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

 

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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.

vCOP fills the hall, Suburban chief thanks the troops

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Photo courtesy David Goldsmith

A capacity crowd of 80 Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol members filled the council chamber at city hall this week to hear the Suburban Newspaper’s editor-in-chief Beryl Wajsman speak on a wide range of topics, but mostly on the political landscape in Quebec. Wajsman was raw and uncensored, swinging wildly, particularly at provincial politicians. The considerably knowledgeable and articulate speaker was unscripted in his gashing assault against the political elite who he described as unconcerned about the citizenry and focused solely on attaining power by saying whatever was necessary to secure votes.

Against this negative backdrop Wajsman described CSL mayor Mitchell Brownstein as unique in his “openness and accessibility”. You can meet with Mitch or call him anytime. He answers his own phone, Wajsman said. “He cares and it shows.”

Beryl Wajsman addresses the vCOP corps of volunteers

But Wajsman’s ultimate compliment was saved for the volunteers in their bright yellow uniform jackets and orange polo tops. You are the true examples of what it means to be a community, to care for your neighbour and to help people who really need your help, he said. He congratulated the vCOP members for their service to the elderly, to all residents.

“I truly enjoyed speaking to a very special gathering of some of the most engaged citizens around. The CSL Volunteer Corps of Citizens on Patrol. The only one of its kind on the island (actually the only one in Quebec) and they cover every sector where the 33,000 residents of CSL live. Great Q&A too,” Wajsman posted to his Facebook page

Long-serving volunteers Susie and Harvey Schwartz

vCOP meets every other month to refresh on protocols and procedures, learn new skills and techniques and to hear from community leaders and experts in public safety. They are a dedicated and energetic group that give of their time, day and night, to safeguard the community. Once again, I salute CSL’s men and women in yellow and orange.

A Bintel Brief: Yiddish Theatre alive and well in Montreal

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A review by Glenn J. Nashen

NEW: Now featured in the Jewish Standard Magazine!

 

The Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre opened its 60th season this week with its latest production of A Bintel Brief. This performance at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts  is brought back to the stage after it originally opened in Montreal in the 1970s. It is a story based upon real letters to the editor of a Yiddish language daily newspaper in New York City in the early 1900s.

 

The production is composed of a series of true stories of Jewish immigrants coming to America and trying to adapt to their new world. It not only connects the stories of immigrants in the early 20th century to their former lives in Russia and Europe but it also connects them to their descendants 100 years later.

 

A Bintel Brief peeks inside the immigrant experience of long ago and reminds us that little has changed and that the struggles and efforts made are both timeless and universal.

 

The show is brought to life by budding director Michelle Heisler who has previously acted in the DWYT and works with young children’s theatre. Heisler is a talented actor and singer having performed on stage across Canada, the United States and Europe.

 

The cast is an energetic and spirited group of youngsters, young adults and older folk who come together as though they were a true family.

Sam Stein and Aron Gonshor (Courtesy CJNews.com)

Aron Gonshor and Sam Stein are iconic in the DWYT and for good reason. Their vaudeville singing and dancing with old-fashioned, side-splitting humour kept the audience in tears of laughter. Their shtick was out of Wayne and Shuster and they were classic funnymen. They also took on serious roles in skits ranging in theme from overworked and underpaid, depressed immigrants to tragic episodes involving loss of life and great despair. If there are lifetime achievement awards for outstanding performance in Yiddish theatre this duo is certainly right for the prize.

 

Mikey Samra is known for  his many performances in the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society but his stage presence in Yiddish was equally spectacular. He is a compelling young actor who will continue to flourish in whatever language he chooses.

 

Jodi Lackman has played at the Segal before but her performance in A Bintel Brief takes the cake. Her facial expressions and shrieking voice at learning her husband has another wife and children, her melodramatic overtones in yearning for her secret lover and her comedic expressions are worthy of praise and applause.

 

The list of talented and dedicated young actors who have put in tremendous effort to speak a language that is probably quite foreign to most of them is long and impressive. Kudos to all of them for entertaining the audience with song and dance, with drama and comedy and by keeping the language and rich history alive.

 

One particular skit involves a class of immigrants trying to learn to speak English. It is ridiculously funny with mispronunciation and misunderstanding. I could just imagine my Bubby and Zaida in such a class with their thick yiddishe accents trying to learn their new language. Indeed, I still remember the words of my very funny Russian-born Zaida who’d say, “I speak 12 languages and don’t understand any of them!”

 

The stage was simple and old fashion in the Segal Centre’s smaller theatre. Presented with English and French supertitles it is an easy-to-understand show even if you’re not fluent in mama-loschen. The four piece band was fun and lively under the musical direction of Nick Burgess.

 

Despite the young children who sing and dance in the first act (they leave at intermission to get home for bedtime) the heavy adult themes would give this musical performance a PG-13 rating, not age appropriate for pre-teens.

 

DWYT President Ben Gonshor thanked the capacity opening-night audience for continuing to support community theatre, particularly in Yiddish. With such great benefactors such as Alvin Segal, Barbara Seal and the Azrielli Foundation and Federation CJA Montrealers are fortunate in that they will continue to be treated to such memorable and entertaining evenings for years to come.

 

A Bintel Brief continues at the Segal Centre though October 21. Tickets are available at SegalCentre.org or by calling 514-739-7944.

 

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