Synagogues

Mount Sinai Hospital Literacy Breakfast Club moves to Beth Israel Beth Aaron

The Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation in Côte Saint Luc is the new home of The Mount Sinai Hospital Literary Breakfast Club, an Auxiliary fundraiser, ongoing for the past 16 years!

The Club boasts a membership of over 250-plus avid readers, who recently engaged in the first of five reviews for the 2019-2020 season.

Prior to the last review, members chatted over a delicious mini breakfast, then proceeded to the synagogue sanctuary for a stimulating discussion of the novel “Where The Crawdads Sing” given by Ann Lagace Dowson of  CJAD Radio.

The next review, Song of a Captive Bird, a sumptuous debut novel, will be reviewed on October 30 by Linda Shohet, a winner of the Queen’s Jubilee medal!

Son of a captive

The Club takes a hiatus for the winter months, and continues with three  more reviews in April, May and June 2020.

The Auxiliary is grateful to all literary club and committee members for supporting this ongoing hospital endeavour.

Both members and volunteers have found a way to learn, enjoy and give on behalf of the patients of Mount Sinai Hospital.

For more information call the Auxiliary office at 514-369-2222 ext. 1337


First TBDJ Mini-Med talk on cardiology a huge success

 

Packed hall
The hall was jammed.

Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc has a wealth of medical expertise among its membership so it only made sense when President Jonathan Gal and his predecessor Judah Aspler agreed to follow up on my suggestion and start a new Mini-Med series. Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich  fully supported the concept, was in attendance and asked a question.

MossRudski
Drs. Moss and Rudski.

On November 10 experts in the field of cardiology were paired with medical students for this free lecture.Dr. Lawrence Rudski, Chief of cardiology at the Jewish General Hospital and Director of the Azrieli Heart Center,  chaired and moderated the evening.  Recognizing that the nearby Adath Congregation in Hampstead was presenting a comedy night, Dr. Rudski delivered a few funny jokes of his own.

About 100 chairs were setup for the event. But a half hour before the start every seat was filled, forcing the synagogue's jack of all trades Yakov Lev to more than double the capacity. By the time things got going it was standing room only - a message that these kind of talks are very much in demand.

A big credit to Dr. Rudski for his brilliant idea of pairing medical students - the next generation- with senior physicians.

The lineup looked as follows: 

 

RudskiJack
Jack Rudski
  • McGill Med 1 student Jack Rudski (Who needs a blood thinner for atrial fibrillation, and which?) and  Dr Stanley Nattel, clinical cardiologist and Director of the Electrophysiology Research Axis at the Research Centre of the Montreal Heart Institute (Advances in atrial fibrillation treatment)
Alex
Alexandra Cohen
  • McGill Med 2 student Alexandra Cohen (How do women present with heart disease and why?) and Dr. Shoshana Leah Gal Portnoy, a cardiologist at the Hôpital Notre-Dame (Cardiac Rehab: Get Moving!)
Sacher
Eliana Sacher
  • McGill Med 3 student Eliana Sacher (Who should take an Aspirin or a cholesterol pill?) and Dr. Mark Eisenberg, an interventional cardiologist at the JGH and Director of McGill’s MD-PhD program; Professor of Medicine (New interventions in the cath lab)  
Bender
Uri Bender
  • McGill Med 4 student Uri Bender (Why do some people get angioplasty and others need bypass surgery?) and Dr. Emmanuel Moss, Gross Tietolbaum Distinguished Scientist in Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery at the JGH (Robotic bypass and valve surgery).

Dr. Moss was on CJAD with Andrew Carter the day before and  gave a small preview of his fascinating presentation. You can hear it by clicking here.

Eisenberg
Dr. Mark Eisenberg

There were questions and answers at the end of each segment and then at the conclusion. When it was all over, many of those on hand got to talk to some of the speakers one on one. I heard so many good things about this lecture and Gal promises there will be more. The next one will likely be some time in the spring. With expertise in fields such as gastroenterology, urology, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics and a whole lot more  there are no shortage of topics.

 

 


Solidarity with Pittsburgh: Why I went to synagogue on Saturday

For more than a decade I have been a member of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem on Baily Road in Côte Saint-Luc. However, my presence is generally relegated to the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and special events.


When last week’s senseless act of terror occurred at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the gutless and disgraceful shooter probably thought that he would scare everyone away from attending services. His shameless actions had the complete opposite effect. In fact, he did more to unite Jews around the world than he could possibly have imagined.


The murders may have occurred in Pittsburgh, but every member of our community felt as if it happened in our very own backyard. How else can we explain the overwhelming turnout at a vigil at Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc organized by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the presence of such high ranking political leaders. Everyone recognized that such a tragedy could happen anywhere.

RabbiStepsMJC
Rabbi Freundlich


So on Saturday morning I did something different. I got up early and accepted the challenge being thrown out by rabbis across the globe to take part in a worldwide  Shabbat in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered in Pittsburgh, as well as the victims who were injured. I went to synagogue. Councillor Dida Berku was there as well. Other councillors went to their synagogues.

Now TBDJ generally has a good attendance each Saturday. But regulars told me numbers there were indeed up. I must say I felt good being there. There were two security guards at the door. D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum addressed the congregation. And then came Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich, just over two years on the job here and a man every person in that room lauds for his leadership. He spoke about the tragedy in his address, shared personal connections he has in Pittsburgh and then introduced our Police Station 9 Commander  who was visiting local synagogues with his show of support. While applause is rare at Saturday services, the mere presence of a police officer in uniform resulted in such a warm feeling that everyone started to clap.


During services a memorial prayer for the deceased, as well as a prayer for the recovery of the injured,  took place. Following services, everyone was invited to a community Kiddush sponsored by generous donors. Any funds raised over the cost of the Kiddush will be donated to a fund to aid the victims and their families.

“Unfortunately, as a consequence to the horrors of Pittsburgh, I spent much of the week dealing with the issue of security,” said synagogue president Jonathan Gal. “Many are concerned about our security at TBDJ this week and moving forward. I personally met with both the police and public security and they have assured me that despite the tragedy in Pittsburgh, there is no increased threat in Canada.”

Patrols past all synagogues were increased this past Shabbat. As well, Federation CJA has a security expert who consulted directly with the synagogues and he joined the Police Commander on his visits.

“We have been assured by the police that there is no increased threat and that all of the security measures that we are currently taking - and will improve upon – are sufficient,” said Gal. “However, the police maintain that the best possible security is us. They, along with Cote Saint-Luc Public Security and Federation CJA Security, ask all of us to be vigilant. If you see something strange or that looks suspicious, report it immediately.”

Jordybrownstein
Jordy Reichson, seen here with Councillor Oren Sebag and Mayor Brownstein.

Allow me to give some thanks our Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson, who took the lead on this matter with Public Affairs Chief Darryl Levine.

Jordy reports that at the vigil last week there were a total of 31 police officers from SPVM - plus two others on horseback assigned to the event, plus MSP protective service, three  public security agents, two Emergency Medical Services crews, RCMP protective service, 14 private security agents and Federation CJA Community Security. “The crowd was estimated at 1,200, including people standing in the aisles, sitting and standing the lobby and standing outside,” noted Jordy. “All large vehicles and trucks were stopped and checked by SPVM and escorted by police along Mackle, to prevent a truck trying to ram into the crowds. We had excellent communication and collaboration between all of the police and security services.”


The man who allegedly gunned down 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue used three handguns and an AR-15 assault rifle in the 20-minute rampage and screamed to SWAT officers who wounded him in a shootout that he wanted "all Jews to die." If he is convicted, the death penalty will be pursued.

See this report from City News. from the solidarity Shabbat at Shaare Zedek Congregation in NDG where Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was among those in attendance and spoke.


New Deputy Premier among those on hand at vigil in CSL for Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims

Last Saturday’s senseless murder of 11 innocent victims at a Pittsburgh synagogue has resonated with people all over the world. Soon after this horrible news hit, we learned that a community-wide vigil  coordinated by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) would be held at Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation in Cote Saint-Luc on Monday, October 29.

City Council delayed the start of our meeting so we could attend this event. What we experienced was something beyond anything I could have imagined. When we arrived, cars were already parked blocks away. There was an endless array of police vehicles, not to mention police officers on horseback. Security to get inside was knee deep.

Guilbault
Genevieve Guilbault

There was standing room only and a highly impressive list of senior political leaders: from the new provincial CAQ government, Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Security Genevieve Guilbault; Minister Responsible for Montreal Chantal Rouleau; and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Responsible for the Anglo Secretariat file Christopher Skeet; Provincial Liberal Interim leader Pierre Arcand, local D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA  and a large number of his MNAs; PQ Interim leader Pascal Berubé; Federal Liberal Minister for the Francophonie and Tourism Melanie Joly; former Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre; and City of Montreal Executive Committee Vice-Chair Magda Popeanu and a number of city councillors; several municipal mayors and members of their council. There were also many representatives from cultural communities present.

Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko, the spiritual leader of Beth Israel Beth Aaron, co-chair of CIJA Quebec and a constituent of mine in District 2, spoke with deep emotion as he opened up the evening. Not only is he from Pittsburgh, but his  late father served as a rabbi there for more than 60 years. The Poupkos lived only blocks away from Squirrel Hill and the Tree of Life Congregation, where the carnage took place.

Joly
Melanie Joly

 

Joly, reading a message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, stated that an attack on one is an attack on all.

When Gail Adelson, first vice-president of Federation CJA, began to recite the names of the victims and candles were lit, many people started to weep. These people were gunned down by a lunatic terrorist only because they are Jewish. Could this really have happened in 2018 North America? How did a 97 year old victim survive the Holocaust, only to lose her life in a place that everyone should feel so safe.

Only a few weeks in office, it was impressive to see the CAQ government send three senior MNAs to show solidarity with the community. Guilbault, representing a government that wants to strip the rights of  public employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, drew warm applause for stating how there is no place in society for such acts of hatred. “I am proud to see Quebecers united,” she said.

Israel Consul General David Levy brought a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When he thanked American President Donald Trump for his condemnation of the murders, some in the audience booed. Only yesterday Trump seemed to be blaming the synagogue for not having an armed guard on duty.

Poupko
Rabbi Poupko speaks.

 

Rabbi Poupko, his voice cracking, noted that a synagogue is a place of peace, prayer and faith. He said it best, emphasizing how we all know the people of Squirrel Hill. “All of us can relate to what happened," he said  "We go to synagogues that look just like [Tree of Life] synagogue. Our ties and bonds of history and of solidarity and our values are very strong."

The underlying message by Rabbi Poupko was to thank everyone for stepping inside a synagogue and not being afraid to do so. "The best way is to continue to do what we do with greater intensity," he said, "which is to lead lives of tolerance, to lead lives where we understand that ultimately the power of good is more powerful than evil, where we continue to strengthen the bonds between individuals and communities and hope the light will block out the darkness."

Bethisraelcrowd
A look at the crowd.

 

Rabbi Lisa Grushcow from Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom, said she called a friend in Pittsburgh who is also a rabbi. He was performing a baby naming at another congregation when the shooting took place. His synagogue went into lock down. The couple named the baby Israela.

This coming Saturday synagogues across North America will urge all Jews to come to services – a week after the tragedy occurred in Pittsburgh. It will send a true message to all of the anti-Semites out there. I spoke to Cantor Danny Benlolo at Shaare Zedek Congregation in NDG and Yechezkel Freundlich from my own Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem.


Steven Spodek invites people to attend alternative Rosh Hashanah service

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

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

Spodek
Steven Spodek

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

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

Rabbiwhitman-big
Rabbi Whitman

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

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

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


Some high profile Chanukah Menorah lighting ceremonies are planned for this week

On the eve of Chanukah, which starts on Tuesday night December 12, the public is encouraged to attend some high profile Menorah lightings.

Chabad-csl-chanukah-city-hall-001
Rabbi Raskin

At 6 pm Tuesday night, Beth Chabad CSL will proceed with its  annual lighting of a giant Menorah in front of City Hall. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and member of city council will be on hand as Rabbi Mendel Raskin presides. In past years Councillor Steven Erdelyi has climbed aboard a cherry picker and been lifted quite high in illuminate the shamash and the first candle. Following the ceremony, the traditional car top menorah parade will take place through the streets of our city. There will also be smoked wraps and wine from the Deli Boyz at Quartier Cavendish, hot Moroccan donuts, prizes for the kids, cotton candy and a raffle offering winners the chance to fly over Montreal and to enjoy a flight simulator experience.

On Wednesday, some of our elected officials and residents will head to Ottawa for Chanukah on the Hill. Jewish Parliamentarians Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt will once again host this large celebration, with special guest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau taking part for the third successive year.

ChanukahonHillJustin
Prime Minister Trudeau presides over last year's ceremony,  with Levitt and Housefather.

Here at home, Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation (6519 Baily Road) in Côte Saint-Luc is inviting the community to a historical menorah lighting ceremony on the second night of Chanukah, Wednesday, December 13 (5:15 pm).  On this night a special Chanukah Menorah made from the metal in rockets that were fired into Israel from Gaza,  generously donated  to TBDJ by Jeff  and Adria Mandel, will proudly be showcased to the community.

This Nine Branch Traditional Style Menorah turns terror into beauty in a very literal sense! “Light this Menorah on Chanukah, we are told and display it in our shul throughout the year as a symbol of peace and light,” stated Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich.TBDJ is very fortunate to have one of only 50 such pieces that were manufactured.”

RAbbiandJeffMenorah
Jeff Mandel, Rabbi Freundlich and the menorah.

The menorah was  fashioned by metal sculptor Yaron Bob  from actual rockets that landed in Israel. Each piece is a one-of-a-kind, hand-made, limited edition collector's item. They are true pieces of history - living proof that Israel has endured thousands of missile attacks for so long. The artist has literally transformed instruments of death, weapons of war, into objects of great beauty and meaning, representing love, growth, and great hope for a peaceful future. He has created modern day versions of “swords beaten into plowshares.”

Some of the proceeds from each purchase have been directed to protect the people of Israel from future rocket attacks via the construction  of above-ground, portable bomb shelters in southern Israel. 

Jeff  Mandel has been a member of TBDJ for more than 40 years. “TBDJ did not have a proper menorah for Chanukah and when I came across this one there seemed to be a beautiful message in taking the remnants of weapons and turning it into something beautiful that can be used to fulfill a mitzvah,” he said.”

TBDJ President Jonathan Gal said that the lighting will take place outdoors weather permitting followed by tea and hot chocolate.

 


Public meeting set for April 3 on proposed new synagogue on Mackle Road

At the most recent Public Council Meeting the City of Côte Saint-Luc dealt with a request from the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim,  who wish to construct a synagogue on Mackle Road, backing onto the Cavendish Mall parking lot. In recent years, the new homes on Kellert, and the four lots on Mackle between Kellert and the Mall parking entrance were added to District 6, which Coucillor Glenn J. Nashen represents. This property is the eastern-most point in the district. The property border on my District 2.

There will be  provincially-mandated public information meeting on April 3, 2017 at 7:30 P.M. as required by law. Interested residents should attend this meeting at City Hall to learn about the project, ask questions and get answers in order to decide for themselves if they agree with the rezoning.

You can read Councillor Nashen`s blog  here for all of the details.

Sephardic-kollel-2017-03


Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich already winning people over at TBDJ

Six years ago my family and I became members of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem on Baily Road. For me, it broke a lifetime association with Beth Zion Congregation on Hudson Avenue (soon to be renamed Sidney Shoham Place).

Why did I switch? The  main reason was their spiritual leader, Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz. I had always been a great admirer. Even though he was not our rabbi, we felt very close to him. His sermons always gave me a lift. We made the move and never looked back. I immediately got involved as the editor of their Bulletin and as an advisor on publicity matters. It did not take long to feel the warmth and energy of the entire synagogue. More recently,  I began to work exceedingly close with their fabulous president Judah Aspler and executive director Joyce Reinblatt.

When Rabbi Steinmetz announced a year ago that he was taking a dream job at a synagogue in New York City, my heart sunk. How could TBDJ function without him?  We bid a tearful good-bye to him last fall. Wasting little time, Aspler and his team sprung into action. They consulted every single member on what type of individual they wanted to see as Rabbi Steinmetz's successor. Then they went the extra mile, bringing three final candidates to town on successive weekends.

RabbiJudahJoyce
Rabbi Freundlich, Judah Aspler and Joyce Reinblatt.

Well, it has only been two weeks since Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich and his family arrived at TBDJ. I have met with him several times and I will already go out on a limb and say that the executive made a brilliant hire. He appears to be a perfect fit. Unquestionably, his dynamic personality and wonderful sense of humour will win everyone over. Last Monday I invited him to meet with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and our city council. The banter was superb. 

RabbiCouncil
Rabbi Freundlich and Judah Aspler with Mayor Brownstein and council.

I asked Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather to pay the rabbi a visit and explain to him how Canadian government works. He did and reported on  a great first meeting. D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum will be next to stop by.  Most recently, I asked the dean of local community journalists, Janice Arnold from the Canadian Jewish News,  to interview him. She, along with Stuart Nulman, noted Montreal Times columnist and blogger, joined the rabbi at a nice lunch organized by  Aspler and Reinblatt.  It was like sitting around the table with lifelong friends.

WithAH
Anthony Housefather and the rabbi.

Rabbi Freundlich, affectionately known as “Rabbi Y,” his wife Rifki and their seven children arrived here via Atlanta. Since 2007 he had served as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob. In addition, he became Head of School at Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael High School in 2014.


“Having had the opportunity to engage with Rabbi Freundlich in the lead-up to his debut, there is no doubt that our incredible synagogue and community is now on its way to growing even stronger,” said Aspler. “With the Rabbi’s leadership and enthusiasm, the days, weeks, and years ahead will be filled with learning, spiritual growth, a connection to tefila, friendliness, chesed, and a lot of excitement along the way.”


Rabbi Freundlich was one of three final candidates brought to TBDJ to spend a weekend with members. “Each of our guest Rabbis commented to me on how impressed they were by what they saw in terms of member involvement, care and passion for the shul,” said Mr. Aspler. “From participation in davening and classes to efforts made to personally say hello and chat. I will add that the level of feedback received prior to and during the search was tremendous. Our candidates were impressed, and I think we all were as well. We demonstrated who we are, and who we will be.”


Rabbi Freundlich received his semicha (rabbinic ordination) in 2005 from Baltimore’s Ner Israel Rabbinical College, where he also earned a Masters of Talmudic Law. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Professional Counseling from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He and his wife are parents to seven children: Racheli (16), Binyamin (14), Ephraim (12), Shlomo (11), Rena (8), Shai (6), and Shayna (3).


More than 300 people attended a Shabbat dinner on August 19 to formally welcome the Rabbi and his family to TBDJ. “As my wife and I went from table to table to introduce ourselves it really felt like our wedding,” he said. “There was so much positive energy in the room.”


Last summer the Rabbi circulated his private email to the membership, inviting anyone to reach out. He was pleasantly surprised by the avalanche of messages he received. “I wish to express my gratitude and excitement to be part of this community,” he said. “This is such a wonderful opportunity.”


While in New York City over the summer, Rabbi Freundlich paid a visit to his predecessor Rabbi Steinmetz. “We had a wonderful discussion,” he said. “Rabbi Steinmetz has been a tremendous help and resource to me already. I am grateful for that.”


In his former post, Rabbi Freundlich also served as a member of the Atlanta Scholars Kollel, responsible for promoting personal and religious growth through family meetings, personal development classes and social programming, with special attention given to marital counseling and parenting consultations. In this role he also directed the Maor Eliyahu program, an advanced nightly Talmud study group, and held outreach responsibilities for university students and preschool parents. Amongst other accomplishments and publications, he developed and produced a “Strengthen Your Marriage” Workshop which was presented numerous times across the United States, and developed a “3 Minute Parenting Through the Parsha” online video series, featured by several national organizations such as The Orthodox Union and Aish Hatorah (videos can be seen at http://tbdj.org/RYF1).


Aspler has expressed his gratitude to Search Committee Chairs Morty Yalovsky and Ami Drazin, who worked tirelessly in order to ensure that the search was thorough and achieved its goals. He added that committee members Louis Drazin, Edie Friedman, Leslie Gal, Alan Katznelson, Perry Kliot, Daniel Lieberman, Dean Mendel, Shira Vasilevsky and Scott Garber left no stone unturned, explored every issue and detail, and considered every member throughout the process.


Rabbi Freundlich’s arrival coincides with the launch of new programming that will guide TBDJ into the New Year and Holiday season. “I am very excited to get started on this new adventure,” he said.


A fond farewell for Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz who departs for New York

Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc bid a tearful farewell Monday evening, October 26 to beloved Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz and his wife Lisa.  More than 600 people gathered at the Baily Road synagogue for a tribute evening

Rabbi Steinmetz has served as the spiritual leader of TBDJ for 19 years. He will now become the Senior Rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a distinguished and historic synagogue on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He will be succeeding one of the great leaders of the North American rabbinate, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein. “This appointment is both a great privilege and a great responsibility, and offers me the possibility of beginning a meaningful new chapter in my career,” he wrote to congregants.

Rabbi Steinmetz joined TBDJ in September 1996. Prior to that, he served congregations in Mount Vernon, New York, and Jersey City, New Jersey. He received his ordination from Yeshiva University, where he was a fellow of the elite Gruss Kollel Elyon. He has a M.A. in Jewish Philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate School, and a M.A. in Education from Adelphi University. He has completed Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) and Meorot Rabbinic fellowships. His articles have appeared in newspapers across the globe and he occupied numerous leadership positions in the community.

8484-HK614 email
TBDJ President Judah Aspler presents an authentic Montreal painting to Rabbi Chaim and Lisa Steinmetz. (Howard Kay Photo) 

Greeted like a rock star at the farewell gathering, I did not get close enough to Rabbi Steinmetz to personally wish him well. So on this blog, which I am sure he will read, let me say to him what an incredible human being he is. I will miss you Rabbi more than words can say. You were always there to respond to a phone call or email, be it personal or business. We celebrated our own family simchas with you in attendance. And in times of sadness, you were there for us too. It just won`t  seem the same without you at the helm.

Rabbi Steinmetz began his remarks by thanking his wife Lisa. He acknowledged his “signature” message: to say hello to the person next you. It is something he repeated every Shabbat. “If we can go make someone walking into the shul for the first time feel welcome, we can change the course of our community,” he said.

Of the Montreal Jewish community he is leaving behind the Rabbi said: “This community has been an incubator of remarkable Jews and has made an impact all over the world.  Not only have I met a unique community; I’ve met unique people.”

Susan Laxer, the past president of Federation CJA and a TBDJ member for the past 40 years, praised his commitment to the community. “You have used your time here very well,” she said. “Together with Lisa you have left an indelible mark in Montreal.”

Adam Shapiro, representing the youth of TBDJ, shared the story about how he wanted to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in Israel. For timing reasons with family, the only trip that worked out was an adult March of the Living to Poland and Israel. Since he wanted Rabbi Steinmetz to be part of it, he awaited news as to when their schedules would interact. When he heard the recommendation that they do this at the site of the former Majdanek death camp in Poland he did a bit of a double take. But he trusted the rabbi and ended up experiencing something very unique. “The rabbi said that when you celebrate a Bar Mitzvah you put people who could not celebrate before you.”

Outgoing Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, now the newly elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, lauded Rabbi Steinmetz for the leadership role he took when the former PQ government tried to adopt it heinous Charter of Values.

Rabbi Mark Fishman from Congregation Beth Tikvah in Dollard des Ormeaux said of his friend and colleague: “You always seemed to offer just the right words of advice. You had an individualized answer for each of us.”

Judah Aspler, the energetic president of TBDJ who has extended his mandate to oversee the search for Rabbi Steinmetz’s successor, spoke about the impact he had over the course of the last two decades. TBDJ is one of the city’s most successful synagogues, with membership on the rise and a youth movement assuming leadership roles.

Before Rabbi Steinmetz and his wife spoke, the audience was treated to a beautiful tribute video with many leaders from the synagogue and the community saying all of the right things about one gem of an individual.