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September 2015

Meet the federal candidates set for Sept. 30 at Bialik

Bialik High School, located at 6500 Kildare Road in Côte Saint-Luc District 2, will host a meet the candidates event on Wednesday, Sept. 30 (7 p.m.) in advance of the Oct. 19 federal election.
Mount-Royal riding candidates Anthony Housefather (Liberals), Robert Libman (Conservatives) and Mario Jacinto Rimbao  (NDP) will take part in an event which is being closely tied to the  Citizenship Education Program at JPPS-Bialik. Each candidate will give a five minute opening statement. That will be followed by questions from the audience, submitted in writing to Bialik students who will serve as partisan scrutineers and present them to moderator and school Principal Avi Satov. Candidates will have  two minutes to respond to each query. While no signs or placards will be allowed in the room, supporters can wear buttons. Bialik will set up information tables in the hallway for each candidate.
Entry will be through the Mettarlin door from the rear parking lot.
The three candidates are also scheduled to debate on Thursday, Oct. 1 (7 p.m) in Town of Mount Royal.


"Trapper" Barry Silverman will be dearly missed

In week where Montreal lost Rabbi Sidney Shoham, we mourn another special individual.

Three years ago, as  I rushed to the emergency room at St. Mary's Hospital, a familiar face met me at the entrance. It was Barry Silverman, a constituent of mine in District 2 Côte Saint-Luc, a stalwart community volunteer and one of the nicest human being you could ever meet.My dad had been brought to the hospital. Sadly, he would die three days later. Barry and I chatted for a few minutes. I asked him what he was doing there. "Just getting checked out,"  he said. "Go be with your dad."

Silverman, Barry
Barry Silverman

Little did I know that Barry was suffering from cancer. He told me so when we spoke sometime later when he gave his condolences as he and my late father Larry went back many years. I expressed my best wishes and he immediately changed the subject. "I've been fighting it and life goes on," he said. "Live each day as best as one can."

And then he moved on to some concerns about matters related to his condominium. He took a moment to rave about his fabulous wife Hildy, who is popular for her aqua fitness  at the Aquatic and Community Centre.

Trapper John M.D.

I always referred to Barry as "Trapper" for he looked like an identical twin to actor Pernell Roberts, who portrayed "Trapper John MD" on a television drama. This would go on for years.  I even included the "Trapper" moniker in articles I wrote about him. When Hildy and I spoke, she referred to him as "Trapper."

Barry, a chartered accountant by profession at Perreault, Wolman, Grzywacz & Associés s.e.n.c.,was passionate about his work in the community. This was especially the case at the YM-YWHA where he worked out, served as president  and participated in programming. He was also active with Jewish Immigrant Aid Services and its successor body Ometz.

"My connection with Ometz is through my leadership at JIAS," Barry wrote  in May 2014. "One of the key projects we had was the Hundred Family Program, where we were bringing 100 families at a time to Montreal from the Soviet Union. We sent social workers to Moscow and these families were interviewed before they became eligible to become part of that program. One of the prime concerns was, were they really Jewish? It was difficult to determine but eventually we managed to bring in a couple families at a time. They were assigned a worker at JIAS, who would then refer them to Jewish Family Services and/or Jewish Vocational Services, and they were taught how to do things here – simple things like going to the supermarket to shop and learning to speak English. We were closely working with Rabbi Sirota and Mark Groysberg. One interesting anecdote I remember was one timed Rabbi Sirota a brought in a surgeon who was also a rabbi and he had a mass circumcision of a number of the new immigrants.

"In around 2000, I went to Kiev with the executive director of JIAS on the way to one of the Federation annual meetings, and Mark Groysberg gave us the phone number of a person who was a journalist who would tell us a bit about anti-Semitism in the FSU. We called this person, a woman, and we had a cup of coffee with her. During the course of our conversation she informed us that she was a reformed rabbi having studied in Jerusalem and London. While talking I told her about the Hundred Family Program and she said 'I know about that program… I’m one of your families.'  I immediately had a certain feeling towards her. She said her husband was having a difficult time getting a Canadian visa, and I went to the Canadian embassy and mentioned it to the person I met and she said she would do what she can. Eventually they both came over. I informed the rabbi (Leigh Lerner) at the Temple Emmanuel about her, in hopes that I could find a job for her. She met Rabbi Lerner and she worked with him for a number of years. I still see her to this day. I see Ometz being the central focal point for immigration. Having only one agency is fantastic. Immigrants can get all the services they need by going through one door."

Barry lived for family -his children, grandchildren and yes the dog he would walk around the block regardless of the temperature outside or how he felt. When the TV show Canadian Idol was on CTV, I got an excited call one day from Barry. "My granddaughter Nancy Silverman is a contestant," he said. "Can you do an interview with her?"

I called CTV, arranged a phone chat with Nancy and when my family and I travelled to Toronto a few weeks later to see the show live (as we did each summer) Nancy - regrettably  eliminated at that time - was in the audience. I introduced myself, putting a face to a name and I could see immediately she had the same dynamic personality as her grandparents.

As a city councillor, Barry always supported me and even offered to go door to door in his building during elections.

Barry will be dearly missed!


Funeral for Rabbi Shoham was fitting for a head of state

Funeral services were held on Tuesday, September 22 in the Sidney Shoham Sanctuary of Beth Zion Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc for one of the most legendary figures the Montreal Jewish community has ever seen -Rabbi Sidney Shoham.

Joe Presser and Rabbi Shoham.

This was a funeral befitting a head of state, with some 1,500 people jammed into the sanctuary which bears Rabbi Shoham`s name. People had to park their cars blocks away. Virtually every member of the local rabbinical community was represented in a special section.  

Joe Presser, a past president and long-time leader of the shul, greeted me at the door with tears in his eyes. "I just can't believe it," he said. "I was with him Sunday night. We were all with him. He was as normal as can be."

It is ironic that Rabbi Shoham, the  man who built Beth Zion  from scratch 60 years ago, was front and centre at the synagogue's annual Cantorial Concert on Sunday, September 20. He spoke to the capacity crowd throughout the evening and as was customary did his rounds during the reception and seemed  to share a word with so many people I met at the funeral.

Rabbi Shoham would have turned a "very young" 87 years of age in November. His death comes as a shock to all who knew him for this man had a lot of living left. Every day of his life he continued to make a lasting impression upon everyone he came into contact with.  I frankly cannot remember a time since I was old enough to know who he was - so as a toddler- that I did not interact with him in some fashion. When he retired nine years ago I wrote a tribute column about him in The Jewish Tribune. Upon news of his death, I updated and expanded upon that article on my blog on The Suburban Newspaper website. You can read it all here.

It was with a heavy heart we all watched the coffin brought into the sanctuary, followed by his understandably devastated family members. I must say that it just did not feel real. How  could Rabbi Shoham, a rock in so many of our lives, no longer be on this earth?

Rabbi Perton

Rabbi Boruch Perton, the present-day senior rabbi at Beth Zion, said quite correctly that the synagogue had lost the captain of its ship. He said that last month he approached Rabbi Shoham about giving his annual and much anticipated sermon during Yom Kippur  services. "I do not have the energy," he quoted Rabbi Shoham as saying. "I'll think about it and let you know."

Rabbi Perton was persistent and finally Rabbi Shoham agreed. He was scheduled to address the congregation on Yom Kippur September 23.

Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko, the spiritual leader of Beth Israel  Beth Aaron Congregation, called this "a sudden and tragic loss. He made everyone feel important, whether you were the superintendent  or the president. With Rabbi Shoham there was no pretense. It was honesty and sincerity. His heart loved everyone."

There were words love and appreciation from Rabbi Shoham's grandchildren. Asked one of his granddaughters: "How can the man who was the master of eulogies be eulogized?

Rabbi Mordecai Zeitz, now the Rabbi Emeritus at Beth Tikvah Congregation in Dollard des Ormeaux, was among those on hand at the Cantorial Concert on September 20. "He was at the top of his game," he said. "At the end of the night we shmoozed. I wished him a Shana Tovah. He hugged me, which was rare and pinched my cheeks.  For the past 50 years I have known him he set an example of kindness and friendship to all. He has been my personal role model. He had the ability to mesmerize us with his words."

It was an emotional 90 minute ceremony and  at the end, even Herb Paperman  and his three sons -  Ross, Joseph and Lawrence - had a hard time to keeping it together, these men whose funeral home is the site of multiple funerals six days a week. How many times had they dealt with Rabbi Shoham these past six decades?

Rabbi Shoham with congregants.

To say Rabbi Shoham will be missed is a true understatement. Côte Saint-Luc, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Israel and the world has lost a true leader.  He was the Jean Beliveau of rabbis.  

There will never be anyone else like him!










CSL library launches Jewish heritage program series

This October, the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Library is kicking off a series of programs focusing on Jewish heritage and culture, including workshops, lectures, music, theatre, and literature. 
Library members and non-members alike are invited to participate in the series and explore their family and cultural history.
The series begins with a concert of traditional Sephardic music by the Opus Prize-winning Ensemble séfarade et mediterranéen on Thursday, October 8. The following week on Wednesday, October 14, the library will present Portrait of a People, the latest production by Aviva Ravel’s Performance Playreading Ensemble. The show melds dramatic and comedic stories, legends, and poems portraying the culture of the Jewish people from Biblical times to the present. Tickets for both the concert and playreading are available for sale now at the library.
In partnership with District 2 resident Stanley Diamond of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, the library is offering a genealogy lecture and workshop designed to help you begin discovering your family’s unique stories. The lecture will take place Thursday, October 15 at 2 pm, and is free and open to the public. The workshop is onThursday, October 29 at 2 pm and requires registration and payment in advance ($5 for library members; $7 for non-members).
The program series culminates with the library’s annual Côte Saint-Luc Reads literary event on Thursday, October 22 at 6:30 pm. Each year, library staff choose one book to engage CSL residents and foster a reading culture in the city. This year’s selection is Between Gods, Alison Pick’s remarkable memoir about discovering her family’s hidden Jewish history and reclaiming an identity and religion that she had not known before. Alison Pick will speak about her book and engage with readers at this free event.

As the city councillor responsible for Library and Culture, I am very pleased  with this news.
For more information about these events and programs, visit or contact the library’s Programs Department at 514-485-6900, ext. 4205.

Bravo to Rabbi Poupko and CIJA on animal rights position

After initial review of Bill 54 – An Act to Improve the Legal Situation of Animals, Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Co-Chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, a member of the executive committee of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Québec (CIJA-Québec), spiritual leader of Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation and a resident of District 2 in Côte Saint-Luc,issued the following statement:

“We commend the government’s efforts to advance animal welfare in Quebec. Animal welfare is strongly valued by the Jewish community; Judaism strictly prohibits gratuitous cruelty to animals. This is why Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechita, is as quick and painless as humanly possible. Indeed, in its presentation yesterday to the National Assembly Committee studying the Bill, the Animal Legal Defense Fund acknowledged that properly performed ritual slaughter is humane and does not cause undue cruelty to animals.

Rabbi Poupko

“CIJA-Québec will submit a brief to the Committee to ensure legislators hear the perspective of the organized Jewish community. Our submission will demonstrate that shechita conforms entirely to the objectives of Bill 54.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA. CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community. 

As the city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc responsible for Animal Protection, I could not be happier to see leaders like Rabbi Poupko looking out for the rights of animals. Now if I only I can convince him to adopt a cat!



New greenspace for Park Place coming in the spring

For many residents of Park Place, the still relatively new town house and single family dwelling development on the land of Quartier Cavendish has been complicated by the constant flow of people using their parking lot and greenspace as a shortcut to and from the bus stop.

I have been meeting with many of these residents for several months now. On a number of occasions I have observed the flow of pedestrians at different times of day. At peak times they literally pass by in droves. 

Our original plans for the greenspace at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare was to build some kind of parkette there. However, in light of the many complaints we received from residents we put our original plan on hold and looked at various alternatives. A  Public Spaces Committee meeting was called, consisting of city officials and some members of council, and I believe we came up with a good plan. Rather than a parkette (essentially greenspace, benches and paths), we will beautify the area and make it more of  passing. The paths will be designed in such a way that pedestrians will not necessarily use Park Place as a shortcut; Kildare Road will become a viable alternative. We will also have some fencing to protect the private parking area of the town houses. Trees and bushes will be planted to insure privacy.

Because of the time we took to review the project, our original goal of having this area put together for the fall became unrealistic. It will now have to wait until next spring. In in the interim, we have installed some attractive blue fencing to limit the flow of pedestrians to one area to and from Park Place and block them from walking on the parking lot. We had left the bushes unprotected by fencing, but pedestrians decided in some cases to walk through them. So more fencing is on order.

Cav, Kildare potential park fence line  PM Sept. 8-15 016

While there were requests to totally seal this area off, there are residents of Park Place who do appreciate the "short cut" to get to and from Cavendish and Kildare. We hope the compromise is satisfactory. I thank Urban Planning Director Charles Senekal for all of his time and patience on this dossier.




First Mount Royal federal election debate draws large crowd

The first debate between candidates in the federal  riding of Mount Royal took place at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Snowdon on September 2 and attracted a standing room only crowd of over 500 people. Congratulations to B'nai Brith Canada (Quebec Region) Executive Director Harvey Levine and his team for putting it together. CJAD's Dan Laxer did an excellent job keeping order as the moderator.

Housefather, Libman and Rimbao.

As Liberal candidate and Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather noted in his opening remarks, this was the first time he faced Robert Libman - the former mayor of CSL and Conservative candidate - in a debate in about 12 years. At time the subject at hand was whether CSL should demerge from the Montreal mega city. Housefather campaigned to demerge; Libman to stay.

While most people in the audience came to see the much talked about face off between Housefather and Libman, NDP candidate Mario Rimbao handled himself quite well.

This was a fairly civil exchange between the candidates. 

Here is the CTV report from the night.

And here is the Canadian Jewish News report.

Below is the script from Dan Laxer and the questions he asked each candidate.

1) We know, now, from the Statistics Canada report that came out yesterday that we were indeed in a recession for the first half of the year. It is a fact that, I think, each party leader is going to have accept. How will this affect each of your parties’ economic policies, and your leader’s ability to balance the budget and deal with deficit? Does the answer lie in spending? In service cuts?   

2) The community, at times, finds itself divided over Canada’s stance on Israel, and which party seems to have the more favourable policy toward Israel’s right to defend itself, and towards a Palestinian state. Can you clarify your leaders’ policies on the Middle East?  

3) Questions of Canadian unity and language are as much a part of our culture as it is a part of just about every election campaign. And that brings with it questions of linguistic equality for minority communities in Canada. I’d like to hear each of your party’s positions on the issue.  

4) The Mount Royal riding is a diverse one with several communities of differing levels of prosperity. Can you talk about how each of your parties would address poverty, economic disparity, affordable housing, seniors’ benefits, and child benefits, particularly in this riding? 

5) The Iran nuclear deal is obviously not as simple as supporters would have us believe. Would Iran be more or less of a threat should this deal pass? What will this mean for its place in the Middle East, and in relation to Israel in particular? 

6) Security concerns are ever bubbling below the surface, concerns over domestic terror threats, hate speech, etc. Where does that fit in with your party’s policies? What have your leaders had to say about that?  

7) There is a fine line between pandering to taxpayers, and paternalistically telling them what you think is right, economically. Many families have reaped the benefits of recent tax relief, and minimum wage has become of contentious issue. Are we to expect tax increases to pay for campaign promises? And what about corporate taxes, etc.?

Each candidate had a timed response and a chance for rebuttal. While they sat at the same table, every time they spoke they had to make their way back to the podium. This worked out well as none of the opponents could interrupt one another.

I would say most of the people in the room came from the Jewish community and therefore the questions related to the Middle East and Iran drew a lot of interest. Housefather wanted to make it clear that the time has come for the Conservatives to stop making Israel a wedge issue. He was unequivocal in Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau's support for the Jewish state. Housefather spoke without any notes.

The next debate is October 1 at Town of Mount Royal Town Hall.

B'nai Brith Canada, by the way,  has ab IMPACT Federal Elections Guide site which includes position papers and parliamentary sub committee hearings and presentations on different issues. You can access this at and at