It was my honour to attend this weeks ceremony by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum at the CSL Aquatic and Community Center.

The ceremony was set up three years ago by the engaging and charismatic Birnbaum to honour exceptional citizens for their outstanding contribution to society, in particular affecting those of us residing in the D’Arcy McGee riding, which includes Cote saint-Luc, Hampstead and Snowdon west.

This year’s winners were Baruch Cohen, Susan Wener and (posthumously) Jean Lapierre. Jean’s daughter graciously accepted the award. In addition, the Victor C. Goldbloom ‘Vivre Ensemble’ essay contest winner was Reisa Gilfix (Grade 10, Herzliah High School).

The ceremony also included a video presentation by Quebec Pemier Philippe Couillard.

An excellent jazz combo ensemble entertained the crowd from the Saint-Luc secondary school.

Baruch Cohen, left, is feted on his 90th birthday by well-wisher Frederick Krantz, founder and director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. (Photo CJN)

Baruch Cohen
Baruch Cohen recently celebrated his 97th birthday. During the second world war, Baruch survived pogroms, anti-Semitism, state-sponsored tyranny and forced labour camps in Romania. He escaped to Israel and later made a life here in Montreal with Sonia, his wife of 73 years. Upon retirement from his position as a financial officer, Baruch completed a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He subsequently devoted 30 years of volunteer service as Research Chair of the the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He spearheaded the first holocaust commemoration in memory of Jews killed in Romania and Transnistria 23 years ago, an event that continues to be held annually.

Susan Wener (Photo: The Georgia Straight)

Susan Wener

For 30 years, Susan Wener has dedicated her life to helping others. She is a therapist for people struggling with life-threatening illness. She speaks across Canada at literary festivals, medical conferences, universities and libraries, touching on subjects such as the doctor-patient relationship, integrative cancer care, overcoming obstacles and other topics related to health and well-being. Following a near death experience at 18, Susan knew that her mission would be to work with the gravely ill. She hasn’t looked back since. Her moving memoir, “Resilience” and recent Tedx Talk have reached thousands, far beyond our community’s borders.

 

Jean Lapierre

Jean Lapierre was a former member of Parliament, minister and political analyst on English and French radio and television. He died tragically along with four members of his family in a plane crash into 2016. Lapierre made perhaps his greatest mark in a final career as political analyst. He did regular spots that topped the ratings on Radio 98.5, CJAD, CTV, TVA and other media outlets. His commentaries garnered huge audiences in English and in French, and inevitably elicited reactions from politicians, other journalists as well as regular watchers across the province, who reacted to his daily scoops and analyses and discussions around the water cooler and supper table. What happens in Quebec City and Ottawa can sometimes seem remote and isolated from our lives in CSL, Hampstead and western Montreal. Jean Lapierre made it less so. He deserves our recognition for enriching our lives and widening our horizons.

Congratulations to the winners and the family of Jean C. Lapierre for this well-deserved honour.

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