance, this is one wonderful piece of green space.  Chuck Schwartz was outfitted in his chef’s attire to serve up a wide array of barbeque delicacies, as well as pizza, desserts and beverages. There was music and lots of banter. The skies threatened, but nothing could really rain on this parade. Ser GardenBBQ2010  Pictured to the right (left to right) are Stephen Segal, Chuck Schwartz, Councillor Cohen and Sam Rappaport.

Congrats to Martha and  Club President Sava Todorovic who organize the affair. A number of members of city council were on hand. So was Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler. Why do members love this place so much? Listen to Dr. Paul Weinstein, the highly respected West End dentist (adored by all of his patients): “When my wife and moved from our own home to a condominium four years ago, I really missed having my own garden. Being able to come here is just fantastic!” 


Sava Todorovic and Councillor Allan J. Levine

Stephen Segal and Sam Rappaport, a couple of other condo dwellers, echo those sentiments. The Garden Club will soon have some company when a brand new housing development goes up on the Mall property. Said one member: “That is fine with us. We are just grateful we do not have to move."

Star Hollywood producer/director Shawn Levy visits hometown

I had the opportunity to meet one of Hollywood’s most successful producer/directors this week in Shawn Levy (shown with me below), a native Montrealer who was in town to attend the 25th anniversary of his St.  George’s School of Montreal class of 1985 high school reunion.  Upon the request of Head of School James Officer, Levy agreed to chat with present-day students from his alma mater – many of whom reside in Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Westmount. Despite the fact there were only a few days notice and it was on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, the St. George’s theatre on The  Boulevard was packed to capacity.MikeShawnLevy

Levy spent his time recounting some anecdotes and answering questions about some of his most notable films. These include the two Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen and Night of The Museum movies with Ben Stiller, as well as Date Night. He is presently working out of New York City with none other than Steven Spielberg on the drama Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman. The Hardy Men, starring Tom Cruise and Stiller is in pre-production.  For a complete list of his movies click here.

I asked Levy about the controversy that surrounded the second Night of the Museum movie to switch locations from Montreal to Vancouver upon the request of Stiller. “There have been a lot of venomous stories about Ben’s request to switch locations,” he says. “The truth is he had two young kids and he did not want to be filming on the other side of the continent. Being in Vancouver, he, like I, could commute back and forth to California easily. He is one actor who had the clout to make such a request

Levy is one of the most commercially successful film directors of the past decade. To date, his films have grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. From St. George’s, he went directly to Yale University where he later graduated at the age of 20 from their Drama Department.  He later studied film in the Masters Film Production Program at USC, where he produced and directed the short film Broken Record.  This won the Gold Plaque at the Chicago Film Festival, in addition to being selected to screen at the Director’s Guild of America.

“I was really driven from a young age,”  said the 42 year old Levy. “When I was 10, I was taking theatre class and asked the teacher what the best place to go study acting was. She said Yale and in my last year of high school that was the only place I applied to. That was kind of psychotic. I did not even apply to CEGEP.”

In his talk at St. George’s, Levy did not forget about his roots. “This school fostered my creativity,” he said. “It was a great place to start.”

Levy also told a story about his Grade 11 class trip to Quebec City where he decided to do something wild and threw a bed out of his hotel room. “I was with my brother and some friends and said, ‘Let’s do something wild,’ and we were kicked off the trip.”

Levy conceded that there will not likely be a third Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Clouseau. But for fans of the Night at the Museum franchise, there is hope of another sequel.

I absolutely loved Martin in the lead role and I asked him about the scene in the first Pink Panther where Clouseau was trying to pronounce the word “hamburger.”  First he laughed and then responded how “there is no other scene I have ever done that I am asked about more. Steve Martin and I were having lunch one day and he suggested that Clouseau get an accent coach. Martin conceded that he did not know what he would say. “Get two chairs and lots of film in the camera,” he told me. “It was done in one take.”

In addition to his directing slate, Levy is developing several films to produce through his production company, 21 Laps Entertainment, which is housed at Fox. These projects include The Ten Best Days of My Life (with Amy Adams), Neighbourhood Watch, The Devil You Know and How to Talk to Girls for Fox; and Arden for New Regency, Men of Magic for Universal; The Berenstain Bears for Walden; and The Spectacular Now and Table 19 for Fox Searchlight.

What does Levy miss most about Montreal? “The Snowdon Deli,” he responded. “As soon as I am picked up at the airport that is the first place I want to go for a karnatzel.”

Perhaps owner Ian Morantz should offer his place as a location for a future Levy movie, to be shot in Montreal.

Habs add another Jewish player in Halpern - CSL would welcome him!

This message is for Jeff  Halpern (pictured below), the newest member of the Montreal Canadiens and the second Jewish player to join the roster after Michael Cammallari. I know the team's training facility on the South Shore makes  it pretty tempting to  buy or rent property in that area. But as a nice Jewish boy,  who has sat out games in the past to observe Yom Kippur, we'd love to have you reside in Côte Saint-Luc.Jeff Halperin  As a city councillor in the community I officially hold out the welcoming mat.

Here are a few good reasons

1. You have several synagogues to choose from.

2. Legendary hockey writer Red Fisher  (below)  lives here.


3. CJAD sportscaster Abe Hefter's sister lives here.

4- Former Washington Capitals Jewish goalie Bernie Wolfe is from the Luc.

5- There is a great kosher food section at the Cavendish Mall IGA.

6- We can arrange for you to get a front row seat at the annual Yiddish in the Park event.

7- Someone will certainly invite you over for Shabbat Dinner.

8- Former Habs defenceman Mathieu Schneider bought a home here when he played for Montreal (oops, a few weeks after the purchase he was traded)

Halpern's background is quite impressive, as this wealth of information I picked up from the internet shows. After graduating from Princeton University, Halpern began his NHL career in the 1999–2000 NHL season for the Washington Capitals; he played in 79 games, scoring 18 goals with 11 assists, and was +21. He was the first member of the Capitals to come from the Washington, D.C. area. Halpern first attended Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, which did not have a hockey team. In order to pursue his dreams as a hockey player, Halpern transferred to and later graduated from St. Paul's School (Concord, New Hampshire) where he was roommates with future Bachelorette winner Ian McKee.

The 2003–04 NHL season was his highest-scoring season to date as he finished with 19 goals and 27 assists in 79 games. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Halpern played for the Kloten Flyers and for HC Ajoie in Switzerland, and returned to the Capitals when the lockout ended. On September 23, 2005, the Washington Capitals named Halpern the twelfth team captain in franchise history.[1] In the 2005–06 NHL season, he scored 11 goals, and added a career-high 33 assists. On July 5, 2006, Halpern left the Capitals as a free agent and signed a 4four-year deal with the Dallas Stars. On February 26, 2008, Halpern was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning along with Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen, and a 2009 fourth round draft pick in exchange for Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist. Halpern scored a goal in his Lightning debut, and added an assist. After being acquired by the Lightning, Halpern went on a huge hot streak, scoring 10 goals and 18 points in 19 games. He also led the league during the 2007–08 NHL season in games played as one of only two players to appear in 83 games, or one more than a team's full schedule, as a result of his trade to Tampa Bay. The other was Brian Campbell. Playing in 52 games during the 2008-09 NHL Season, Halpern scored seven goals to go with nine assists.

Halpern was named the captain of the United States national team for the 2008 World Championships in Canada. Playing in a 5–4 loss in the opening round against the Canadian team on May 6, 2008, he suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and was expected to be out of action for six to eight months. This occurred in the same game where USA goaltender Tim Thomas was injured and had to leave the team Halpern was traded from the Lightning to the Los Angeles Kings March 3, 2010 and had nine goals and 10 assists last season.

Halpern is a member of the Greater Washington (D.C.) Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.