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April 2016

Portion of Hudson Avenue to be renamed Sidney Shoham Place after legendary rabbi

A little more than a month ago I got a call from Earl Rosen, the president of Beth Zion Congregation on Hudson Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc. He wanted my feedback as a city councillor in regards to how we could honour the memory of the legendary Rabbi Sidney Shoham, who passed away last September.

I knew Rabbi Shoham practically all of my life. He spoke at my Bar Mitzvah and I had the pleasure of speaking to and seeing him so often. It is hard to believe he is no longer among us!

Rabbi Shoham at our golf luncheon last July.

In disussion with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Allan J. Levine, the councillor for District 5, we agreed that naming the portion of Hudson Avenue where Beth Zion is located Sidney Shoham Place would be a fitting honour. Our Director of Claims and Litigation/Acting Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Jonathan Shecter and Director of Public Works and Communications Darryl Levine were asked to work with the synagogue. As a result, not only will Hudson, between Kildare and the synagogue be renamed but the civic address will become 1 Place Sidney Shoham Place.

Rosen made the formal announcement to congregants on April 30. Councillor Levine was in attendance. “The response was tremendous,” he told me.

The street re-naming ceremony will take place on Sunday, September 25, 2016, with all of Rabbi Shoham’s family in town. The time of the event will be announced later this summer.

Côte Saint-Luc will issue a formal statement on Monday.

Rabbi Shoham passed away on September 20, 2015 at age 86. He served as rabbi at Beth Zion Congregation for more than 50 years.

Here is the blog I wrote from his funeral.


School auditorium to be named after the late Syd Wise

Noted educator Syd Wise lost his battle with cancer last fall and he is already greatly missed.  For 21 years, until his passing, Syd served as an elected commissioner with the former Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal and the English Montreal School Board, representing Côte Saint-Luc and for his last year in office, Hampstead as well.

Syd Wise, seen here with EMSB Chair Angela Mancini (left) and present-day Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather.

For many years Syd served as the Principal of the former Wagar High School. As the communications and marketing specialist for the EMSB,I developed a very close relationship with Syd. He wanted so badly to bring a mainstream public high school back to the former Wagar building, which now houses the Marymount Adult Education Centre and John Grant High School. It was not for a lack of trying on his part that it did not succeed.

Bernard Praw, who succeeded his good friend Syd as the commissioner via  a by-election in December, moved a motion at the last EMSB Council meeting to approve the Syd Wise Auditorium for the building which was so dear to him. A dedication ceremony with members of Syd`s family will be held at a date to be determined. 

Bernard Praw

"Syd spent a lot of time on that very auditorium stage as a principal and even as a commissioner," said Praw. "It is a fitting tribute to a man we miss very much."


Six storey apartment building almost set to go at Quartier Cavendish development

Ron Basal of the BSR Group, a leading Montreal based developer who has been extensively active in Côte Saint Luc in recent years, is ready to proceed with the construction of a brand new  six storey apartment building on The Avenue right across from the side entrance to Quartier Cavendish.

Ron Basal on site of his next development.

Ron told me he hopes to have the facility ready for occupancy by July 2017. He is presently waiting for City Council to approve a number of items related to the construction. Most of the Quartier Cavendish development sector falls under my District 2. This includes Park Place, Jubilee and now this new mixed use building, which will consist of 90 dwelling units on six floors (plus penthouse) as well as a main floor  for commercial use.  Tenants there will be determined.  Ron says that the management of the Quartier Cavendish will take care of any of these commercial leases.

This will be a major construction project that will last beyond this summer and into next year. A two storey underground parking lot is also part of the plans therefore, once excavation begins, there will be a significant amount of large truck traffic and associated nuisances during this time. We will be asking for the public’s patience during these early phases as a certain level of noise and dust and dirt is unavoidable on a project of this scale. We will of course, as we always do, work closely with the builder to keep the nuisances to an absolute minimum.

The remainder of the concordance bylaw is nearly complete and we hope to able to give a complete green light by June.   

Ron told me that the all cement structure will be home residents seeking luxurious living who don`t want to tie up funds in a condo. There will be a 24 hour security guard, an indoor pool, a sauna, shabbat elevators and common barbeque pit.   “There is already a lot of interest,” Ron told me when we spoke at the site. “A few people have already locked in units. What a fabulous location, just steps away from the entrance of the Quartier.”

National story on former Mayor Anthony Housefather

Anthony Housefather filling big shoes as assisted suicide bill looms

Now a Liberal MP, the former Côte-St-Luc mayor is chair of the House of Commons justice committee

The Canadian Press Posted: Apr 17, 2016 6:00 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 17, 2016 6:00 AM ET

Anthony Housefather won the Mount Royal riding for the Liberals in the last federal election.

Anthony Housefather won the Mount Royal riding for the Liberals in the last federal election. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

    Anthony Housefather was already under pressure when he was elected as the Liberal member of Parliament for the Quebec riding of Mount Royal.

    His predecessor? Irwin Cotler, a parliamentarian widely respected for his advocacy on justice and human rights who held the riding for 16 years.

    Housefather knew he had big shoes to fill, even though, as he jokes, Cotler only wears a size eight.

    But the task ahead is also pressure-packed — Housefather, the former mayor of Côte-saint-Luc, is chair of the House of Commons justice committee, soon to start studying the Liberal government's polarizing assisted suicide bill.

    Making sure everyone feels their voice has been heard in the ensuing debate will be a challenge, he said.

    "There are a number of values that are involved and some of them may be conflicting," he said.

    "It's our job as parliamentarians to make sure we work them out, and in respect of the court decision and the charter — and my goal is that our committee will come out with everybody feeling that that's what we did."

    Housefather has yet to hang a single picture in his ground floor office on Parliament Hill and it's unlikely he'll have much time to decorate now. It's expected to be May before the committee receives the bill and they are facing a tight deadline — the new law must be in place by June 6 to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling striking down the existing ban on medically assisted death as unconstitutional.

    Late nights, early mornings, meetings five times a day — all are on the table, Housefather said, in an effort to make that deadline.

    The search for consensus

    Another goal is keeping the study as free from partisanship as possible. One way is to have a witness list created collaboratively, not by each party submitting their own slate, he said.

    "My hope is we can all come together, understanding what everybody thinks and if you don't achieve a consensus at least you've tried and you understand why you haven't and you respect each other's point of view," he said.

    Housefather, 44, has a wide smile and bouncing energy.

    He tries to work out 90 minutes a day and is an avid swimmer, having competed in his youth and more recently in a Jewish multi-sport event held every four years in Israel known as the Maccabiah Games.

    But his cheerful tone drops an octave when asked about his personal belief on whether a person should have a legal right to get help ending their life.

    "I do believe in the autonomy of individuals and I do believe in a general sense, individuals should have a right to control their lives and in certain, specific, limited cases, their death," he said.

    "But I think the goal for me is that very few people will ever want to make this right available to themselves because we've created a system of medicine and palliative care that ensure there are people that are not living in constant pain as they live out their natural life."

    Students in D'Arcy McGee riding encouraged to enter contest in memory of Victor Goldbloom

    David Birnbaum, MNA for D'Arcy-McGee, has  announced the creation of the Victor Goldbloom Vivre Ensemble Essay Contest. Victor Goldbloom, the first MNA for D'Arcy-McGee, first Jewish Cabinet Minister in Quebec, first Minister of the Environment, passed away at the age of 92 earlier this year.  It was one of those deaths which, despite his age, had people saying "he really did leave us too soon." That is because he was so incredibly active on many dossiers  right up until his death. I was with him at a press conference in December against Bill 86, the proposed law aimed at abolishing school board elections. He was the main speaker.

    Dr. Goldbloom  served as Canada's Commissioner of Official Languages. Dr. Goldbloom was a champion throughout his life of building bridges between English- and French-speaking communities and between those of diverse faiths.

    Dr. Victor Goldbloom

    "It seems only fitting that we perpetuate Victor's tremendous legacy by inviting young people in the riding he represented to explore the principles of openness, compassion and understanding that so marked his life," noted Birnbaum, who presented the contest to area school principals at a meeting. 

    All Secondary IV and V students studying within the riding are invited to submit essays of no more than 700 words on the general theme of "Vivre ensemble." They are entirely free to choose their specific subject to address that theme. Entries can be submitted in English or French, and must include a single-paragraph summary in the second language. They must be received by Friday, June 3, 2016 at 4 p.m. at

    Birnbaum noted that a single winning entry will be chosen by a jury composed of the MNA, D'Arcy-McGee Liberal Association President Orna Hilberger and  retired Professor and Association member Dorothy Zalcman-Howard. They will be joined by Michael Goldbloom, Victor’s son and Principal of Bishop’s University.

    “My father would have been very pleased to have his name given to this wonderful initiative. He wrote beautifully in both English and French and he loved his interactions with students,” Goldbloom noted. “From his first career as a pediatrician and throughout his public life, my Dad always sought to broaden understanding, bridge differences and help to make a better world. This essay competition is a thoughtful way of inviting young people to share that goal.”

    JPPS now happily cohabitating with Bialik High School on Kildare Road

    It has been just over a month now since the staff and students from JPPS Elementary School left their long-time home on Van Horne Avenue and relocated to beautifully renovated premises at what is now known as the JPPS-Bialik campus on Kildare Road and Marc Chagall in Côte Saint-Luc. In fact, the slogan they use is “The Campus of Tomorrow.”

    The mayor and I are greeted by Maureen Baron, Marney Stein and some students.

    As the city councillor for District 2, where the campus is situated, I was delighted to accept an invitation to tour the facility in the company of Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. We were warmly greeted at the front door by a team of students who shook our hands and introduced themselves. In fact the same thing occurred at every class we stepped into, even at the Kindergarten level.

    The younger students wanted to show us their projects.

    Work began last summer to renovate the building, which has always housed Bialik High School. It was nicely done, carefully separating the Kindergarten to Grade 6 students with the Grade 7 to 11 level. The fully updated and modernized JPPS Elementary School is now firmly rooted in the Bialik building, complete with a newly renovated library, state-of-the-art classrooms, new furniture including bicycle and standing desks, enhanced technology, a new fenced–in playground area, two gyms, and the Lederman Foundation Synagogue. The elementary and high schools have separate start, finish and recess times. There is an idea paint whiteboard in each class (that means you can write on the walls and it comes off).

    Here are more eager little ones.

    “At JPPS, we are preparing a new generation of innovative Jewish thinkers who will have the creativity, insight, knowledge and empathy to make a positive difference in the world,” said Principal Marnie Stein, who gave us the tour along with Head of School Maureen Baron and communications director Shelley Paris. “Every day our students discover, uncover and explore the world around them with the guidance of our dedicated and talented faculty. While we pride ourselves on academic excellence, we are equally invested in our students’ developing a strong moral character and a dedication to derech eretz (ethical living). We believe that school can be much more than simply a place of academic enrichment. It can be the place where learning memories are made, friendships are cultivated, self-esteem can blossom and where future leaders are encouraged to question and think divergently.”

    Meeting the Israeli Sofer.

    JPPS will hold a couple of Open Houses to showcase their new digs: Thursday, April 14 ( 7 pm to 9 pm) and Friday, April 15 ( 9 am to 11 am). -

    On April 14 the Lederman Foundation Synagogue will receive a new Torah. The Israeli Sofer who wrote the Torah has been in town all week. During this time, he has been working with all of the students on a grade-by-grade basis, teaching them about the tradition of Torah calligraphy. I had a chance to see him in action.

    While there is now increased traffic in the area due to the influx of more students, JPPS-Bialik staff are keeping order as they have been in recent years. The police due perform spot checks and  on one recent day they gave out a slew of tickets for parking infractions.

    I saw many familiar faces among staff and they are all so pleased to be in Côte Saint-Luc, none more than a resident of Merrimac Road who has the quickest walk to work she ever dreamed of.

    Sidney Benizri elected new city councillor in District 7

    Congratulations to Sidney Benizri, who was elected  as the new Côte Saint-Luc District 7 city councillor on Sunday, April 10.

    I was at Mount Sinai Hospital, where the final ballots were tabulated, alongside Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillors Ruth Kovac  and Allan J. Levine as well as former mayor and current Liberal MP for Mount Royal Anthony Housefather.

    Allan J. Levine and I congratulate Councillor-elect Sidney Benizri.

    The final vote count for this by-election, to fill the seat previously occupied by Mayor Brownstein, was 325 for Benizri,  221 for David Tordjman,  205 for Mitch  Kujavsky and 20 for Lloyd Pedvis. Download Poll Results

    Benizri becomes the first member of the Sephardic Jewish community to be elected to Côte Saint-Luc city council. He will be sworn in this week and attend his first public council meeting on Tuesday, April 19.

    Benizri is presently the national  executive director of Canadian Magen David Adom. He previously held various leadership positions in the community. We welcome him aboard and look forward to working with him. Hats off to each of the candidates for all of the hard work they put into the race.

    Within the week you will be able to reach our new city councillor at






    School-wide exhibit celebrates intergenerational connections at Hebrew Academy


    Thanks to Aviva Engel, the communications director for Hebrew Academy School on Kellert Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc, for this submission.

    Months of collaboration, hard work and creative planning by Hebrew Academy faculty, staff and students came to fruitionon Wednesday night, at Hebrew Academy Elementary School’s first-ever school-wide exhibition From Generation to Generation.  Open to students’ extended families and friends, the trilingual, cross-curricular exhibit represented the culmination of hours of research, study and innovative work on the impact of generations past, present and future.


    “We chose the theme ‘From Generation to Generation’ as it provided us with the opportunity to celebrate our students’ legacies as part of their own families as well as part of our Hebrew Academy family,” said Elementary Director of French Studies and Academics Miriam Schrager.  “This exhibit is a celebration of our students’ identities which have been developed and nurtured over many generations.”

    The timing of the exhibit aptly coincided with Pesach, a holiday where the theme of generations is central. “We learn from our past to live in the present and to teach for the future,” said Elementary Director Judaic Studies Jordana Levy.  “Our generational exhibition displayed timeless and precious gems from our eternal Torah, our rich Mesorah (Traditions) and our cherished family lessons, values and artifacts.”


    Highlights of the multimedia event included displays by all classes from Kindergarten to Grade 6 exploring family traditions, artefacts and recipes passed down from generations, a timeline of Jewish history, biographies about global influencers, inventions, students’ time capsules, family albums, superheroes of the future, inspirational family members, proverbs that have stood the test of time and the toponymy of streets in Côte-Saint-Luc, among others exhibits.

     "The school-wide exhibition was a wonderful opportunity for our staff to collaborate and share their individual expertise to assist one another," said Elementary English Studies and Technology Integration Coordinator Elyse Haber.

    Elementary School Principal Shana Joyce agreed. “A collaborative project like the exhibit allows us to celebrate all that we do as a school community. It is an opportunity for students, faculty and parents to be proud of our school and all of the valuable learning that takes place throughout the year. This evening is a culmination of countless of hours of dedication, commitment and enthusiasm on the part of our faculty!”

    Myriad visitors entering the exhibit literally gasped in awe at the beauty and vibrancy of the presentations. From life-size street signs to an elegant Seder Table, an enormous family tree and a giant hand-sewn quilt, the display reflected hours upon hours of hard work and dedication on the part of all presenters.

    “Mazal tov to all the students and staff on their hard work and the wonderful results,” wrote Hebrew Academy grandparent Miriam Safran in an email to the school. “What a great accomplishment. You should all be very proud. The room was a masterpiece, a historical museum.”

    Hebrew Academy parent Philippe Levy praised the people behind the exhibiion on Hebrew Academy’s Facebook page. “The effort and attention to detail made by the teachers for the presentation of this exhibition was outstanding,” he commented.  “Not to mention all of the wonderful creations the kids prepared. Congratulations to all involved!”

    Why the new Shell gas station/car wash/Bonisoir is behind schedule

    I, like many people, am anxious to see the new Shell gas station, complete with a car wash and Bonisoir covenience store, open for business at the corner of  Cavendish Boulevard and Mackle Road. It seems like a very long time since the Esso self-serve shut down. It took many months for digging and decontamination to take place and  then came the construction for the new facility.

    The facility as it looks now.

    To the naked eye, it looks as if the facility is ready to open. But not so. First they require Hydro-Québec to  install underground electrical conduits crossing Cavendish at the intersection of Mackle to supply the proper voltage of power.  This will result in some short term pain, for long term gain.

    Beginning April 18, the Cavendish and Mackle intersection will be closed completely for at least 10 working days in order to complete the work.  Our Urban Development and Public Affairs teams will implement a communications plans to advise all residents in the immediate area of alternative routes. This will include automated phone calls to residents affected, signage and information disseminated via social media.

    The goal will be  to give motorists a heads-up on day one so they can give themselves more time. By day two, we hope people can adapt -- regardless of whether they heard the phone call or saw any of the signs in advance. 
    We all wish this could have been avoided, but in order to speed up the start of this new facility  we need to respond to their request.
    The work is expected to be completed by Friday, April 29 weather permitting.  The contractor will not be working on Passover (April 22, 23 and 24). Hydro's contractor, Telecon, will carry out the installation of the underground conduits as well as the permanent repairs to the roadway.   Cavendish will be closed in both directions at the intersection of Mackle and the contractor will have two crews in place whenever possible to accelerate the work.
    Information signs will be installed on Thursday, April 14 by Hydro regarding the road closure.  Cavendish will be closed between Mackle and The Avenue, except for local traffic.  Detours will be put in place as of Monday, April 18 via Marc Chagall for both north bound (at Kildare) and south bound (at Mackle) and flagmen will be on site for the first two days to ensure proper traffic management. Provisions will be made to allow access to local northbound traffic for City Hall and the Library drop-off zone,  as well as for 5875 Cavendish.  
    An information campaign to inform residents and the local apartments/condos will be carried out by the city's Communication Department.


    An impressive candidates debate brings us closer to April 10 by-election

    With advance polls  set for Sunday, April 3 and the by-election date for Côte Saint-Luc District 7 a week later - Sunday April 10 - we are in the midst of a spirited race to see who will  succeed our new Mayor Mitchell Brownstein as the  city councillor for that area,

    District 7 encompasses the homes and buildings near Mount Sinai Hospital,  Hebrew Academy, Congrégation Or Hahayim and St. Richard's Church. Here is the complete map.

    2016-03-29 District 7 Meet the Candidates
    Mayor Brownstein and council with the candidates.

    There are four candidates vying for the seat: Sidney Benizri, Mitchell Kujavsky, Lloyd Pedvis and David Tordjman. Following a suggestion at our March public council meeting by charismatic citizen Bryan "Waffles" Wolofsky that we help arrange a meet the candidates night, Councillor Allan J. Levine and I raised the subject in caucus. Everyone was in agreement that this would be a good idea. I picked up the phone and called "Humble" Harvey Levine, the executive director of B'nai Brith Canada, Quebec Region. They ran a fine debate last summer for the federal election in Mount Royal. Harvey immediately rose to the occasion and recruited B'nai Brith Canada legal counsel Steven Slimovitch as the moderator. "Slim" grew up in Côte Saint-Luc and his parents still live here. In fact, the night of the debate he dropped into the place he was raised in and enjoyed a nice home cooked meal with his parents.

    Since Côte Saint-Luc was reconstituted, we have never had such a candidates meeting. For the residents who turned out, it was a difference maker. They had this unique opportunity to hear each candidate respond to some well thought out questions by Levine and Slimovitch.

    Each one of these gentlemen handled themselves very well, with opening remarks, closing statements and pretty good answers to questions they could not prepare for. Slimovitch asked them about traffic calming near the two schools in the district, quick access out of the city despite traffic on Heywood, new ideas they had for the district, the Cavendish extension, library services, prohibiting parking in some high traffic areas, upgrading parks and snow removal. 

    As the candidates continue to go door to door, I would like to take my hat off to each of them for running clean campaigns and showing each other the respect they deserve.

    For full details on the by-election click here.

    We have delayed our next public council meeting until Tuesday, April 19 in order for the new councillor to join us. Best of luck to all!


    Here is a video of the evening.