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March 2012

CSL resident Bensimon takes over local Hebrew University chapter

The Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU) announced this week the appointment of Côte Saint-Luc resident Simon Bensimon (pictured below) as executive director, Eastern Region. He succeeds Carolyn Steinman (pictured at the left), also of CSL, who took her retirement recently. Carolyn served in that post for 24 years. Mom

Simon's mandate is to lead the Eastern Region of CFHU in its mission to promote The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and build support for projects which facilitate academic and research partnerships between Canada and Israel.

Simon Bensimon 2012

“Simon is exceptionally well-suited to fulfill this role,” says Monette Malewski, president of the Montreal Chapter of CFHU. “His contributions to higher learning and his support of Israel are well established. Simon was instrumental in creating the Bronfman Israel Experience Centre, the Birthright Israel/Taglit initiative and the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University. Additionally, Simon is impeccably bilingual. On behalf of CFHU, I’d like to welcome Simon Bensimon to the team."

“I am very honoured to accept this position,” says Simon. “CFHU helps advance learning and research, for the benefit of all Canadians, by building even closer ties between Canada and Israel on multiple levels. I look forward to advancing the important work done by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem across Québec and the Atlantic provinces."

From 2008 until earlier this year, Simon was principal director of development for the Concordia University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Previously he held a variety of management positions, including executive director of Hillel Montreal and director of the Israel and Oversees Department at Federation CJA. He holds a Masters in Public Policy and Public Administration (MPPPA) from Concordia University and a BA from McGill.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, founded in 1918, is Israel’s first university. The university’s founders, including: Chaim Weizmann, Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Sigmund Freud, were leaders, thinkers and humanitarians whose genius inspired their vision of a great university that would have no limits or borders. The founding charter declared that the institution would be open to every qualified man and woman irrespective of religion, race or nationality. Ranked as one of the world’s leading research universities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s faculty and researchers are at the forefront of the international scientific and academic communities. Many top prizes and awards have been won by its graduates and faculty including eight Nobel Prizes. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind in an atmosphere free of discrimination and prejudice. For more information, please visit:

Canadian philanthropist Allan Bronfman founded the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU) in 1944 to promote awareness, leadership and financial support for The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A national not-for-profit organization with chapters across Canada, CFHU facilitates strategic academic research partnerships between Canada and Israel as well as establishing scholarships, supporting research and recruiting Canadian students to attend the Rothberg International School. Another key CFHU initiative is the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) at Hebrew University ( For more information, please visit:


CSL to name main baseball field at Trudeau Park after Gary Carter

The City of Côte Saint-Luc will name its primary baseball field at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park after Montreal Expos legend Gary Carter.

Mayor Anthony Housefather made the announcement during a Gary Carter Tribute at the annual Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors Sports Celebrity Breakfast. He was joined on stage by other members of the Côte Saint-Luc city council and Johnny Elias, who had Carter as his guest for more than a decade at his Grand Slam Baseball School in Côte Saint-Luc. I was one of the organizers of the Breakfast and co-emcee and as a city councillor in CSL myself I felt the timing for this announcement was perfect. It came after Annakin Slayd played his emotional new Gary Carter video and former Warren Cromartie spoke eloquently about the man we called "the Kid."

Here is a clip from the big screen of Cro, who got all choked up:

“We communicated with the Carter family in recent weeks and they have given us their blessing,” Mayor Housefather said. “It was fitting for us to make the official announcement at an event like the Sports Celebrity Breakfast where so many of Gary Carter’s admirers were on hand. Johnny Elias is also a long time resident of our community and we thank him for the many years in which he ran a baseball school in Côte Saint-Luc where Expos such as Gary Carter came to share their skills and expertise.”

Here is a fabulous report on the Breakfast and the CSL announcement by CTV's Brian Wilde:

As the Côte Saint-Luc Councillor responsible for naming opportunities, I was happy to spearhead this move with the blessing of the mayor and my colleagues. I also had the good fortune of getting to know Gary Carter on a personal basis when I covered the Expos for the local media. He was the ultimate gentleman. I remember being in his presence when he attended the Grand Slam Baseball School sessions in Côte Saint-Luc. Here he was, the most popular player to ever wear the Expos uniform and the most highly paid at the time. He spent several hours on the day of a game working with young kids on their baseball skills. He never said ‘no’ when Johnny Elias called for his help.

Mayor Housefather said that a formal ceremony for the naming of the field will be held at a later date.

Finally: Council agrees to break up snow at Marc Chagall dump

For years now residents of Marc Chagall Avenue, particularly those living in Le Marquise and Le Chagall high rise condominiums, have been asking me to do something about the snow dump facing their homes. Sure, in an ideal world they would like to see it relocated somewhere else but that is not an option.

Even during a mild winter like the one we are having this year, the filthy hill of snow gets pretty high. Generally, we do not see it disappear completely until the end of the summer.
Residents have asked repeatedly for us to help speed this along. The matter has been raised with council, but there was not a will by the majority to pay for the special equipment.

I am happy to report that at the March 12 public council meeting a motion was approved for the city to award a contract for a springtime bulldozer with an operator to J. Richard Gauthier Inc. for the price of $124.95/hour, up to a maximum amount of $10,000 plus applicable taxes to break up the snow.

Not only is there is aesthetic problem with the snow dump, it is also dangerous. Last summer, as hundreds of people lined the street of  Marc Chagall to listen to the U2 concert at the Hippodrome, we saw people climbing over the fence and walking up the snow dump hill. I had to call Public Security on several occasions to get these people down. 

The  snow hill also attracts different birds and wild animals, from raccoons to even coyotes.
I wish to thank Mayor Anthony Housefather for his strong support on this matter. He agreed to put the $10,000 in our 2012 budget. We needed five votes for this to pass.  Besides myself, Councillors Allan J. Levine, Sam Goldbloom and Mitchell Brownstein supported the motion. It was a 4-4 tie and the mayor cast the deciding vote.

Here is what was said at my District 2 meeting last June:

A main topic of discussion at the meeting was the height of snow dump on Marc Chagall Avenue. Dr. Paul Weinstein, who resides at Le Marquise next door, said that he is less concerned about the aesthetics than the amount of garbage there which he fears can spread disease. He also said that the state of the dump is leading to increased pigeon droppings on balconies. 

Dr. Harry Shizgal and others asked whether we could try to bring in equipment to cut down the size of the hill. I have asked for this to be done, but Steven  Erdelyi   explained that for budgetary reasons the city will likely wait until the snow melts. Dr. Weinstein asked that we investigate any alternative options which perhaps were not looked at in the past such as covering the hill with something to make it melt quicker.

In Memoriam: Shirley Marcovitz

My sympathies today go out to former city councillor Henry Marcovitz and his family. Henry's dear wife Shirley passed away on  Saturday.

When I first started covering Côte Saint-Luc city council meetings for The Suburban almost three decades ago I got to know Henry quite well. He was a financial wizard and always had something interesting to say. Well, we all know behind every great man is a woman and in Henry's case that certainly was Shirley. She happily accompanied him to community events and was an absolute delight to speak with.

A couple of years ago Henry and Shirley became constituents of mine in District 2, purchasing a condominium apartment. I must say that I was honoured to have someone with Henry's political past as part of my electorate. Interestingly, though, it was Shirley who began communicating with me almost immediately. She handled the email in the household and a number of occasions she would send me messages about the state of Rembrandt Park.  When I held one of my District Information meetings about the park, she and Henry were in attendance. I was not aware she was ill and I actually thought about the two of them the other day while planning my next meeting with constituents in June.  The focus will in fact be Rembrandt Park again, but this time with a very interactive format. I was so much looking forward to Shirley's input.

My sympathies to Henry, her children, grandchildren and other family members.  Funeral services from Paperman & Sons, will be held on Monday, March 12 at  noon. Burial at Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation Cemetery, Tifereth Jerusalem Section, de la Savane.  Contributions in her memory may be made to the “Shirley Marcovitz Memorial Fund" c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation.