Tributes

Saul Ettinger: The man who brought us Briskets and Il Etait Un Fois has left us

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Saul Ettinger, a constituent of mine in District 2 for the past 17 years and an iconic figure on the Montreal restaurant scene.

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Saul and Farla in this 2012 photo.

Saul and his wife Farla have always been tireless supporters of mine

Saul was a well-known respected restaurateur and real estate magnate, having brought us the Briskets smoked meat chain and the Il Etait Une Fois burger spot. More than 40 years ago, Saul opened his first Briskets deli on Bishop Street. Twelve franchises in Montreal and Ottawa soon followed.  

As Saul told me just a few years ago, people who remember dining at Briskets described the smoked meat sandwiches as "addictive."  He went on to say: “Briskets smoked meat was not only homemade, but it was never pumped.  Most smoked meat in Montreal and elsewhere were and still are prepared with briskets that are pumped with phosphates and a preponderance of nitrates and sodium. This pumping technique is used in order to increase profit margins by making the briskets heavier. Strange, isn't it---the government bans the use of phosphates in your dishwasher and laundry detergent, but allows it in food? Briskets' smoked meat was made with unpumped briskets using a tightly-held secret recipe. They were dry-cured the truly old-fashioned way over a period of two to three weeks, producing superior smoked meat---smoked meat that was mouth-watering, and truly addictive.”

Briskets smoked meat sandwiches were just about everywhere, be it the Olympic Stadium concession stands or catered at private parties.   As for Il Etait Un Fois, the classic hamburger spot was located in a standalone building in heart of Old Montreal at a time when it was a relative ghost town, Saul recalled pioneering a new phenomenon. While McDonald's was selling burgers for as little as 60 cents, he decided it was time to introduce Montreal to a gourmet half-pound burger at $5. In those days, the thought of a burger for $5 was ludicrous. Yet, within a short few weeks, Il Etait Un Fois attracted huge line-ups and rave reviews. Saul's burgers were made through a rarely used secret process that turned out the juiciest and most scrumptious burgers in Montreal. And along with mouth-watering burgers and incredible fries, the menu included specialities such as homemade beer-battered onion rings and fish n' chips as well as fried mushrooms and foot-long dogs.

Another of Saul's visions was launched on the Trans Canada, Linguini, an Italian restaurant situated in a rustic log cabin built by Saul on the south side of the 40 just west of Morgan.  

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Here was Saul cutting the brisket he made for me in his condo.

Long retired from the restaurant business, Saul still hosted dinners and parties where he served his amazing smoked meat.  When I saw him at an event about three years ago  I jokingly asked if he planned to make any briskets. Two days later I got a call to come to his condo. My brisket was ready. When I arrived Farla presented me with a special fork which Saul used to demonstrate how to carve the huge piece of meat. It was absolutely delicious.  

In 2012 Saul made a comeback and opened a new restaurant in LaSalle called Ettingers Deli. It was to be a mix between Briskets and Il Etait Un Fois. I was at the opening and did this video interview.

 

I ate there a number of time and enjoyed it, but the location off the beat and path of Newman Blvd. did not resonate with customers and it closed.  He had partnered with his stepson Warren Kleiner, and Warren's best friend, Charles Benedek.

Saul was a good man. My deepest sympathies to his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Tribute: Beryl Peletz was a stalwart with the CSL Men's Club and a true mensch

While I knew Beryl Peletz was in his 90s, he was one of those individuals whom I thought would simply live forever.

I had the pleasure of being his city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc District 2 these past 16 years. He and his wife Miriam were model constituents, always providing  timely advice. When there was an issue they would call me together, with one of them doing the talking and the other sharing comments from the background.

When it came to election time and campaigns, Beryl would give me the ultimate compliment when I knocked on his door by saying, “you don’t need to ask our vote…it is guaranteed.”

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David Haltrecht and I with Beryl (right) at the 2018 Men's Club Dinner.



Beryl was a true leader  with the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club.

“There are no simple words that I can use to pay tribute to Beryl,” said Sidney Margles. “There can only be superlatives. Beryl only had friends. He was always there. A pillar of the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club, he will be sorely missed.”

Irving Leiner called Beryl “a treasure whose absence will be deeply felt by many. I had the privilege of meeting and knowing Beryl when I first joined the Men's Club. His friendship and support for me was always evident and his willingness to help and take charge of anything that was required for our live evening events contributed to making these events enormously successful.”  

Syd Kronish noted that Beryl was  his key man during his eight years years as a member of the executive, including four as president. “He assumed with pleasure the job of heading the breakfast meetings which fed 200 to 275 members every month.” He said.  “He also was the leader of our monthly trips to Morrisburg to see some wonderful live shows what a man, always ready to help wherever he could. “

Phil Matlin resided in the same condo as Beryl on Rembrandt Avenue . “He was one of a kind,” he said. “When I moved into the Briar Cliffe I was elected to the board the same year as Miriam was. Beryl introduced himself to me as Miriam's husband. It didn't take very long to become friends. Beryl was always there for me and many others. We lost a man who was the definition of mensch. There will never be a man quite like Beryl.”

Mannie Young, another former Men’s Club president, wrote , “As I sit here writing this obituary , I am shivering not yet realizing that my mentor has left me.”

Debbie Adelstein-Posner called Beryl “ aremarkable man with an outstanding personality. He made everyone who met him feel important and loved and valued. Beryl was a pillar of his community, admired and respected by the many people he had come to know over his years particularly those in the Men’s Club.”

 Adelstein-Posner said that when  her  father stopped working and could not longer golf (his joy in life), Beryl reached out and invited him to community outings, to lectures and bridge games. “He let my father know that he was there for him at any time for any social need,” she said. “Beryl is leaving his legacy in the heart of my friend, who would, and does, go to the end of the earth for me, her friends, acquaintances and yes, without question, strangers.”  

Donations in his memory may be made to the “Abe Beryl Peletz Memorial fund” for Pancreatic cancer c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation (514) 340-8251 or the Sam Klinger chapter of Montreal Hadassah WIZO Organization of Canada (514) 933-8461.

Our sympathies go out to his family.

 

 


Community mourns the passing of dynamo Miriam Lang

The community is mourning the passing of Miriam Lang, the longtime first lady of Côte Saint-Luc. Her late husband, Bernard Lang, served Côte Saint-Luc as mayor and a member of city council for 35 years. He passed away in 2014. The couple were married for 65 years.

In her own right, Miriam Lang was an active figure in our community. I first met her when I was a toddler. My parents sent me to the Davis YM-YWHA Nursery School on Kellert Avenue, where Hebrew Academy is presently located. Miriam Lang was the director and de facto Principal. Growing up I was a frequent visitor to that locale. She also ran the Laval branch for many years. 

 

Miriam
Miriam Lang

 

My late dad preceded me as a writer for The Suburban and he was regularly called upon to emcee city events so he interacted with the Lang’s regularly. In 1985 I was hired as a news reporter for The Suburban and my beat was Côte Saint-Luc City Hall. At that time I got to know the Langs very well.

Miriam was a true first lady, just as Elaine Brownstein is to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein today. Miriam attended all events and got involved in many dossiers and projects. She was instrumental in the establishment of our most lauded  CSL Public Library.

Sixteen years ago, at the age of 80, Mayor Lang attempted a comeback and challenged Anthony Housefather for the top job. He was defeated and while Miriam told me privately she was not thrilled with her husband’s decision she backed him nonetheless.

Miriam and Bernard became grandparents for the first and only time late in life when Dylan came into their lives, the son of Harvey. They forged an extraordinarily close relationship with this young man. Miriam was also the mother and mother-in-law of David Lang and Molly Hilsenrath and the late Barbara Asselin.

“Miriam was a great community activist and mentor for me when I was a very young city Councillor,” commented Mayor Brownstein. “ She had a great love for the City of Côte Saint Luc with a special place in her heart for the Library. She was a wonderful first lady, always there to support Mayor Lang in everything he did. She will be dearly missed.”

“Miriam was a powerful advocate for all aspects of community life in Cote Saint-Luc over many, many years,” added former Councillor Glenn J Nashen. “She was a stalwart supporter of Mayor Lang helping to move plans forward.”

Susan Puritz of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel had this to say: “I first met her in 1984 when she was Director of the Laval branch of the YM-YWHA and I was secretary to the Executive Director. Miriam may have been short in stature, but she was a fierce advocate for all things relating to the Y. I re-connected with Miriam in 2010 when I accepted a position at CMDA. Although many years had intervened, Miriam was still a force to be reckoned with. As a past president and member of the board, Miriam had very strong ideas and did not hesitate to let her views be known. I had great respect for her and I will miss her and our many conversations. I am glad that I did get to speak with her this past Friday."

My City Council colleague Sidney Benizri is the national executive director of CMDA. Miriam first joined the organization in 1991 and became the first woman on their board of directors. She served two terms as president and was a co-editor of the 40th anniversary tribute book which just came out last year. “Researching the 40th Anniversary book, she had great appreciation of those who were instrumental in establishing CMDA – their visions, courage and dedication to make CMDA a reality and an important part of Magen David Adom Israel,” a passage in the book itself states. “She was very involved in all aspects of CMDA – fundraising events, chapters, presentations and more. Her primary goal was to make CMDA a truly national charity represented across Canada by promoting the creation of new chapters in every major city. Her efforts also included expanding the organization’s marketing, membership and fundraising.”


Should you wish to attend contact the family directly please do so at miriaml@sympatico.ca or (514) 484-3252. Contributions in Miriam’s memory may be made to the Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel, (514) 731-4400.


Mourning Harvey Levine: B'nai Brith's Quebec Director was a gem

I am deeply saddened to share the news that Harvey Levine, longtime CSL resident and the director of B'nai Brith Canada in Quebec, has lost his battle with cancer.

Harvey was the brother of former CSL City Councillor Allan J. Levine and an extraordinary individual whom I am proud to say I had a very close relationship with,  notably via his role with B'nai Brith.

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Harvey and myself in a summer 2019 photo.

 

B'nai Brith Canada has been active in Canada since 1875 as the Jewish community's foremost independent human rights agency. "People Helping People" is their motto with community projects, affordable senior housing, and other charitable endeavors. Harvey was the Quebec Regional Director since 2014. Prior to that he was involved with the organization for decades. Under his leadership,he maintained the B’nai Brith office in Côte Saint-Luc. He played an important role in the construction and realization of Chateau B’nai Brith, a subsidized residence for seniors. Over the years he was an ardent defender of the community, speaking out against acts of antisemitism and intolerance. He built bridges with other intercultural communities.

On a daily basis Harvey responded to antisemitic incidents, media requests and outreach to various groups, participating actively in annual audit of antisemitic incidents, overseeing Quebec community and governmental affairs and special projects as well community volunteer service projects, fundraising and the coordination of volunteers.

Previously, Harvey was an award-winning volunteer and member of B’nai Brith for over 45 years. He was a past president of the Maple Leaf Lodge of B’nai Brith Canada and more recently an advisor and trustee. In addition he continuedd to chair the annual Chanukah candle lighting project at the Jewish General Hospital.

As a professional, Harvey was a senior executive in the pharmaceutical, medical publishing and communications industries, a past president and honorary life member for the Pharmaceutical Marketing Club of Quebec, a past president of The Canadian Association of Medical Publishers and a past vice-chair of the Marketing Section of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada.

Last winter Harvey was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the City of Côte Saint-Luc and he participated in the virtual ceremony.

Born and educated in Montreal, he was married to Doreen and the father of two daughters.

Harvey kept his illness very private, not looking for  sympathy and he kept on working. "I have to Mike," he told last fall. "I need to focus my mind on something positive."

D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum worked closely with Harvey over the years. ""I offer my deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Harvey Levine," he said. "Harvey was a stalwart in the fight against anti-Semitism and for equal access to justice and freedom for all. He was also a friend and colleague."

CSL Mayor Mitchell Browntein added this: "Harvey was a best friend to our city, speaking up against antisemitism and intolerance as well as ensuring affordable housing for our seniors in our city. He was respected by all as a kind caring person always ready to serve his community with passion."

Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather also worked a lot with Harvey. "As Quebec Regional Director of B’nai Brith Canada Harvey was a leader in the fight against antisemitism," he said. "We worked together on many files and he was a kind and erudite and determined man who cared deeply about his community. My deepest sympathies to Doreen and his whole family."

Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, state: " Harvey was passionate in his love for the Jewish community and for Israel,” said . “For decades, during the Chanukah holiday, Harvey was always so proud to lead a group of volunteers, including the teenagers who represent the next generation, to the hospital – going room to room and bringing a little sunshine to those who were going through serious health challenges.

“That’s just who Harvey was. He was a mensch through and through, and he always had a love for B’nai Brith in his heart. He will be missed by us all, and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Doreen, his two daughters and his entire family.”

Eric Bissell, Honorary President for Life of B’nai Brith Canada, played a major role in hiring Harvey for the Quebec post in 2013. “He loved his work and dedicated himself to fighting antisemitism for B’nai Brith,” Bissell said. “He was a great spokesman. He was enthusiastic about Israel advocacy. . All the things that were important to B’nai Brith were important to him. He had great enthusiasm, great zeal and wonderful dedication. He could lighten up a room with his smile and his exuberance.”

Ted Greenfield, Past President of B’nai Brith Canada, said Harvey was “a very devoted, very caring kind of person. Very respectful. He enjoyed life, cared a great deal about the issues that affected the Jewish community and, in fact, the issues that affected everyone.”

Last summer Matthew Ross joined the local team as associate director and Harvey, recognizing his own fate,  worked closely to help show Matthew the ropes. Harvey's right arm was Janna  Minikovich. The two were almost inseparable at community events and made a fantastic team. I am sure Matthew and Janna will make Harvey proud.

Good-bye friend. You will be terribly missed!

 

 

 


Birnbaum’s team gets it right with 2021 D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship medals

D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum is an out of the box thinker and as someone with a communication background, he has a knack for shining the spotlight on his constituents.

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David Birnbaum

Seven years ago he introduced the D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals. The ceremonies each June have been moving and memorable.

I am very excited to be the first person to unveil this year’s three recipients: a much-loved and respected city councillor, a mental-health and wellness pioneer and a determined patients’-rights advocate and life-long teacher.

It is  still hard for me to believe that Ruth Kovac is no longer with us. She lost a hard-fought battle with cancer a year and a half ago. Ruth was a friend and colleague, someone I miss dearly! So kudos to the Birnbaum team and the selection committee for  deciding to honour her posthumously.

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The late Ruth Kovac

 

Ruth was a Côte St-Luc City Councillor from 1990 until 2019 and her untimely passing. Exceptionally dedicated to her city, her community and a host of worthy causes, she was known and loved for her determination, compassion and hard work. During her years of public service, she initiated an annual blood-donor clinic, served as long-time president of the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, national secretary for Maccabi Canada and co-chair of the CSL Demerger Committee. She was a long-time activist and leader in the defence of English-speaking community concerns. A devoted daughter, mother, wife and grandmother, Ruth had an infectious smile and warmth that is deeply missed by all whom she touched. 

The other two recipients are Beverly Spanier and  Ella Amir.

Beverly has been a determined and tireless advocate for residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, where she has resided since 2015. Her lifetime commitment to and aptitude for supporting her fellow citizens has been focused on the welfare and protection of her fellow residents during the deeply stressful circumstances that marked the pandemic at the centre. Whether the issue was access to caregivers, to

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Beverly Spanier

second-vaccine doses or religious services, Beverly was tenacious and unyielding in her quest for answers that could comfort and reassure her fellow residents and their families. Those same qualities have guided Beverly throughout her life as a dedicated and caring teacher, volunteer and union activist. She is a past recipient of the Eshet Chayil Award from Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.  Beverly, or  “Miss Spanier” as we called her, was my economics teacher at Wagar High School dare I say more than 40 years ago.

Ella, a native of Israel, has been the executive director of AMI-Québec Action on Mental Illness since 1990. Under her guidance and leadership, AMI-Québec serves hundreds of families in French and English, through counselling programs for caregivers, school outreach programs and

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Ellla Amir

education sessions for those struggling with mental illness. An often-published expert on mental-health issues, Ella is a Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient and a Member of the Order of Canada. Significantly, she coordinated AMI-Québec’s transition to virtual services, ensuring that her vast and vulnerable clientele remained fully connected during this difficult pandemic. She has served on numerous boards and advisory councils in helping to spread knowledge and availability of mental-health services.  

You can watch the virtual ceremony on  Tuesday, June 15th at 6:30 p.m.  Here is the one-stop link to attend:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88362095407?pwd=eUJvUjk0S3h1cXBiWGhJblRCenJqUT09)

The final selections were made by a jury comprised of last year’s winners: David Lisbona, Jean-Sébastien Patrice (on behalf of MultiCaf) and Sima Paris. This is the seventh annual edition of the awards program.

“There is such a rich tradition of volunteer and community leadership in this riding,” noted Birnbaum. “Our three winners for 2021 have distinguished themselves throughout their lives as proud examples of that tradition. “I am proud to have instituted this National Assembly medals program back in 2015. It allows us to recognize those in the D’Arcy-McGee riding who have given so much back in service of their fellow residents. I hope that, as every year, many members of the community will join us for the medals ceremony.”

CBC Daybreak host Sean Henry will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, and a musical interlude will be offered by Joanna Cutler and her Que Sera ensemble (www.joannecutler.me).


A beautiful piece on the late John Elias

 
Paying tribute to Johnny Elias
 
By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
 
I first met Johnny Elias when I played in the Dorval Senior Baseball League in suburban Montreal in 1988.
I was his teammate that season. He was 50 years old at the time and still throwing competitively. He would regale me with stories about his Grand Slam Baseball School and often asked me to plug his school in my paper, the Montreal Daily News.
 
Eliascake
I am so happy that I initiated this 2017 CSL Golf Classic where we honoured Johnny (wearing the KC hat).
 
No doubt about it, Elias was a grand baseball man. He grew up on the sandlots of Montreal and was so talented with that left arm of his that he won a scholarship in 1960 to Michigan State University where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree.
 
Elias then obtained his master's degree in administration of physical education, kinesiology and physiology from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
 
Elias went on to pitch in the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics and Washington Senators organizations. From 1962-65, he threw in the minors and it was in 1963 that he showed some promise for the majors while in the K.C. chain. It was his only full season out of the four he pitched in.
 
Statistics from Baseball Reference show that he was 9-13 in '63 with a 4.31 ERA, recording 164 strikeouts in 163 innings for Daytona Beach in the Florida State League.
 
In 1964, Elias pitched for Granby in the semi-pro Quebec Provincial league and would continue to play competitively in Quebec and on the international stage for years. He was a member of the pitching staff for Team Canada at the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg in 1967. From 1968-70, he helped Trois-Rivieres to two league championships.
Elias died Dec. 10 at the age of 82 following a stroke and a tough battle with Alzheimer's. Elias' wife Marlene said in an interview that he suffered the stroke Nov. 8 and never woke up. For a good portion of the time he suffered from Alzheimer's, his wife looked after him at home.
 
"He kept falling and I couldn't get him up. His walking was very poor,'' said his wife of 58 years. "He was still 200 pounds and dead weight. I'd call 911 to get him up. It happened so many times. Then the last one (fall), I said, 'I'm taking him to the hospital.' That was two months ago.''
 
In 1970, Elias embarked on a venture that would last 27 years: his Grand Slam school that featured numerous instructors and many Expos players, whom he befriended over the years. He was an Expos batting-practice pitcher for many years at home games, beginning in 1969. Elias would schedule his three-week school each summer when the Expos were at home.
 
"I'm sorry to hear of the passing of Johnny, a good baseball man. I served as an instructor at his baseball camp. My heartfelt condolences to his family,'' Expos legend Tim Raines wrote on Twitter.
 
"Saddened to hear of John's passing,'' former Expo Tommy Hutton said in a Twitter tribute. "I played golf with him often in Montreal and appeared at his John Elias Baseball School many summers.''
 
Hundreds of young kids in the Montreal area are indebted to Elias for running the baseball school, not only for instructional skills but it allowed them to rub shoulders with their heroes. Many of those fans took to Twitter and Facebook to mourn Elias' loss.
 
"John was a huge part of Montreal baseball. Another part of it is gone.  What a great man and a great coach,'' Kosta Papoulias wrote in a Facebook post.
 
"As a 10-year-old, I went to his baseball camps. Johnny would personally pick me up and drive me home. Thanks to Johnny, I got to meet Gary Carter and sign his cast,'' Marc Lechter said on Facebook.
Elias was very fond of Carter. Kid was most definitely Elias' all-time favourite Expos player. Elias and Marlene would go to Florida for years and years to see Carter and his family. Of course, Carter and Elias would partake often in their mutual love of golfing.
 
Speaking of Florida, Elias participated for 12 years in various forms in the Major League Legends baseball fund-raiser in support of the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood.It's been said that Elias boasted the largest collection of Carter memorabilia and had acquired an enviable stash of Expos goodies. A few years ago, he donated about 90% of his collection to the Cote St. Luc Sports and Recreation Centre."John and Gary were very good friends,'' Mrs. Elias said. "He helped get Gary get a place in Montreal. Gary used to come for lunch and have a steak. It was so nice.''
 
Among his many accomplishments was volunteering to become McGill University's first baseball coach in 1994. In 2008, he assembled and managed a team representing Canada to victory at the Vintage Baseball World Series in Westlake, Mass. That championship was a feather in his cap.
 
A few years ago, baseball historian Bill Young of Hudson, Quebec and a few others successfully nominated Elias for induction into the RDS Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame. Elias was also proud of the Ambassador of the Year award he received years ago from the Town of Cote St. Luc for his help in developing baseball in the community.
Elias was such a wonderful, wonderful man with so many fingers in so many baseball pies.
 
When he wasn't promoting baseball, he spent a lot of time teaching physical education and coaching basketball. He was a force as a basketball official, something he did for 50 years. He officiated at many Canadian and international basketball events.
 
"I wanted him to write a book.,'' Mrs. Elias said. "I told him, 'Dictate to me and I will type it in.' He had a lot of stories and anecdotes. He knew all kinds of people.''
 
Besides his wife, Elias is survived by his daughter Caroline, son-in-law Kevin Smith, grand-children Ashley, Connor and Owen and sister-in-law Audrey Willis along with numerous friends, including many in the media.
 
Danny Gallagher's Expos book Always Remembered is discounted throughout the month of December at Indigo and Amazon.
 
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: I will be raising the possibility of naming one of the baseball diamonds at Kirwan Park after Johnny. That is where he held his Grand Slam Baseball School.
 
See this tribute video we did for Johnny in 2017:
 



In Memoriam: Dr. Bernard Tonchin was the ultimate engaged citizen

I was most saddened to hear about the passing of Dr. Bernard Tonchin. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday at Paperman and Sons at 2 pm.

Dr. Tonchin was the ultimate community activist and with his friend Irving Itman earned the title of “council regular.”  For decades he attended city council meetings and eagerly awaited his turn at public question period where he would passionately urge the mayor and council to move on all kinds of issues. He was very concerned about the extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

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Dr. Tonchin and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

Dr. Tonchin, who retired a number of years ago from his dentistry practice, even tried to run for elected office once and challenged District 1 Councillor Isadore Goldberg. The latter turned out to be unbeatable anytime someone took him on, but Dr. Tonchin gave it a gallant try. Dr. Tonchin only missed council meetings when he travelled with his family. Otherwise he could always be counted on to keep us honest.  In recent years he had significant problems with his vision.  Whether it was his devoted wife Dorothy or Mr. Itman, he made sure to get a lift to City Hall. There were times when he would go to Montreal City Hall to champion a Côte Saint-Luc cause.

Soon after  I was first elected to city council more than 14 years ago I formed a communications committee. One of the focus items was to establish a naming policy for streets, parks and buildings. I called Dr. Tonchin and Mr. Itman and asked them each to be part of this process. They happily agreed. Who better than a couple of gentleman I lovingly referred to as “The Sunshine Boys”  to help us out?

I noticed lately that Dr. Tonchin was not attending council meetings. Now I know why. My deepest sympathies to his family,


Former City Councillor Isadore Goldberg has passed away at the age of 94.

Former City Councillor Isadore Goldberg has passed away at the age of 94.

Goldberg, a distinguished World War II veteran, served on council from 1983 to 2001  and represented  District 1. At that time the district encompassed the area of MacDonald Avenue, where he resided, the North of Hampstead/Decarie Square section and in what was a strange electoral  map at the time, Sir Walter Scott Avenue and Marc Chagall. 

The  boundaries were changed in 2005 when I ran in District 2. Sir Walter Scott, Marc Chagall and part of Mackle were transferred to my riding. It is for this reason we have Isadore Goldberg Park.  Isadore’s niece, her kids and his brother and sister-in-law are my constituents. Because of the park, Isadore and I remained connected. In fact it was only a few months ago that I shared with him the exciting news that Director of Public Works Beatrice Newman and her team were not only beautifying the park under his  name, but his dream of having the sign moved  to  a proper walkway was also about to come true. A rededication of the park was set  for the spring and Isadore told me at the last Remembrance Day in November that he was very excited.

 

Isadore
Here I am with Isadore just a few months ago at City Hall.

 

Isadore was full of pep and energy that day. He had all of his faculties and while  he needed a walker to get around, that did not hold him back.  That day I told him that a nephew of his living in Japan had read my blog about his park and reached out to me. Isadore allowed me to record a video message to the nephew, which was very well received. 

Isadore was well regarded by his constituents. He faced opposition in most elections, but nobody could beat him. At public events my late  dad Larry would introduce him  as the man who would stand  outside  on MacDonald Avenue to find everyone parking spots.

According to Isadore’s family his health was pretty good until a few months ago. Some stressful issues at his apartment building had a bad effect on him and soon after he was hospitalized, complaining of dizziness and dehydration.   He did not improve and died peacefully in his sleep. Sadly for him he did  not have the opportunity to move into the new apartment that awaited him at B’nai Brith House.

Our condolences go to his family. 

Here is a video that Mayor Mitchell Brownstein did with him just last May, produced by Darryl Levine.

 


See Glenn J. Nashen's blog.


In Memoriam: Allen Rosen was one kindly neighbour

I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Allen Rosen, who lost his battle with Melanoma.

Allen and I first met decades ago when his son Bruce was my teammate in the Côte Saint-Luc Minor Hockey Association. He was a proud dad to sons Bruce and Howie, a devoted  husband to Shirley and a doting granddad. Years later, when I was covering municipal politics for The Suburban, Allen started to attend city council meetings. On one occasion he ran for the same seat I now hold, then represented by Harold Greenspon.

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Allen Rosen

Twenty five years ago my wife and I moved into our present  town house condominium and who was my direct next door neighbor? You guessed it – Allen Rosen. Over the course of the last quarter century I got to know Allen and Shirley very well. They became friends. Allen and I would have endless long talks about everything from politics to sports. He was an avid golfer and always shared a good joke with me. Allen was also extremely helpful to me. He and Shirley supported my career as their city councillor in more ways than one. When they went away for the winters, I was asked to keep an eye on their home. So every few days I would go inside to make sure the plumbing was working. One day I misplaced their keys. After spending hours looking for them, I made the embarrassing call to them in Florida. Allen and Shirley took it in stride, arranging for a relative to drop off another pair. You see one of the perks in this service allowed me to use  their freezer during the winter. Months later, I opened my own secondary freezer and  pulled  out some chicken. Right on top of those thighs were the keys. Allen got a real kick out of that story.

About 15 years ago I awoke at 6 am to hear the phone ringing. It was Allen. My basement was flooding and the overflow was going into his home as well. My hot water heater had burst. Allen was so helpful in advising me of which steps to take. His home was collateral damage, but he could see I was upset and acted  in a very fatherly way.  Not long after  that we shared another adventure. A company was replacing the roofs at our condo. The genius workers decided to leave everything open with a threatening sky and you guessed it,  the rain started to come down and both our homes sustained significant damage. Misery loves company and we worked as a team to ensure the guilty party paid for its negligence.

Allen battled Melanoma for years. At times he would share with me the discomfort he felt, but overall he looked for no sympathy.

When the Rosens moved to a more manageable high rise condo last winter I had a hard time saying good-bye. They were original residents in our complex and Allen at one time was on the executive of the board. At our lively annual meetings he never held back his point of view, much to the appreciation of everyone in the room.

Donations in Allen’s memory may be made to Melanoma Cancer Research c/o the Canadian Cancer Society, (514) 255-5151. My sympathies go out to Shirley and the entire family.


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

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

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

AviMrsRoth1
Mrs. Roth and her son-in-law Avi.

 

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

“How is the chicken schnitzel?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PaolaMrsRoth
Paola Samuel from Global TV visits with Mrs. Roth,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to see the CTV report.

Click here to see the CHAI Montreal broadcast

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

Our sympathies to the family.