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October 2015

Observing the turn at the Avenue and Cavendish

Thanks to constituent Laurence Paperman for his comments and observations regarding the traffic lights at the intersection of Cavendish and The Avenue.  It has been  confirmed by Public Works that the car detector is not working properly for left turn towards City Hall. However, it is functioning properly for the left turn towards the mall (Quartier). 
Laurence Paperman
Car detectors have the advantage of optimizing the various movements of an intersection.  That is, when a particular movement is not required,green time is re-distributed to the other directions and to the pedestrian crossing times.  
Our new  Urban Development Coordinator Marianne Zalzal will be analyzing the traffic light cycle at the intersection and verify if any improvements can be made.  In the interim, we will repair the one that is not working since.
While some people have suggested the implementation an automatic left turn, this Ms. Zalzal correctly points out would delay unnecessarily the other movements, including the pedestrian time.  "I have already observed that this intersection has a high volume of pedestrians and they often cross before waiting for the pedestrian light to be activated," she says. 
One of the other things we need  to do is improve the signage pertaining to the sensors. That would include painting the symbol for vehicle detection on the asphalt surface. Given the time of year and the weather, this will have to wait until the spring.

Judy Roth Brook: a true angel has left this earth way too soon

As I write this piece, I truly cannot believe that one absolute angel of a human being has been taken from us well before her time and in such shocking fashion.


Just over a week ago, Judy Roth Brook and her family followed the path of most Canadians. They went to vote in the federal election and awaited the results. All was normal in the household, with much to look forward to.  Judy could not be happier with her lot in life. She was married  to the love of her life for 37 years, Côte Saint-Luc`s most notable Jewish butcher Avi Brook. Her mother Marianna, the legendary Jewish chef known to most as simply "Mrs. Roth" lived under the same roof as her and the two were close. Eldest son Daniel and daughter-in-law Joyce had given her two grandchildren.  Son number two Joey was about to graduate from Law School November 2. Her two others, David and Amanda, remained the apples of her eye. By day, she loved her administrative job at BCM College.

When Justin Trudeau was elected our new Prime Minister, Judy sat around the comfortable family home and shared her thoughts. The following day she did not feel well. Was it a flu? She remained in bed for days. At one point Avi  suggested they get some medical attention, but she insisted this was not necessary. How many of us have been in the same boat as her? These illnesses can linger, but they generally clear up on their own. By Saturday her condition had worsened significantly. A hospital visit was inevitable. Just about 24 hours later Judy left this earth. She was only 55 years old.  A mysterious bacteria had attacked her vital organs and there was nothing the doctors could do to stop it.

Funeral services were held on Monday and despite very little notice, Paperman and Sons was packed. Some people from out of town got into their cars Sunday and drove all night. At the shiva house, everyone who walks in does so shaking their heads. How can this be possible?

I have known the Brook-Roth family for several years now. It all began when I walked into their store,  CSL Kosher on Westminster Avenue,  and took a look at Mrs. Roth's appetizing chicken schnitzel.  "Is it good?" I asked? Mrs. Roth cut me a piece and asked, "You tell me?"  It was more than good; it was the most spectacular thing I ever tasted. I was soon introduced to Avi and became a regular. Avi and I became friends and every now and then he'd ask me to stop by the home to chat. When I did, Judy would there with her huge smile to welcome me inside. Her home was the ultimate "drop in" center. There were always people stopping by.  Whenever I was there, she did not know what to cook for me first. There were times when I had already eaten supper, but her cooking - like that of her mom's - was so good, I could not refuse. She'd always send me packing with doggy bags as well.

Judy and I would end up developing our own routine. She loved the computer and was quick at sending and receiving emails. We were in regular touch. Our last communication was just over a week ago when she wrote to commend me on a piece  I wrote about the late Rabbi Shoham.

No matter how long a work day she'd endure, Judy came home to cook and make supper for anyone who came by. For years she opened her dining room to visitors from Israel. "Every Monday night like clockwork she'd have these people over," said Avi. "She knew that when our kids travelled to Israel there were always homes welcoming them. She wanted to do the same."

Esther Roth, Judy's sister, said what was at the tip of everyone's tongue: "This all seems like a bad dream. How could she be gone? She had so much to live for?"

Her relationship wirh  Avi was special. He was 15 and she 14 when they first met. Four years later they married.

In her way too short five and a half decades on this earth Judy Roth Brook touched so many people. Her legacy will live on with her husband, children, grandchildren and other family members. A kind, caring and loving individual has left us and we are all the poorer for it.













BROOK, Judy (nee Roth). Surrounded by her loved ones, on Sunday, October 25, 2015. Beloved wife of Avi for thirty-seven years. Adoring mother and mother-in-law of Daniel and Joyce, Joey, Amanda, and David. Cherished Bubby of Mason and Micah. Loving and devoted daughter of Marika and the late Laci Roth. Dear sister and sister-in-law of Esther and Luigi; sister-in-law of Ada and Yanki, Yochi and Violetta. Judy will be sadly missed by her nieces and nephew Cheli Joey,and Alexandra and by Steven and Frieda Spiro, their families, and all who knew her and loved her. Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean-Talon St. W. took place on Monday, October 26, 2015. Shiva at her home daily. Contributions in Judy’s memory may be made to ICU Unit c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, 514-340-8251.

A fond farewell for Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz who departs for New York

Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc bid a tearful farewell Monday evening, October 26 to beloved Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz and his wife Lisa.  More than 600 people gathered at the Baily Road synagogue for a tribute evening

Rabbi Steinmetz has served as the spiritual leader of TBDJ for 19 years. He will now become the Senior Rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a distinguished and historic synagogue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He will be succeeding one of the great leaders of the North American rabbinate, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein. “This appointment is both a great privilege and a great responsibility, and offers me the possibility of beginning a meaningful new chapter in my career,” he wrote to congregants.

Rabbi Steinmetz joined TBDJ in September 1996. Prior to that, he served congregations in Mount Vernon, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey. He received his ordination from Yeshiva University, where he was a fellow of the elite Gruss Kollel Elyon. He has a M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate School, and a M.A. in Education from Adelphi University. He has completed Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) and Meorot Rabbinic fellowships. His articles have appeared in newspapers across the globe and he occupied numerous leadership positions in the community.

8484-HK614 email
TBDJ President Judah Aspler presents an authentic Montreal painting to Rabbi Chaim and Lisa Steinmetz. (Howard Kay Photo) 

Greeted like a rock star at the farewell gathering, I did not get close enough to Rabbi Steinmetz to personally wish him well. So on this blog, which I am sure he will read, let me say to him what an incredible human being he is. I will miss you Rabbi more than words can say. You were always there to respond to a phone call or email, be it personal or business. We celebrated our own family simchas with you in attendance. And in times of sadness, you were there for us too. It just won`t  seem the same without you at the helm.

Rabbi Steinmetz began his remarks by thanking his wife Lisa. He acknowledged his “signature” message: to say hello to the person next you. It is something he repeated every Shabbat. “If we can go make someone walking into the shul for the first time feel welcome, we can change the course of our community,” he said.

Of the Montreal Jewish community he is leaving behind the Rabbi said: “This community has been an incubator of remarkable Jews and has made an impact all over the world.  Not only have I met a unique community; I’ve met unique people.”

Susan Laxer, the past president of Federation CJA and a TBDJ member for the past 40 years, praised his commitment to the community. “You have used your time here very well,” she said. “Together with Lisa you have left an indelible mark in Montreal.”

Adam Shapiro, representing the youth of TBDJ, shared the story about how he wanted to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in Israel. For timing reasons with family, the only trip that worked out was an adult March of the Living to Poland and Israel. Since he wanted Rabbi Steinmetz to be part of it, he awaited news as to when their schedules would interact. When he heard the recommendation that they do this at the site of the former Majdanek death camp in Poland he did a bit of a double take. But he trusted the rabbi and ended up experiencing something very unique. “The rabbi said that when you celebrate a Bar Mitzvah you put people who could not celebrate before you.”

Outgoing Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, now the newly elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, lauded Rabbi Steinmetz for the leadership role he took when the former PQ government tried to adopt it heinous Charter of Values.

Rabbi Mark Fishman from Congregation Beth Tikvah in Dollard des Ormeaux said of his friend and colleague: “You always seemed to offer just the right words of advice. You had an individualized answer for each of us.”

Judah Aspler, the energetic president of TBDJ who has extended his mandate to oversee the search for Rabbi Steinmetz’s successor, spoke about the impact he had over the course of the last two decades. TBDJ is one of the city’s most successful synagogues, with membership on the rise and a youth movement assuming leadership roles.

Before Rabbi Steinmetz and his wife spoke, the audience was treated to a beautiful tribute video with many leaders from the synagogue and the community saying all of the right things about one gem of an individual.


Work on Kildare and Cavendish to occur on October 27

A very noticeable water  valve leak at the corner of Kildare Road and Cavendish Boulevard will be repaired on October 27 and 28. A total of 574 tenants in four buildings will be affected as the water needs to be cut for about 11 hours.  This will not be done before 7:30 p.m. and plans call for it to be back by 6 am.  Letters detailing the procedure, including a boil water advisory, will be distributed.

Those living in the following apartments  will be affected: 5740 Cavendish (Chartwell Le Castel Royale),     5720  and 5740 Rembrandt and 6600 Kildare (The Seasons). Some houses may be affected as well.

Our Urban Development Department has been working diligently on this dossier for the past week. It will ensure the proper signage is posted. As well, Public Security will work on any traffic control we need. Since this is a major cross-section, we need to have a specific signage plan in place.

 The following letter went out to residents:

Water service will be temporarily stopped between this Tuesday at 7:30pm until Wednesday morning at 6am at these addresses:
• 6600 Kildare
• 5740 Cavendish
• 5720 Rembrandt
• 5740 Rembrandt
Water service will be temporarily stopped between this Tuesday at 7:30pm until Wednesday until Wednesday at 5pm, at the latest at these addresses:  The south side of Kildare between Cavendish and Shalom, and 5740 and 5760 Kellert
When the water returns, we recommend you boil it for 1 minute over next the 48 hours. Or simply use bottled water to drink, brush your teeth, make ice and to prepare and cook food.
For more information, refer to letter we sent to those affected addresses on Friday.
* * *
L'eau sera temporairement coupé ce mardi soir à 19 h jusqu'à 6 h mercredi matin aux adresses suivantes :
• 6600 Kildare
• 5740 Cavendish
• 5720 Rembrandt
• 5740 Rembrandt
Et du mardi soir à 19 h jusqu'à 17h mercredi au plus tard sur la cote sud de Kildare entre Cavendish et Shalom, et 5740 et 5760 Kellert.
Au retour de l’eau, nous vous conseillons de la faire bouillir pour une minute et ce pendant 48 heures ou utilisez de l’eau en bouteille pour boire, vous brosser les dents, faire des glaçons ou préparer et cuisiner tout aliment. 
Pour plus d’information, consultez la lettre que vous avez reçue à votre porte vendredi. 



Canada’s pre-eminent wildlife sculptor presenting his work at the Côte Saint-Luc library art gallery

An exhibit of wildlife sculptures from District 2 resident Shalom Bloom will be on display at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library’s Art Gallery from November 5, 2015 to January 17, 2016.
The exhibit opens with a vernissage on November 5 at 7 pm.
Bloom is considered to be one of Canada’s pre-eminent wildlife sculptors. His work has been commissioned by the Civil Aviation Organization headquarters in Montreal, and is on display on the grounds of the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, and at museums and corporate buildings worldwide.
A Shalom Bloom sculpture.
Just as fascinating as his art is his story. Bloom, who today is an active 88-year old living in Côte Saint-Luc, only started working on his sculptures at age 50, during a successful career building his own businesses. He was CEO of Arlington Sports, the South African Diamond Company and a restaurant chain. He devoted most of his time to pursue his art starting in 1995.
He stumbled across his talent by accident when his children were working with plasticine modeling clay and asked for his help.
“The minute I got my hands on the wax, it changed my life,” Bloom said. “All my inner thoughts, philosophies, and my yearnings and doubts came out in the wax. I became the master and wax because my tool.”
Bloom credits his wife, Roslyn, for pushing him and encouraging him in his new life.
“She not only discovered me but encouraged me throughout,” Bloom said.
Bloom says there was once incident in particular that convinced him to get into art more seriously.
“One day my secretary was standing at the door of my office with her 5-year old son,” Bloom said. “The boy was standing there just staring at the life-size sculpture of a sleeping cub next to my desk. Then he ran to the sculpture, gave it a hug and kiss, and then shyly turned back. I thought to myself that if I’m able to evoke that kind of reaction from a child, then I should enter it seriously.”
For many years, Bloom worked from his studios and the garage at his Hampstead home. Bloom says that often after dinner, children on the street would sit at the driveway and watch as he worked. He would explain what he was doing and even let his young audience add little pieces of wax so they could feel like they contributed.
“On many occasions, someone would be driving down my street, would glance at my garage and then stop the car so suddenly that the brakes would screech,” said Bloom. “They thought they saw a real life-size bull in the garage.”
Bloom doesn’t regret giving up his business life for life as an artist.
“A businessman achieves success with his head and tongue, while an artist creates with his heart and hands, providing something that outlasts material wealth,” Bloom said. “Each human being is like a mine and you must dig all the time to find the vein of talent that is hidden. Once you find it, it can lead to endless beauty and interesting directions—changing your life forever.”
The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library is located at 5851 Cavendish Blvd. and is open from 10 am to 10 pm except on statutory holidays. For more information, call the library at 514-485-6900 or visit

Côte Saint-Luc loses a great mayor; gains an amazing MP

The longest federal election in Canadian history is over. Now residents of  the City of Côte Saint-Luc can look forward to a by-election for Mayor. Anthony Housefather will chair his final council meeting Wednesday evening, October 21 at City Hall before being sworn in as the next Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal.

I have been privileged to serve on Anthony`s council for the past 10 years.   His departure is a heavy loss for us. But one of his many strengths  has been an ability to empower members of council. From the get-go he established a set of de facto cabinet ministers, placing us in charge of specific portfolios and allowing us to lead. He operated by consensus and I know that in my case I learned a lot from him. So whomever fills his shoes – I expect someone from our present council – they will be well prepared to govern. In the interim, Councillor Glenn J. Nashen will serve as acting mayor. Who will run? I  can only confirm that it won’t be me. I am quite content as the councillor for District 2, overseeing the Library, Sponsorship and Animal Protection portfolios.

Cotler speaks
Outgoing Liberal MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler congratulates his successor Anthony Housefather.

It is regrettable that the Mount Royal election became so divisive. I do hope we can all move on together as a community. Because of my loyalty and respect for  Anthony, I became actively involved in a federal campaign for the first time in my life. Our entire council stepped forward in this regard. It resulted in the loss of a close friendship I had for many years with a die hard Tory. I also had some neighbours, people I consider good friends, become very mean spirited towards me without any provocation.

I believe now former Prime Minister Stephen Harper did the Canadian public a disservice by calling a 78 day election campaign. Not only did it probably double the cost of a normal election, but he dug his own political grave by giving Trudeau a chance to grow.

Anthony Housefather worked tirelessly for this job. He took nothing for granted. Both his camp and Robert Libman’s of the Tories  had some of the most devoted volunteers I have ever seen. In the case of Anthony, I must single out a few people: Sidney Margles, Dan Pfeffer, Sonny Moroz, Bonnie Feigenbaum,  Marvin Rotrand, Mitchell, Andrew and Elaine Brownstein, Mark Merson, Toby Shulman, Mena Morganti, Brian Wolofsky, Martin Bogante and an endless  array of cultural community leaders.  A lot was made of the “Jewish vote” and Harper’s support for Israel. Nobody can discount the tremendous friend Harper has been to Israel. But by making this the overwhelming issue in the campaign, it was simply not enough to win the riding.

Congratulations to all!

See Councillor  (Acting Mayor) Glenn J. Nashen's blog.



CSL Men's Club stages another classy annual gala

The Côte Saint-Luc Men's Club sure knows how to throw a party.

Syd Kronish and Joe Presser.

More than 400 people were on hand at the Gelber Conference Centre on October 18 for the Men's Club 2015 Gala,  chaired by Joe Presser.  Men's Club President Syd Kronish extended well deserved thanks to Presser and his committee of Sid Birns, Kenny Bessner, Morty Benedick, Jack Frank, David Gandell, David Haltrecht, Marvin Hayman, Jimmy Indig, Seymour Kleinberg, Pat Kutz, Jack Lackman, Beryl Peletz, Jacob Posel, Rhoda and Peter Sternberg and Manny Young.

Irwin Cotler and Anthony Housefather.

Mayor Anthony Housefather, along with myself and five other members of city council were on hand. There were hors d'ouevres, drinks, a full course meal, music by Glen Inis and a great comedy routine from our very own Joey Elias.  Liberal MNA for D'Arcy McGee David Birnbaum and Liberal MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler were on hand.

Joey Elias

Mayor Housefather, whom we all hope will become the next Liberal MP for Mount Royal on October 19, praised the Men's Club for its growing membership of 500 plus and the work it does. Added Birnbaum: "You folks know how to put on a show. The energy in the room is just overwhelming."

Phil Silvers, who leads the Senior's Choir, was recognized with a certificate for his work by Ruby Cobrin. Posel presented plaques to 10 Men's Club members who are now 90 years of age: Stephen Hopman, Michael Lansky, Aubrey Smofsky, Allan Rubin, Benny Bokser, Frank Lemko, Ben Abugov, Herb Paperman, Sidney Strolovitch and Solomon Susser.

Peter Sternberg was recognized as the Man of The Year. He has been involved with the Men's Club for about 20 years and served as president from 2002 to 2004. For a decade he chaired the club's very unique Winter Luncheon in Florida.

Syd Kronish and Peter Sternberg.

The evening concluded with the dramatic unveiling of a magnificent mural by artist Phil Kurtz. He was introduced by noted art teacher Phil Goldberg. Kurtz spent more than 400 hours on this masterpiece -a painting of couples associated with the club as if it were a large group photo shoot. Those depicted could not believe their eyes. It will be put in the wall at our Aquatic and Community Centre for all to see.

I had a wonderful time and on the eve of my own 53rd birthday on October 21 it won't be long before I am a senior as well. The Men's Club has so many excellent activities, from its weekly speakers series to different trips, outings and special events.

The beautiful mural by Phil Kurtz.
















As weekly newspapers close The Suburban thrives

It is ironic that on the very same day that The Suburban formally unveiled plans for expanded news coverage via our new website, set to launch on Monday, October 19, two once proud community newspapers were put to sleep.  Rest in Peace Westmount Examiner and West Island News and Chronicle.

As a journalist and a communications professional, I am never happy to see any media outlet disappear. Part of the Transcontinental chain of weekly newspapers, the Examiner and the Chronicle follow the path that began in 2009 when The Monitor (briefly known as the West End Chronicle) folded. At the time Transcontinental folks insisted the paper was simply transforming into an online edition. I began my journalism career at the age of 16 writing sports stories for The Monitor.

As Transcontinental let the Examiner slide, publisher David Price swooped in and created the Westmount Independent. In very little time, the Examiner was playing second fiddle. Its editions better resembled promotional flyers and in the last few years there was not even a local office. Price also filled the void of The Monitor with the Free Press.

The Chronicle, in its day, was one heck of a paper. It was originally printed in broadsheet (like The Gazette). I always remembered how professional it looked. The Suburban launched a West Island edition in 1988 and The Gazette started one as well.  There was also the Hudson Gazette, later to become the Vaudreuil-Soulanges. My good friend Jim Duff and his wife ran that operation. It folded mysteriously last year.  Your Local Journal is another West Island weekly still in print. Ditto for Cité Nouvelles. And of course there is The Montreal Times, a drop off you can see just about everywhere.

 None of these papers can compare themselves to The Suburban. We have a print circulation of 140,000. There are three regional editions:  City (Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West, Westmount, Snowdon, Côte des Neiges, TMR, St. Laurent, Downtown, LaSalle, Verdun), West Island (now including Hudson and St. Lazare) and Laval-East End. Not only do we cover such a wide area, but because of our already excellent website (the new version turns a  Mercedes Benz into a Rolls Royce) people can read the paper wherever they are. It is only going to get better on October 19, election day. Our new Associate Publisher Oliver Sutton and editor Beryl Wajsman quite rightly say that we will become a daily, with breaking news available all of the time. This how I feel about my blog, which I am grateful to say has a large following. For the last few years the blog has been hosted externally. It now becomes part of the new site.

It is too bad about the Examiner in The Chronicle. I am most sad for the staff who will lose their jobs.  

Rembrandt Park continues to blossom


This was another great summer for Rembrandt Park in District 2.  Recent renovations have fully blossomed  and the park became rejuvenated and vibrant.

To those people who have approached me about repaving the outdoor basketball courts and possibly installing new lights for night play, that is being looked at by our Parks and Recreation Department.

The two new resurfaced tennis courts that were redone in the summer of 2014m  with the installation of the new court lighting system,  had players volleying well into the night up until closing hour at 11 pm. Waterplay1a

Adult and children's summer tennis classes were a success. We surpassed our revenue expectations for the budget. The same applied to the expected Rembrandt Park Tennis Court rentals. All in all, Rembrandt Park Tennis Courts  operated  in a most efficient manner.

Last  August,  the Tournee Sports Experts was held at Rembrandt Park. This event was sponsored through Tennis Quebec and was open to children, teens, young adults and adult players in helping to bring awareness to interested participants in the sport of tennis a "lifelong" recreational sport. Certified instructors from Tennis Quebec demonstrated tips on playing, strategies tennis tactics in playing the game. There was a demonstration of some of the newest rackets by Wilson, Diadora and other tennis equipment outfitters. Participation was free of charge for this event, which is held annually at Rembrandt Park. The event attracted over 75 avid and enthusiastic tennis players.

During August staff began researching information on various possible amenities which could
be added to the tennis programs in 2015. We are presently looking at installing a practice
screen tennis net at Caldwell Tennis Courts. This would protect one court for teaching while not
disrupting play by the public on the other courts.

New signage for the public will be installed on the fences at Rembrandt Park tennis courts,
highlighting rules, regulations and City policy. This is being prepared at present for installation
before next season (2016) begins.

Of course, Rembrandt Park was also  the site of our first Piano in the Parks Program. We installed a donated piano so people could come play whenever they wish. The water splash area was well utilized by parents with their small children as were the swings and other equipment. It was nice to see so many families having picnics on the green space while others simply enjoyed sitting on the benches. Reuben Goodman continues to be our main attendant at the chalet, still well utilized for art classes.



Remembering school commissioner and friend Syd Wise

It was  a bit surreal to attend the funeral of prominent educator Syd Wise on October 8, a man I considered a good friend.

Wise Trudeau
Syd Wise welcomes Pierre Trudeau to Wagar High School.

I knew Syd since I was a kid. He and my parents travelled in the same social circles, he was once the principal of my former Wagar High School and his son Steven and I go back to when we were in our teens. However, it was when I was first hired as the communications and marketing specialist for the English Montreal School Board in February 1999 that we really became close.  I had assumed this post six months into the berth of linguistic school boards in Quebec. The Quebec government had discarded the former religious model in public education. Pauline Marois was the Education Minister at the time and her first action towards the EMSB (already seen as the high profile anglo board in the province) was to pick a fight and hand a chunk of its surplus revenue generating ($1.8 million a year) property to the French boards. It was tense time and I had a big learning curve. As I began to familiarize myself with these duties in my new office in walked Syd and in a fatherly way he put his hand on my shoulder and said : "Breath easy Mike, you will pick all of this up in no time."

Syd was only semi-retired at this time. Retired from being a principal, but still very busy teaching at different levels and collecting artwork. As the school commissioner for Côte Saint-Luc, he was very proactive in everything he did. Syd saw this work as a passion. He loved every minute of it and wanted nothing more than to see improvements in the system. While there may have been political divisions among elected officials, he got along and was liked by everyone.

Very often Syd was my "go to" guy when the media would call for a spokesman on a particular subject.  He was so articulate and commanded instant respect. After Wagar High School closed and the building became the home of a school for special needs teens (John Grant) and adult learners (Marymount Adult Centre), Syd came to my office one day with an idea. He wanted to rename the building after someone who saved Jews during the Holocaust and link this to an education program bringing Jewish and non-Jewish students together. He worked hard on this initiative and in no time at all Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard had been twinned with Bialik High School in Côte Saint-Luc. That was 10 years ago and today that program continues to thrive and also includes schools with non-Jewish population visiting the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Two years ago, when the Parti Québecois came up with its intolerant Charter of Values, Syd grabbed a piece of scrap paper at one meeting of the EMSB Council and then approached Chairman Angela Mancini. He wanted her support for a resolution which would firmly state that the EMSB would refuse to implement any legislation calling upon them to force members of different cultural groups to remove items of a religious nature in the classroom. The Chaiman agreed and the EMSB made national headlines as it stood up to the PQ. That Charter never passed.

Syd Wise is sworn into office last November by Secretary General Nathalie Lauziere.


It is sad though that Syd did not live to see his greatest dream come to fruition: the rebirth of Wagar High School. It closed in 2005 due to low enrolment, but Syd felt very strongly that it could succeed with a new mission. There were two attempts to relocate Royal Vale High School from NDG to the Wagar building and a few more to make it work as a specialty school, notably Sports Concentration. Efforts in 2013 went so far as having a new name, Wallenberg Academy, attached.


At the age of 78 just under a year ago, Syd decided to seek re-election for the EMSB. He was in excellent physical shape, still teaching several days a week and eager to make one last attempt at bringing a mainstream public high school back to Wagar.  After campaigning vigorously he won the vote and was appointed Chairman of the Executive of the EMSB by his peers. A few months later he told us the bad news. He had cancer and while he would take all of the treatments doctors could provide, he was not optimistic of his chances.

Despite days when was so tired he could barely lift his head up, Syd remained committed to the EMSB agenda. He called me a few days a week to stay up to date and participated in all meetings by telephone. We last spoke a few weeks ago when he asked me whether he should step down. "Absolutely not," I told him. " Even if it is by telephone, you still have so much experience to share. And you are going to beat this thing!"

When I got the call from his son Steve on October 6 that Syd had passed away it just did not seem real. It brought me back to my own dad's passing just over three years ago.

Syd was one in a million, a man whose opinion I respected and whose company I cherished. I will deeply miss our regular chats. His memory will live on. That is for certain. To his wife Cecile, two children, six grandchildren and other extended family I extend my deepest sympathies.

See Glenn J. Nashen's blog.

See the EMSB press release

See Montreal Gazette story