Inter-Community Relations

Developing closer ties with our colleagues on Hampstead Town Council

A few weeks ago I suggested to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein that our council hold a virtual meeting with our colleagues in Hampstead, something we have not done since I first elected 16 years ago.

CSL and Hampstead councils meet.


Having a virtual platform made this process so simple and the one hour we spent together was  very productive. Mayor Brownstein and his counterpart, newly elected Hampstead Mayor Jeremi Levi, spoke about some common goals. Councillors introduces ourselves. We are immediate neighbours and of course, for four years during the forced mergers we were part of a borough with Montreal West.

Some of the topics raised included traffic signs on Fleet Road, the extension of Cavendish Boulevard, dedicated bus lines that will start on the Montreal side of Queen Mary Road,  Bill 96, Dawson College and how we may be able to form even closer ties.

We all agreed that more such meetings will be scheduled.



Inter-Community organizations gathering at City Hall

For my first two mandates as a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc I was responsible for Inter-community Relations. As such I created a data base of community organizations and clubs operating within our city and organized meetings once or twice a year. This represented a great opportunithy to exchange information and make new contacts.

Mayor Anthony Housefather is now overseeing this dossier and on April 2 he called the first meeting of this mandate at City Hall. While we had a nice gathering of local representatives, I was pleased to invite newly elected Outremont Borough Councillor Mindy Pollak as a special guest. Last November she became the first Chasidic Jewish woman to be elected to public office in the history of Montreal. She would like to start such a process in Outremont where by local community groups reps meet.

Besides myself, Councillors Mitchell Brownstein, Ruth Kovac, Steven Erdelyi and Allan J. Levine were on hand. We spent a good part of the meeting talking about the April 7 provincial election. It was clear that everyone in the room is uncomfortable at the mere thought of the Parti Québecois being elected with a majority.


The best part of these meetings is when we go around the table and hear about what is new with the different organizations. Mount Sinai Hospital, for instance, will soon be opening two respite beds to give at-home caregivers a  break . Carol Steadman also reminded us that May 6 is World Asthma Day and special programming will be taking place at the hospital. St. Richard's Church, which recently marked its 50th anniversary, has published a colourful commemorative booklet and it is available for sale at the price of $10. Avi Satov, the vice-principal of Bialik High School, spoke about the current presentation of the musical Grease and an upcoming Cantorial Concert. Susan Grossman promoted Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation's upcoming raffle. Arnold Rosner from Canadian Magen David Adom  for Israel said that a new ambulance for Israel is being purchase in honour of Wolf Bronet, who at 91 years young is the leader of the  "Wolf Pack" of runners. Councillor Erdelyi, who is also the principal (and soon to be Head of School) at Solomon Schechter Academy, talked about a gala on May 29 which will honour outgoing chief Shimshon Hamerman. VE Day is April 27 at 11 a.m. at Veteran's Park next to City Hall and  on May 23, also at City Hall, we will have a lecture for students about the life of Nelson Mandela whose name will be inducted  in our Human Rights Walkway on Canada Day. Finally, Councillor Brownstein spoke about the CSL Dramatic Society's next musical called Catch Me If You Can in late May.








Community organizations tour new CSL ACC

2011-09-15 Intercommunity meeting 009
Representatives from community organizations were impressed with our new ACC.


I established the Intercommunity Relations Committee six years ago as a way to bring community organizations operating within Côte Saint-Luc the opportunity to connect. Many  successful meetings have taken place, often hosted by the organizations themselves such as Maimonides Geriatric Centre, the CLSC Réne Cassin, Beth Zion Congregation, Congregation   Or Hahayim,  Mount Sinai Hospital and Bialik High School.

With the very recent opening of the state-of-the-art $18 million Aquatic and Community Centre (ACC) on Parkhaven Avenue, it was only appropriate to gather organizational reps for a tour of the facility.

Director of Parks and Recreation David Taveroff and City Councillor Ruth Kovac  (co-chair of the  project) served as the guides. Not surprisingly everyone in the group  was very impressed with the building and its facilities.

The ACC was designed to promote and facilitate active lifestyles and promote wellness, in the holistic sense of the term. People will be able to benefit from an indoor competition pool, an indoor recreation pool, a fitness room, a teen lounge, a games rooms, a kids room and babysitting service, a large rentable space for parties and conferences (something which community organizations were particularly interested in), a dance and aerobic studio, senior lounges, a library branch, an art studio and more.

Mr. Taveroff explained that since the building’s official opening on September 6, “we have had an overwhelming response to the programs we are offering. Every day people line up to register. It has gone beyond our expectations.”

As part of the tour Councillor Kovac showed everyone the spot in the atrium of the building where a brand new café will soon be operational. From there people can look out at the soon to be unveiled Imagination Park, located right by the outdoor pool. It was explained that the wonderful indoor gymnasium, built in 2001, was connected to the new complex. Besides hosting many of the city’s own programs, the gym is rented out by local schools.

Regarding the large  multi-purpose room, Mr. Taveroff explained  that it will be able  to seat 375 people cabaret and 435 theatre style. It can also be divided into three smaller rooms. There is a full kitchen (not kosher). It is anticipated that  this will be available for rentals towards the end of October.

The governments of Quebec and Canada gave Côte Saint-Luc grants totalling up to a maximum of $11.57 million, which equals two-thirds of the costs of building the facility. The City of Côte Saint-Luc funded the other third. 

Intercommunity Relations Committee Meets at Bialik


Côte Saint-Luc Intercommunity Relations Committee
Meeting of Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Bialik High School
6500 Kildare Road

Attendance: Councillor Mike Cohen (Chair),  Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Allan J. Levine,  City Manager Tanya Abramovitch, Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson,   Shireen Butman (Principal, Bialik), Elizabeth Kennell (Director of Development, JPPS Bialik), Avi Satov (Dean of Students, Bialik),  Rabbi Yehuda Benoliel, (Cong. Juive Francophone Chouva Israel), Merle Kastner (Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal), Momy Bouzaglou   (president, Congregation Or Hahayim),  Roger Dahan (executive director, Congregation Or Hahayim), Leslie Blumer (Communications, Maimonides Geriatric Centre), Alanna Myerson, (Mount Sinai Hospital), Benita Golden (Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors), Rabbi Tuvia Hoffman  (Beth Zion Congregation), James Indig (Knights of Pythias), Michael Kutz (Knights of Pythias/Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre), Heidi Oppen (Regional Director, B’nai Brith Canada Quebec), Howard Szalavetz and Andrew Wise (Kazoo Digital), Roman Filkovsky  (Russian Jewish Community),  Ellen Tissenbaum and Christian Roy (Manoire Montefiore), Rebecca Levy (Agence Ometz), Sarah Kramer (CPE Hebrew Day School/Beth Zion),  Eva Cohen  (Beth Rambam/Hebrew Academy)BialikIntercommunity

1. Introductions

Elizabeth Kennell extended regards from JPPS Bialik Head of School/CEO Laurence Fhima, who was unable to attend due to an Association of Jewish Day Schools meeting.  Ms. Kennell introduced Shireen Deen-Butman, Bialik’s new  principal. Born in India, and having lived in Israel, Ms. Deen-Butman is fluently trilingual (English, French, Hebrew) and is equipped with over 12 years of teaching and administrative experience at two extremely reputable Jewish day schools in the United States. She arrived at Bialik via the Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton and  has deep roots right here in Montreal, having attended both Concordia University and the Université de Montréal, and moreover, having taught at both Akiva and at École Maimonide.   A parent of three children attending JPPS-Bialik, she said she is committed to surrounding herself with experienced professionals who are technologically savvy and employ teaching methods that are current, and where every opportunity is sought to permeate Jewish values into students’ education and core values.

Ms. Butman and Avi Satov, the dean of students, spoke about a number of issues including the mandatory community service students must perform. Representatives from a number of organizations expressed interest in having students perhaps undertake some volunteer work with them.  Both Ms. Deen Butman and Mr. Satov  welcomed any inquiries. They will be glad to post opportunities in their daily bulletin.  Secondary I and II students must perform five hours of work per year. The number goes up to 10 hours for Secondary III and 15 hours for Secondary IV and V. Everyone was given copies of some Bialik literature and urged to log on to

2. Director of Public Safety

Jordy Reichson briefly described his role as Director of Public Safety in the city, a position which was created in the past year. Mr. Reichson is responsible for Public Security, Emergency Measures Services, Emergency Preparedness, the Dispatch Centre and Volunteer Citizens on Patrol.  The Emergency Preparedness Plan, he said, will involve the participation of community organizations. Mr. Reichson was asked by Bialik about construction in the immediate area of the school lately and what can be done to help keep traffic flowing. He indicated that his service is monitoring the situation and that the construction is temporary. He was also asked about anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism which has occurred near synagogues. Mr. Reichson said that his service is always quick to respond to acts of vandalism of this sort, working with the police, FEDERATION CJA and B’nai Brith. Councillor Brownstein promised to look into the possibility of cameras. Heidi Oppen of B’nai Brith said that her organization has a 24 hour anti-hate hotline and that people and organizations should use it.

3. Tanya Abramovitch

Tanya Abramovitch was formally introduced as the new city manager for Côte Saint-Luc. She only recently took on this position, having previously served as director of library services – a title she also continues to hold. Ms.Abramovitch spoke proudly about the strategic plan of the city which is currently being put together. In her opinion, the city must attempt to renew itself at least every 25 years.  With the construction of a new $18 million aquatic and community centre, a major housing development planned for the Cavendish Mall site and an increasing number of young families settling here,  there is a lot going on.

4. Kazoo Digital

Howard Szalavetz and Andrew Wise introduced their business, Kazoo Digital (, which provides digital signage indoors and outdoors. Very shortly, their first outdoor full colour seven by four feet LCD digital signs will appear outdoors in Côte Saint-Luc. The first location will be the corner of Kildare and Cavendish, with a second planned for the spring at Westminster and Côte Saint-Luc Road.  There will be messages appearing for Côte Saint-Luc activities. Advertising space will also be sold and organizations interested in finding out more about this were invited to contact Howard or Andrew at 514.529.6655 or [email protected].

Darryl Levine, Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Côte Saint-Luc, said he will soon be developing a detailed presentation of all the options organizations have to promote their events in the city, from banners and billboards to a google calendar.
5. Roundtable

Before the roundtable discussion began about what each organization is working on, Councillors Brownstein and Levine said a few words. Councillor Brownstein spoke about his Parks and Recreation portfolio and the excitement building for the $18 million aquatic and community centre.  In this facility there will also be a multipurpose room which can be rented out for events and seat about 370 people. Councillor Levine talked about his portfolios – tennis, seniors and bringing a public high school back to the city.

-Heidi Oppen of B’nai Brith welcomed organizations to call her if they were interested in having presentations on the subjects of reasonable accommodation and taking action against hate. The McGill Pro Bono Students are working on this project. Students, she said, might be interested in a new diversity initiative now being run as a pilot project out of Vanier College. It involves students writing a script for a film on diversity, with chance to win cash and be filmed for a short YouTube production. Her organization has also become involved in organizing singles evenings for adults and seniors at Beth Zion and is always seeking volunteers to pack food for holiday food baskets.

-Roman Filkovsky came to Canada from Russia six years ago and settled in Côte Saint-Luc.   He wants to hold gatherings of the local Russian community and have them integrate better into Côte Saint-Luc

-Elizabeth Kennell said that JPPS will mark its centennial in 2013-14 and activities are already being planned. JPPS-Bialik, she said, provides $1.2 million in tuition assistance each year. She spoke proudly about Bialik’s arts and music program, noting that a professional music studio is being constructed and will be ready in 2011. Music, she emphasized, will become an extra-curricular activity and ultimately be integrated into the regular curriculum.

-Christian Roy said that he has been with the Manoire Montefiore on Mackle Road for two years now. The 133 unit seniors residence is undergoing major renovations, as part of a five year plan. They will soon receive special certification in order  to have one dedicated floor to service  about 10 to 12 seniors coming directly from public hospitals. In addition he spoke about the Embrace Program, which will enable some seniors living in the immediate area of Manoire Montefiore to take part in activities, have meals  and even use the synagogue. Mr. Roy said he would like to reach out to the Sephardic French speaking community to let them know that they are welcome at Manoire Montefiore.

-Roger Dahan said that Congregation Sepharade Or Hahayim  invites groups to rent their hall (which has an exclusive caterer), come attend services and lectures. A new website is being established, as is a children’s choir.

- Merle Kastner said that the Jewish  Genealogical Society has its mailing address and executive meetings in CSL, but events are generally held at the Jewish  Public Library or the Gelber Centre.  Programs are publicized in the local press and she urged everyone to try to attend some.

-Rebecca Levy reminded everyone that Agence Ometz was established  two years ago, the result of a merger between Jewish Employment Montreal, Jewish Immigrant Aid Services and Jewish  Family Services. She said that Ometz  deals with many individuals either living or wishing to settle in CSL There is a lot of crisis situations involving individuals, from evictions to acts of violence.

-Sarah Kramer said that her CPE Hebrew Day School has 80 children in part of the Beth Zion and 70 more in a home they purchased a number of years ago next door and renovated. She said that the school continues to enjoy great success.

-Leslie Blumer said that Maimonides continues to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The popular Battle of the Bands fundraiser will take place soon. A new cook  book has been published and receiving excellent feedback. A mini-med program is now in progress, focusing on geriatric issues.

-Alanna Myerson reminded everyone that Mount Sinai caters to in and out patients, does  blood tests for the general public at specific times and is working with the Jewish General  Hospital on some exciting new projects.

-Benita Golden of the Cummings Jewish Centre  for Seniors urged everyone to go to, where important and valuable information can be obtained. The Centre will be getting some new funds from   the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which elderly Holocaust survivors can apply for to cover the costs of home assistance. Application forms must be filled out. There are also memory loss and different adaptive programs operating out of the Centre.

-Rabbi Hoffman just began his new role as spiritual animator of Beth Zion, succeeding Rabbi  Ira Ebbin who returned home to New York last spring. Rabbi Hoffman most recently worked for the Jewish Experience on the West Island. He has bought a home in Côte Saint-Luc and will move in soon with his family. In the past he has taught at Bialik. At Beth Zion he hopes to introduce many new and exciting programs.

- Rabbi Benoliel noted that his large congregation manages to do so many things in their small quarters on Parkhaven Avenue.  He has many young families and more than a dozen people studying to become rabbis. His congegation is involved with many charitable causes and even runs summer and winter camps for young children.

-Michael Kutz noted that the Knights of Pythias, based at the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre,  services some 24 institutions in the city such as B’nai Brith House, Caldwell House and Mount Sinai and assists individuals who cannot afford cemetery plots. They are also members of the Inter-Service Clubs Council, which helps put on the Telethon of Stars.

-Eva Cohen is the executive director of Congregation Beth Rambam and the president of the Parents Association of Hebrew Academy. At Beth Rambam, she said, a second (earlier) minyan is being introduced for individuals who want more time to study torah. There are also special classes for women and a conference planned on education, where some of the organizations seated around this table might want to participate.

6. Conclusion

The meeting went over the intended 90 minute timeslot and as a result those on hand were unable to take part in the planned tour of the facility.

Intercommunity Relations Commitee Visits Mount Sinai Hospital


Councillor Cohen (holding sign) is surrounded by members of the Intercommunity Relations Committee and special guests at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Note: The following is a press release about the most recent Intercommunity Relations Committee meeting.

The Côte Saint-Luc Intercommunity Relations Committee, chaired by Councillor Mike Cohen, continues to give organizations and institutions operating within the municipality an opportunity to network and learn about each other’s initiatives. When Mayor Anthony Housefather gave Councillor Cohen the Intercommunity Relations portfolio at the beginning of the present council’s mandate nearly four years ago, organizations had never before had an opportunity to meet with each other on a regular basis. Work began on establishing a data base. After a first meeting at City Hall, it was decided that all subsequent meetings would be hosted by a different organization.

What followed were sessions at the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, Beth Zion Congregation, the CSSS Cavendish/CLSC René-Cassin, Congregation Or Hahayim and most recently, Mount Sinai Hospital. “We have had excellent attendance and the comment most often heard is from people who have worked in the city for many years, yet never before stepped into some of the buildings we visit,” said Councillor Cohen. “Our meetings are productive for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the organizations and institutions now have a more direct line to City Hall. Secondly, representatives are getting to know each other.” Representatives at this meeting came from Bialik High School, the JPPS-Bialik head office, Beth Zion, the CSSS Cavendish, St. Richard’s Parish, Congregation. Juive Francophone Chouva Israel, the MADA Community Centre, the Knights of Pythias, Hebrew Academy, National Council of Jewish Women, Maimonides Geriatric Centre, the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, host Mount Sinai and Howard Liebman from the office of Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler.

Councillor Kovac introduced Michel Amar, the interim executive director. Mr. Amar provided an interesting recap of the hospital’s history. Since its inception in 1909 in Ste. Agathe, by members of the Jewish community, Mount Sinai has always stood for excellence. Today, the hospital is a state-of-the-art institution, which specializes in Respiratory Care, Palliative Care and Long-Term Care, with the Canadian Council on Health Services accreditation. This is a 107-bed, McGill University affiliated teaching hospital where innovative research and ambulatory services play an increasingly key role.

MtSinaiSmaller Councillor Levine and Kovac, Michel Amar, Councillors Mike Cohen and Mitchell Brownstein.


Mount Sinai Hospital Montreal is an established hospital that treats anyone in Quebec and beyond.   Mount Sinai’s history dates back to the hospital’s inception when members of the Jewish community recognized the need for a tuberculosis sanatorium. Before the discovery of an antibiotic, it was accepted that fresh mountain air, and pure water, could facilitate the treatment and ultimately cure tuberculosis. And so, Mount Sinai’s heritage began in Prefontaine near Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, with a humble 12-bed facility. In 1939, the sanatorium was officially inaugurated and welcomed patients from all over. Tuberculosis intensified as a fatal disease placing pressure on the capacity of the establishment. Mount Sinai soon had 57 beds and welcomed not only tuberculosis patients but also those suffering from other respiratory diseases.  Mount Sinai remained a tuberculosis sanatorium until the threat of the disease diminished in the 1950s. The focus then shifted to becoming an intermediate care facility specializing in respiratory diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis, asthma and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Eventually in 1990, Mount Sinai moved to its present facility in order to better serve the greater Montreal area. Since then, services have been constantly adapting to meet the changing needs of the community, with upgraded facilities and equipment to guarantee the highest level of patient care. 

 The hospital will be hosting an « Inspiration » exhibit at the Montreal Science Centre May 28 to September 7 , a Centennial Gala June 4 at the Cabaret de Casino (hosted by the Auxiliary and with Councillor Kovac as an honouree), an open house and annual general meeting September 16, a public session of the centennial medical symposium on sleep disorders November 12 and another on sleep disorders in clinical practice the following day at Le Windsor. Carol Steadman, who is responsible for community relations and volunteer services, noted that in addition to those involved with the Auxiliary there are 216 volunteers at the hospital. She has recently been working with students from Bialik and Herzliah to become active in this area. To volunteer one has to be 16 years of age.

One of the most interesting aspects of these meetings is the round-table discussion whereby each organization provides an update on its activities. This time information included renovations at Beth Zion and St. Richard’s, the library’s community outreach program,. JPPS-Bialik relocating its head office to the Bialik facility on Kildare Road from Decarie Square, plans for the Maimonides Centennial in 2010 and MADA’s desire to find a storefront to serve kosher meals to the needy in Côte Saint-Luc. Members of the committee also got a tour of the Mount Sinai building.

Unprecedented Intercommunity Relations

This week I chaired the first meeting of a Côte Saint-Luc Intercommunity Relations Committee. When I was elected on November 6, 2005, the mayor handed out portfolios I naturally requested communications. He asked me if I would also take care of relations with community groups. I agreed. With the strong support of Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, I pursued a process of developing the city's first ever data base of community groups. This was a huge task to get all of the coordinates. We hired Ellie Matlin, a former sales rep at The Suburban and along with our staff she spent six months compiling the list. Response to our invitation was strong---more than 30 groups