CSL holds memorial tribute for Cllr. Ruth Kovac

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Last week the City of Cote Saint-Luc held a moving and emotional tribute to remember Councillor Ruth Kovac who passed away on October 1, 2019. The mayor, councillors, former council colleagues and members of the public spoke publicly along with Ruth’s family.

The first video, below, is a photo-video montage remembering the civic contributions of Councillor Kovac.

The second video, below, is the footage of the speeches as well as the photo-video montage all in one. You can watch the full event or you will find my tribute at 18:45 and the family’s remarks at 37:40.

I welcome your comments and memories of Ruth right here on my blog or on Facebook.

My speech begins at 18:45

Creating a future of miracles: Israel Guide Dog Center

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Noah Brown, Consul General David Levy, Eli Yablonek and Glen


I was recently invited to attend a luncheon at the Israel Consul General’s residence to meet three special guests. I knew nothing about them or their organization and I was almost taken aback as I entered the bright, beautiful residence to hear one of the special invitee’ commanding voice: “Glenn, come here! Glenn! Glenn, stay!”.

Now I know Israelis are notoriously direct, to be polite about it, but I thought this was a bit much, no?

What I was about to realize, is that Eli Yablonek was speaking to his Yellow Labrador guide dog, Glen (I hadn’t noticed his commands were to a one N’d Glen, not to Ns!).

Glen and Eli


Eli, 67, is a retired businessman and former tank commander. He is a man of few words, with a no-nonsense attitude. He has excelled in business, hiking, tandem bicycling, swimming and skiing. Wounded in the Yom Kippur war in a tank battle in the Sinai, Eli lost his left arm and became blind.


While the first war ended for him the second war was his rehabilitation. However, for Eli, there are no limits. His guide dog gives him independence.

“There were no guide dogs in Israel,” Eli told us. “So I moved to New York to get my first dog and begin our training. It was very difficult not being home, away from family, with huge expenses.”

When Eli’s first dog passed away he decided it was time to start the Israel Guide Dog Center.

Glen is his first dog from Israel and Eli travels the world with him, promoting the centre.

“It is very important for the guide dog school to be located in Israel,” Eli said. “We can live and stay and train in our own country and train the dogs for their local customs and environment and language. Glen ‘speaks’ English and Hebrew. 

“We give 35 dogs to blind people and 35 more for special needs, every year. This is all free thanks to generosity through worldwide fundraising.”

The guide dog school, the only one of its kind in Israel, needs to replace and retrain its dogs about every eight years. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are the breed of choice given their adaptability.
So far, its clients have received more than 650 dogs.

“With Glenn, I’m not a blind person,” Eli said with great pride.

Eli and Glen were joined by Noah Brown, the founder of the Israel Guide Dog Center, some 35 years ago. “We are not just fundraising but friend-raising too,” Eli told the guests.

“How can you help? Adopt a dog!”

The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind is the only accredited guide dog program serving Israel’s 24,000 blind and visually impaired individuals – and the only such program in the entire Middle East. They serve wounded IDF veterans and victims of terror, provide PTSD dogs trained to ‘watch your back’, help single parents and children at risk, and serve Israelis of various backgrounds and religions, secular, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. They nurture social integration and economic independence.

And why the name Glen, I asked Eli? “You want to name a dog Yacov in Israel? Everyone will turn to look at you!”

For more information call 416–577–3600 or visit www.IsraelGuideDog.ca.

Eli Rubenstein presents a book about the holocaust and the journey of a blind survivor and his dog
Rubenstein highlighted the juxtaposition of how dogs were used to terrorize and dehumanize by the Nazis yet now serve those very survivors as critical companions and guides

On hand for the visit was Canadian March of the Living Director, Eli Rubenstein, who also serves as a Canadian chairman for the centre. Rubenstein was in town to launch The film A Holocaust Journey Through Poland with Man’s Best Friend.

Consul General David Levy and his wife Maya have done a tremendous job of representing Israel across Quebec and throughout the Maritime provinces, since their arrival. They are passionate about their country and dedicated to strengthening the ties between our two countries. I applaud the Consul General’s gusto and zeal and was honoured to have been his invited guest for this fascinating encounter.

CSL Public Library to feature watercolourist Phyllis Nashen, May 30 to July 2, 2019

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Phyllis Nashen

Phyllis Nashen

 

For Phyllis Nashen, a resident of Cote Saint-Luc for more than 60 years, art has always been in her blood. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Phyllis recalls being active in painting and drawing from her earliest memories.

Always interested in the fine arts, Phyllis painted in oils with Hermann Heimlich for six years.  After his death she enrolled in courses at the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts with Seymour Segal and Chaki.  She has worked in oil paints, watercolour, stone sculpting, stained glass, ceramics, mosaics and various other art forms for nearly 50 years.

Mad Cow, watercolouir by Phyllis Nashen

Mad Cow, watercolour by Phyllis Nashen

Watercolour has become her favourite pastime since studying with Rita Briansky and Shirley Katz.  She also studied with Myrna Brooks Bercovitch, SCA. She delves into abstract realism and has developed her own style which is the use of bright colours and she loves to paint flowers. In fact, she paints a flower somewhere in most of her paintings, like a signature. 

Her latest foray into the abstract brought out her passion for art and painting, to the point when she is at her easel she is totally lost in the emotion of the subject and forgets to eat.

Phyllis has displayed her works at the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors where she was an active volunteer, as well as at The Fraser-Hickson Library, Galerie Mile End, the Boca Raton Museum School of Art and at the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library.

Music Music Music, watercolour by Phyllis Nashen

Music Music Music, watercolour by Phyllis Nashen

Painting for Phyllis is a form of therapy and a way of life. She manages to paint just about every day, even if its only for an hour or two.

“Phyllis is an exceptional artist and we are delighted to welcome her back to the Art Gallery of the CSL Public Library for her second exhibit in three years,” said Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. “We are fortunate to count Phyllis among the incredibly talented artists from Cote Saint-Luc.”

Her latest creations will be exhibited in the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library Art Gallery, from May 30 through July 2, 2019, where she will be exhibiting 20 of her watercolour paintings. Come see the exhibit located at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library located at 5851 Cavendish Blvd. It is open from 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday to Thursday and 10 am to 6 pm on Friday. The library is open noon to 5 pm on legal holidays.

See more of Phyllis Nashen’s work at FineArtAmerica.com (fineartamerica.com/profiles/phyllis-nashen.html).

Road to Nowhere, watercolour by Phyllis Nashen

Road to Nowhere, watercolour by Phyllis Nashen

 

Cote St. Luc Dramatic Society Spring production of Cabaret

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May 10, 2019

The Montreal Times, by Stuart Nulman, EntertainmentTheater

For this year’s edition of their annual spring production, the Cote St. Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) will present an acclaimed Broadway musical with a more somber, adult twist to it, as it takes place in Berlin circa 1931, during a time when Germany and the rest of the world were in the grip of the Great Depression, was facing the steady, violent rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, but at the same time was enjoying a thriving – yet decadent – entertainment scene.

“Cabaret”, which was originally produced on Broadway during the mid-1960s and became an Oscar-winning film in 1972, will run for 21 performances at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Boulevard, from May 29 to June 16.

Based on the stories of Christopher Isherwood, “Cabaret” focuses on Sally Bowles, an expatriate American singer who is the star attraction at the Kit Kat Club, which is the focal point of her world during these turbulent times in Berlin.

“Cabaret is one of my favorite shows. I love the club scenes and the musical numbers there. However, I felt compelled to produce the show since 2017 in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville,” said Anisa Cameron, the CSLDS’ longtime director who is helming this production. “I find Cabaret more relevant right now because it answers the question of what I can do as an artist to make much more sense in today’s world. This is the perfect show that illustrates what can happen in the face of the apathy and willful ignorance that affects events which are swirling around us.”

Cote St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who also doubles as a producer for the CSLDS, will not perform onstage for the first time in a long time, as was his custom. This time, owing to the serious nature of the historical context of “Cabaret”, has engineered a partnership with the Montreal Holocaust Museum to help create more awareness of the events in Germany that led to the rise of Hitler, and the start of World War II and the Holocaust.

“The Montreal Holocaust Museum will set up an exhibit in the front of the lobby with photos to show what really happened in Germany during the period that Cabaret takes place in,” he said. “We are also having high school and CEGEP students attend performances of the show, in which they will also get the chance to meet with Holocaust survivors following each show. Cote St. Luc has always been a leader when it comes to protecting human rights, because we believe that diversity creates a better world. And education is very important to reach out and show people what lessons history can teach us.”

Ms. Cameron is quite impressed with the overall feel of “Cabaret”, especially the musical numbers that are performed by the eight women, three men and one non-gender binary transgender man who make up the club’s chorus. “The numbers will definitely knock your socks off,” she added. “And to really help create a genuine feel for the Kit Kat Club in Berlin during the early 30s, audience members will have the option of purchasing special tickets that will give them access to actual cabaret-style seating, which will include beverage service and an opportunity to interact with the cast during the show.”

To create a buzz for “Cabaret” before opening night, members of the troupe will be performing a selection of musical numbers from the show at certain senior residences in the area, including Maimonides, as well as special preview mini performances at the Beth Zion Synagogue on May 21 and the Cote St. Luc Men’s Club.

And on May 29, the CSLDS will kick off its run of “Cabaret” with a Gala evening that starts at 6 p.m. at the Cote St. Luc Council Chamber. The opening performance of “Cabaret” will be preceded by a presentation of live musical numbers of certain songs from previous CSLDS productions, as well as a screening of a video featuring 96-year-old Holocaust survivor Margaret Newman, who will be present at the Gala to answer questions following the screening. Tickets for the May 29 Gala are $150, and proceeds will be used towards the cost of bringing high school and CEGEP students to see “Cabaret” during the run of the show. To purchase tickets to this event, go to bit.ly/CSLDSTickets, or call Ryan Nemeroff at 514-485-6806, ext. 2022 or via email at rnemeroff@cotesaintluc.org.

For information about “Cabaret”, or how to buy tickets, go to www.CSLDramaticSociety.org.

You can help in the search for Jesse Galganov: Fundraising Bazaar set for March 17

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On September 24, 2017, 22-year-old Cote Saint-Luc resident Jesse Galganov left home for an eight-month backpacking trip through South America and Southeast Asia.  He was last seen on October 1, 2017 in the Cordillera Blanca Mountains of Northern Peru, in Huascarán National Park.

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Alisa and her son Jesse.

Jesse’s mother Alisa Clamen has left no stone unturned in an effort to find him, notably engaging a prominent Israeli search and rescue company called Magnus International. Their search and investigation is ongoing and Alisa has full confidence that they will succeed in locating him. However, the costs related to the search have already exceeded $2 million.

As part of fundraising efforts to support the search,  Alisa and her co-chair Jen Gian are organizing A Bazaar for Jesse, a multi-faceted fundraising initiative: garage sale, bake sale, sale of new items, raffle, auction and community event. It will take place on Sunday, March 17 (9 am to 4 pm) at the Lawrence Bergman Chalet at Trudeau Park in Côte Saint-Luc. All funds will go directly to the Jesse Galganov Fund at the Missing Children’s Network.

Some of the high end items available for sale will be   headphones, televisions, fur coats and many gift cards for dinners (Montreal and Toronto) and gyms, paintings., Tumi luggage, Swarovski Jewelry, Juliet et Chocolat gift baskets  and much more.

Alisa notes that her committee is already in receipt of donations of many goods and services from many generous individuals and businesses. Donations of garage sale items can be dropped off at the Chalet on Friday, March 15 from Noon to 3 pm and Saturday, March 16 from 9 am to Noon  and from 7 pm to 10 pm.  For more information email helpusfindjesse@gmail.com.

This Sunday, March 10, Alisa will be a guest on CJAD’S Life  Unrehearsed with hosts Matt Del Vecchio and Corrie Sirota  at 4:30 pm. Matt and Corrie  are both very caring and passionate individuals so Alisa is in good hands to continue telling her story.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor Mike Cohen have given city support for this event and are encouraging residents to participate and to support Alisa. I have known Alisa from the time we were teenagers and I urge my readers to show up and to give her and her family the encouragement they so richly deserve. The Facebook event page for the Bazaar is here.

Source: Mike Cohen

Many thanks to all our great teachers

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JPPS-Bialik board members (L-R): Rob Burrows, Glenn J. Nashen, Randy Kay Kugler, President Lee Wise and Warren Levine

 

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.
– Lilly Tomlin

 

There are many important responsibilities that school board members undertake. But few are as important as expressing great appreciation to the wonderful teachers, administrators and auxiliary staff who nurture our children with the love of learning.  Day after day, these professionals transfer knowledge and multiple skills to help us teach our kids how to succeed in life. The best teachers are remembered for life as those who gave us direction, or sparked an interest or encouraged us to try again.

On this staff appreciation week at my alma mater, JPPS-Bialik, I salute the many educators who make a difference in my children’s life.

One thousand lives touched by the kindness of a quiet mom

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Phyllis Nashen with Jeremy and Nathalie dropping off Holiday gifts with Stephanie at the Shriners Hospital (Dec. 12, 2018)

When a mother of four very active boys realizes they’ve all grown up and don’t have the same needs for her protective and nurturing ways what is she to do to continue providing happiness and joy to young children? Many return to their chosen professions or choose new ones. Some take time for themselves. Others choose to volunteer their time for a host of charities and community organizations.

My mother had volunteered in public schools in the capacity of a social worker, helping kids who didn’t fit in, or had difficult family situations or acted out in class. She would help them by playing games with them and sharing in one of her favourite pastimes, drawing and painting.

She also decided that she would continue to spread a little sunshine to some far less fortunate than her own kids and she turned to the Shriners Hospital in Montreal. Since late autumn of ’75, my mom has repeated her annual tradition of going out and purchasing little gifts for kids who would be spending their holidays in the world-renowned children’s orthopedic hospital. In the early days, she would head out to Woolworth and Kresge, two long forgotten department stores and stock up on 25 toys for little girls and boys. Her gift wrapping would be unique for Christmas and Chanukah, for boys and for girls.

Mom was always very organized in preparing for her annual pilgrimage to the Shriners before her winter treks to Florida. Now at 90, my mom no longer vacations down south but that hasn’t slowed her own Santa’s Workshop in getting ready for these kids.

Phyllis Nashen, an unlikely Santa Claus, with Julie at the Shriners Hospital (Dec. 3, 2010).

For several years she recruited my daughters to help with the toy purchases, gift wrapping and the drop off at the hospital. My mother always believed that acts of kindness and charity were very important for the whole family to partake in.

“It’s important to me to put a smile on their faces,” Phyllis says.

While assisting my mom in wrapping gifts in December 2010 when my daughter Nathalie was seven years old, she said, “This is my project – I do it every year for Christmas and Chanukah. It is a Mitzvah (a good deed).”

That same year, my eldest, Nicole was 10. She remarked that this activity was lots of fun. “It makes me feel good knowing we did something to cheer up the kids who will spend their holidays in the hospital. Some can’t even get out of bed and they need even more happiness.”

Through the years my children have learned important life lessons from my mother’s generosity and acts of kindness. Indeed, our entire family is involved to varying degrees of volunteerism and community life.

Nicole and Nathalie Nashen (aka Phyllis’s Elves) deliver gifts at the Shriners Hospital (Dec. 3, 2010).

“It makes me feel good to share with others and to make the kids at the Shriners happy by doing a small thing like this,” Phyllis explained. “I’ve taught my children, and grandchildren, that we’re lucky to have what we have and we must appreciate this and give a little back.” My mom always loved children and thought that she could continue making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Maybe some didn’t have family close by. Perhaps some didn’t have family at all. “I like giving, not receiving,” Phyllis says.

My father, George, 95, couldn’t be more proud of his wife. “She has always shown compassion and acted with kindness,” dad says.

Nathalie, now 15 says she is, “incredibly proud of this legacy that my grandmother has created. I will be honoured to participate this year once again, and every year that Bubs (as Phyllis is affectionately referred to by her grand-kids) continues to do this.” Nathalie goes on to say,”My Bubs is like a candle spreading light, illuminating the next candle, and the next, one thousand times over.”

What’s my mother’s message to my own children? “Don’t be selfish and think of yourself. Think of others first,” she says. “Imagine the smiles on all of the faces you’ve touched, without ever knowing them or seeing them,” she says.

Though she never met face to face with a single child at the Shriners, her message is one of pure love and goodness. “I hope you enjoy what I’ve given you. I hope you’ll be healthy as possible and live a long and happy life.”

For more than 40 years my mom has wrapped and delivered holiday toys to bring joy to more than 1000 children who had to be in the hospital instead of at home with their families. My mom created 1000 happy moments out of gloom, turning 1000 frowns into smiles. We’re mighty proud of my mom, 1000 times over.

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