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May 2012

April 2012

Tuesday May 1 in CSL: Prominent gastroenterologist Seidman to give rare free lecture

Dr. Ernest Seidman(pictured below), one of the foremost gastroenterologists in the country, will give an important lecture open free of charge to the community on Tuesday, May 1 (7:30 p.m.) at the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation (6519 Baily Road) in Côte Saint-Luc. This is part of the Berall Family IBD Lecture Series of the McGill Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Group.

The focus of Dr. Seidman’s talk will be in response to a common question: Why  is Crohn's disease in my family? Risk factors, possible preventive measures and updated therapies. IBD is a term that refers to a group of chronic inflammatory conditions of the bowel. The two major types of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The main difference between Crohn's and ulcerative colitis is the nature and location of the inflammation. Crohn's can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is restricted to the large bowel or colon. It is estimated that over 200,000 Canadians are affected by IBD. Although IBD is most often diagnosed in patients between 12 to 35 years of age, it can less commonly occur in people who are 70 or older and in young children as well. In fact, about 20 percent of those affected are children and adolescents.

“Patients and families are always eager to learn more about the origins of their disease and obtain further information on current research,” said Dr. Seidman. “Moreover, since Crohn's is genetic, patients and families are very concerned about how they might prevent the disease in other family members. There are also a lot of different therapies available, some of which are new. I am aware of how important this information this is to people suffering from the disease and I will try to address that in my talk and during the question and answer period.

Dr. Seidman is a Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics at McGill University, the Canada Research Chair in Immune Mediated Gastrointestinal Disorders and the Bruce Kaufman Endowed Chair in IBD at McGill.  He sees patients at the McGill University Health Centre (MUCH) Montreal Children’s and Montreal General Hospitals.

Dr. Seidman is dedicating this lecture to the loving memory of his recently deceased mother in law, a lifetime member of TBDJ), Shirley (Charad) Marcovitz.

If you have someone in your family with IBD, know somebody affected by the disease or simply wish to become better informed --by all means attend. I will be there. I have had Crohn's Disease for 24 years, a mild case thankfully. But  it is not everyday that I can get up close with someone of Dr. Seidman's stature and get to ask questions.

To learn more about the McGill IBD Research Group  log on to


CSL well represented at Israel Day Rally

More than 10,000 people, Jews and non-Jews alike, gathered in downtown Montreal on April 26 for the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Solidarity Rally. Weather conditions were ideal as a march began from Phillips Square, leading to the large open space of Place du Canada. Dozens of school buses lined the side streets, having transported students and citizens from across the island.


The Jewish Unity Partnership, headed by Côte Saint-Luc businessman Amos Sochaczevski, once again spearheaded this lively event which included very few speeches but lots of singing and dancing.  Charismatic Joel Lion (right), the Consul General of Israel for Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces who lives in CSL, was the first to address the crowd.  Taking the microphone in hand he walked across the stage and in French urged everyone to cheer loudly for the State of Israel. He introduced a videotaped message from Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, which was delivered on a crystal clear portable screen on wheels with perfect sound. The audience responded with great appreciation when he specifically recognized Montreal.

Senator Leo Housakos represented the government of Canada. Housakos lauded Israel as a democracy and an example for other countries in the Middle East to follow. He  acknowledged the attendance of  Thanos Kafopoulos, the Consul General of Greece in Quebec (below with Joel Lion), as well as leaders of the province’s Hellenic community.  He then directed the audience once more to the big screen for a well received message by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who remains very popular with the local Jewish community. Mount Royal Liberal MP and CSL resident  Irwin Cotler and Westmount-Ville Marie Liberal MP Marc Garneau were in attendance as well. The City of Montreal and a number of municipalities were represented. From CSL city council, myself, MItchell Brownstein, Dida Berku, Glenn J. Nashen  and Sam Goldbloom were on hand.


Music was provided by local artists, along with a group from Kiryat Atta in Israel.   

The same day as the rally, Consul General Lion published an opinion piece in the The Montreal Gazette.  “Think ‘Israel’ and what comes to mind?” he asked in the opening sentence. “It's a good question to ask on Israel's Independence Day, when the Israel Day rally takes place in Montreal. The first thing most readers will think of is my country's decades-long conflict with the Palestinians. To others, the mere mention of Israel conjures up images of a mystic land promised to the Israelites by none other than God himself. And some see Israel as an exotic land somewhere far, far away - a place where nomadic tribes shepherd their camels through dunes as far as the eye can see.

“When I think of Israel, I see my home, a land that is as vibrant and diverse as it is creative. Every time I land at Ben Gurion Airport after a long sojourn abroad, I am amazed at how much Israel has changed in my own lifetime. From our humble rebirth in the tragic aftermath of the Holocaust, we have, in just 64 years, evolved from a largely agrarian nation of the Third World to a developed nation. Whereas Israel was once the land of Jaffa oranges and raisins, today it is - as one New York Times bestseller coined it - the ‘Start-up Nation’ the land of Intel microchips and nanotechnology.”

De Sousa, Jacob, Joe Zagury115

In just over six decades, Lion noted that the Israeli population has grown more than nine fold, from roughly 800,000 in 1948 to just over 7.8 million today. “With immigrants and refugees from 120 countries and an Arab minority numbering about 20 per cent of the population, Israelis are proud to celebrate our different ethnic backgrounds, languages and traditions,” he stated.  “We are equally proud of our country's thriving democracy and robust society.”

Lion concluded by noting how Israel shares the Palestinian people's dream of statehood.”That dream, however, must be based on the principle of two states for two peoples - one state for the Jewish people and another for the Palestinian people - and not of one state on the ashes of the other,” he said “The first step is to sit down face to face. If Israel has accomplished so much in 64 years without peace, just think what Israelis, Palestinians and the region as a whole could accomplish with it.”

I spoke with many other CSL residents at the event. This included the great Harry Kloda, who provided the sound  and stage; CSL Senior Men's Club president Sidney Margles and newly appointed Canadian Institute for Jewish Research senior executive Jacob Kincler, pictured above with St. Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa and photographer Joseph Zagury. Below, there I am in the crowd with Hampstead Councillor Harvey "Safer With " Schaffer and Cotler. Thanks to Dida Berku for that photo.


Bravo to Amos Sochaczevski and his team. 

CSL switches to Google Apps

The City of Côte Saint-Luc  has officially decided to  migrate away from our current e-mail and calendar software Lotus Notes and the accompanying on premises Lotus Domino e-mail server. Instead we are moving towards a cloud-based application in which a software application is not installed on a local computer,  but instead accessed over the Internet via the Google Apps for Business/Postini application.

At a special council meeting on April 23, we  approved and authorized the city to enter into a one-year license contract with Google Inc. for Google Apps for Business and the Postini archiving application, and authorized  payment of $16,600 US (plus applicable taxes);, Research firms have shown Google Apps to be five times less costly to maintain than on premises e-mail systems like Lotus Notes. Google Apps is used by 350 million users and is widely considered to be the easiest and best e-mail application, with outstanding document collaboration tools.

Switching to Google Apps will save our  I.T. technicians countless hours installing and configuring the Lotus Notes application on every new computer or replacement computer, and troubleshooting the complex Lotus Domino mail server -- often with the help of costly outside consultants.

The City of Edmonton just switched over to Google Apps and it appears as if many other municipalities will eventually follow suit.

To the average citizen, there will no noticeable change on how they communicate with the city. They only need to know that we are introducing a system which is much more efficient. Hats off to Darryl Levine, our head of public affairs, communications and I.T. for his many months of hard work on this dossier.

CSL's Bergman set for sixth mandate at D'Arcy McGee MNA

Lawrence Bergman made it official last week. With a standing room only crowd cheering his every move at the Adath-Israel Poale Zedek Congregation in Hampstead, he was confirmed as the candidate for the riding of D’Arcy McGee. District 2 resident Martin Bogante presided over the festive evening in his capacity as riding president, a position he has held since Bergman first got elected 18 years ago. Below Bergman greets one-time riding MNA and cabinet minister Dr. Victor Goldbloom and his wife Sheila.


Commonly referred to as Quebec’s de facto Minister of Jewish Affairs, Bergman says he never contemplated retirement even as he approaches his 72nd birthday. The next Quebec election, which many predict could be called before June, will be Bergman’s sixth. He first took office in 1994, regaining the riding for the Liberals after Robert Libman wrested it away in 1989 for the former Equality Party. This was a time when the English-speaking community wanted to send a message to the Liberals for the way in which they were handling the language laws.

Libman ran again in ’94 as an independent against Bergman, a notary who at the time was the president of Adath-Israel Poale Seek. Bergman won the election and over the past 18 years has gained a reputation for being the “go to” man for any issue affecting the Jewish community. He served in Premier Jean Charest’s cabinet as Minister of Revenue and for the past three and a half years he has been the chairman of the government caucus. This gives him access to the premier at least once a week for 90 minutes and to all of the members of cabinet.

On hand to show support for Bergman at the nomination meeting were Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc. Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Kathleen Weil, MNAs Yvan  Marcoux, Pierre Marsan and Karl Blackburn as well as municipal representatives and community leaders.

“We are now in our 18th year in office,” Bergman told the crowd. “For Jewish people, 18 is Chai: Chai is life, Chai is inspiration and Chai is optimism.”

Bergman recalled his highlight as an MNA. It occurred in December 1999 when the  Liberals were in opposition and he proposed Bill 198 which gave official recognition to Yom Hashoah. “If you add one, plus nine, plus eight it also comes to 18 and Chai,” Bergman explained. “Just before the vote, then Parti Québecois Premier Lucien Bouchard crossed the floor to speak to Jean Charest. He said that he wanted a member of his party to sign their name so this could be a united effort. My proudest moment was seeing all 125 MNAs stand up and vote to recognize Yom Hashoah.”

Minister Bolduc pointed to the more than $400 million the government has awarded to the Jewish General Hospital to expand its services, noting that Bergman’s  efforts played a crucial role in this becoming a reality. “It is important to have a guy like him,” Bolduc said. “When we talk about the Jewish community, we always get the opinion of Lawrence.”

Bogante emphasized that a number of years ago D’Arcy McGee was in danger of being wiped off the electoral map. “But Lawrence stopped that from happening,” he said.

I joined Mayor Anthony Housefather and several members of council at the nomination meeting. Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg and his council were there as well. We all agree that Lawrence Bergman has been a truly excellent MNA, one who has always been there for us in a time of need. When the demerger process took place and we were in jeopardy of losing our Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Lawrence stepped in and prevented that from happening. As we proceeded to build our $18 million Aquatic and Community Centre, the provincial funding that was necessary to see this project through was acquired thanks in large part to Lawrence. He even brought the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs here not once, but twice: for the construction announcement and for a tour of the actual facility when it was inaugurated.

Thank you Lawrence and we wish you many more years in office!