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October 2018

September 2018

Just for Kids Foundation Stroll for Kids Event a succcess in CSL

 Côte Saint-Luc was proud to provide the venue for the  fourth annual Just For Kids Foundation (JFK) Stroll for Kids event – where over 100 families   gathered at our sprawling Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park to enjoy a day of fun and philanthropy, to raise much needed funds for the Montreal Children’s Hospital. These funds will help to purchase high-priority medical equipment and to support initiatives that improve the quality of care for the young and vulnerable patients of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

With co-chairs Alana Geller and Jodie Zimmerman-Frenkiel.

I was beyond impressed with the setup as I toured the park with JFK Executive Director Lorie Blumer and chatted with event co-chairs   Alana Geller and Jodie Zimmerman-Frenkiel. These two moms  were each blessed with twins in the summer of 2014 who were born prematurely and spent considerable time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. When their children came home, they wanted to express their gratitude in a unique and significant way and so JFK Stroll for Kids was borAmong those on hand was Rachelle Toussaint, a mother whose child has been in the NICU for over a year and has benefitted from the various initiatives that JFK has funded, including the one of its kind in Quebec, the JFK Sibling Park. Her story demonstrates the impact that JFK has had on families in our community.

Since this cheque presentations the totals have gone up.

More than $150,000 was raised, bringing the grand total to  over $650,000 for this event alone. The JFK Stroll for Kids has garnered a loyal following of over 150 families, vendors and sponsors, who continue to participate year after year.

The morning  featured live entertainment, games, music, activities, and plenty of food. Committee members did an outstanding job getting the likes of Moishes Restaurant, Rustique, Hank, TCBY,  Les Delices Lafrenaie and others to donate, resulting in a heavenly buffet at no cost to the attendees.

 All proceeds raised will be allocated towards Just for Kids Foundation’s Endless Possibilities campaign.

Moishes Burgers.

The JFK Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises funds to purchase high-priority medical equipment, and to support initiatives that improve the quality of care for patients of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.  

Skateboard area at Rembrandt Park to become a greenspace

A few years ago the central topic for one of my District 2 Town Hall meetings was Rembrandt Park. There were concerns raised about the lack of lighting at the tennis courts, the basketball area, play equipment and the skateboard area.

Ruby Goodman, who has served as a park attendant for more than 20 years at Rembrandt, was asked to get  a feel from the users. I also set up a small committee and we conducted surveys from people of all ages. The consensus was to  fix the lights, maintain the basketball area as is and replace the skateboard space with greenery.

The skateboard area will now become a nice greenspace


Last spring the Public Spaces Committee of the city, composed of senior staff and some councillors, highlighted the skateboard area for demolishment at some point this year or next.  Work began last week. I was not aware of the specific date and while some parents have come forward and stated their kids enjoy the area, inspections done in recent weeks warned of serious danger. due to cracks in the asphalt as well as heaving areas in the asphalt. Our Public Works Department told me Friday that this area is  not conducive to skateboarding.  Potential accidents would result in costly litigation. Some youngters use their scooters there, something which is also highly dangerous. As a result, filling in the bowl meets with the new required safety measures.

The earth is coming from excavation projects throughout the city. It is therefore, an environmentally friendly project. We will install sod and topsoil to create an area in the shade for picnic tables and benches, providing residents with the opportunity to enjoy summer fun in the shade. It will therefore be transformed into a nice gathering space

Ruby Goodman confirmed Friday that he has seen very few skateboarders there in recent years. In fact Public Works was constantly tasked to clean the bowl as it was becoming  a garbage dump.

When I was first elected 13 years ago there was a soccer field at Rembrandt Park that was sunk below the ground. We consistently found benches and debris dumped there. As well seniors complained about delinquents causing problems and using the spot as  a hideout late at night. We resolved the problem by filling the hole with leveled greenspace.

Constituents are always invited to contact me directly to discuss these issues.


Recent power outage shows the need for residents to be plugged into our social media channels

On September  6, most Côte Saint-Luc residents lost power when workers repairing the underground aqueduct on Kildare Rd. near Cavendish struck a natural gas pipe, causing a gas leak. Power was cut to the area as a safety precaution.  

Let me begin by commending our Public Safety  and Public Affaiirs Departments,  senior management and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein for the leadership role they played. Many people were searching for answers and it was those fully plugged in to our social media platforms who benefitted  the most.

Please, if you have access to the Internet like our main Facebook  page and  CSL Ideas; go directly to our website, which had constant updates throughout the day;  and sign up for alerts by phone and to receive our e-newsletter.

Diagrams like this, showing exit routes from the city, were posted on our website.

On September 6 the city sent two telephone call outs  (10:37am and 3:06pm) to share the information we had. Anyone who signed up to received the SMS and/or email emergency alerts received those, too. In addition, the city posted approximately 12 updates on Facebook and during the day, and several tweets. The timing of the incident was not ideal as staff were on their way to work when the traffic into the city (as well as out) slowed down. 

"That said, we are always looking for ways to improve," stated Mayor Brownstein. "I would like to congratulate Public Security Director Jordy Reichson  and his team on a job well done.  We are lucky that there was no explosion and no one was hurt.  Our emergency response was excellent. 

"I also want to thank the city management and directors who worked together at the in-committee table throughout the day making sure communications were managed and schools and hospitals as well as the general public got the information they needed to make decisions throughout the day."
Mayor Brownstein oversaw a post-mortem at the end of the day to ensure we do even better next time, implementing new ways we can start communications sooner.
In light of the recent events and numerous questions around emergency responses that city has, Councillor Oren Sebag and Director Reichson  will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Public Information session soon.  

Steven Spodek invites people to attend alternative Rosh Hashanah service

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, District 2 resident Steven Spodek is busy preparing for his volunteer duties as  part of the High Holidays Outreach Initiative at the Adath Israel Congregation (best known simply as the Adath) in Hampstead 

Steven is very proud of the program called Free Fast Fun, An  Alternative  Rosh Hashanah event featuring a one hour service, childcare provided and selected prayers and tunes. Here you get to learn the meaning of prayers and rituals, ask questions and blow and hear the shofar. Kiddush refreshments are also part of the package. There are  no charges, solicitations, tickets nor reservations required.

Steven Spodek

This will take place on Monday, September 10 (5:30 pm)  at. 223 Harrow Crescent in Hampstead.

“I have long admired Rabbi Michael Whitman’s commitment to community outreach, including this program that began in 2005,” said Steven. “Some of those who come attend a regular service   want to understand the meaning of the prayers and they get that here. Most of those who come do not attend any synagogue service. We often hear people saying they have not been in  synagogue in decades.”

Rabbi Whitman

Another example of a superb community service is that  the Adath is proudly welcoming this year another District 2 resident, Natalie Constantine,  and Nancy Witcher, ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreters. They will interpret Rabbi Whitman's High Holiday Sermons on:

  • Rosh Hashana I - Monday, September 10, at 12:15 p.m.
    Rosh Hashana II - Tuesday, September 11, at 12:15 p.m.
    Kol Nidre - Tuesday, September 18, at 6:45 p.m.
    Yom Kippur - Wednesday, September 19, at 11:30 a.m.

Anyone who can benefit from this is invited to join  as  guests for the entire service  at no cost. It is necessary to register a request for this with the synagogue’s seating committee to make sure individuals are placed with a good view of Natalie and Nancy. Please contact the seating committee by calling or emailing Audra Libman, ADATH office manager at or 514-482-4252.

The Sweetness of Life: Dentist turned author Harry Rajchgot pens his second book

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, local dentist and District 2 resident Harry Rajchgot has written his second book called The Sweetness of Life: My Mother’s Jewish Cookbook. It is a tale of where his parents came from in Poland, how they arrived in Canada and the language of Yiddish. In each section there is a storyline and one of his mom’s recipes, a unique concept to be sure. 

Harry baking
Harry in the kitchen.

Dr. Rajchgot spent more than 20 years writing his first novel called Gravitational Fields, released in 2016. The writing began at the time his father became severely ill in 1994. It gives a fictional account of a family of Holocaust survivors struggling to overcome their past, based on the stories of many individuals and families who went through similar experiences.

After Dr. Rajchgot’s mother’s death, he found among her effects an invoice book from a Montreal furrier where she had worked. Many of the pages were covered in Yiddish script in his mother's difficult handwriting. After glancing at a few of these, he recognized  some” of the Yiddish words and realized that these were recipes. Similar material was also written on odd pieces of cardboard, from Kleenex boxes or the cardboard that came with shirts from the dry cleaner.

“Too busy to deal with them at that moment, I put all these aside in a box, for later examination,” he explained. “About a year ago, seven years after my mother passed away, I looked again. I had recently heard of a call for submissions of possible projects by the  Foundation for Yiddish Culture, asking for material that would emphasize the role of the Yiddish language in recent Montreal history. Yiddish had been my mother tongue, although, for the most part, I had forgotten how to speak the languge. With a certain degree of curiosity, I applied, proposing to turn my mother's Yiddish recipes into a book which would explore my family's journey from pre-war Poland to Montreal in the recent past, and use this book to show the original recipes, in their Yiddish cursive, with translation into English, interwoven with my family history, the history of the Yiddish language, and a glossary of spicy, salty, and sweet Yiddish words, terms, and phrases. And to my surprise, I was given the approval to develop my project.”

The translation of the 70 odd recipes took a good six months. To a large extent, Dr. Rajchgot had to bring back the memories of the Yiddish he had learned as a child, and then try to read his mother's difficult handwriting, translate the words, and give them context. “I saw that each recipe was attributed to one or other of my mother's network of women friends who had dictated these recipes to her,” he said. “Most had a similar background as my mother, Holocaust survivors who had come to Canada after the war and made a life in this country. Interwoven with these was the theme of nourishment of young families, and the sublimated memories of past fear, deprivation and hunger. What was remarkable was that most of the recipes were for sweet things–cakes and cookies and other desserts. This gave the book its name: The Sweetness of Life, a somewhat ironic title considering my mother's difficult past.”

Of the recipes, Dr. Rajchgot only chose a handful for the book. The recipes, once he had translated them, were deficient in many ways compared to what one would find in a conventional recipe book: units if measurement were rudimentary and often unclear. Some Yiddish words were unreadable, and untranslatable, quantities, directions on how to mix ingredients, oven temperatures and baking times were mostly missing. There were also a number of repetitions: Mrs. G's honeycake, Mrs. M's honeycake, Mrs. L's honeycake, and so on. And yet, after two attempts to follow one cheesecake recipe, with a bit of intuition and some guesswork, yielded a surprisingly delicious European-style chessecake as a result.

With his book.

The book was successfully launched recently at the Museum of Jewish Montreal (St. Laurent and Duluth.) and is now available on Amazon  in both print and ebook formats. It’s short, only 125 pages, and has plenty of images and photos, so it’s a quick and easy read, unlike his novel. It is also available at Bonder’s Bookstore on Westminster Avenue in Montreal West, Argo Bookshop on St. Catherine Street West and the Côte Saint-Luc  Public Library.