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May 2019

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome, bonjour-hi to the Cabaret in CSL

I think it is safe to say that since the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society first started in 2011 they have never quite presented a show quite like Cabaret.

Presentations of Kander and Ebb’s iconic musical continue at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium until June 16, 2019. I was among those on hand for opening night and one could not help but be thoroughly impressed by Director Anisa Cameron and her crew.

One of the great musicals of a generation, Cabaret leads us between the worlds of the notorious nightlife and political turmoil of Berlin in 1931. An important and iconic piece of musical theatre, with book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, Cabaret invites audiences to witness the decadence and decay of a place teetering on the brink of catastrophe. 

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Craig Dalley as the Emcee. (Ian Cameron Photo)

 

“Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome…” With this friendly yet eerie salutation, the brilliant Craig Dalley  greets in the audience in the role of Emcee and leads us through the story of American Cliff Bradshaw (Calder Levine) and his brief but indelible affair with British Berlin cabaret darling, Sally Bowles (Jeanne Motulsky, who played Penny in Hairspray).

On why she felt strongly the CSLDS should produce Cabaret at this moment, Cameron said: “Cabaret stands as a staggering, sumptuous, scintillating and stark lesson in the dangers of complacency, denial and willful ignorance in the face of unbridled nationalism and the rise of a fascist tide.  In the political climate that we find ourselves facing today, I felt strongly compelled to produce this show.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who co-produced the show with Councillor Mitch Kujavsky, added:  “From its inception, I was always intrigued by Cabaret. Its musical numbers sparked my first interest in musical theatre, while its story taught me so much. This is why we will be bringing musical numbers from the show to the seniors homes in Côte Saint-Luc and through a partnership with the Montreal Holocaust Museum, we will  educate our high school and CEGEP students with special shows and talk backs discussions in the presence of Holocaust survivors.” 

Kujavsky said he was unfamiliar with Cabaret prior to this production.  “The depth of the show’s message is powerful and will resonate very strongly in our community,” he said.

Jordana Dobski, Kujavsky’s wife, is a past CLDS performer. She stepped in to the role of production manager for this show.

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A scene from the show. (Ian Cameron photo)

 

Cabaret takes place from 1929-1930, a time when Berlin, in the midst of a post-World War I economic depression, is transitioning from a center of underground, avant-garde cultural epicenter to the beginnings of Hitler’s totalitarian regime and the rise of the Nazi Party. Into this world enters Bradshaw, a struggling American writer looking for inspiration for his next novel. On his first night in Berlin,  he wanders into the Kit Kat Klub, a seedy nightclub overseen by the strange, omniscient and gender-bending Master of Ceremonies, “the Emcee.” Here, Cliff meets Sally Bowles, a vivacious, talented cabaret performer, and an utterly lost soul. Sally and Cliff begin a relationship, which blossoms unexpectedly into a dream-like romance.

As time passes, however, the situation in Berlin changes from exciting and vital to ominous and violent; Ernst (Edward Le Vasseur), Cliff’s first German friend, turns out to be an up-and-coming member of the Nazi Party, and Herr Schultz (wonderfully portrayed by Johnny Kovac), a fellow boarder at Fraulein Schneider’s  (Linda Babins) guest house (and Schneider’s fiancee), is the victim of an anti-Semitic hate crime.

When he finds out that Sally is pregnant, Cliff decides that they must leave for America at once, before things get any worse. Sally, afraid, confused, and unsure that she’ll ever really be able to trade the sexy, illicit cabaret lifestyle for motherhood, gets an abortion, and tells Cliff that he must leave without her. Fraulein Kost, nemesis to Fraulein Schneider , is portrayed by  CSLDS newcomer and McGill Jazz vocalist, Maria Jimenez. She also  plays double duty as Lulu in the Kit Kat Klub as well. The Kit Kat Girls are: Genevieve Pertugia (Rosie); Marina Mendoza (Frenchie), who arrived via  Cirque Eloize; Concordia Theatre Performance student Gabrielle Banville (Texas); McGill Jazz Vocal student Isabelle Rachiele (Fritzie); Ari Sterlin (Helga), veteran CSLDS performer, choreographer, writer and director; Nicole Arrage (Zelda)  and Kaylah Langburt (Totsie ). The Kit Kat boys include: TY Jung (Bobby); CSLDS Veteran Natasha Lilliman (Victor), Jonah Zoldan (Hans/Rudy) (Joseph…) and Ryan Kligman (Herman), who doubles as Assistant Director. Rounding out this ensemble are: Shaun Nishmas as Kit Kat Klub owner, Max, and young rising star of stage and screen, 8 year old Ryan Hill as the voice of the young boy who sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”.

The Musical Director Benjamin Kwong witgh Alexia Gourd back as   choreographer,  assisted by  Sterlin.  Continuing the list, there is design by Sabrina Miller, Costume Design by Elyse Malo and  Lighting Design by Babins . Technical Director is Scott Drysdale, with Samantha Stermer  as stage manager. And a well deserved shout out to Ryan Nemeroff from the Parks and Recreation Department who serves an invaluable liaison for  the CLDS.

Tickets for the run range in price from $28 to $45 (for exclusive Cabaret style seating that includes a beverage and refreshment.  All tickets are available at The Eleanor London Public Library, The CSL Aquatic and Community Center, and online at CSLDramaticSociety.com, and can also be purchased at the door one hour before show time.

Opening night included a special VIP Gala Fundraiser, with a dinatoire and entertainment before the show.

Warning: Cabaret includes scenes of overt sexualityand some violence. Due to the time and location Cabaret takes place in, there will be imagery used which is associated with the rise of and atrocities committed by the Nazi party.

You can also see Glenn J. Nashen's review.

 


Meeting with Rembrandt Avenue reps discusses new stop sign on Kildare

Last September we added a new stop sign at the corner of Rembrandt and Kildare Road going West. We did so to address the concerns of Rembrandt Ave. residents who have often been stranded at their stop sign endlessly.

Due to the high volume of cars turning onto Kildare eastbound from Cavendish, we want to avoid a potential back-up onto Cavendish as a consequence of cars stopping at Rembrandt. In addition, Ministry of Transport requirements for adding a stop sign on the approach are not met. Thus the reason why another stop sign was not installed.

Soon after the 2017 election, I asked our Traffic Committee staffed by two engineers and chaired by Councillor David Tordjman, also an engineer, to study the request put forward by Rembrandt Ave.  residents for a stop sign. It was agreed that we would review this measure within the first year of implementation. Thus far residents of Rembrandt Ave. are quite pleased.  The response is mixed from those on other streets.

In order to get a better handle on how people feel I called a small focus group meeting at City Hall on January 7. Councillor Tordjman was present. We had representation from all five condo high rise building on Rembrandt as well as people residing on Kildare Road, Merrimac, Ilan Ramon, Sir Walter Scott and Marc Chagall.

 

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Councillor Tordjman, myself, Elysée Condo President David Ostroff and Officer Poitras.

 The stop sign was discussed at the  last Traffic Committee meeting. Council has not made any final decision on its future. For now the status quo remains in place.  I insisted that residents of Rembrandt should certainly be consulted again and  I asked Councillor Tordjman and Police Station 9 Traffic Officer Simon Poitras to join me at a meeting with representatives from the condomiums on Rembrandt. We did so on  Monday night, May 27.

The purpose of the meeting was for Councillor Tordjman and Officer Poitras to share any concerns of the Traffic Committee and the Police. At the same time, I invited the condo reps to express their views and provide us with some ideas on how to make that stop safer.

Councillor Tordjman stated from the start that the possibility of any accident occurring at that corner existed prior to the installation of the new stop sign as well.

The Traffic Committee  will continue to monitor this intersection. A traffic flow study will be undertaken to measure the volume of traffic and the times they are approaching each intersection.. We have decided to do this after Labour Day when school is back in full swing. It  will give us a better portrait of the situation.

We  had some excellent suggestions from then condo reps. These will be shared with the Traffic Committee.

One comment that resonated came from resident David Haltrecht who said “Since this stop sign was installed I feel safer! Before that the situation was far more dangerous. Motorists turning left from Rembrandt got impatient and would make illegal turns, wading their way right into traffic.”

I will keep everyone posted.


Lights update for Marc Chagall Avenue

On Friday May 24  a new electrical conduit was installed on Mark Chagall Avenue in front of the Equinox building.

The contractor, "Les Constructions Morival," has confirmed the delivery of the new concrete light base for Wednesday. Both the light base and the permanent asphalt road repairs will be carried out on Wednesday. Once the contractors work has been completed our electricians will run the electrical wires and install the street lights(one on the east side of the road next to the Equinox driveway and the second on the corner of Mark Chagall & Lismer).

This work should be completed for the end of this week or early the following week.  Once the new wiring is completed and the lights installed, the Equinox builder "Jadco" will be able to cut the temporary power to the lights and the street lights will again be connected to the city's power grid. The street lights will go on and off with the magic eye including the lights on Leonard Cohen Lane.

Thanks to John Monteiro and his team from Public Works for their excellent job on this dossier.

 

 


Police Station 9 sets up information kiosk at Kildare Towers

The  team at Police Station 9 are always there for our community, notably socio-community officers Vincent Di Angelis and Marie Christine Nobert. I appreciate the fact they are always there when I need to share or obtain some information.

Earlier this week Office  Di Angelis set up an information kiosk in the lobby of Kildare Towers on Honore-de-Balzac. It is something Police Station does in certain large buildings during the year, giving residents a chance to pick up some important literature and ask questions. I stopped by to join Officer Di Angelis and  converse with tenants. Having been the councillor for  District 2 for more than 13 years, I know many of them already. The building is owned by Howard Szalavetz and managed by Pat Meisels.

 

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Officer Di Angelis and myself greet some residents.

There was some excellent literature warning people not to get trapped by con artists, such as credit/debit card theft, jewellery theft and contractor and grandson fraud. Another piece of information showed how to  file a police report online. There was also a magnetized card with important phone numbers on the front.

Tenants in particular always feel comfortable when the police set up such visits. It is reassuring to say the least.


We have proudly unveiled our first social media policy

As the councillor responsible for communications, I was  proud to present our new social media policy at the last public  meeting on May 13.

Thanks to our ever so valuable Director of Public Affairs and Communications Darryl Levine, his  team and members of council  who contributed to this final product. The city  launched its Facebook page on April 18, 2009. In the subsequent 10 years, we have added video channels, first at Vimeo then YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and then in November 2017, a Facebook group, which acts like a traditional discussion forum. The goal of the Idées CSL Ideas Facebook group (née Your CSL) was to give residents an exchange forum to provide feedback. We specifically included the word “ ideas”  in the name to help encourage users into the constructive conversations and comments.

CSL Ideas

Right now we gave just over 2,300 members for our Côte Saint-Luc page and over 2,100 for CSL Ideas.

 There are things we want to carry out in terms of social media such as sharing smart ideas members have come across, learning about ways we can improve our services and ensure people use their  real name in  their Facebook profile.

We also urge members not to use: offensive or violent language; hateful or discriminatory comments regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or political beliefs, attacks on specific groups or any comments meant to harass, threaten or abuse an individual.;  this space to advertise a business.  If someone persists in offensive behaviour or continually violates any of our house rules, we may block that person from further participation. 

As for the rules,   they have been adopted to make this forum better for  members. Administrators have the following options available when dealing with posts or comments that break the rules: delete the post or comment, ask the member to edit the post or comment to make it comply with the rules, closed commenting on the post, mute the member, eject the member, turn on post approval for a period of time to allow people to cool off.

Off-topic posts

Do not post about topics that don’t relate to something that the City of Côte Saint-Luc is responsible for doing or enforcing.

Municipal politics and campaigns

Do not discuss municipal politics, election campaigns or candidates, future or past.

Provincial or federal politics and campaigns

Do not discuss provincial or federal politics, campaigns, or candidates. You may discuss provincial or federal programs as long as they relate to an idea for the city (e.g., “The city should use money from such and such a provincial program to do such and such a project.”)

No insults

Do not direct personal insults at one another (e.g., "You are an idiot."). Do not name call. Do not make discussions unnecessarily personal. If somebody else insults you, report their post, do not mimic their behaviour.

No defamation

Do not post or comment something that defames physical person (eg, City staff, City Council members, other persons) or moral persons (ie, the City). Innuendo will not be tolerated either. The law of defamation protects a person’s reputation from harm that is unjustified. Section 300 of the Canadian Criminal Code states: “Every one who publishes a defamatory libel that he knows is false is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.” Source: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/page-65.html

Do not be unnecessarily antagonistic

 People are allowed to have different opinions than you.

No harassment

Do not purposely intimidate a member or harass them. This includes personal attacks on administrators or moderators.

No comments about named or identifiable employees of the city

Do not comment on a specific employee or groups of employees. If you have a concern or suggestion for improvement, you can contact the Human Resources Department privately at hr-rh@cotesaintluc.org.

Threats

Do not threaten or intimate a threat.

Obscenities

Do not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws.

Trolling

Do not post in order to anger other members or intentionally cause negative reactions.

Spam

Do not spam, which is a post or comment that is submitted repetitively, without any bearing on the discussion topic, or otherwise deliberately disrupting the forum.

Advertising/soliciting/self-promotion

Do not promote, advertise, or otherwise call attention to your product or business.

One-word posts and animated GIFs

Do not post one word posts or comments. Examples include posts with only one or two words (e.g., "cool", "LOL", or a smilie), posts saying "I agree", "+1", "this", "me too", or the equivalent, posting overused memes, or making posts with images (e.g., animated GIFs) or videos that contain no relevant, constructive text or commentary.

Real names

You must use your real name or otherwise be identifiable to the group administrator.

Profanity

Do not use bad words even with letters replaced by asterisks or spelled in other ways.

For the complete policy click here.  

 


Another successful McHappy Day assists our Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund

The City of Côte Saint-Luc and our employees have beeb supporting McHappy Day at McDonald's for many years. But in 2017 I was approached by , Pierre Brunet,  McDonald's franchisee at the Côte Saint-luc Shopping Centre location.  Every year, McDonald’s Canada franchisees and crew across the country celebrate McHappy Day , an annual day of community giving in support of Ronald McDonald Houses and other local children’s charities. On this day, for every Big Mac®, Happy Meal® or hot McCafé® beverage purchased, $1 is  donated to children’s charities across Canada.

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With some city staff and Mitchell Libenstein.

Pierre  asked me if I could come up with a specific fund the profits from his McHappy Day could be directed to. I looked right back  at him and realized what would make a lot of sense. With that the Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund was born. Monies raised are being used for assistance to local families who may be experiencing financial difficulties in registering their children in our programs, for families with special needs children requiring additional support at our programs and for parks equipment intended for children with disabilities.  It has been a huge success, with the CSL Men's Club getting involved and other parties. It is also now linked to our CSL Summer Golf Classic.

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Trish McKenzie

I spent some time with our staff who were working  hard at this year’s McHappy Day. Thanks to Parks and Recreation Department Director Cornelia Ziga for staying all day and overseeing the shifts. Some of our staff worked behind the counter serving customers. Others sold small items which also helped the cause. It was also nice to see a restaurant legend of sorts Mitchell Libenstein, former owner of the former Mitchell's at the YM-YWHA who now works in management for McDonald's

Bravo to all!

 


Tribute: Master chef of the Jewish community Marianna Roth led an extraordinary life

The community has lost a legendary  queen of the kitchen. Marianna Roth passed away peacefully, in her sleep, on Sunday, May 5, 2019, after a courageous battle. She was 82.

It was about 10 years ago when I first met   "Mrs Roth."

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Mrs. Roth and her son-in-law Avi.

 

I stopped my car in the strip shopping centre that housed the legendary Delly Boys Restaurant and  I saw the sign that said Côte St. Luc Kosher. My mother-in—law had been raving to me about Mrs. Roth and her son-in-law Avi  Brook the butcher for years, so I ventured in to take a look. There was Mrs. Roth, standing besides some delicious looking prepared food. She did not know me, but asked if there was  something she could help me with.

“How is the chicken schnitzel?” I asked.

“You tell me,” she smiled, cutting a nice slice and handing it to me on a plate.

“Wow!” I responded. “This is the best chicken schnitzel I have ever taste”

I ordered three pieces and brought them home, much to the delight of my wife and daughter.

A few days later I returned and I met Avi. In the  back of the store was  the butcher shop. Mrs. Roth and her crew were busy preparing all kinds of fabulous ready to eat home cooked meals. I tried the chicken burgers this time. They were extraordinary. There were other chicken dishes and an entire array of Chinese food. Meals were also prepared en masse for schools. I was hooked and became a regular and over time I became friends with the family.

I told a writer from The Gazette about Mrs. Roth and Avi and she wrote a feature story on them. We learned how Mrs. Roth had been through more hardships in her lifetime than most of us can even imagine. But the Holocaust survivor was  not interested in garnering sympathy. Rather, her priority was maintaining Glatt Kosher Self Service Ltd., the deli that she had owned for nearly 50 years.

"My life is like a Hollywood story. I had a chance to succeed and earn a living in this amazing country, and to me that is the dream -that's what everyone wants," she told The Gazette.

As  the story goes  the native of Hungary lost both her father at the age of seven and was sent to a concentration camp near Vienna during the Holocaust. After being freed, she spent seven years in an orphanage. When she was 16, she married her husband just before the Hungarian Revolution happened. The couple and their infant daughter escaped through the mountains and waited two years in a refugee camp for a country to accept them.

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Paola Samuel from Global TV visits with Mrs. Roth,

Roth's husband was a butcher by trade, and Canada welcomed them in 1958.

After working as a dishwasher in synagogues, Roth took a job at Glatt, a butcher shop on Laurier Ave., doing odd jobs.

"They paid me in shares of the business instead of wages," Mrs. Roth explained to The Gazette.  I was happy with that; it was a job that allowed me to be home for my two kids at night."

After years of working at Glatt, the owners gave Mrs. Roth her own store in St. Laurent.  "When I came here I spoke no English and had no experience, so to be given my own store was just incredible," she said. "The owners of Glatt were great people, and they knew I was hard-working and wouldn't let them down."

The store quickly became known for its eastern European and Sephardic food. The shop was a staple in St. Laurent, and she worked there six days every week for about 14 hours each day.

In 1985, Mrs. Roth's husband bought a Kosher butcher shop in Côte St. Luc and trained their son-in-law to be a butcher there.  "I was an airline mechanic, but there were no jobs in my field," said Avi. "So I went to work with the family."

Later I arranged interviews with CJAD,  CTV,  Global TV, CHAI Montreal and Breakfast TV.   Mrs. Roth always insisted that her daughters Judy and Esther be by her side. I got to know the  two of them as well. When Avi invited  me  to the family home, Judy would always make me something to eat. Like her mom, she was a fantastic cook. One day I asked Avi and Mrs.Roth if they could make an order of salmon patties for me. They do so in style. One week Avi said he could not have them made in the store. Judy found out and she made a batch for me herself. Tragically, she died on October 25, 2015 from a mysterious bacteria. She was  only 55. It broke the family. Mrs. Roth had been living with Avi, Judy and their kids for many years and this did not change, even when they sold the home recently.

I wrote often about Mrs. Roth and Avi in other publications. It was a joy to be their de facto press agent. While she had never really done any interviews before she met me, Mrs.  Roth was a natural.

“Age is just a number,” she told CHAI Montreal’s Lisa Winston in 2014. “I never want to retire. Never ever and it shows!”

Click here to see the CTV report.

Click here to see the CHAI Montreal broadcast

Mrs. Roth was an extraordinary individual, the likes of which we may never see again.

Our sympathies to the family.


Another emotional Yom Hashoah ceremony

I have been attending Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) commemoration ceremonies at Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte-Saint-Luc for decades now. The Montreal Holocaust Museum does a masterful job coordinating this community-wide ceremony honouring the memory of Holocaust victims and the legacy of those who survived. We are so fortunate to still have Holocaust survivors with us, able to tell their dramatic stories.

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The title of this year’s ceremony, When Life Changed Forever, spoke to the diverse moments in the lives of survivors when they realized their worlds had shattered. I , like many, appreciate the format the Museum adopts each year for the program. Through video testimony, Holocaust survivors share their personal experiences and memories. In addition, these survivors and their descendants light six candles in memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

The Montreal survivors who shared their testimony were:
• Rachel Abish (born in Hungary, she recalled the hunger she suffered while living in yellow star and Red-Cross houses),
• Nettie Herscher (born in the Netherlands, she remembered packing bags before her family’s deportation to Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen),
• Bill Lewkowict (born in Lithuania, he hid in a forest for two years after escaping the ghetto),
• Judith Nemes Black (born in Hungary, she recalled learning a new name and identity while living in hiding),
• Edmond Silber, (born in France, he escaped the Vel d’Hiv roundup and lived in hiding in small village until liberation),
• Charlotte Wexler (born in Yugoslavia, she survived multiple concentration camps and a death march from Ravensbrück, noting that she was about to turn 1 and a mere 65 pounds when liberated).

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Survivor Sonja Langburt, son Ahron and granddaughter Mia Langburt at the podium,

 

The program also included the reading of poems and other short texts in English, French, Hebrew and Yiddish. Songs were performed by a choir of Grade 6 students from the Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools accompanied by Holocaust survivor, Fishel Goldig and directed by Jason Rosenblatt. Each year, a diverse audience of 1,200 people were present to witness the transmission of memory to younger generations.

The Montreal Jewish community and its estimated 4,000 Holocaust survivors have commemorated Yom Hashoah for nearly 70 years. It was declared Holocaust Memorial Day in Quebec in 1999 and in Canada in 2005. Former D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman was seated in the front row. It was he who adopted the motion in the National Assembly. I vividly remember speaking to him that day. His succcessor David Birnbaum was on hand as were many municipal politicians. There was no elected CAQ MNA present.

 

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The Yom Hashoah Committee, co-chaired by Doris Steg and Ruth Najman, organizes the commemoration.

The Montreal Holocaust Museum is a jewel in our midst, educating people of all ages and backgrounds about the Holocaust, while sensitizing the public to the universal perils of antisemitism, racism, hate and indifference. “We are celebrating our 40th anniversary,” said Steg. “There were 21,000 visits this past year. During the school year we welcome bus loads of students.”

Israel Consul General David Levy said that after the horrors of the Holocaust, we thought that would mark the end of antisemitism. He then alluded to the recently released B’nai Brith Canada Audit on Antisemitic Incidents which showed that Quebec accounted for the highest number of incidents (709), significantly surpassing Ontario (481) for the first time since the audit began 37 years ago. “Who would have believed this possible in Quebec, the safe haven for so many Holocaust survivors – second to New York and Israel,” the Consul General said.

Dorothy Zalcman Howard, the president of the Museum, spoke about “how much wisdom we have lost, how many acts of kindness, laughter, songs, jokes and memories.”

The CIty of Côte Saint-Luc has a partnership with the Museum, working together to educate students about the Holocaust. Flyers were distributed at Yom Hashoah. See below.

CSLDS Cabaret Yom Hashoah event - Front - Back