Our CSL Public Library celebrates  a new naming rights donation for Science and Fiction readers

Gary Fagen was a long-time member of the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library who passed away on, September 19, 2018. Throughout his life he was an avid Science Fiction and Fantasy reader, devouring everything the library had. He often made suggestions for purchase and as no one had the knowledge nor passion that he had, he became the library’s unofficial Science Fiction and Fantasy selector.

Emma, Erin and Daniel showcase the newly affixed plaque.


“Gary was particularly adept at ensuring that no one volume from any series was ever missing,” said CSL Director of Library Services Janine West.  “He was also tireless in his advocacy for the library to purchase more in his beloved genre, but as he was one of its few fans we never purchased as much as he would have hoped. However, he was able to take advantage of our Interlibrary Loan Service, which he used extensively for all of the obscure titles the library didn’t own.”

The late Gary Fagen


Fagen’s daughter, Erin Fagen, remembers her parents bringing her to the library as a child and as the family grew up and dispersed, she recounted how the library became his second home. As she says, he found more than  just books at the library; he discovered a community. He regularly came to the library to chat where he found amongst the library’s talented librarians a group of like-minded people who loved books and who also loved to talk about them.This was true; all of the staff knew him and for those who were also readers of the genre, there was a particular bond where various titles and authors were read and opinions shared. In 2019, Erin, contacted Director West to ask about opportunities for honouring her father as the library was such a big part of his life. He also had his own collection of books and the family donated this soon after he passed away. Various options were discussed, but then  COVID-19 hit and things were put on hold.  

We recently picked things up and I am pleased to report that the family has made a generous $7,000 donation to name the Gary Fagen Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Section. This will include the purchase of some new chairs for the reading section as well.

I spoke to Erin, her brother Daniel and their mom Emma to discuss the donation. Here is the video chat.


Notre bibliothèque publique CSL célèbre un nouveau don de droits de dénomination pour les lecteurs de science et de fiction.

Gary Fagen était un membre de longue date de la bibliothèque publique Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc qui est décédé le 19 septembre 2018. Tout au long de sa vie, il a été un lecteur passionné de science-fiction et de fantaisie dévorant tout ce que la bibliothèque possédait. Il faisait souvent des suggestions d'achat et comme personne n'avait les connaissances ni la passion qu'il avait, il est devenu le sélectionneur officieux de science-fiction et de fantastique de la bibliothèque.

"Gary était particulièrement doué pour s'assurer qu'aucun volume d'une série ne manquait", a déclaré Janine West, directrice des services de bibliothèque de la CSL.  "Il était également infatigable dans son plaidoyer pour que la bibliothèque achète plus de livres de son genre bien-aimé, mais comme il était l'un de ses rares fans, nous n'en avons jamais acheté autant qu'il l'aurait espéré. Cependant, il a pu profiter de notre service de prêt entre bibliothèques, qu'il a beaucoup utilisé pour tous les titres obscurs que la bibliothèque ne possédait pas".

Erin Fagen, la fille de M. Fagen, se souvient que ses parents l'emmenaient à la bibliothèque lorsqu'elle était enfant. Elle a raconté comment la bibliothèque était devenue sa deuxième maison. Il a découvert une communauté. Il venait régulièrement à la bibliothèque pour bavarder et il a trouvé parmi les bibliothécaires talentueux de la bibliothèque des personnes qui ont fait preuve d'une grande créativité.

C'était vrai, tout le personnel le connaissait et pour ceux qui étaient aussi des lecteurs du genre, il y avait un lien particulier où l'on parlait de titres et d'auteurs.

En 2019, Erin a contacté le directeur West pour lui demander s'il était possible d'honorer son père. La bibliothèque occupait une place importante dans sa vie. Il avait également sa propre collection de livres. Il avait également sa propre collection de livres et la famille en a fait don peu après son décès.  Diverses options ont été discutées, mais le COVID-19 a frappé et les choses ont été mises en suspens.  Nous avons récemment repris les choses en main et j'ai le plaisir d'annoncer que la famille a fait un don généreux de 7 000 dollars pour baptiser la section Gary Fagen Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Section (section des livres de science-fiction et de fantastique).

Side By Side with Heroes:  Stories of an Ambulance Medic in Israel

Dr. Sara R. Ahronheim is an Emergency Physician at the Jewish General Hospital,  trained at McGill University. Aside from patient care, she teaches medical students and residents how to become compassionate, knowledgeable physicians. She also runs the Physician Well-being program at her site, and is passionate about maintaining work-life balance and promoting joy at work. An alumnus of Queen’s University, she studied Wildlife Biology there while dipping her toes in medicine as a volunteer with the First Response Team.

After graduating from Queen’s and before being accepted to McGill Medical School, Dr. Ahronheim  spent a memorable period of time as part of the Overseas Volunteer Program for Magen David Adom, the Israeli national ambulance service. This may have occurred   20 years ago, but Dr. Ahronheim wrote diary entries and emails  that she sent out to friends and family.

“Some are emotional, and some may feel very disconnected,” she shares. ‘Being an ambulance medic in a tumultuous time, as a young person with no actual experience of death and suffering, my words, at times, might feel callous. I saw a dead person for the first time, held my hand to a gunshot victim’s bloody chest, and didn’t write about how I felt. I just described the scene, the excitement of it, the rush. I didn’t delve into my soul, and how these moments changed me. “

Dr. Ahronheim’s new book, Side By Side with Heroes:  Stories of an Ambulance Medic in Israel , will be formally launched at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall via our Public Library on Monday evening, February 13 (6:30 pm). She will be recognized at the start if our public council meeting at 8 pm.

Please watch my video interview with her  and Samuel Moyal of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel right here.


 The book chronicles her daring journey as she follows her cultural roots into the chaos and tragedy of war. Set in Israel in a country fighting for its identity, she searches for her own identity as she bravely explores the human condition through her ambulance work. Torn between her peaceful life in Canada and the adventures that await her, she  learns who she is through the mirror of tragedy, chaos and connection half way around the world. Navigating her own personal journey into womanhood and independence, while risking her life for others, this is where she found her life’s passion in emergency medicine. That and the fact both of her parents were pediatricians.


“I have presented and treated people at three births, one CPR, two bombings  countless other interesting and not so interesting other calls,” Dr Ahronheim wrote upon the completion of that trip in 2002-2003. “I have treated police, terrorists, soldiers, politicians, homeless people, Jews, Arabs, tourists, you name it. To my patients: you taught me about human nature, strength, resilience, triumph, fear and sorrow. You formed me like playdough, into the physician I have grown to be. You trusted me with your stories, as much as you did with your bodies. I can only hope I have described you faithfully.

“Israel in 2002 formed me into the woman, physician and mother that I am today. The people, places and experiences in that time molded me, trained me, grew me into someone who doesn’t give up, someone with grit and the fortitude to do what I have to do every day. The devastation and the passion I experienced back then, I carry forward into my work, my children, and our future.”

The primary objectives of MDA are defined in the Magen David Adom Law, passed by the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) in 1950. These objectives are to provide pre-hospital emergency medical services, to provide the country’s blood services, and to assist the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during times of war. Dr. Moses Erlanger, a Jewish ophthalmologist in Lucerne, Switzerland, conceived the idea of MDA in 1915. He created MDA in order to help Jewish wounded soldiers and prisoners of war during World War I (WWI). In 1918, MDA was established in the USA and expanded to Canada, England and Tel Aviv. After WWI ended, MDA was dismantled as the need for a Jewish rescue organization faded.

A dozen years later,  MDA was founded again in Tel Aviv. It was formed out of necessity, due to the Arab riots against Jewish settlements. World War II (WWII) brought misery to Tel Aviv, when the Italian Air Force bombed the city. Thankfully, MDA had trained 50 physicians and 600 nurses and volunteers. 

After WWII ended, MDA sent support units to European countries to help treat the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

MDA  remains a unique organization because it relies heavily on the use of volunteers to staff its medical crews. High school students, from the age of 15, make up the foundation of MDA. Students are trained as first aid responders, and often use their experience at MDA as their high school ”Personal Commitment” assignment.  

In 1991, shortly after the end of the first Gulf War, the leaders at MDA Jerusalem were approached by a shaliach in Montreal  about an idea he had to send volunteers from Canada to Israel to volunteer at MDA. The group at MDA Jerusalem was excited about this opportunity and agreed to help set up this program. The pilot program was launched in the summer of 1991, and ten McGill University science students participated. They each had basic knowledge of Hebrew, passed the training in Montreal, and flew to Israel to complete a final round of training.  

As demand increased, the program began to gain traction, and it was opened to participants from other countries.   

“I first learned about MDA when I was a kid at sleepaway camp in 1992,” Dr. Ahronheim recalls. “I sat cross-legged on the sweet-smelling grass in the warm sunshine and listened, enthralled, to the stories some counsellors shared. They were among the first batch of Canadian students who had flown to Israel to give their time as first responders. The memories they shared with us that summer lit a fire in me, and created vivid hopes and dreams that I carried with me until my turn came, 10 years later.”

In the book, Dr. Ahronheim writes about what it was like to be part of the organization. “Wearing my Magen David Adom jacket around Jerusalem is an intense experience,” she noted. “ It singles me out as an individual who is actively involved in helping her people. I become as visible as a soldier, or a police officer; each of our professions is equally respected and appreciated by the people of Israel. In Canada, ambulance workers are respected, but nowhere near the way they are here. Israelis know that those of us wearing the MDA uniform are there on the front lines. Israelis know that each MDA worker or volunteer is prepared to jump in to help in any crisis. We are treated so well here, and I feel truly loved in this country.”

Dr. Ahronheim’s tour of duty coincided with the United States attack on Iraq. “Well, why did I come to Israel in the first place?” she asked. “To work on the ambulances and save lives, and to contribute in any way possible to the security and moral support of my people. I am here because I love this place, this country, this nation. I am staying because I love all the above. I cannot leave. Could you abandon a loved one in time of need? Obviously not — and as such, I cannot abandon a country full of loved ones in this terrible time of uncertainty.”

What were her most memorable experiences?

Saving a life?

Transporting a terrorist?

Being pelted with rocks by Arab students at an East Jerusalem school?

In medical school interviews she was asked  what she would you do if she was face with treating a wounded terrorist. “I answered the safe way,” she said. “I answered that I would treat her as if I would treat any human being.”  

And that situation did in fact arise for her.

The book is available at Kidlink on Monkland in NDG, Bonders on Westminister  in Montreal West and on Amazon.

Dr. Ahronheim blogs at, where she ofen posts short essays about experiences in the Emergency Department. She has had stories published in the Canadian  Journal of Emergency Medicine, as well as in many other journals, newsletters and websites.

Dr. Ahronheim is a mother to two wonderful, rambunctious children and a lovable tiny golden doodle. Married to the love of her life, Elie, for the last 14 years, she enjoys spending winter date nights in the backyard hot tub and summers out on a nearby lake

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What We Choose to Remember: Free Screening of excellent documentary on January 18

What We Choose to Remember is  a fabulous documentary which will resonate with every member of the anglophone community. Courtesy of our CSL Public Library, there will be a free screening in the Harold Greenspon Auditorium on Wed. January 18 (2 pm).



At a time when Quebec’s anglophone community is under constant threat by the CAQ government, Guy Rex Rodgers has come out with this extraordinary documentary which really puts our place in this province in perspective. Rodgers will be at the screening for a talk back with the audience afterwards.

In What We Choose To Remember, Rodgers makes it clear from the start how Quebec is a province of immigrants. Our ancestors’ country of origin, mother tongue and religion influenced Quebec’s history, politics and laws and when we arrive determines how welcome or marginalized, we feel in our chosen home.

Rodgers was born in Vancouver and raised in Australia. He is the founder of the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) and executive director there for 20 years. In 1980, the year of Quebec’s first referendum, he moved to Montreal to attend the National Theatre School of Canada. Not long after arriving he met his wife to be, a francophone Quebecoise, and the couple joined the ranks of many bilingual (and in several cases multi-lingual) households in Quebec.

The documentary is a truly objective view of the plight of anglos. Ironically it came to be when the Secrétariat aux relations avec les Québécois d’expression anglaise put out a call to anglophone organizations for projects that explored Quebec’s anglophone communities – the relationship with their home province and its official language – who better to take up the challenge.

I had a wonderful  interview with Rodgers last spring when the film first came out  to talk about the process of making the film, its evolution from a six-part video series to feature documentary, how he found the 60 immigrants or descendants of immigrants that he interviewed and the interesting, sometimes surprising, facts, reactions and insights he discovered along the way.

“Our first question was who to interview as anglo Quebecers,” Rodgers said. “Finally, we decided to do so via the different waves of immigration."

With the  introduction of Bill 96 once again putting the language issue front and center, the documentary’s  release was timely. “We believe that this film will resonate strongly with Quebec’s English- speaking community as well as the francophone majority,” said Rodgers. “It sheds a light on stories that have rarely been heard in public and is a celebration of people whose contribution to Quebec has been downplayed or ignored. It’s an open invitation to all Quebecers to reconsider ‘what we choose to remember’; a call to learn about and value each other’s heritage in the hopes of creating a more unified and inclusive Quebec for all.”

Rodgers emphasizes how Quebec is unique, being a linguistic island of French-speakers surrounded by an ocean of English-speakers. Its citizens are divided by different histories, sources of pride and grievances. Young people experience Quebec differently than seniors, who lived through decades of religious and linguistic conflict. Québécois living in the regions often see Montreal as a foreign metropolis. Quebec is increasingly the story of immigrants, the distinctly labelled Allophones, who think it is time for old-stock Francos and anglos to get over their long-lost wars of conquest to deal with the urgent problems of the 21st century. What We Choose to Remember explores the things that make Quebec so fascinating, frustrating and endearingly different.

Masks are encouraged at the screening.

Here is a link to the trailer.




Library migrates to a new system

Periodically the CSL Public Library does a review of all of its service providers. In 2015, we looked at the current library system and at that time decided to renew our contract. However, in 2021, at a regular review the library decided to move in a different direction.

In early 2022, Council approved the library’s recommendation to change its computer system from Innovative Interfaces Inc. to Axiell, a system that has been used by other demerged cities including Westmount, Dorval, Kirkland and DDO. Most of the past year has been spent getting ready for this big change.

We have lots of books in our library.


During the month of November, the library made its final preparations to migrate all of the library data including library members, libraries titles, checkouts, reservations, and more which was set for the last week of November. On December 1 the library began using its new system including its new website.

The next month or two will be spent working out all of the small glitches while the library continues to implement new features. There is still much work to be done.

The implementation team consists of Janine West, Jennifer Eisman, Karen Morris and Mearaid Stevenson who have all have worked tirelessly to ensure this project’s success. Karen Morris and Mearaid Stevenson exceptionally have gone above and beyond having to learn the ins and outs of a completely new system and who have been responsible for setting up all of the back end including the website. The Library has been very lucky to work with a great new vendor whose team has been exceptionally responsive to every question, query and issue and who led the library’s team in this process every step in the way.

Finally, it is important to also note that this change will save the City thousands of dollars in annual licensing costs: Specifically, with our previous vendor, Innovative Interfaces Inc. our annual costs were in the ball park of $55,000 a year and increasing. They will now be approximately $15,000 per year (with annual increases).

Shirley Shoub launches new children's book Skipper's Stories

Skipper, a beagle puppy, loves his adopted family - his human mom and dad, his brother Ezra, and particularly his grandma - who all accept his beagle ways - and especially when his beagle  nature gets him into trouble. All he wants is to be accepted as part of his family.


Written and illustrated by Côte Saint-Luc's Shirley Shoub, Skipper’s Stories is a heartwarming reflection of  Skipper’s quest for love and belonging. Despite Skipper’s penchant for adventure (and
misadventure), this true-to-life tale proves that love wins after all.

Shoub’s illustrations have all been drawn by hand, crafted with pastel pencils. She has devoted her life to her family, bringing up three children on her own, to her  studies, to her career, to her community work and to her continued exploration of the creative  arts. She attained her B.A. in English, her A.E.C. in Social Counselling, Certification in Remotivation  Therapy, Primary, Advanced and Psycho Geriatric. She has taken various courses in television  production and she continues to study drawing, painting and illustration to constantly improve her  skills. As Director of the MUHC Home Child Care Agency C.P.E.(Centre de la Petite Enfance), Shirley was  responsible for the care of 150 children. Before joining the Agency, she had worked as a Social  Counsellor at Ville Marie Social Services, representing foster children.
Over the years  Shoub’s visual art (painting and drawing) has been displayed at multiple exhibitions at the CSL Aquatic and Community Centre. The proud mother of three and grandmother of five. Skipper was their family dog many years  ago and he remains in their hearts forever.

Skipper’s Stories is the first in a series of children’s books, with book two Skipper’s Stories:  Almost Twins available in spring, summer of 2023. It is available on,, and all the Amazon  international sites.

For inquiries, store purchases, fundraisers, book readings and book signings, email Shirley: [email protected]

A historic moment in our community with significant $500,000 library donation

How honoured I was on September 18 to preside over a historic ceremony in the history of Côte Saint-Luc.

In 2007, two years after I was first elected to city council, I brought forward a naming rights proposal which was approved. Over the years we named events, programs and benches after individuals and companies in return for financial gifts. But the confirmation of the Bibliothèque des jeunes Max Margles Children’s Library, thanks to a $500,000 gift from Roslyn Margles in honour of her late husband, far and  away entered into our record books.

Mayor Brownstein, Roslyn Margles, Janine West and myself stand before the new signage.

The unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony took place many months after myself, Library Director Janine West,  Treasurer Angelo Marino and Legal Counsel Andrea Charon began discussions with Ms. Margles. I was pleased to see Simon Bensimon from Ben-Gurion University Canada on hand for it was he who called me last winter and set up my initial meeting with Roslyn. Former Mayor Anthony Housefather, now our Federal Liberal Member of Parliament, was with us as well. Thank you Anthony for allowing me to bring this concept to our city when you were mayor. We hope that there are more individuals out there who like to attach the name of a loved one or a corporate entity to enable us to  use this money for items not in our annual budget.

Robert Libman congratulates Roslyn in the company of the mayor and Ms. West.

At the library, we will now seek a naming rights donor for our beautiful art gallery. There is also our Aquatic and Community Centre and Arena, as well as possibly Wiffle Ball Field.

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The formal ribbon cutting.

The ceremony was attended by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, members of council, former Mayor Robert Libman, library and city staff  as well as friends and family of Ms. Margles.  It is wonderful to see the name of Max Margles adorning the outside wall of the building as well as the interior entrance to the children’s library. There is also a new book stamp with Max Margles’ name, a suggestion that came from Councillor Lior Azerad.

We heard from Rabbi Asher Jacobson of Chevra Kadisha Congregation and Melissa Margles, Max and Roslyn’s niece. She had a very close relationship with her uncle. After the ceremony, there was a nice reception catered by Pizza Pita, face painting and magic for the kids and lots of reading.

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Roslyn and some of the happy kids.

Here is a report from Global TV.

“Every year, like many others, I am faced with the decision about which causes to support,”   Roslyn Margles said in her address. “There are a multitude of worthy projects and organizations, but several factors were instrumental in choosing a Children’s Library  is foremost, an everlasting memorial to honour my late husband Max, an avid, dedicated reader, who loved reading and the value it brings to our lives. In this digital age, the time spent by children exploring micro-electronic media may develop computer literacy, but it does not imbue children with the values that books can.  Tik-Tok, Snapchat, texts and videogames are not substitutes for books.

“Reading and sharing books create personal face to face interactions where children learn to read emotional cues, develop social skills and connect.  Stories are essential for children’s formative years. During challenging social times, it is not uncommon for philanthropic efforts to shift to medicine, poverty and war relief, leaving the cultural arts at the bottom of the list.  I, however, prioritize the gift of literature, of storytelling......of the power of the written word. I believe the saying that ‘Children who read books today are our future leaders.’ I believe that books shape who we are and what we become. Books can transport the reader to a land of wonder and surprizes, like a Magic Carpet.  Stories give children a deeper understanding of the world around them and of cultures that are different from their own.”

In reading a well written book, Ms. Margles noted,  you become part of the story and suffer the pain or enjoy the happiness of the characters.  “Ideally, you become more aware of how events affect other people and improve your ability to empathize  - a very important and useful quality,” she said.  “It will serve us, and our children well!”

Ms. Margles hopes that her donation will enable the Max Margles Children’s Library to provide additional programs and experiences to encourage children and teens to cultivate creativity, curiosity and imagination and to broaden their horizons. 

 The donation includes $200,000 to be used by the public library as needed, and $300,000 portion to be used to create an endowment fund, which will be used exclusively to further literacy for children and young adults including a children’s writing contest to be named the Roslyn and Max Margles Literacy Contest. The endowment fund will be administered by the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal.

Concluded Ms. West: “Children and teens make up approximately 26 percent of our library membership and check out 41 percent of the library’s total circulation. This generous endowment from Mrs. Margles will ensure that our literacy programming for children and teens will flourish, enabling us to offer more impactful and engaging activities that will foster a love of reading that lasts a lifetime.”

Please watch this  video of the full ceremony.




Spots still open for A Virtual Knitting Sweater Club with the Côte Saint-Luc Public Library

The COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives in so many ways, notably during lockdowns.

For many people across the world, knitting turned out to be a way to  ease anxiety, keep busy and feel a sense of achievement.


Knitting courses and clubs became very popular via Zoom and while much of society is returning to in-person activities, the online option remains very popular. The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library  is embracing this activity. A Virtual Knitting Sweater Club with Arlene Lund will take place every second Thursday, online via Zoom, from 3 pm to 4:30 pm, beginning September 15. There are six sessions planned (Sept. 29, Oct 13, 27 and Nov. 10 and 24). It is free for library members, but advance registration is required. You must bring your own materials to the Zoom experience.

Participants will knit their own sweater (see the examples pictured in this article) over the course of this series,  with tips and tricks from established knitter Lund about all things related to successful sweater knitting.


“Everyone will be working on a sweater of their own choosing,” Lund explains. “If making an adult sweater seems too daunting, they can choose a child's sweater or a vest.”

Each session will start with Lund presenting a sweater related topic and then she will go around the group and see everyone's progress on their sweater and hear about any difficulties, challenges or successes they have had since the previous session. Since this will all be done via Zoom, members will need to be able to turn their camera on for when they are showing their work. They do not have to do so the entire time if they don't wish to.”


Lund notes that this club is intended for people who are already knitters.  She has given  several knitting lectures/presentations in Westmount and in Côte Saint-Luc virtually. “These were lots of fun and well attended,” she says, 


There are lots of positives related to the Côte Saint-Luc Knitting Sweater Club proceeding online this fall.  “It is accessible for everyone and in all weather,” Lund emphasizes. “The visuals are actually better because when holding something up for others to view everyone can see it, instead of passing it around the room. Some of the members may have hearing difficulties and the online format is better for them. As well,  there is no background noise with the ability to mute everyone while each person is taking their turn to speak. All in all it really works well!”

A 2013 study published by the British Journal of Occupational Therapy found that knitting confers the well-being of those who engage in the hobby. The responses from 3,545 knitters worldwide showed a significant relationship between knitting frequency and feelings of calm and happiness. Lund concurs. She has certainly met many people who are new to knitting over the last three years and others who have resumed the hobby. Indeed she looks forward an interesting fall session of the the Côte Saint-Luc Knitting Sweater Club

To register go to You can also e-mail [email protected]  or call 514-485-6900 ext 3.


YidLife Crisis to present "A Closer Luc" Wednesday night at library and online

Proud Bialik High School graduates Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion of YidLife Crisis are indeed coming home on Wednesday, August 17 (7pm) when they present a live variety show featuring comedy, video, music and thought-provoking shtick inspired by the history and roots of Côte Saint-Luc. Seats for the live show, cleverly entitled A Closer Luc, are sold out, but it will be broadcast live on our You Tube channel.

Here is the link.

In June 2021, our library presented a collaborative project with the Conseil des arts de Montreal which would award a $25,000 prize to a selected local artist group or collective who would then produce an artistic project that would be showcased in Côte Saint-Luc. In the fall, the call went out for submissions and three artist groups applied. YidLife Crisis was selected.

Eli and Jamie on the scene.


If you have not seen Jamie and Eli in action, YidLife Crisis started off as a web series and has virtually turned into an empire. The boys have travelled across the globe, with their alter egos speaking Yiddish with English sub-titles. Go to to see for yourself.

The purpose of this project was for YidLife Crisis to research, write, produce, and present a
special 60-minute multi-media presentation by and for our community.

Using a similar lens to their award-winning documentary "CHEWDAISM: A Taste of Jewish Montreal" (CBC, PBS), where food and culture are used to explore the history of YidLife Crisis’ home town, this presentation will hone in on Côte Saint-Luc to explore the origins of how this unique enclave on the island of Montreal came to be, how its unique character as a specific kind of Canadian and Québecois experience shaped the world lens of the creators themselves, and demonstrate how it has evolved to take on its unique character in the modern day, putting current community cultural contributors in the spotlight. The project will meld the multidisciplinary creative powers of YidLife Crisis as award-winning filmmakers and global touring performers by combining elements such as short film, visuals (e.g. slides and archival footage), musical creation and classical theatrical

I was honoured to be interviewed for this project and I can’t wait to see how they integrate my video footage into the final product.

You can also see this story from the Canadian Jewish News.

At $500,000, Roslyn Margles’ gift to our library is the largest individual donation in CSL history

When I was first elected to city council nearly 17 years ago,  I established a committee to explore sponsorship, naming rights and donation guidelines for our community. Two years later, working principally with Director Public Affairs and Communications Darryl Levine, Lisa Milner from our Public Library and Harold Cammy in Parks and Recreation, Council approved our recommendations.

Overall, the city has done very well in terms of event and program sponsorship over the years. For the most part, naming rights were relegated to park benches and lectures. Soon after last November’s election, someone in the community connected me with philanthropist Roslyn Margles. Over the course of many months, working with Director of Library Services Janine West, Treasurer Angelo Marino and Legal Counsel Andrea Charon, we reached an agreement which has resulted into the largest individual donation in city history: $500,000 to name the Bibliotheque des jeunes Max Margles Children’s Library. City Council approved the contract at our Monday, August 8, 2022 meeting.

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An artistic rendering of what the signage will look like.


Max Margles loved to read. He was an in-depth reader, seeking out well-written and engrossing books, relevant and meaningful. He kept two Rolodex files – one arranged by author, the other arranged by title. On these small cards, in his meticulous printing (he was a structural engineer), he summarized the nature of the book, the plot, and provided his eloquent assessment of the work.  When Max died suddenly in 2004, his widow Roslyn looked for projects to endow in Max’s memory. Since the couple has no children, Roslyn carries on this mandate with vigour and pride. She established a Max Margles Endowment Fund at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal, sponsoring an annual lecture by outstanding literary authors.  And the Quebec Writers Federation now has the Max Margles  Writing Residency.
A resident of Côte Saint-Luc, Roslyn Margles has agreed to bestow this gift upon us in two parts: a $200,000 donation, and a $300,000 endowment fund to be created by the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal.

We are absolutely thrilled to receive this donation. I have spoken to  Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor Lior Azerad, who has the sponsorship portfolio and indeed we hope that other members of the community will step forward as we have many other naming rights opportunities at the library and in other departments.

Donations such as this are intended to be used for items not in our regular budget.

So in this case, guidelines will include programming that encourages literacy, including but not limited to: Own Voices Literary Festival, Children’s Book Week activities and events, Public Libraries Week activities and event. As well, activity that promotes an annual writing or storytelling contest branded the Roslyn and Max Literacy Contest, with the co-operation of schools situated on the Côte Saint-Luc territory, and perhaps, involvement of local authors, a jury, prizes, etc. We have also discussed programming that encourages performing arts programs.

Pending Ms. Margles’ signature on our contract, we intend to unveil indoor and outdoor signage at a ceremony on Sunday morning. A celebration will take place on Sunday, September 18 in  the newly named Children's Department from 10 am to Noon.

We are very excited.

Shirley Shoub and Sharon Asher unveil their new children's book "What Makes A Perfect Princess"

A new children’s book called What Makes a Perfect Princess is in fact something that can appeal and apply to people of all ages.

So says author Sharon Asher and illustrator Shirley Shoub, noting that the book  has very positive messages about self-acceptance.

WhatMakesAPerfectPrincess - back-front

The story revolves around a princess who lives in a beautiful castle and is sad because she thinks she is not perfect and has no confidence in herself.  The princess believes that she must follow the suggestions of others in order to be perfect. Her three friends tell her everything they think she should do. Even after following all their advice, she still feels badly about herself. Only then does she decide to read the book she’s always had, and there, she discovers her answer – a universal truth - and is finally happy.

The two ladies met about a decade ago. Asher had pretty much written her book and upon discovering that Shoub was an artist, she asked her to handle the illustration.  “Sharon actually read  the book to me and  I immediately felt that I was supposed to do this,” Shoub says. “I was taking art classes in Côte Saint-Luc at the time and I approached my teacher George and asked him to help me illustrate. It took me two years, but I am very pleased with the end results.”

Here is my video chat with the two ladies.


More years passed until Asher and Shoub actually self-published. It can be purchased  here on Amazon. In addition, it will be available for loan at local libraries. The CSL Public Library already has a copy and Asher would like to donate to others.

 “Children age three and older, as well as the adults reading the story to the children, can look at the illustrations and enjoy them along with the words,” says Shoub. “There are many subtle messages within my illustrations which add further in depth meaning and expansion to complement Sharon’s words. For the artist, whatever we have experienced in life comes through in our art. Likewise, the same applies for the reader’s understanding of the art.

“Years ago, I worked as a social counsellor representing foster children with special needs. Why were they foster children? Sometimes, life hands parents more than they can handle or more than they believe they can handle. Many of these foster children had been left in their infancy in the hospitals for others to handle. It would have required a life commitment for the parents. This is not a judgment call. It requires tremendous love, strength and commitment to nurture these children.To honour these children, I have integrated them into my illustrations.”

WhatMakesAPerfectPrincess - 2

Shoub recalls in days when she was a child living near the Main, children played jacks on the sidewalk or rolled marbles into cement holes that they could find.  “Hence,” she says, “in the Princess story, I drew two boys playing checkers on the sidewalk in the inner city. Of course, there is a message there. Sharon’s story is about self confidence. It is hoped that those who read it, if they do not already have it, will gain an appreciation of who they are.”

Asher is a lifelong educator. Having received her training at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia), McGill University, MacDonald College and the University of Sherbrooke, she began her teaching career at the elementary and high school levels. Soon thereafter, she joined the English Department at John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, where she taught for 30 years. Her courses focused on the areas of children’s literature, drama as literature, paranormal psychology and literature, and writing.

Bravo for a job well done!