Montreal complètement Cirque best pick: Scotch & Soda

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If you even remotely enjoy Montreal’s uber-artsy circus scene you won’t want to miss Scotch & Soda. This  extraordinary and zany show by Company 2 is on stage until July 21 at Theatre St. Denis in collaboration with the Just For Laughs festival.

We attended opening night last night. The theatre was completely sold out and there’s no wondering why. This show was spectacular from beginning to end. Two groups of performers, one circus-artistic and the other jazz-musical intertwined for 95 minutes of pure sensation. Both artistry and musical components were outstanding.

Scotch and Soda performed at The London Wonderground. David Carberry, ©Alastair Muir 20.05.15

Scotch & Soda is the result of an exciting mixology between two groups of artists and friends. On the one hand, we have the acrobats of Company 2, an ensemble of multidimensional circus artists. On the other hand, the Uncanny Carnival band is a tight-knit group of musicians from Sydney, Australia. Each musician brings their own flavour, and like the best single malt whiskey, this creates a unique blend. Scotch & Soda is the result of this mix: circus and jazz, served straight up.

A show that is an actual cocktail of exciting backgrounds: world-class circus and heart pounding jazz. It’s a perfect blend of art, fun, and friendship. This cocktail needs just one final greeting… the audience.

The show is brilliant. Ultra-creative. Exciting. You’ve never seen anything like it. I give it a 10 out of 10. Don’t miss it.

The late Gerry Weinstein among citizenship medal recipients

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D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, third from left, presents National Assembly Citizenship Medals to, from right, Jeff Weinstein, accepting on behalf of his late father Gerry Weinstein, with his wife, Marjorie, Glenn Nashen and Lina Fortin. At left is Sarah Buzaglo, winner of the essay contest, in Côte-St-Luc, Que., on June 19. (Photo CJN)

 

Gerry Weinstein, a man who devoted his life to helping those in need, was posthumously honoured by the national assembly with a Citizenship Medal bestowed by the D’Arcy McGee riding.

Weinstein, who died two years ago, was “a true and selfless community activist who would leave no stone unturned, in order to do good for those more vulnerable,” said MNA David Birnbaum, while presenting the award in a ceremony held on June 19.

A stalwart of B’nai Brith Canada, Weinstein was instrumental in realizing its affordable seniors’ housing projects in Montreal, both of which are located in the Côte-St-Luc, Que., riding. B’nai Brith House opened 12 years ago and Chateau B’nai Brith will be inaugurated soon.

Despite having chronic health issues for much of his adult life, Weinstein persevered until the second project was finally given the go-ahead, with Quebec government support. Sadly, he passed away before the groundbreaking ceremony.

He had also served as a leader of the Knights of Pythias, president of the Foundation for Children’s Diseases and chair of Telethon of Stars.

This was the fourth consecutive year that the Citizenship Medal has been awarded to residents of D’Arcy McGee who have made outstanding contributions to the community, or non-residents who have contributed to the riding.

The other 2018 recipients are Lina Fortin, principal of Ecole des Amis-du-Monde, and former Côte-St-Luc councillor Glenn Nashen.

Fortin was described as an inspiration and mentor to the diverse students, parents and teachers at the public French elementary school in Côte-St-Luc, where she has been the principal since 2012.

“During her tenure, Lina has made it her mission to create a positive and inclusive school for her students, a school open to the world and ready to accompany every student on a positive journey, as they strive to master French and every other subject,” said Birnbaum.

Nashen was cited for both his exemplary professional career and record of volunteer service. He initiated Côte-St-Luc’s Volunteer Citizens on Patrol program 11 years ago, has been involved with its emergency medical services for over 30 years and introduced Canada’s first municipal legislation requiring bicycle helmets in 1992.

Nominations for the medals were accepted from any resident of the riding. The winners were selected by a jury composed of past D’Arcy McGee MNAs Herbert Marx, Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman.

Also honoured at the ceremony was Ecole Maïmonide Grade 10 student Sarah Buzaglo, who won the Victor C. Goldbloom Vivre student essay contest. Named in honour of the late D’Arcy McGee MNA, the contest encourages young people to build bridges between different groups of people, as he did throughout his life.

Beating cancer one kilometre after another

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Phil and Alissa Anazrut

 

Bikus Urachus is a group dedicated to raising funds for cancer research, and focused on bringing attention to urachal cancer.  They got together in 2013 to ride in The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 235km cycling ride from Montreal to Quebec City.

After my buddy, Phil Anzarut, recovered from chemotherapy to treat his urachal cancer, he and his friends created the Bikus Urachus team.   Friends and colleagues donated generously and the team grew to 12 in its first year growing to over 30 today.  Bikus Urachus has been the #1 community fundraising team for this event several years running.

The Ride for 2018 sets out this weekend. As their 2018 campaign season comes to a close the 2018 Bikus Urachus team has raised more money for cancer research than any other Bikus Urachus team to date, raising $199,000 this year alone, bringing their 6 year total to an incredible $965,000.

Phil Anzarut

Not only do they raise money, they also put it to work. Their recent purchase of a next generation DNA sequencing platform for the Segal Cancer Centre ensures the Jewish General Hospital remains at the forefront of rare cancer research. Also this year, they’ve expanded their focus to all difficult cancers, as this sequencer will be used for continued research on melanoma and lung cancers.

A few weeks ago, a urachal cancer patient in Toronto reached out to Phil. Diagnosed in 2016, his cancer is at stage 4 and has metastasized in his brain. He writes: “I have always found it difficult coping with my diagnosis for several reasons, but one of the hardest parts to accept is the complete lack of knowledge in the medical community regarding urachal cancer. It is so rare there is just not enough cases for researchers to have much they can tell me about treatment, survival and expectations I should have. At times I feel as though I am the only one researching my own case and guiding myself through treatment.”

The survival rate for metastatic patients is 24 months. This is why they are riding.

Tomorrow morning Phil will lead the Bikus Urachus team on a 235km bike ride from Montreal to Quebec City on their 6th Ride to Conquer Cancer. Their sponsors include: Tactio Health Group, Noble Foods, Constructal, Martin Industries, BDC Capital, Optessa, Elopak, McWhinnie’s and Lenovo.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to make a donation, please donate directly to the Urachal Cancer Research Fund at the Jewish General Hospital at www.urachalcancer.com/donate.

As a friend, and also as the Director of Communications and Media Relations for the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal (at the Jewish General Hospital) I could not be more proud of my friend Phil and his entire team. I am hoping that this last push of publicity can help them achieve a few dollars more to reach $200,000 toward this noble cause.

All the best to Phil and the entire Bikus Urachus team. Good luck to all 2000 riders in the 2018 Ride to Conquer Cancer. May the temperature be just right, with the wind at your back. Peddle on folks!

The D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the National Assembly goes to…

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Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by (L-R) Former MNAs Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman, current MNA David Birnbaum and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

What a great honour in receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by MNA David Birnbaum surrounded by family and friends. This annual event awards three people for their outstanding contribution to the residents and communities of the D’Arcy McGee riding.

 

 

David Birnbaum, député de D’Arcy-McGee MNA honoured three people for outstanding community service last evening at Ashkelon Gardens: Lina Fortin, me, and the late Gerry Weinstein. The winners were selected by a blue-ribbon jury of three former D’Arcy-McGee MNAs and Ministers, retired Justice Herbert Marx, Robert Libman and 20-year MNA Lawrence S. Bergman. The Victor Goldbloom Essay winner was Sarah Buzaglo, a grade 10 student at École Maïmonide.

Most of you will know that I have served in public office nearly all of my adult life. Allow me sum up this incredible journey in the form of my shift-on-duty.

Glenn J. Nashen riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc’s first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11, 1981

 

Glenn J. Nashen, on duty, in Cote Saint-Luc’s second ever First Response vehicle

My shift begins. Fall of 1979. I’m a young First Responder in the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization. Dressed in a smart looking brown uniform, yellow stripe down the side of my pants, the alert tone rings and we spring into action, lights and siren blaring from our small red rescue-fire truck. An elderly person tumbles down the stairs at home. A car crashes into a light pole on Cavendish. Suddenly, a call for a cardiac arrest across the street. We respond to hundreds of emergencies, on every street in CSL. And that’s just the early morning.

 

I rise through the ranks of EMO and EMS, promoting citizen CPR training and pushing for Automated Defibrillators in public buildings and public vehicles, relentlessly championing for recognition of paramedics across Quebec, and advocating for air ambulance helicopters for the outlying regions.

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

It’s a busy shift and we are only in the mid-80s. My uniform changes colour, and so does the vehicle, as I find myself riding aboard yellow ambulances and doctors cars with Urgences Santé. Racing to life and death situations, performing CPR 125 times, bringing some people back to life and even delivering a baby. What a privilege. What responsibility at a pretty young age, to be in a position to make a profound difference in someone’s life during their moment of highest anxiety.

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

My shift continues, it’s 1990, and I’m elected as the youngest member on city council. My first priority is to make cycling safer and CSL adopts the first bicycle helmet bylaw in the country! I play a leading role during major floods, the infamous Ice Storm, preparing for doomsday during Y2K, you remember year 2000!

Newspaper ad from June 2005 commemorating the 1st anniversary of the demerger referendum by the Cote Saint-Luc Demerger Committee Co-Chairs

No rest on this patrol. It’s the early 2000s and Anthony, Ruth, Mitch and I are up for the biggest challenge, to get our City back… and saving our EMS and keeping our police and our fire stations from closure.

The men and women of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

It’s time for a lunch break when a great idea strikes me… It’s 2005, CSL is about to be back in our own hands again, and I decide that we need to harness the energy of more volunteers to ensure CSL’s place as the safest community on the Island of Montreal. We need to enlist more volunteers, retirees, a group of neighbours watching out for neighbours. After lunch I set out on founding the volunteer Citizens on Patrol organization. We launch on Canada Day 2006. Now suited up in a bright orange polo top and in marked vans, scooters and bikes, we continue our patrol through the streets and parks and municipal facilities.

Fmr. Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and Supervisor Mitchell Herf inaugurate the newest vCOP electric scooters

We stop to alert a resident that they forgot to close their garage door, a possible theft averted. We remind another to keep the emergency lane clear at the mall, we get the finger on that one, but that’s OK. All in a day’s volunteer work. An elderly couple thanks us for changing the battery in their smoke detector. We block a street from traffic and hold onlookers back as the fire department douses a house fire. Over to check on the home of vacationers. Then, we assist the police in looking for a missing child and we reunite the frightened youngster with their relieved parents. We feel pride and satisfaction knowing we’ve helped. We’ve made a difference. We’ve given our time but we’ve gained so much in return.

My first public council meeting as Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, November 9, 2015

My shift isn’t quite done and yet another quick uniform change. This time for a two-month stint as mayor of CSL in 2015. What was once just a dream actually became a reality.

 

And as we head back to the station to wrap up this shift for today, in 2018, I can see how my my parents gave me the keys to these patrol vehicles, for this mission to Repair the World.

Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship with my parents, George and Phyllis Nashen (June 19, 2018)

So thank you mom, who just celebrated her 90th birthday and thank you dad, who is three days shy of his 95th. Thank you for these important life lessons in public service and looking out for one’s neighbour.

 

These lessons were also fueled by my wife, Judy, who’s always ready to give her utmost to her patients and to the community and together we are handing over these keys to our children, Nicole, Nathalie and Jeremy.

Glenn J. Nashen, Judy Hagshi with Nicole, Nathalie and Jeremy Nashen (*June 19, 2018)

So I close by again thanking my wife and children, because when my proverbial uniform went on, they knew that it meant I’d be away from the house again and again and again. Public service, and long shifts, do come at a very high cost!

 

My wife says this about me: My heart is in Cote Saint-Luc and Cote Saint-Luc is in my heart. I feel that way too about our beautiful province and our amazing country. And I hope that one day my tour of duty will continue and my unquenchable need to Repair the World (Tikun Olam) will take off in some new direction to make this place the very best for all of us.

 

Thank you as well to our incredible life-saving volunteers at CSL EMS and to our dedicated and unstoppable volunteers in vCOP.

Thank you David and our former MNAs Herbert, Robert and Lawrence for this great honour. And thank you for reading this and for “joining” me on today’s shift. I appreciate all the good wishes and support I receive from family, friends and members of the community.

 

Congratulations to my fellow laureates, Lina Fortin and the family of the late Gerry Weinstein

 

Celebrating with the Pressers (Sandie and Robert) and Fabians (Leslie, Ricki, Jamie and Sammi)

 

My longtime friend and fellow vCOP volunteer Mitchell Herf

 

Sharing the good vibes and smiles with my colleagues Stephanie Malley and Marisa Rodi

 

Siempre me complace celebrar con mis amigos cercanos Natalia y Pablo

 

D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship Medal Ceremony (Photo Darryl Levine)

 

Friends from way back to Bialik days, Ben Burko (and son Milo) and Gary Polachek

 

Mitchell Brownstein and I go way, way back. I am so proud of my friend the mayor and pleased to celebrate with him.

 

David Birnbaum and Glenn J. Nashen (Photo Darryl Levine)

 

Former Quebec Cabinet Minister Lawrence Bergman and I have had a wonderful relationship over the years. He has been a friend and a mentor.

 

Gracias Miguel Banet y Lulu Brenner por venir y mostrar tu amor y apoyo

 

 

Quebec is ripe for a surge of electric mobility

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I was fortunate to have been invited to partake in the recent Movin’ On by Michelin world summit in sustainable mobility. Thousands of people gathered from over 60 countries to participate in workshops, conferences and keynote addresses. There were tests of virtually everything electric on two, three, four wheels and more. A Who’s Who of business, political leaders, social movers and shakers and keen enthusiasts from around the globe gathered in Montreal for the second annual congress.

The case for electrification is compelling, and it goes far beyond EVs.

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is just beginning and with automakers and other countries making significant commitments to phase out conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, the future for EVs is bright. But electrification of transportation (e-mobility) goes well beyond passenger vehicles to include fleet vehicles (cars and trucks), mass transit buses, light rail, ships and even non-road vehicles like forklifts.

The rationale is simple: electric vehicles have lower cost of ownership than their conventionally powered peers, they emit less pollution, and they enable emerging mobility technologies and business models.

While EVs are currently in the “early adopter” phase of the product lifecycle, they hold tremendous potential.  As of 2017, EV sales in Canada have increased by 68% and there are approximately 50, 000 plug-in vehicles currently on Canadian roads.  New sales records are consistently being broken each year as the idea of green transportation gains national momentum.

100% electric motorboats on the Lachine Canal

The power grid represents the foundation for a ubiquitous “refueling” infrastructure for e-mobility, and it is capable of supporting many more vehicles than it currently does.  British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario are the three Canadian provinces with the highest number of Electric Vehicles.

Hydro- Québec calculated that it could incorporate a million EV’s into the system without having to make any big changes to the infrastructure.

Although Quebec has a goal of seeing 100,000 EVs on the road by 2020 I think they’ll fall short unless EV prices begin to drop, the price of gas shoots up or tye government increases its incentives as Ontario did last year.

100% electric police motorcycle

Meanwhile, the Quebec government could easily require all of its departments, agencies and institutions to install free charging stations as another important encouragement for employees to make the purchase.

Much discussion centred around green, smart cities and better quality of life because of sustainable mobility. The goal is to build attractive, livable, walkable, sustainable ‘villages’ with connected mobility hubs; Mixed-use communities where people love to live, work, learn, heal and play.

The Lion Electric Co. manufactures innovative zero emission vehicles like this city bus, right here in Quebec

What’s more, with massive investment by government in mass transit there should be a requirement to purchase electric buses. Additionally there are now electric options for municipal fleets from garbage trucks to pickup trucks, light duty vehicles to patrol cars. With the lowest electricity rates in North America, the time is ripe for Quebec to have a major push to electrify mobility.

What will it take for you to go electric?

Thanks to Executive Producer Nick Cogger for putting on an extraordinary show. Lookin’ forward to Movin’ On 2019.

My brand new 2017 Chevy Volt Electric Vehicle

I Want You To Remember… A Childhood Lost

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That was the theme of this year’s Yom Hashoah commemoration held in Cote Saint Luc, organized by the Montreal Holocaust Museum.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke eloquently about his family’s memory of this dark period in the 20th century. His mother came from Grenoble and Couillard recounted how so many stories were told to him as a youngster from his many aunts and uncles in France.
He also recounted with great pride about the first-ever Quebec Economic Mission to Israel last year when he was accompanied by Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum. Additionally, Couillard indicated that Quebec was one of the first governments in the world to declare a National Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust, in 1999, when introduced by then MNA Lawrence Bergman.
Newly installed Consul General of Israel, David Levy, spoke about his Parisian mother and their family’s personal experiences of betrayal by the French Nazi sympathizers. He spoke passionately about the large number of family members who never returned home.
Six candles were lit by survivors and their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren in memory of the Six Million Jews who perished.
Each survivor gave a video testimonial recounting in vivid detail their horrific memories of incarceration, deportation, hiding, hunger and terrible loss. Each one, between the ages of 85 and 90, spoke of the loss of their own childhood.
One such Survivor was Zissel Farkas. The 90 year old woman told her story, through her daughter. This brave, courageous and lucky woman is today the matriarch of three children, 26 grandchildren and an incredible 70 great grand-children.
The JPPS choir sung stirring tunes of remembrance from the 1930s and 40s. The solemn and impassioned song, Ani Ma’amin, I Remember,
was reportedly composed in a cattle car en route to the Treblinka concentration camp. The song was sung by many Jews as they marched to the gas chambers in the Nazi death camps.
With the song being hummed in the background the names of Jews murdered by the Nazis were slowly read aloud, along with their place of birth, where they were murdered and their age. Many childrens’ names were read out. Three years old. Six year’s old. One name was that of a baby just months old. In all, more than 1.5 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.
The ‘Partisan Hymn’ was sang out loud by the hundreds in attendance. It is a song written by poet and partisan Hirsch Glick in the Vilna Ghetto and became the anthem of the resistance movement. Today it is considered to be the main anthem of Holocaust Survivors and is sung at Memorial services around the world.
I have attended this commemoration for longer than I can remember. This year, I was joined by my daughter Nicole, who was on the March of the Living one year ago. She traveled to Poland and marched with thousands of students and adults to the death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, waving the Israeli flag, proclaiming Am Yisrael Chai. The People of Israel Live!  In this way, we are all doing our part in passing the responsibility of never forgetting from one generation to the next.

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Traditional Mimouna celebrated in CSL

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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.

The tradition continued in homes across Cote Saint-Luc on Saturday night and for the first time at JPPS-Bialik, on Sunday afternoon.

Anat and Michel Toledano welcome the Nashens and Anzaruts for Mimouna

Our night out began after 10:00PM at the home of Anat Marciano and Michel Toledano. They welcomed my family into their home with open arms, along with our friends, Alissa and Phil Anzarut.

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 Toledano’s, including Moroccan pastries, Mofletta, coucous, cheeses, fruit, smoked salmon, wine and Arak derived from figs (oy vey, it was potent) it was time to move on for the next late night visit. Thank you very much Anat and Michel.

Our family traveled down the block to the warm and inviting home of Chantal Bekhor and Emmanuel Castiel. There was an endless stream of well-wishers who kept arriving. Strangers and friends alike mingled, easily offering greetings of ‘Tarbakh’, May you have good luck.

Emmanuel Castiel and Chantal Bekhor

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.

A gathering of friends (and politicians) at the Bekhor-Castiel Mimouna

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.

A peak at Chantal’s scrumptious Mimouna table

Thank you Chantal and Emmanuel 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.

By Sunday afternoon when sugar levels stabilized it was time to continue the celebration over at JPPS-Bialik, the first time this Sephardic celebration took place at the school. The gym was decorated in Moroccan fashion, drummers and musicians greeted the guests as they entered and long tables of sweets, pastries and mofletta lined the room.

The hostesses, under the direction of Judaic studies coordinator, Anat Toledano (clearly she’s a Mimouna-specialist!) all decked out in bright and shiny traditional kaftans should be very proud of bringing the festive Sephardic tunes and tastes to what has traditionally been a typical Ashkenazi school. With a large number of the families blended in both traditions, and even fully Sephardi, it was time to share this wonderful event all together.

Sephardic community (CSUQ) president Henri Elbaz was invited to participate as well. Thanks to Henri’s support the event exceeded expectations and attendance. Students, parents and grandparents were entertained, fed and danced for two hours. It was an absolutely lovely event that should grow larger next year. Thank you Anat, Joanne, Judy, Carole, Beth and all the moms involved in this event.

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

Nachshen Family descendants celebrate Passover tradition

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Nachshen Family Seder 2018, Markham, Ontario (Rob Currie Photography)

The Nachshen Family recently gathered for the second Seder as they’ve been doing for three decades. The family, all descendants of Rabbi Moishe Nachshen (1872-1968) and Sarah Romanek (1875-1956), who emigrated to Canada from Russia in 1927, had assembled annually in Montreal for the second Passover Seder for the past 33 years until the festive gathering switched to Toronto this year. In the 1960s and 70s, the five branches of the family came together for Chanukah and Purim celebrations at Pomerantz House (then known as the Workmen’s Circle), on Van Horne Avenue near Cote des-Neiges Road, in Montreal.
The elders of the family now include siblings Kate Nachshen (Brecher), 96, George Nashen, 94, both of Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec and Elizabeth (Bess) Nachshen (Goldman), 89. of Boynton Beach, South Florida. The youngest member of the Nachshen Family was born one week prior to the Seder, Ellis Gray Adawalla of Toronto.
The 2018 Seder, held at a banquet hall in north end Toronto, brought together first, second and third cousins.
The event was organized by Mintzi (Clement) and Rafi Skrzydlo of Markham, Ontario and Mandy Senanes (Fitleberg) of Richmond Hill, Ontario. While most of the family is now situated in the greater Toronto area others traveled from Cote Saint-Luc, British Columbia, New York, Maryland, Florida and other points across North America, and as far away as China. With mobile devices in hand other family members from around the world joined in (virtually).
This family’s history reflects that of so many other Jewish Canadians. Having emigrated to Montreal from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, some of the family began drifting to Israel in the 60s and many to Toronto in the late 70s and 80s. By the 1990s the family had spread across Canada, the United States and Israel.

Cover of the Nachshen Family Seder Haggadah with image of family patriarch, Moishe Nachshen, Matriarch, Sarah Romenek, and their seven children

As the descendants of a rabbi, part of the Chasidic movement in Skvira, Russia, the family modernized and assimilated over the last three generations. So much so, that they created their own customized Passover Haggadah, emphasizing the centrality and equality of women and inclusion of all members of the family specifically citing lesbians, gays or converts to Judaism. An orange had been added as an important symbol on the Nachshen Seder plate to highlight these differences from the olden days.
While this family has grown and evolved quite differently from the strict religious practices of its patriarchs and matriarchs it continues to remain a cohesive and connected entity thanks to the fundamentals instilled by those family elders several generations earlier. The centrality of Judaism, community, cultural traditions, Zionism and family throughout the generations has remained strong and resolute. The Advent of social media has certainly helped to keep distant cousins connected through video, photos and stories on a daily basis.
The Haggadah, emblazoned with the photos of ‘Zaida Moishe an Bubbe Sarah’ was read aloud with all family members taking turns. The tunes sung aloud were those heard around the Nachshen table over a century ago in the shtetles of Skvira and Pogrebische (south of present day Kiev, Ukraine).

Back cover of the Nachshen Family Haggadah, depicting Nachshon, the first to enter the Red Sea as it parted during the exodus from Egypt

Once all the Afikomen had been found by the many young children and mingling had wound down, the many good bye hugs and kisses concluded the evening with wishes for Next Year in Jerusalem. But the Second Seder will be booked for Toronto, just in case.

Great community theatre in the West End, Tuesday and Wednesday night

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One of Montreal’s best community-based theatrical producers will launch a two-day run of the Broadway sensation, Anything Goes.

Anisa Cameron was born to be in showbiz. Born in New York, but raised under the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, her grandmother was a Rockette, her father was the lead singer of the Folies Bergere at the Tiffany Theatre inside the Tropicana and her mother, a dancer, was a chorus girl who worked her way up to company manager. Cameron and her brother, a dancer, were more or less raised backstage at the Tiffany Theatre. Although their parents begged and pleaded, both chose to pursue a life in the arts.

Anisa Cameron

Cameron has been at the helm of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) since its inception some seven years ago while simultaneously heading up the burgeoning drama program at Cote Saint-Luc’s Bialik High School. This year, she launched the JPPS drama program with the hit musical, The Little Mermaid.

Originally penned in 1934 with music and lyrics by American composer and songwriter Cole Porter, Anything Goes is a musical comedy that has been updated several times throughout the last century.

Through her many sold-out performances at the CSLDS including Fiddler on the Roof, Hairspray, Catch Me if You Can, as well as exceptional Bialik Theatre musicals, some originals and others from Broadway, Cameron has proven her skills at entertaining audiences both young and old.

This week. Anything Goes should be no exception. You don’t have to know anyone in the cast to come and enjoy local theatre, with live music by Nick Burgess and his accomplished musicians. All this with free parking, cheap refreshments, great seats and tickets at just 15 bucks. Get your tickets now for this Tuesday or Wednesday night’s shows at ShowTix4U or by visiting the Bialik Theatre Facebook page.

CSL Volunteers of the Year 2017 Shine on the Silver Screen

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The Côte Saint-Luc volunteer awards were presented earlier this week at the Cavendish Mall Cineplex Odeon theatres.  Hundreds ofCSL volunteers and their guests packed the theatre for the award ceremony which was prerecorded and projected into the theatres. You can watch the full 22 minute awards ceremony presentation video right here.

 

Congratulations to all the award recipients and thank you to everyone who volunteers their time for our community.

Here are just a few photos and descriptions of the public safety awards and a few other very special presentations.

Bernie and Cookie Band with Councillor Nashen (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

Community Services Award
Recognizes a volunteer couple for their exceptional contribution to the community special events programs.

Florence and Bernie Band have been volunteering their services for vCOP and during the past two years have been judges for the Maisons Fleuries Garden Beautification Contest. Their dependability, integrity and willingness have been of major service to this special event.

E.M.S. Award – Excellence in operations
Michael Lessard is a regular fixture at EMS and covers at least two or three shifts per week, often coming in to help out when it is really needed. Michael just celebrated his 60th birthday and is more active at EMS than many members half of his age.

Christiane Poirier with Councillor Kovac (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

E.M.S. Award – Excellence in training
Christiane Poirier is intricately involved behind the scenes as the head of the clinical review team. She meticulously reviews every patient care report, listens to audio recordings from major calls and flags any issues to the EMS members, ultimately ensuring that we learn from our mistakes and adhere to the clinical intervention protocols and stay at the fine point of patient care.

Peter Garish with Mayor Brownstein (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

EMS Award – Rookie of the year
Peter Garish – We had many outstanding members join our ranks this past year, but Peter stands out for his infectious smile, his positive attitude and his dedication to public service.On top of being a police officer in Chateauguay, Peter dedicates countless hours of service to the citizens of Côte Saint-Luc.

Robert Lefcort with Mayor Brownstein (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

vCOP Award
For five years, Robert Lefcort has been an invaluable member of vCOP.  He is a member of three of our specialized teams: Smoke Detector Patrol, Vacation Spot Check and New Member Orientation. He is also an active participant in our Emergency Call Out system. Robert always helps out when needed and goes beyond the call of duty.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen with Oliver Jones. (Oct. 2017)

Gerry Weinstein Ambassador of the Year
Honours the Cote Saint-Luc citizen best portraying charitable qualities and serving the community at large

Oliver Jones – Born to Barbadian parents, Oliver Jones began his career as a pianist at the age of five, studying with Mme Bonner in Little Burgundy’s Union United Church, made famous by Trevor W. Payne’s Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. He continued to develop his talent through his studies with Oscar Peterson’s sister Daisy Peterson Sweeney starting at eight years old.  In late 1980 he teamed up with Montreal’s Charlie Biddle, working in and around local clubs and hotel lounges in Montreal. Jones was resident pianist at Charlie Biddle’s jazz club Biddles from 1981 to 1986. His first album, Live at Biddles recorded in 1983, was the first record on the Justin Time record label. He taught music at Laurentian University in 1987, and in 1988 he taught music at McGill University in Montreal In October 1993, Jones was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1994 Jones was bestowed the National Order of Québec, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight). Jones received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2005, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. In 1986 Jones won a Juno Award for his album titled Lights of Burgundy, and again in 2009 for Second Time around. He has been nominated 9 other times, the most recent being in 2012, with his album Live in Baden. Jones has been a multiple recipient of the Félix Award, receiving his first one for his 1989 album Just Friends, and then wins in 1994, 2007 and 2008. Jones was voted keyboardist of the year, from the National Jazz Awards in 2006. In 1990 Oliver became the second recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award after Oscar himself. It is presented by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, recognizing a performer’s musicianship and for exceptional contribution to the development of Canadian jazz. In 1999, Jones was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto. In 2014, he served as honouree at the annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic.

Alberto Cambone, wins the 2017 CSL Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime Achievement
Alberto Cambone has been a member of the Community Gardens for 30 years. In that time, he has mentored other gardeners, donated food for the annual barbecue, and given away a lot of his annual yield. His compassion and willingness to help others makes him a model gardener and a wonderful citizen of Côte Saint-Luc.

Judy and I had a wonderful time celebrating CSL’s finest volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of them for making this an amazing community.

Giving thanks in CSL

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Sure there’s always something to complain about. Life is so unpredictable and things go wrong all the time. Small irritants fester, emotions get the best of us, anger fills the void, we point and lay blame. It happens.
Today, I prefer to focus on the positive, to offer a word of thanks. And appreciation.
Our community is made up of diverse people, who don’t always agree and may not even be on best terms with one another. But one thing everyone can find consensus on is in expressing thanks to our amazing volunteers throughout Cote saint-Luc. They are the backbone of our civic organization and the driving force of our city.
Thank you so much to our star power volunteers at EMS. For your dedication, your heroic efforts and your sense of duty and caring for all of us.
Thank you to our committed and generous volunteers at vCOP for your time and perseverance in patrolling our city again and again, keeping us safe.
Thank you to our local Public Security agents, police officers at station 9 and firefighters at station 78. You are all the front-line resources keeping us safe and sound.
Thank you to all CSL residents for whatever efforts you make for our community, and the special place it has been and will continue to be.
Let’s agree to be helpful and hopeful but not unrealistic, to be polite and neighbourly rather than heaping scorn and above all, thankful for whatever we have, as a community.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Chabad fills Trudeau Park for Simchat Beit HaShoeivah

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Chabad Cote Saint-Luc held its annual celebration of Simchat Beit HaShoeivah last night in Trudeau Park. Many hundreds, perhaps a thousand people or more were in attendance to hear internationally renowned chanteur Avraham David. There were games and food for the children, videos and lots of live performances.

Councillors Allan J. Levine, Sidney Benizri, Steven Erdelyi, Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Anthony Housefather, MP, at the Chabad CSL celebration in Trudeau Park

 

Rabbi David Cohen invited the Mayor and Council along with the Member of Parliament up on stage and thanked us all for our work in building an extraordinary community and in welcoming Chabad to put on their events.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein stressed that CSL is a unique and special community in which we strive to be tolerant, respectful and neighbourly, one to another. “People are moving here, not only from other areas of Montreal and Laval, but from France and other countries in order to live in peace and security and in order to be comfortable in living Jewish lives without fear.”

Anthony Housefather, an eloquent orator in several languages, said that Canada is known worldwide for its multicultural policies of encouraging and supporting cultural communities, such as ours in CSL.

Rabbi Cohen passed the mic to each councillor to bring greetings for a Happy New Year to which I added by good wishes in Yiddish and Hebrew.

Chag Sameach one and all. A gut yontif un a ziseh yor!

Quite the crowd in Trudeau Park for Simchat Beit Hashoueva celebrations

 

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Chabad Cote Saint-Luc a tenu sa célébration annuelle de Simchat Beit HaShoeivah hier soir dans le parc Trudeau. Plusieurs centaines, peut-être mille personnes ou plus étaient présents pour entendre chanteur international, Avraham David. Il y avait des jeux et de la nourriture pour les enfants, des vidéos et beaucoup de spectacles.

Les conseillers Allan J. Levine, Sidney Benizri, Steven Erdelyi, Glenn J. Nashen et Ruth Kovac, ainsi que le maire Mitchell Brownstein et Anthony Housefather, député était la pour les célébrations.

Le rabbin David Cohen a invité le maire et le conseil avec le député sur la scène et nous a remercié tous pour notre travail dans la communauté et en accueillant Chabad pour faire valoir leurs événements.

Le maire Mitchell Brownstein a souligné que CSL est une communauté unique et spéciale dans laquelle nous nous efforçons d’être tolérants, et respectueux, les uns aux autres. «Les gens se déplacent ici, non seulement dans d’autres régions de Montréal et de Laval, mais de la France et d’autres pays pour vivre en paix et en sécurité et pour être à l’aise dans la vie juive, sans peur».

Anthony Housefather, un orateur éloquent dans plusieurs langues, a déclaré que le Canada est connu dans le monde entier pour ses politiques multiculturelles visant à encourager et à soutenir les communautés culturelles, comme la nôtre à CSL.

Le rabbin Cohen a passé le micro à chaque conseiller pour faire une salutation pour une bonne et heureuse année à laquelle j’ai ajouté par ses vœux en yiddish et en hébreu.

Chag Sameach lecoulam!

 

The time of renewal in Cote Saint-Luc

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sukkot20painting

This past week my family and I joined Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, members of City Council and MP Anthony Housefather in Rabbi Mendel and Mrs. Sarah Raskin’s Chabad Cote Saint-Luc Sukkah for a lovely dinner in celebration of the holiday of Sukkot.

Rabbi Raskin welcomed us and expressed his wish that we would be returned to Council on November 5, “to continue our important work for the community”.  He invited each of us to say a few words to the overflow crowd.

The Mayor spoke about happiness and enjoying every moment of life, referring to the harmony that exists in Cote Saint-Luc among all groups, be it linguistic, religious or any other.  He praised the work of the Rabbi and Mrs. Raskin and congratulated him on his 30+ years of building community in Cote Saint-Luc.

When my turn came I spoke about renewal. Next week we begin reading the Torah once again from the very beginning and so too I pledged my own personal renewal: my commitment to serving the residents of Cote Saint-Luc, looking out for their safety and security, ensuring we remain the safest place to live on the Island of Montreal.

CSL is a big Mishpacha, a family, where residents help one another through volunteerism to strengthen our community one family at a time.  No matter the language, nor one’s religious affiliation, we are a close community, highly respectful of one another.  This experience has made CSL a magnet for families emigrating from France, Russia, Argentina and other places where their religious beliefs and background could not be publicly displayed nor celebrated, as evidenced by the number of recent arrivals to Canada sharing a meal with us in the Sukkah.

After an elaborate five course meal for over 113 invited guests, the Rabbi lead us onto Cavendish Boulevard to dance in the street.

Sukkot is also called “The Time of Our Joy” (Zman Simchateinu) – a special joy pervades the festival. Celebrations and festivities fill the synagogues and streets with song, music, and dance until the wee hours of the morning. Earlier that day I was overwhelmed by the welcome that the Mayor and I, together with former MNA for D’Arcy McGee and Minister of Revenue, Lawrence Bergman, received at Congregation or Hahayim. And the very next day we were welcomed to Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem for their Sukkot services for both Sephardim and Ashkenazim, beautifully united in the same synagogue.

Thanks to Rabbi Mendel and Mrs. Sarah Raskin for bringing overwhelming joy and deep compassion to the people of Cote Saint-Luc and beyond.

  • For forty years, as our ancestors traversed the Sinai Desert prior to their entry into the Holy Land, miraculous “clouds of glory” surrounded and hovered over them, shielding them from the dangers and discomforts of the desert. Ever since, we remember G‑d’s kindness and reaffirm our trust in His providence by dwelling in a sukkah – a hut of temporary construction with a roof covering of branches – for the duration of the autumn Sukkot festival. For seven days and nights, we eat all our meals in the sukkah – reciting a special blessing – and otherwise regard it as our home.

 

Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen celebrating with Rabbi Mendel Raskin in Trudeau Park

La semaine dernière, ma famille et moi ont rejoint le maire Mitchell Brownstein, les membres du conseil municipal et le député Anthony Housefather chez le Rabbin Mendel et Mme Sarah Raskin de Chabad CSL dans leur Sukkah pour un dîner très agréable dans la célébration de la fête de Souccot.

Le Rabbin Raskin nous a accueillis et a exprimé son souhait que nous serions retournés au Conseil le 5 novembre, “pour suivez notre travail important pour la communauté”. Il a invité chacun de nous à dire quelques mots aux invités.

Le maire a parlé de bonheur et de jouir de tous les moments de la vie, en se référant à l’harmonie qui existe dans à Côte-Saint-Luc parmi tous les groupes, qu’il soit linguistique, religieux ou autre. Il a salué le travail du Rabbin et Mme Raskin à amener les jeunes familles et l’a félicité pour ses 30 ans de travaille important à CSL.

À mon tour, j’ai parlé de la renouvellement. La semaine prochaine, nous recommençons à lire la Torah une fois encore dès le début. Alors, j’ai promis mon propre renouvellement personnel: mon engagement à servir les résidents de Cote Saint-Luc, en respectant leur sécurité et leur sécurité, en nous assurant que nous restons l’endroit le plus sûr pour vivre sur l’île de Montréal.

CSL est une grande Mishpacha, une famille, où les résidents s’entraident par le biais du bénévolat afin de renforcer notre communauté, une famille à la fois. Peu importe la langue, ni l’appartenance religieuse, nous sommes une communauté solide, très respectueuse l’une de l’autre. Cette expérience a fait de CSL un atout pour les familles émigrant de la France, de la Russie, de l’Argentine et d’autres lieux où leurs croyances et antécédents religieux ne pouvaient pas être publiquement exposés ni célébrés, comme en témoigne le nombre d’arrivées récentes au Canada partageant un repas avec nous dans le Succah.

 

My family is a wonderful blend of Sephardi and Ashkenazi tradition

 

Plus tôt ce jour-là, j’ai été si heureux par l’accueil que le maire et moi-même, ainsi que l’ancien député d’Arcy McGee et le ministre du Revenu, Lawrence Bergman, ont été reçus lors de la Congrégation Or Hahayim. Et le lendemain, nous avons été accueillis à Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem pour leurs services Sukkot à la fois pour Sephardim et Ashkenazim, magnifiquement unis dans la même synagogue.

  • Depuis quarante ans, comme nos ancêtres ont traversé le désert du Sinaï, avant leur entrée dans la Terre sainte, miraculeuse “nuages de gloire” entouré et planait sur eux, les protégeant contre les dangers et inconvénients du désert. Depuis, nous nous souvenons la gentillesse de Dieu et de réaffirmer notre confiance dans sa providence par habitation dans une soukkah – une cabane de construction temporaire avec une couverture de toiture de branches – pour la durée de la fête de Souccot. Pendant sept jours et nuits, nous mangeons tous nos repas dans la Souccah – réciter une bénédiction spéciale – et par ailleurs le considérer comme notre maison.

Après un diner extraordinaire, le Rabbin nous a inviter à danser sur sur le boulevard Cavendish.

Souccot est appelé aussi “Le temps de notre joie” (Zman simchateinu) – une joie particulière imprègne le festival. Célébrations et fêtes de remplir les synagogues et les rues avec des chants, de musique et de danse jusqu’aux petites heures du matin.

Merci à Rabbi Mendel et Mme Sarah Raskin pour apporter la joie immense et une profonde compassion pour le peuple de Côte Saint-Luc.

Cats Concert delights hundreds, helps save, control strays

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Last week’s concert by the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra benefiting the Cote Saint-Luc Cats Committee was a pure delight. The calibre of this symphony orchestra, lead by Maestro Joseph Milo is exceptional. Having such a performance in your own neighbourhood is a real treat.

CSL City Council with Anthony Housefather, MP at 2017 Cats Concert

The work being down by the volunteers of this committee is also something to applaud.

“It is often said that a community can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable population, animals included,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

Spearheaded by Councillor Mike Cohen who is responsible for Animal Welfare, this group has been focused for several years on controlling the stray feline population that some number in the thousands through humane measures including rescue, neutering and adoption.

 

This interest must be a global concern. On a visit to Kotor, Montenegro earlier this month I spotted this sign asking for donations to help stray cats.

Hats of to the committee for their thankless work (other than the purring sound). And thank you to Maestro Milo and the extraordinary musicians this world-class symphony orchestra.

Read more on Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog.

Follow the yellow brick road to the CSL Dramatic Society’s production of The Wizard of Oy

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The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society is staging its third annual Senior Summerworks Production The Wizard of Oy, a musical comedy geared towards senior actors and audiences.
Performances run through Sunday night at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Cote Saint-Luc City Hall.
The Wizard of Oy written by Ari Sterlin, who founded Senior Summerrworks in 2015, parodies the classic Wizard of Oz, transforming it into a hilarious and touching story about a woman searching for her youth.
CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, the visionary behind the Dramatic Society, welcomed guests to the opening performance last night. “This production, like all of our presentations, is to bring you happiness,” Brownstein said.
“The CSL Dramatic Society is continually expanding to allow more and more opportunities to the members of our community and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it,” said writer, director and choreographer Ari Sterlin. “Sit back and enjoy the show!”

A satirical and joyful spin on the classic Wizard of Oz the cast followed the ‘yellow brick road’ and even the orange traffic cones in search of Oy.

Six year old Ryan Hill was the precious little star playing the role of Toto while Dorothy was played by returning funny woman Hannah Sheffren. Also returning to the stage was Ellen Rabin in the role of Mayor delighting the audience with her comedic lines and hum-along songs. Shout out to Adena Schnarch with her infectious smile, Helen Gwiazda and Judy Kenigsberg all of whom are veterans of the Summer Workshop.

Ellen Rabin as the Mayor, Hannah Sheffren as Dorothy, Ryan Hill as Toto, Mitch Kujavsky as Henry and the guard, and Melanie Chahine as Em

 

The cast sing nine memorable tunes departing from the traditional words such as in ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, with emphasis on local venues including the Cavendish Mall.

The Senior Summer Workshop strives to pair seniors with young emerging artists ton produce a musical parody with themes and subjects pertinent to senior citizens. Nonetheless my two teenage daughters Nicole and Nathalie, regulars in Anisa Cameron’s Bialik Theatre Productions,  loved the show as did my eight year old son Jeremy. “It’s fun, local theatre for the whole family,” said my wife, Judy Hagshi.

Louis Schiff plays the Cowardly Lion,, Jeff Waxman as the Tinman, Norm Spatz as the Scarecrow along with Hannah Sheffren as Dorothy. All of them did a sensational job singing solos. And of course the adorable Ryan Hill as Toto.

 

Don’t miss the matinée and evening shows this weekend. There are only four performances:

August 24th | 7:00 PM

August 26th | 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM

August 27th | 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM

 

Bravo to the entire cast:

Starring: Hannah Sheffren, Ryan Hill, Christine Dandurand, Dan Sterlin, Norm Spatz, Jeffrey Waxman, Lou Schiff, Toby Clark, Judy Kenigsberg, Bev Silverman, Janet Garmaise, Helen Gwiazda, Melanie Chahine, Mitchell Kujavsky, Ellen Rabin, Adena Schnarch, Phyllis Schnarch

 

Written, directed and choreographed by Ari Sterlin

Produced by Mitchell Brownstein

Musical Director Daniel Witkowski

Stage Manager Emma Loerick

 

Tickets available HERE
Or in person at the Côte Saint-Luc Library or Aquatic and Community Centre

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