Côte Saint-Luc mayor and councillors to take part in 2017 McHappy Day

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Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Mike Cohen and others members of city council and staff will volunteer at the two McDonald’s franchises in Côte Saint-Luc on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 as part of the cross Canada McHappy Day initiative.
The day will also mark the launch of the Pierre Brunet McDonald’s Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund. Details of the fund, including application forms, will be announced towards the end of the summer.
“We encourage residents to drop by and make a contribution,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “The donations at the two local McDonald’s will stay in Côte Saint-Luc, thanks to the new fund. It will help families who cannot afford to register their child in a program. It will also take into account requests from children with special needs.”
McHappy Day is a national fundraiser when McDonald’s restaurants across Canada and their communities, employees, customers and special guests raise money together to help children in need. At the heart of McDonald’s community commitment is RMHC Canada, which is dedicated to giving sick children the one thing they need most: their families by supporting Ronald McDonald Houses and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms across the country. RMHC provides families of sick children with a home-away-from-home or a place of peace and calm within a hospital.

Pierre Brunet (fifth from right) and the Côte Saint-Luc City Council

“Pierre Brunet has been a supporter of community activities in Côte Saint-Luc for many years,” said Councillor Mike Cohen, who is responsible for the sponsorship portfolio. “We’re very excited that through his efforts, more kids in our community will have a chance to participate in recreation programs.”
Brunet operates 19 McDonald’s franchise on the Island of Montreal, including the two restaurants in Côte Saint-Luc. He was honoured in 2016 by the City of Côte Saint-Luc at annual Golf Classic for his continued generosity to community events over the past 30 years.

Air Transat brings the Israel experience a lot closer

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Celebrating Air Transat service to Tel Aviv with Robert Presser, Glenn J. Nashen and Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman

A whole lot of Quebecers are about to get an incredible experience travelling directly to Israel aboard Air Transat. The Montreal-based airline kicked off its Trudeau to Ben Gurion non-stop service as a sort of birthday bash, marking its 30 years in business and highlighting Montreal’s 375th anniversary. 150 years of Canadian federation, as well as 100 years of Federation CJA.

The event took place in the ultra-modern Montreal Science Centre at the Old Port. There was an interesting mix of politicos, business leaders, young entrepreneurs and community who’s who. English, French and Hebrew-speaking, Kosher or not, young and less young, the audience reflected the multicultural, hip crowd of would-be travelers that Air Transat is targeting.

Airline prez Jean-Marc Eustache, lead off the formalities by saying that they weren’t looking to become mere transporters. The airline’s strategy is to build travel experiences with local partners in Israel to offer excursions, lodging and tours to meet the needs of Quebec couples, families and singles alike. And, publicity will soon begin to promote Montreal and Quebec as a hot tourist destination for Israelis.

Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman was beaming with excitement at the prospect of tens of thousands of Quebecers seeking a taste of Israel. Whether it’s for the food, the wine or the music, for exploring or for religious travel, Israel has it all, said the coolest diplomat Israel has sent to Montreal in modern times. The Israeli Consul for Tourism, Uri Steinberg, said that the relationship between Israel and Air Transat would flourish, like a romance, as they become closer and closer, falling in love with one another. Quebecers will love Israel, he said.

Glenn J. Nashen, Sandy Sparkman and Robert Presser at the Air Transat kickoff of bi-weekly direct service between Montreal to Tel Aviv

Montreal City Councillor and Executive Committee member Lionel Perez said that Montrealers will benefit from being five or six hours closer thanks to the direct flights and that Israelis will come in large numbers to enjoy Montreal’s flair, sites and culture. And we have great religious sites to share with them such as the St. Joseph’s Oratory, the Notre Dame Cathedral and eventually a downtown Expos stadium!

The Transat folks created a true Israeli atmosphere, raffling off two free flights for two to Israel, serving spicy, tasty hors d’ouevres and five kinds of humus provided by Alan Serour of Beso Catering. A 5-piece orchestra belted out Klezmer tunes and Israeli wine flowed freely.

Glenn J. Nashen and CSUQ President Henri Elbaz discussing their next trip to Israel aboard Air Transat

It was great to see my old JGH boss Henri Elbaz and his physician wife Dr. Sandy, CIJA chief Eta Yudin, Senator Marc Gold, Hamsptead Mayor Bill Steinberg and his wife Doris, Outremont City Councillor Mindy Pollak, Israel Day Rally impresario Amos Sochaczevski, Israeli commuter-in-chief Dado Ben Brit, community activists Sandy Sparkman and Robert Presser and former news anchor Pascale Dery. CSL Insurance and Travel Professional Ruth Cohen will be plugging Air Transat service from her Cavendish Mall headquarters,

Good luck to Air Transat in finally bringing back direct service to Ben Gurion airport after a decades long gap. Here’s to falling in love with Israel!

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Commemoration, Sunday, April 23, 7:30 PM

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Holocaust survivors invite Montrealers to participate in the Yom Hashoah commemoration to remember the victims of the Shoah, honour the survivors and consider how we can learn from the Holocaust as we look to the future.

The commemoration will include poems and short readings in English, French, Hebrew and Yiddish, as well as songs performed by a Jewish children’s Choir. This years’ theme is Reflections on the Holocaust – Carrying on the Legacy.

 

Mimouna night in CSL

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Joe and Dolly Gabbay open their Cote Saint-Luc home, and sweet table, to friends and neighbours to celebrate the Minouna, April 18, 2017

Mimouna is a three century old North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover, marking the return to eating chametz (leavened foods), which are forbidden throughout the week of Passover.

The celebration begins after nightfall on the last day of Passover. In many communities, non-Jewish neighbours sell chametz back to Jewish families as a beginning of the celebration. Moroccan and Algerian Jews throw open their homes to visitors, after setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats. One of the holiday favorites is Mofletta. The table is also laid with various symbols of luck and fertility, with an emphasis on the number “5,” such as five pieces of gold jewelry or five beans arranged on a leaf of pastry. The repetition of the number five references the five-fingered hamsa amulet common in both Jewish and Muslim North African and Middle Eastern communities from pre-modern times. Typically all those in attendance at a Mimouna celebration are sprinkled with a mint sprig or other green dipped in milk, symbolizing good fortune and new beginnings.

And such was the case in many homes across Cote Saint-Luc on Tuesday night. Our night out began after 10:00PM at the home of Joe and Dolly Gabbay. They welcomed my wife, Judy, and me, with open arms, along with our friends, Mayor Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein, MP Anthony Housefather and Councillor Sidney Benizri.

Joe explained that a whole fish is traditionally placed on the table to symbolize fertility and good fortune while many of the sweet pastries were prepared well before the Passover holiday, frozen and symbolically sold, as not to posses chametz during the holiday.

It wasn’t long before the Gabbay home was filled with people including our D’Arcy McGee MNA, David Birnbaum as well former MNAs from the same riding, Lawrence Bergman and Judge Herbert Marx. Israeli Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman was also in attendance.

Mitchell Brownstein, Lawrence Bergman, David Bergman, Herbert Marx and Glenn J. Nashen (Apr. 18, 2017)

It is customary to spend a little time visiting the host family’s home before moving on to other homes. After a beautiful spread at the Gabbay home, including Moroccan pastries, Mofletta, coucous, cheeses, fruit and smoked salmon, wine and spirits it was time to move on for the next late night visit.

A wonderful welcome and magnificent display in the Gabbay dining room. Many thanks to Joe and Dolly for their warm hospitality.

Our group of friends traveled down the block to the beautiful home of Lison Benarroch  who greeted us in traditional attire to a lavish presentation. The renowned business woman transformed her dining room into an opulent display of North African inspired sweets, nuts, candies and fruit. As if that weren’t enough there was sushi, lox, wonderful cheeses of all sorts and fresh baked loaves of bread.

Judy Hagshi, Lison Benarroch and Elaine Brownstein

There was an endless stream of well-wishers who kept arriving to Lison’s lovely home. Strangers and friends alike mingled easily offering greetings of Tarbukh, May you have good luck.

The generous array of fruits, nuts and sweets at the Benarroch home for Mimouna

 

Even the sushi adorned the Mimouna display at Lison Benarroch’s gorgeous home

 

A whole fish on green leaves, symbolizing fertility and prosperity at the Benarroch home

As we were heading out yet another former politician walked in, none other than Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and MP for Mount Royal Irwin Cotler and his wife Ariella.

Former and current Members of Parliament for Mount Royal, Irwin Cotler and Anthony Housefather, along with Ariella Cotler

 

Chantal Bekhor is one famous Cote Saint-Lucer after competing for Top Prize in the cookie category on Food Network Canada‘s Recipe to Riches.

Bekhor, is a food sensation, who first introduced Canada to her family’s traditional recipe for the Mahbooz Date Biscuit, a typical Iraqi Jewish dessert.  She was featured by the Montreal Gazette as well.

Chantal Bekhor, the most famous baker in Cote Saint-Luc

The former JPPS English and math teacher is a dynamic and affable hostess along with her business partner and husband Emanuel Castiel. They opened their home to hundreds of friends during the Mimouna to some incredible pastries, cakes, chocolate bark, truffles, Iraqi delights, and more, all home made of course. While the  judges on Recipe to Riches said they loved the Mahbooz treat, calling it, “Exotic, versatile, ” I can attest to the fact that her baking is even so much more.

Judy Hagshi, Glenn J. Nashen, Anthony Housefather, Emanuel Castiel, Chantal Bekhor, Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein among the friends and family at the Mimouna celebration in the Bekhor-Castiel home

My wife is a big fan of Chantal’s food. Indeed my girls and Judy cheered Chantal on a few years back on her television debut, not just because of my wife’s common Sephardi roots, but because the Mahbooz date-filled cookie looked absolutely delicious and a treat that would be appreciated by a large number of Cote Saint-Lucers to be sure, as well as Canadians in general.

Thank you Chantal and Emanuel for such generous hospitality and for an absolutely delicious assortment of treats. My sugar level and calorie intake reached an all time one night high but I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Tonight I am so pleased to have been reacquainted with such friendly and welcoming Cote Saint-Lucers such as the Gabbays, Benarrochs and Bekhor-Castiels.

On behalf of my family and my great friends Mitchell and Elaine Brownstein, Anthony Housefather and Sidney Benizri, thank you so much for your hospitality, and sharing your Mimouna with us. We are blessed to live in such an amazing community in Cote Saint-Luc – a vibrant, rich and caring community, a wonderful multicultural family.

I wish you all Tarbukh, success and good luck.  And now, my treadmill awaits!

 

vCOP wants you!

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Looking to make a rewarding and fulfilling contribution to your community? Do you have at least six hours a month to an essential community service? Want to be surrounded by outgoing, friendly CSL residents who are committed to their city, generous with their time and looking forward to helping you succeed as a new recruit? Please join us on April 25. vCOP est un organisme communautaire et bilingue.

For more information search “vCOP” on this blog.

Easter lunch at St. Richards

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Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Father Peter Laviolette and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen at St. Richard’s Parish Easter Luncheon, Apr. 9, 2017

It’s always a great pleasure to break bread with Father Peter Laviolette and the parishioners at St. Richard’s in Cote Saint-Luc. Such was the case on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at the annual Easter luncheon. Father Peter is the spiritual leader at St. Richard’s, a venerable Cote Saint-Luc institution established back in the 60s during the heyday of our town when construction was booming and young families were flocking to the new, west-end suburb.

CSL City Hall reps at St. Richard’s Easter luncheon

Although a great number of families are of Italian descent, the Catholic parish includes many others from a host of cultural communities. With so many multi-generational members growing up in CSL it is interesting to note that some families have become interwoven in CSL’s large Jewish community.

As Father Peter pointed out, some years, Chanukah and Christmas begin at the same time, as does Passover and Easter.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and CSL’s First Lady, Elaine Brownstein, Councillor Allan J. Levine and Rhoda, myself, City Manager Nadia Di Furia and husband Ben and City Hall coordinator Tammy McEwin and longtime city staffer / husband Rob were in attendance representing the city.

The Mayor wished everyone a very Happy Easter in the best community around. “Enjoy every moment of these festive holidays surrounded by family, friends and neighbours,” he said. “Our community is a large, happy family,” Brownstein said.

The St. Richard’s volunteer crew

We enjoyed a wonderful home made feast for the entire congregation. What a beautiful gathering of family, neighbours and friends in celebration. Mr. Biasini’s homemade wine was once again a sweet treat. Former Councillor Joe Panunto acted as host and emcee. The boys on kitchen duty did an amazing, professional job.

Thanks to the St. Richard’s Chefs. Lunch was terrific!

On a personal note I wish to thank Joe and Father Peter for extending the invitation and I send my very best to my constituents and friends celebrating Easter. May this holiday bring love, joy and peace to you and to all people. May your kids find all the Easter eggs and may you enjoy abundant Easter chocolate. Most of all, may you find happiness in your hearts and in yours homes and may it spread around the world.

He repaired the world: the loss of a medical giant

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To those who knew Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, he was an unassuming and genteel character with a sweet yet dry sense of humour. On the one hand, he would hobnob with royalty and world-renowned business and political leaders. On the other hand, when he spoke with you on the streets of Cote Saint-Luc or in the halls of the Jewish General Hospital, he made you feel that you were just as important as those other machers (big shots). And to him, you were.

Dr. Wainberg was at once a man of the people, a man of great faith, a real mentch. It was almost hard to fathom that this same man was responsible for saving the lives of millions of people. In the field of medical sciences he was the equivalent of a rock star.

His work changed the world for millions in Africa, for gays, for women. His activism moved multinationals, and countries. He was a force to be reckoned with.

 

Presentation of the 2016 D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal - David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Presentation of the 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal – David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Dr. Wainberg was born in Park Extension and made Cote Saint-Luc his home for more than 30 years. He was head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and director of the McGill University Aids Centre. He served as president of the International AIDS Society and presided over worldwide symposiums.

As an extraordinary individual whose accomplishments encircle the globe, and as someone whom I had befriended for nearly 30 years, I was delighted to be the impetus in nominating Dr. Wainberg for a local award just last year – the D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals from the Quebec National Assembly, presented by MNA David Birnbaum.
“I am very grateful that my research career in the field of HIV/AIDS has helped countless people around the world to live improved lives despite being infected by a dreaded virus,” Dr. Wainberg said at the ceremony in his humble office, where I was honoured to be his sole invitee.
Also last year, I asked my fellow city councillors to award Dr. Wainberg with a special recognition for his humanitarian gesture in donating a Torah scroll in Jerusalem in memory of a young woman, Shira Banki, following her brutal slaying at the 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Parade.

Wainberg 2016 Torah donation

“Your work in the area of AIDS researcher is well-known around the world. Your donation of a restored Torah to the Ethiopian community of Jerusalem is a wonderful act. We are proud of you as a distinguished Côte Saint-Luc resident,” Acting Mayor Dida Berku said at the February 2016 presentation to Dr. Wainberg.

 

Wainberg Council Feb 2016

Cote Saint-Luc Council presents a special recognition award to Dr. Mark Wainberg (Feb. 8, 2016)

When I first ran for city council, I reached out to Dr. Wainberg who was then the president of the TBDJ Congregation on Bailey. His support of my campaign and his warm friendship were unequivocal. He asked for nothing in return, satisfied in helping to build his community, one leader at a time.

Having known Dr. Wainberg for so many years I can attest to his profound sense of healing the world. He was a compassionate and benevolent academic and community leader, well deserving of many honours including the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec and France’s Legion d’honneur.

Glenn J. Nashen and Dr. Mark Wainberg (Oct. 2009)

Dr. Wainberg’s contributions began here, at home, and spread around the globe. The biblical responsibility of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, was a calling Dr. Wainberg took to heart and to which he dedicated his life’s work.

His work will go on. His name will be remembered. May his memory be a blessing.

 

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