Amy Fish helps us to learn to speak up

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I would think that the “Chief Complaints Officer” for Montreal’s Concordia University would be the go-to person in how to deal with a wide variety of complaints. Indeed, Amy Fish has channeled her many years of experience as an ombudsman in authoring her new book, I Wanted Fries With That, How to ask for what you want and get what you need, published by New World Library.

In I Wanted Fries With That, readers are encouraged to stand up for themselves by learning how to complain effectively. Through funny, real-life stories, pragmatic methods on how to address grievances are highlighted showing that a situation, no matter how intense, can be resolved with civility, honesty, and fairness for everyone involved.

I have just cracked open a new copy of Amy’s book which launches on October 17 at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. From the get go, it is clear that you, “Need to have courage to live life. This includes learning to ask for what you need or want.”

Amy quickly teaches us that:

  • Speaking up, and asking for what you need, is harder than you think
  • If you don’t ask for what you want, you will not get what you need
  • If you send your friend to ask for what you want, she may not be able to do it, in which case you won’t get what you need
  • We were born with the ability to make our voices heard, and we need to use this gift wisely

Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore and the Jewish Public Library are hosting the book launch of I Wanted Fries with That at 5151 Côte Sainte-Catherine Road, in Snowdon district of Cote des-Neiges-NDG, on Thursday October 17th, 2019 at 7pm. Tickets are free with purchase or pre-purchase of I Wanted Fries With That exclusively at Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore. You can also reserve your ticket directly on this site.

Having known Amy for a number of years, I am looking forward to her hilarious stories that will not only bring a smile and chuckle but will surely teach me, and you, a thing or two about standing up for what I need and want.

As I begin Amy’s book I am already reassured in learning that, “People who are calm, who speak clearly, and who are better able to communicate have a better track record in getting what they want and need.” I Wanted Fries With That will set me on the path of solving problems, getting other people to change and seeing justice served.

Amy has written for the Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, and the Globe and Mail. She lives with her family in Montreal. Find out more about her work a http://www.AmyFishWrights.com.

I’ll be back soon with a full review of I Wanted Fries With That.

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Debut cruise review: Harmony of the Seas

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My readers have welcomed my contributions over the last year to MtlRestoRap, a Montreal restaurant review site. I’ve heard from many of you and received lots of favourable comments. Same goes for my recent Theatre reviews, all of which can be viewed under the “Reviews” tab up top.

I’m proud to say that today I launch my Travel Reviews with the publishing of my first ever Cruise Review in the formidable Canadian World Traveler magazine. My inaugural article is above or can be read on the online version of the Fall 2019 edition on page 50.

Please comment, like and share as this propels me forward to review more and to share with you.

Getting my thrills zip-lining across the open interior of Harmony of the Seas
Nikki getting the feel of the Flo-rider on the Sports Deck of Harmony of the Seas
Two spectacular ice shows aboard Harmony
A real ’50s style boardwalk with carousel, diner, cafe and bar. In the distance is the horrifying Abyss, an enclosed slide that drops an incredible 10 stories
GREASE the musical was so much fun and so entertaining
Sensational view of 12 levels mid-ship aboard Harmony of the Seas

Goodbye friend. A tribute to Ruth Kovac.

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I met Ruth Kovac nearly 40 years ago. We were both enrolled in an Emergency Medical Technician course and so began a four decade long friendship that was rooted in our common desire to help others in their time of need.

Ruth always sought out opportunities to give back to her community. We volunteered our way up through the ranks at Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization in the 1980s, responding to hundreds of medical emergencies, helping those who were sick or injured and organizing CPR courses.

We decided together with my friend Mitchell Brownstein that the best way to make a bigger impact and help more people was to run for public office. The three of us were elected to Cote Saint-Luc City Council in 1990. Ruth developed expertise in many civic areas, but she excelled when it came to Parks and Recreation and Urban Planning. For years she championed these departments working closely with staff of all levels.

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac enrolled at the Emergency Preparedness College of Canada 1991

She was a fierce defender of Canadian Unity and proudly wore her Maple Leaf flag but never forgetting her rich Dutch heritage.

Councillors Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen

Ruth and I worked closely on seeking recognition of Paramedics in Quebec, on getting CPR into school curriculum, on acquiring Automated External Defibrillators in our municipal buildings and vehicles. One of our biggest efforts was promoting bilingualism, especially on emergency communications from the government and also from companies doing business in English-speaking areas across western Montreal. She continued this gargantuan effort most recently with Harold Staviss.

Celebrating demerger victory (June 2004) with Ruth Kovac, Anthony Housefather and Mitchell Brownstein

Ruth and I fought for pioneering No-Smoking bylaws in the early 1990s and for promoting the first mandatory municipal cycling helmet bylaw in Canada. We also worked together to make Cote Saint-Luc first to require residential sprinkler systems for single family homes.

Whether it was her beloved Mount Sinai Hospital, where she served in several leadership positions through the years, or Canada Day festivities in Cote Saint-Luc which we co-chaired numerous times or the annual blood donor clinic that she chaired year after year, she put her heart and soul into every activity that she touched. And my, how she touch a lot of organizations and people.

Our seats were side by side for all 24 years that we served together on City Council. So, she jokingly referred to me as her “Council-husband” and she affectionately became my “Council-wife”.

We co-chaired so many projects and events and together with Mitch, Dida Berku, Allan J. Levine, Isadore Goldberg, Harold Greenspon, Richard Schwartz we became a Council family. We supported one another’s ideas and projects and always tried to seek consensus. Sure, we all fought a bit behind closed doors, but we always emerged as friends and colleagues for the benefit of our beloved City of Cote Saint-Luc. Ruth would have it no other way. She would stick two index fingers to her lips and blast out an ear piercing whistle to catch our attention. “When we go out there, we are united,” she would blast. And so it was.

Councillor Ruth Kovac greeting new citizens on Canada Day with Councillors Sam Goldbloom, Glenn J. Nashen and Steven Erdelyi

She was one of the few who got along quite well with Mayor Lang, respecting his perspective and experience and often playing the diplomat in connecting divergent opinions.

Ruth agonized over each new development, every exterior home renovation, each zoning bylaw and amendment. Box loads of cheques would be sent before each weekend to her house to cross-check invoices and ensure that our city operated smoothly and transparently. She would read through stacks of paperwork and only sign the cheque once she was satisfied that staff met her expectations in due diligence. She took this responsibility very seriously and made it a full time endeavour.

Celebrating another victory: Ruth and Peter Kovac

Every year or two we would travel, along with a few other council members, to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conferences across this great country. Ruth proudly represented our city, region and province and loved engaging with councillors, aldermen, reeves, mayors, provincial and national legislators. She would have no issue walking up to anyone and starting a conversation. She loved to boast about our amazing services back in Cote saint-Luc and to learn from others. She developed acquaintances across Canada and would reach out from time to time.

Ruth with the Boys in Blue. She always admired Constable Vincent Di Angeles of PDQ 9.

Ruth banded together with Mitch, Anthony Housefather and me as the co-chairs of the Cote Saint-Luc demerger committee. We fought mega-Montreal and against all odds we succeeded in reestablishing our City of Cote Saint-Luc. The four of us worked very closely on numerous files and projects, with Anthony as our new mayor along with our new colleagues Mike Cohen, Steven Erdelyi and Sam Goldbloom. The council family evolved and worked so well together, succeeding at major expansion with the new Aquatic and Community Centre which Ruth championed with gusto, like she was building her own house.

Ruth Kovac actively involved in the development of the Cote Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre in 2011

We typically greeted each other with a goofy, “Hello friend.” We chuckled each time.

Ruth developed a great working relationship with successive police commanders from Neighbourhood Station 9, which we fought to protect from closure, together with Anthony and Mitch. We won.

She relished in her relationships with directors and managers and all city staff. She remembered everyone’s name and always gave a cheery hello to all as she entered City Hall.

Councillor Ruth Kovac with Commander Bissonnette and Director Jordy Reichson

And we fought to save our Emergency Medical Services from being wiped out by the merger madness. And won again. Ruth was determined to do the right thing, she would say. “Listen to the people,” a quote she’d remind us of from one of her political favourites.

Councillor Ruth Kovac even convinced her husband, Peter, to join vCOP. Seen here on Canada Day 2012.

Somehow, she managed to carry out a very full council agenda for three decades, all the while raising her three children with Peter and then taking an active role with her grand-kids. And she was so devoted to her mother, Ilse, bringing her everywhere she needed to go. But Ruth would rarely miss a meeting, was always prepared, did her research and got ready for discussion and debate. She was a wise and thoughtful woman of balanced and sage advice and kept a calm head about her.

She would berate Anthony and me for not wearing ties, for being too casual. She’d offer to take us shopping for more formal attire. “You need to dress smart, look sharp,” she’d say. She liked to think of herself as old fashion, but she was really quite avant guard.

Ruth was always so proud of those around her, especially when she worked to see Anthony Housefather elected as our Member of Parliament

Ruth never backed off from a battle. She pulled herself together no matter the odds and gave it her all. She handled her bout with cancer in the same way, preferring to keep it as her secret for the very longest time. And throughout this period she attended her council meetings, read the reams of required documents even when she was too weak to lift them, responded to emails from constituents and posted city announcements on her Facebook page. Most others would likely have thrown in the towel. Given up. Not Ruth. She slugged it out to the very end. As she always did.

I’m so lucky that I had one last chance to sit and talk and laugh and cry with Ruth last Thursday and together with Anthony and Mitch send her flowers to share online for her very last Shabbat, as she made a weekly habit of posting beautiful flowers to share with her world and to send messages of pace and togetherness.

As I left her home my eyes swelled with tears at the thought this could be my last, “Hello friend.” Luckily, I had never had to deal with such a suffering friend or the prospect of loss. Ruth, knew this and in her own generous way made it easy for me, and for others. She told me she was at peace with her circumstances, was proud of her accomplishments and those that we achieved together. She couldn’t ask for more than the beautiful family that she and Peter had raised and the wonderful friends that surrounded her nor the supportive community that comforted her. I told her that her legacy would carry on for generations and that I was proud of all she had done for so many people.

Ruth pushed me to go beyond my limits. She enriched my life. I will forever be grateful for our friendship.

Goodbye friend.

Cote Saint-Luc loses a civic giant

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Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen tally up results in leading the city to victory in the demerger battle

Ruth Kovac passed away this morning.

Cote Saint Luc City Councillor, champion volunteer, wife, mother, grandmother- Ruth was a woman of extraordinary accomplishment who was deeply loved. Our council was like a second family and having been co-chairs of the demerger campaign with her we felt exceptionally close.

At times Ruth could be like a second mother or sister but she was always an exceptional friend. Nobody was more pragmatic. Nobody more driven and nobody cared more about the community she loved in.

CSL demerger co-chairs, 10 years later: Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac

Up until last week she was responding to resident emails and proposing improvements in her City and at her synagogue. She even arranged for remote viewing of High Holiday services so those who were home unwell could watch.

We have lost a leading light of our community and extend our deepest sympathies to Peter, Debbie and Anthony, Jeff, Tammy and Jason and her entire family.

We love and miss you Ruth.

All our love, Mitch, Glenn and Anthony

Celebrating demerger victory (June 2004) with Ruth Kovac, Anthony Housefather and Mitchell Brownstein

More:

Longtime Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor Ruth Kovac passes away, CTV News

‘She was one of a kind’: Côte Saint-Luc city councillor Ruth Kovac passes away, Global News

Obituary: Longtime Côte St-Luc city councillor Ruth Kovac, Montreal Gazette

Côte Saint-Luc mourns the death of longtime city councillor Ruth Kovac, CBC News

Ruth Kovac: A personal tribute to a warrior, The Suburban

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year – une année de joie, santé

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Although a couple of years old this melodious video is still one of the best to get your foot tapping and to bring out a smile. May your smile last a very long time!

Que ce soit pour vous tous une année de joie, santé et réussite dans tout ce que vous entreprendrez.

Wishing all my friends and family a year of good health, abundant happiness and great prosperity. And may peace reign across the Mideast and throughout the world.

Happy New Year from the Nashens, along with our good friend Anthony Housefather

Thank you to our illustrious and gifted Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Anthony Housefather,  for these wonderful Rosh Hashanah greetings of a couple of years ago highlighting the enormous contributions of Canada’s Jewish community to our great country.

Thank you as well to our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who has strengthened the solid bond between the Government of Canada and the Jewish community as well as with the State of Israel. This greeting is from 2016. His 2019 greetings are here.

 

Musicians of the World benefit concert for Côte Saint-Luc cats

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Lovers of music and cats will be able to satisfy both passions on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 7:30 pm at a benefit concert at Syd Wise Auditorium (5785 Parkhaven) of the Wagar Adult Education Centre  in support of the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee.

The Musicians of the World Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo, will perform Broadway’s Greatest Hits. Solo performances will include soprano Olivia Charette-Hacinsky, baritone Burney Lieberman and saxophonist Gideon Vigderhaus.

“The concert will be an opportunity for people who love animals to enjoy an evening of fine music while contributing to a good cause, “ said Councillor Mike Cohen, who is the city’s liaison with the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee.

Tickets are only $15 each (tax included). A limited number of VIP reserved seats are available for $25.  Special prices can be arranged for groups. They can be purchased at the CSL Public Library (5851 Cavendish Boulevard) and  the Côte St. Luc Hospital for Animals (7930 Baily Road). Tickets can be purchased at the library by credit and debit card or cash and cash only at the Animal Hospital.

Funds raised from the event will go towards the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. Volunteers trap feral cats, have them sterilized, and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found. The committee has also rescued a number of baby kittens and found homes for them.

Cote Saint-Luc launched its cat licensing by-law back in 2012, under Cohen’s leadership.

The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor Joseph Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. The orchestra benefits from a pool of professional musicians who were immigrants to Montreal but had no opportunity to make use of their talent. The MWSO was created, not only to provide these new Canadians with the opportunity to engage in their main passion, but to give them back the professional dignity they had enjoyed in their homelands and most especially, to share their wonderful talents with the music lovers of Montreal.

The MWSO includes 55 musicians, including about 80 percent from 15 different countries. To date, the orchestra has entertained Montreal audiences with more than 30 performances, including several benefit concerts, as well as having produced several recordings. The orchestra has also been selected as the subject of four documentary films.

Councillor  Cohen and event Co-Chair Councillor Mitch Kujavsky will organize an information kiosque for people interested in joining the committee or adopting a cat.  The committee will hold a bake sale before the concert and at intermission with proceeds going to the outdoor cat feeding program.

Diane Liebling chairs the CSL Cats Committee.   

There will also be a raffle. The grand prize will be a three night stay, with breakfast, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Old Montreal. Evening receptions and dinner for two is also provided. The prize is valued at $1,200.   

To learn more about the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee, including how to volunteer or donate funds, visit www.cotesaintluc.org/catscommittee or call call 514-485-6806, ext. 2200 

Highlights from the 2018 concert:

 

Review: The Pianist of Willesdan Lane is a gripping, intense and beautiful story

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“Mona Golabek’s one-woman show is both a tribute to her mother’s triumph over persecution and a celebratory concert of life-affirming classics.”
– Montreal Gazette

“A story that deserves to be told…and heard.” – Montreal Mom

“[Mona Golabek’s passion] drives the audience to its feet to applaud with heartfelt gusto.” – Montreal Rampage

“A compelling one-woman show. Not to be missed.” – Pat Donnelly 

“This production [launches] the 2019-2020 theatre season with panache, grace, style, class and an emotional heartstring tugger.”- Orcasound

The Pianist of Willisden Lane is described as a Musical Journey of Hope and Survival. Now on stage at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, in Cote des Neiges, this One Woman Show is just that, and so much more.

The story is about the life and times of Mona Golobek’s mother, Lisa Jura, who was born in Vienna. With the Nazis marching through Austria, Lisa’s parents make the heart wrenching decision to send their youngest child out of the country to escape the war and the horrors erupting across Europe.

Mona recounts Lisa’s teenage war story and also portrays some of the other characters that enter her life during these dark years. She is serious and youthful, whimsical and scared. She takes her audience with her on an emotional rollercoaster ride. All around her baby grand piano.

Mona’s grandmother and mother, both accomplished pianists, would be so proud. Not only has Mona carried on in the tradition of her matriarchs, she does so with great aplomb and in awe of their great success against all odds. Indeed, a very real story of hope and survival.

With many mesmerizing interludes at a large, impressive piano at centre stage Mona captivates the audience with classical pieces from some of Europe’s greatest composers while paying tribute to, and sharing her for her dear mother.

After 90 uninterrupted minutes of sharing her family’s story in character and in music with superb projections of portraits and video from that era Mona draws to a close in a masterful concerto number as tears well up in my eyes.

Powerful. Stirring. Hopeful.

The Pianist of Willisden Lane was adapted for theatre and directed by Hershey Felder and is based upon Mona’s novel, The Children of Willisden Lane. Her book has been translated into several languages and has been read by hundreds of thousands of readers.

Playing at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts through September 29, 2019.

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