True stories

Maisons Fleuries Awards Ceremony to honour Dirk Van Egmond and Edgewood Florist

On Monday, November 7 the City of Côte Saint-Luc will host our annual Maisons Fleuries Awards Ceremony at the Aquatic and Community Centre.

I am pleased to be co-chairing the event with  fellow city councillor Sidney Benizri. This event recognizes the superb floral arrangements at homes, condominiums, apartments and business complexes.

Sidney and I decided to add something new to this year's event and that would be the presentation of our first Maisons Fleuries Lifetime Achievement Award. Quite fittingly it will be presented to Dirk Van Egmond, 92, who has devoted his life to flowers and plants. Mr Van Egmond will be present with his children and grandchildren. His wife Teuna (Toos) passed away in 2010.

2016-10-14 Edgewood 002
Sidney Benizri, myself, Murray Van Egmond, Mayor Brownstein, Laura Trihas from Parks and Recreation, Corinne Van Egmond and Dirk Van Egmond at the nursery.

The Van Egmond family own Edgewood Florist, which they operated on Hudson Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc for 56 years. Although the business relocated to Montreal West in 2012 when the land was sold for development, Dirk continues to be a resident of Côte Saint-Luc. Edgewood and the Van Egmond family have been part of the Côte Saint-Luc landscape for more years than most residents of this city. They have played an important role in the lives of thousands over the decades, making milestone events all the more special with their beautiful floral arrangements.

I believe that this honour for Dirk Van Egmond is a long time in coming. We did not give Edgewood a proper good-bye four years ago. Dirk played such a wonderful role in the lives of our citizens. It is time to salute him and his family in public.

Adds my colleague Councillor Benizri: “Even though Edgewood is not physically located in Côte Saint-Luc, they remain very much part of our community."

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein notes that Dirk Van Egmond and Edgewood Nursery will forever be part of Côte Saint Luc. ``The wonderful gift of flowers has brought so much joy to our residents and continues to do so,” he says. “ Edgewood`s flowers have brightened all of my special family celebrations, and have brought smiles to the many who have received them as gifts for performing in our theatre productions or graced our tables at dances and special events. It is most appropriate to recognize Dirk Van Egmond`s contribution to our community at our Maison Fleuries event.”

Councillor Allan J. Levine, who has been proud to call Dirk Van Egmond a constituent for nearly three decades, notes that Hudson will always be remembered as the birthplace of Edgewood Florist. “As a high school teacher at Wagar I remember all of the students going there at prom for their corsages and boutonnières,” he recalls. “We miss their physical presence here, but are comforted by the fact they are just next door and only a phone call away.”

George Deligeorge, the city’s socio-cultural arts instructor, has once again agreed to create a surprise masterpiece for the ceremony. As in past years, the local art classes taught by Suzy Levy to display will display their floral art work. This will involve the art teacher’s work, as well as the students. The display will encompass the home and flower theme.


Portion of Hudson Avenue to be renamed Sidney Shoham Place after legendary rabbi

A little more than a month ago I got a call from Earl Rosen, the president of Beth Zion Congregation on Hudson Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc. He wanted my feedback as a city councillor in regards to how we could honour the memory of the legendary Rabbi Sidney Shoham, who passed away last September.

I knew Rabbi Shoham practically all of my life. He spoke at my Bar Mitzvah and I had the pleasure of speaking to and seeing him so often. It is hard to believe he is no longer among us!

Rabbi Shoham at our golf luncheon last July.

In disussion with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Allan J. Levine, the councillor for District 5, we agreed that naming the portion of Hudson Avenue where Beth Zion is located Sidney Shoham Place would be a fitting honour. Our Director of Claims and Litigation/Acting Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Jonathan Shecter and Director of Public Works and Communications Darryl Levine were asked to work with the synagogue. As a result, not only will Hudson, between Kildare and the synagogue be renamed but the civic address will become 1 Place Sidney Shoham Place.

Rosen made the formal announcement to congregants on April 30. Councillor Levine was in attendance. “The response was tremendous,” he told me.

The street re-naming ceremony will take place on Sunday, September 25, 2016, with all of Rabbi Shoham’s family in town. The time of the event will be announced later this summer.

Côte Saint-Luc will issue a formal statement on Monday.

Rabbi Shoham passed away on September 20, 2015 at age 86. He served as rabbi at Beth Zion Congregation for more than 50 years.

Here is the blog I wrote from his funeral.


Judy Roth Brook: a true angel has left this earth way too soon

As I write this piece, I truly cannot believe that one absolute angel of a human being has been taken from us well before her time and in such shocking fashion.


Just over a week ago, Judy Roth Brook and her family followed the path of most Canadians. They went to vote in the federal election and awaited the results. All was normal in the household, with much to look forward to.  Judy could not be happier with her lot in life. She was married  to the love of her life for 37 years, Côte Saint-Luc`s most notable Jewish butcher Avi Brook. Her mother Marianna, the legendary Jewish chef known to most as simply "Mrs. Roth" lived under the same roof as her and the two were close. Eldest son Daniel and daughter-in-law Joyce had given her two grandchildren.  Son number two Joey was about to graduate from Law School November 2. Her two others, David and Amanda, remained the apples of her eye. By day, she loved her administrative job at BCM College.

When Justin Trudeau was elected our new Prime Minister, Judy sat around the comfortable family home and shared her thoughts. The following day she did not feel well. Was it a flu? She remained in bed for days. At one point Avi  suggested they get some medical attention, but she insisted this was not necessary. How many of us have been in the same boat as her? These illnesses can linger, but they generally clear up on their own. By Saturday her condition had worsened significantly. A hospital visit was inevitable. Just about 24 hours later Judy left this earth. She was only 55 years old.  A mysterious bacteria had attacked her vital organs and there was nothing the doctors could do to stop it.

Funeral services were held on Monday and despite very little notice, Paperman and Sons was packed. Some people from out of town got into their cars Sunday and drove all night. At the shiva house, everyone who walks in does so shaking their heads. How can this be possible?

I have known the Brook-Roth family for several years now. It all began when I walked into their store,  CSL Kosher on Westminster Avenue,  and took a look at Mrs. Roth's appetizing chicken schnitzel.  "Is it good?" I asked? Mrs. Roth cut me a piece and asked, "You tell me?"  It was more than good; it was the most spectacular thing I ever tasted. I was soon introduced to Avi and became a regular. Avi and I became friends and every now and then he'd ask me to stop by the home to chat. When I did, Judy would there with her huge smile to welcome me inside. Her home was the ultimate "drop in" center. There were always people stopping by.  Whenever I was there, she did not know what to cook for me first. There were times when I had already eaten supper, but her cooking - like that of her mom's - was so good, I could not refuse. She'd always send me packing with doggy bags as well.

Judy and I would end up developing our own routine. She loved the computer and was quick at sending and receiving emails. We were in regular touch. Our last communication was just over a week ago when she wrote to commend me on a piece  I wrote about the late Rabbi Shoham.

No matter how long a work day she'd endure, Judy came home to cook and make supper for anyone who came by. For years she opened her dining room to visitors from Israel. "Every Monday night like clockwork she'd have these people over," said Avi. "She knew that when our kids travelled to Israel there were always homes welcoming them. She wanted to do the same."

Esther Roth, Judy's sister, said what was at the tip of everyone's tongue: "This all seems like a bad dream. How could she be gone? She had so much to live for?"

Her relationship wirh  Avi was special. He was 15 and she 14 when they first met. Four years later they married.

In her way too short five and a half decades on this earth Judy Roth Brook touched so many people. Her legacy will live on with her husband, children, grandchildren and other family members. A kind, caring and loving individual has left us and we are all the poorer for it.













BROOK, Judy (nee Roth). Surrounded by her loved ones, on Sunday, October 25, 2015. Beloved wife of Avi for thirty-seven years. Adoring mother and mother-in-law of Daniel and Joyce, Joey, Amanda, and David. Cherished Bubby of Mason and Micah. Loving and devoted daughter of Marika and the late Laci Roth. Dear sister and sister-in-law of Esther and Luigi; sister-in-law of Ada and Yanki, Yochi and Violetta. Judy will be sadly missed by her nieces and nephew Cheli Joey,and Alexandra and by Steven and Frieda Spiro, their families, and all who knew her and loved her. Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean-Talon St. W. took place on Monday, October 26, 2015. Shiva at her home daily. Contributions in Judy’s memory may be made to ICU Unit c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, 514-340-8251.

The incredible true story of Steve Acre's escape from Iraq

Steve Acre is a distinguished constituent of mine in District 2.  The Rembrandt Avenue resident is a successful insurance executive. I must say that one of the best things about being a city councillor is having the opportunity to meet and interact with people like Steve. We have been in frequent touch during this my second mandate on a wide variety of issues.
I am attaching a fascinating article which just appeared  in AMI Magazine about Steve and his memories of hardship growing up as a Jew in Iraq. He was just nine years old when he witnessed the horrible massacre of Jews, known as the Farhud.
There are photos of Steve in different attire. The one in Arab clothing was taken just before he escaped in 1949.
This is an important story to tell about how minorities were treated in Arab lands.