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May 2012

District 2 Meeting set for Monday, June 4

A Côte Saint-Luc District 2 information meeting will take place on Monday, June 4 (7:30 pm.) at City Hall (5801 Cavendish Boulevard). I created this initiative when I was first elected in the fall of 2005 as a way to maintain closer relations with constituents and talk mainly about issues related to the surrounding neighbourhood. Since then a number of other councillors have followed suit.

TanyaOfficials from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works and Engineering departments will be on hand to speak and respond to questions on a variety of important issues. The agenda includes City Manager Tanya Abramovitch’s (right) new vision for Rembrandt Park, traffic issues in the area, a construction update on the Quartier Cavendish (Cavendish Mall) Centre Point residential project, a report on a planned Hydro Quebec project on Merrimac Road and Rembrandt Avenue, the status of the new Les Cours Marc Chagall town house project,  the snow dump cleanup and  information about the  Trap, Neuter and Release program for feral cats.  Residents will be able to take advantage of an open microphone format at the conclusion to raise any concerns.

District 2 encompasses Merrimac, Rembrandt., Kildare  (between Rembrandt and Marc Chagall), Sir Walter Scott,  Ilan Ramon, Marc Chagall, Mackle  (between Cavendish and Brandeis),  Quartier Cavendish Mall, Cavendish (Manoir Montefiore, Manoir Camelia, L’Excelsior) and Honoré-de-Balzac. For more information, call(514) 485-6945 or email mcohen@cotesaintluc.org


Office Hours production of CSL Dramatic Society superb

Councillor Mitchell Brownstein's dream of bringing live theatre to our community via the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society has met with enormous success. It all began a year ago with Dining Out, a series of scenes, sketches and songs. That was followed up last fall by the musical Grease - a massive success with  sold out performances.

Brownstein, who has a long history in theatre, made the most important move by securing the services of Anisa Cameron as the director. Well known for her extraordinary work running the Bialik High School productions, Anisa brought immediate professionalism to the operation.
Office Hours promo shot
The Harold Greenspon Auditorium has served as the venue and this has worked out quite nicely. But after the perhaps unexpected success of the latest project, Norm Foster's dark comedy Office Hours, who knows where they may be headed in the future?


My family and I attended the last of the six shows on May 26 and it was absolutely hilarious. Brownstein is one big PR machine and he the word out via press releases and advertising for weeks. As a result, there was a tremendous walk up crowd. A buzz circulated throughout the community and when people went to our library the morning of the final performance they were told it was soldout.


For Office Hours, Brownstein  was joined on stage by his brother Herbert (a Dollard des Ormeaux councillor), Mayor Anthony Housether and Councillor Sam Goldbloom. They even did  a special Friday matinee for seniors.

Office Hours takes place in six different city offices at approximately the same time on a Friday afternoon, and the stories that take place in each of these offices are cleverly intertwined. In The Reporter, Herbert Brownstein plays Warren Kimble, an aging TV reporter who is being shunted to the side by the young and pushy news director Pamela Gerard  (Danielle Shustack). Herbert's ability to remember such a lengthy opening dialogue must be commended. He makes the immediate connecton of the names Kimble and Gerard as in The Fugitive TV show and movie. So it is not surprising to see a one armed man (Shaun Nismas) enter the scene.

The Pitch has Gordon Blaine (Anthony Housefather) and Francine Majors (Ellen Rabin) with a difference of opinion as whether to work with hot young movie producer Bobby Holland (Ryan Kligman). Our mayor is hilarious as he bickers with Francine, trying very hard to believe Holland's  very much Tarazan the Ape Man script for a new movie.

The Agent has Mark (Daniel Harroch) trying to justify his multiple affairs to wife Ellie (Riva Bruck), the latter a District 2 resident who I have known since she is a toddler. Riva has grown into a beautiful teen with a wonderful personality. She studies theatre in school.  The chemistry between the two characters here was great to watch.

In The Visit, Richard Penney (Mikey Samra) is a young entertainment lawyer who gets an unexpected visit  in his office by mom Rhonda (Hannah Sheffren) and dad Lloyd (Goldbloom). The skit is perhaps the funniest in the entire show, especially the way mom and dad play off of each other.  Sheffren had people laughing so hard tears were coming out of their eyes,  Goldbloom, who has previous acting experience, showed his talent. As my colleague Glenn J. Nashen mentioned after the show, "Sam, you should be at the Centaur."

The Dismissal had Stan (Kevin Shustack) making it clear to horse jockey Arthur Barnes (Mike E. Rappaport) that he is simply too big to be riding a horse. Shustack unleashes one-liners after another, perfectly timed and his physical expressions represent half the fun.

Finally, The Analyst has Dr. Sharon Freeman (Dafna Regenstrief) trying to talk Neil Penny (Mkey Samra) off the roof. Henry Hatcher (Mitchell Brownstein) enters the scene and trys to make a deal. He will convince Dr. Freeman's patient not to jump if she buys his planning agenda. Rhona and Lloyd Penny (Sheffren and Goldbloom) re-emerge and so does Barnes (Rappaport) in what made for a terrific ending.

Another unique aspect of this show was the  faciiities crew (David Benrimoh. Bailey Cohen-Krivchevsky, Cheryl Gabbay, Lia Ollo and Jessica Zylberlcht)   who went beyond merely adjusting the stage between each acts. They did so  in the form of mini skits.

Oh yes - the door prizes. At intermission Harroch came on stage to announce that the lucky winner would get the chance to spend an hour with the city councillor of their choice undertaking a municipal activity. He was joined by Kevin Shustack, who was impersonating Mayor Housefather. Midway through the kit, we saw the mayor hop out with tape over his mouth and acros his arms and legs. He chased Shustack off the stage and announced that this was a commercial for identity theft.

Next on the agenda for the CSL Dramatic Society will be a few scenes from Grease and Moulin Rouge at our July 1 Canada Day celebrations. We will then wait for news as to what musical Cameron will choose to present in the fall.

Congratulations to technical director Scott Drysdale, stage manager Ariel Sterlin, costume designer Isabelle Boudreau and some of the unsung heroes: Harold Cammy and Ryan Nemeroff of the Parks and Recreation Department; Darryl Levine, Régine Banon, Ruth Farrugia and Lisa Milner, who handled the communications, marketing and facility needs; Dr. Jerrold Rappaport, whose promo videos were very professionally done; and Elaine Yagod Brownstein, the wife of Mitch and one of the most devoted political spouses I know. She was there handling the front ticket desk with charm and patience.

Bravo  to all!
 

   

Beth Chabad CSL unveils new facility

It was about eight years ago that I attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Beth Chabad  Côte Saint-Luc’s new facility in District 2, at the corner of Kildare Road and Marc Chagall Avenue. At the time the community centre was based at the Cavendish Mall and prior to that at the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre.

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Under the leadership of Rabbi Mendel Raskin and his wife Sarah, Beth Chabad CSL spent almost two decades looking for a permanent home. They had to be patient until this facility became a reality. When the Mall began demolition of half of its façade to make way for housing two years ago, Beth Chabad moved into trailers and rented some space at Bialik High School. Pictured at the right is Rabbi Raskin (left) and his brother Yitzhak, who runs Chabad in Burlington,  Vermont.

Last fall, their new home opened for business during the Rosh Hashanah period. While not yet fully completed,  officials had met all necessary building standards.

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Here is my interview with Rabbi Raskin and Mayor Housefather:

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On May 23 I was thrilled to attend Beth Chabad CSL’s 26th anniversary gala, which was highlighted by the debut of a gorgeous new social hall. Officially known as Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem, the building is home to the Maurice and  Nicole Benisti Youth Centre. At the gala, Max and Sigy Laredo (that is Max with me above) received the  Tree of Life Award; Jacob and Therese Attias, the Builders Award; and Michel and Perline Amar, the  Anshei Chesed Award.

The new social hall  can  accomodate  close to 600 people.  “This will fill a large void in the greater Montreal area where few halls can boast the capacity to hold events of this magnitude,” says Rabbi Raskin. “ It will be equipped with state-of-the-art audio equipment and screens to hold community wide Jewish educational conferences, community lectures, symposiums and seminars throughout the year.This will be a place to hold holiday celebrations, weddings, brit milot, bar/bat mitzvahs in addition to many other occasions which can all be held in one elaborate and sophisticated setting.”

Below, I share a word with Rabbi Raskin and Raphael Perez.

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Police hold fundraising breakfast for Special Olympics

One of the things I have really appreciated since first being elected to city council in 2005 is the close relationship Côte Saint-Luc has with Community Police Station 9.  We have a wonderful connection with Commander Sylvain Bissonnette, a prince of a human being, and we know most of his inner circle. Police Station 9 covers CSL, Hampstead and Montreal West. Neighbouring Police Station 11 covers N.D.G.à

On May 22, the two stations joined together to host a fundraising breakfast at Cora on St. Jacques Street West to benefit Special Olympics Quebec, enriching the lives of individuals with an intellectual disability through sport. For $7 we got a full course breakfast and the chance to chat with our police officers. More than $4,000 was raised.

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Roxanne Pitre , the commander of Station 11, was there. So was one of her officers, Mira Levesque who helped initiate the project. Marie-Christine Nobert, the veteran socio-cultural officer at Station 9m was her usual charming self. Marie-Christine works closely with the schools and community groups. CSL City Manager Tanya Abramovitch, Legal Counsel Cheri Bell, Diector of Public Safety Jordy Reichson and Councillors Glenn J.  Nashen and Ruth Kovac were among those on hand. It was an enjoyable morning.  Commander Bissonnette introduced me to Patrick Lalonde, who is an assistant director of the Montreal Police Department and a head of regional operations.

JessicaIpekian Levitt

I also shared a moment with Jessica Ipekian Levitt and David Allan, two of the Special Olympians who were helping show people to tables and serve.

Bravo to everyone involved!

 

Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Kicked Off at Bialik High School

Students from three public high schools and one Jewish day school got an authentic lesson in history recently when Montreal commemorations for the 100th anniversary of  Raoul Wallenberg were kicked off. I was pleased to co-chair this program with fellow city councillor Allan J. Levine.

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Bialik High School hosted the program, with students from Marymount Academy, LaurenHill Academy, Westmount High School and a distinguished list of speakers in attendance. After Alice Herscovitch, executive director of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, showed a video testimonial of a survivor whose life was saved by Wallenberg she followed that up by introducing that individual – Ron Meisels – in the audience. Meisels was overcome with emotion having watched the clip, remembering the day when Wallenberg granted Swedish passports for his family and countless others.  

“My stepfather was on a train destined for a Nazi death camp,” Meisels explained. “Wallenberg stopped that train, got him off and saved his life.”
 
The Consulate General of the State of Israel, in conjunction with the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, the Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship Program, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators, the City of Côte Saint-Luc, the English Montreal School Board and the Office of Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler, teamed up for the event.

Wallenberg was the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust. While serving as Swedish envoy in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, from July 1944, Wallenberg gave Jews Swedish travel documents and set up safe houses for them. He is also credited with dissuading German officers from massacring the 70,000 inhabitants of the city’s ghetto.

The Nazis, who occupied Hungary in early 1944, launched mass deportations of Hungarian Jews to concentration camps such as Auschwitz with the collaboration of local authorities. Wallenberg disappeared after being arrested in Hungary by the Soviet Red Army in 1945. The Russians have said he was executed on July 17, 1947, but unverified witness accounts and newly uncovered evidence suggest he may have lived beyond that date.

Israel Consul General for Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces, Joel Lion, announced plans for a Raoul Wallenberg Legacy Competition Project. Students from across Quebec will be asked in the fall to produce three minute videos showing how the legacy of Wallenberg is still relative today. Winners of the competition will receive a special certificate and be honoured at a breakfast hosted by the Consul General of Israel in December 2012 followed by a visit to the Montreal Holocaust Museum. 

“Who goes on YouTube here?” Israeli Consul General Joël Lion asked. “We want to put your videos about Raoul Wallenberg on YouTube.”

The legacy of Wallenberg will also be marked by the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre during their Holocaust Education Series next fall. On May 23 (5:30 p.m.) the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation of Montreal will hold a commemoration at the Monument at Raoul Wallenberg Square (600 de Maisonneuve).  

The Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship Program, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators, will help solicit participation from English and French public and private schools in the Montreal area. Each year The Riva and Thomas O. Hecht Scholarship Program, Teaching of the Holocaust for Educators, sponsors teachers to attend a Summer Session of the International Seminar for Educators at Yad Vashem. Past winners represent a natural connection to bring the Wallenberg story into the classrooms.

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather urged students to visit the city’s Human Rights Walkway at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park, where Wallenberg had been inducted a number of years ago.

Liberal MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler, considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Wallenberg, noted that the former diplomat became the first honourary citizen of Canada. “He was a Swedish non-Jew who saved more Jewish lives than any single government,” Cotler said.

D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman drew a parallel between what Wallenberg did and things students experience in today’s society. “Do not remain silence in the face of bullying, racism and antisemitism,” he warned.

Thomas O. Hecht spoke about how Wallenberg came from a wealth family, yet put his own life in harm’s way.   Peter Rona from the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation told everyone he would not be here today was it not for Wallenberg. “My father was one of those people he saved,” he shared.

 


CSL Dramatic Society set to present a comedy

The Mayor of Côte Saint Luc and three city councillors will perform on stage in the dark comedy Office Hours by Canadian playwright Norm Foster later this month at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Blvd. 

 


  
Mayor Anthony Housefather, Côte Saint-Luc city councillors Mitchell Brownstein and Sam Goldbloom, and Dollard des Ormeaux city councillor Herbert Brownstein will star with other members of the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society

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Showtimes are at 8 pm on Thursday, May 24, Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, with two 2 pm matinee performances on Friday and Saturday.


V-E Day an important occasion for us to remember

The annual Victory in Europe (V-E) Daycommemoration ceremony in Côte Saint-Luc took place on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 2 pm at Veterans Park.  The Master of Ceremony was Frank Levine, a veteran of the Second World War and local Legion president. The event co-chairpersons were councillors Allan J. Levine and Ruth Kovac.

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The City of Côte Saint-Luc and the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion organize the V-E Day event, which commemorates the victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany.

Victory in Europe (V-E) Day was May 8, 1945, the date when the Second World War Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany. The cenotaph at Veterans Park honours the memory of those who gave their lives in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. 

What is always so remarkable about this event is the presence of so many veterans who are still with us today, most of whom reside in Côte Saint-Luc. The likes of former Mayor Bernard Lang, Jack Budovitch (very bottom right), Bill Taylor, George Nashen, Willie Glazer (below with me), Michael Kutz and others. They were all outfitted GeorgeWillyin their military attire.Over the last few years, folks like Manny Gottlieb, Bob Feldstein, Kek Rosenblat, Carl Garber and Joseph Blumer have left us. I refer to them specifically for during my years on council they were among the individuals who fought so hard for Veterans Park to become a reality.

This was a dignified ceremony that lasts less than an hour. Weather conditions could not have been nicer. Among those laying wreaths was CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather, Councillor Glenn J. Nashen, Howard Liebman (representing Liberal MP Irwin Cotler), Pointe Claire Mayor Bill McMurchie and a number of diplomatic representatives. This included CSL resident Joel Lion, the fabulous Consul General of Israel.

Many of us lamented about the fact there were few very young people in the audience, since they are learning about the World Wars in history class. This would have been a class of true authentic learning. Councillor Steven Erdelyi did bring his adorable little girl Bailey (far bottom left), who was very well behaved.

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"The legacy of a veteran is we fought so you may know peace," Frank Levine declared. "I urge young people to do your best so we can move away from armed conflict." 

Bailey