Housefather asks for apology re SS St. Louis’ denial of entry in 1939

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By Isaac Olson

Free Press, Feb. 14, 2017

 

In a speech delivered during an emergency immigration debate on January 30, MP Anthony Housefather, representing the Mount Royal riding, called on the federal government to issue an apology for refusing the entry of over 900 Jewish refugees on the SS St. Louis in 1939.

Rising to his feet in the house of commons as he has done several times since taking office, Housefather was taking part in a discussion centred around the controversial travel and immigration restrictions in the United States.

During the speech, Housefather reminded Canadians that there have been times in this country’s history where the United States has been more welcoming.

“I’ve heard a lot of congratulatory comments tonight about how in Canada we’re different – how in Canada we have had this incredible tradition of bringing in immigrants and refugees and we’ve always done it,” said Housefather, who acknowledged that this has been true for the last few decades. However, he added, “that has not always been true.”

Housefather said he was inspired to make the leap from municipal to federal politics after Quebec’s “separatist government” proposed its “charter of values,” which would have required him to “fire people because they were going to wear a kippah, or a hijab, or a turban to work.” He cited the religious freedom rally that was held in Côte St. Luc in 2013 when that debate was taking place. As mayor, he led a charge against the charter and now, looking back on that time, he said it shows that Canadian politicians “are no different here than they are elsewhere” because people can always capitalize on xenophobia and spark fear in the population.

Citing President Donald Trump’s executive order as an American issue, he said there is still a lot to learn from this debate such as the importance of not putting forward policies without public consultation or ensuring that an order is legal under a country’s constitution. He encouraged Canada to continue such practices of vetting policies thoroughly before pushing them forward. He said orders should not be made retroactively so as to affect people with valid visas in transit and it is important not to enact laws that discriminate against people of certain countries or religions.

This, he said, is where it is important to remember Canada’s history, citing the many ethnic and religious groups that have been excluded from the country. The SS St. Louis, he said, was among those rejected. The Jewish refugees had Cuban visas but the Caribbean country changed its rules last minute and turned them away. The ship was then denied entry into the United States and Canada.

“I hope one day Canada will apologize for what happened with the St. Louis,” said Housefather. “We should always remember that this could happen here. We have to be vigilant.”

The full video is available on Housefather’s YouTube page.

Our unusual Town

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The CSL Dramatic Society kicked off its 2017 season with an unconventional play called Our Town by Thornton Wilder this week.
Our Town is a serious introspective, a commentary on American society in the early 1900’s. But as CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein explained in his warm, welcoming remarks it could very well have been about CSL in the early 20th century. Or 21st.
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein plays Dr. Gibbs, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein plays Dr. Gibbs, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Our Town is about people. More specifically, it’s about the people who make up a community; a small tight-knit and caring community. While based in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire 100 plus years ago, it might as well have taken place last week in CSL. “This is our first drama and comes with a timeless message of the importance of appreciating every moment of life,” Mayor Brownstein said. “Written in 1938, it remains relevant for all time as an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily lives.”
It’s about neighbours and neighbourhoods. It’s about the corner store. The local doctor. The school down the block. The church nearby. It’s about the kindness of the milkman and the informative paper boy. It’s about the cop walking his beat and the local drunk and his silly antics. It’s about boys and girls and puppy love, right next door. Everyone knows everyone and about everyone’s business. If that’s not CSL…?
Ben Warner and Tori Gazin as young and in love, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Ben Warner and Tori Gazin as young and in love, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Our Town is simple on the surface.

The stage is barren and props are few. The stage writer wants you to focus on the faces and movements of the actors, and the relationship between each of them.

What struck me most was the sincerity of each actor. The beauty and smile on Emily (Tori Gazin) was enormous. The wonderment and tears in the eyes of her love-struck neighbour George (Ben Warner) was powerful.
Shaun Nishmas, Jordana Kujavsky and Linda Babins, Cemetery scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Shaun Nishmas, Jordana Kujavsky and Linda Babins, in the haunting cemetery scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Mitchell Brownstein puts on his best performance yet with a strong persona as Doctor Gibbs, the philosophical yet practical leader of family and patients. Daughter Rebecca Gibbs (Ori Fox) has a bubbly, youthful role and sings with an angelic voice.
Director Anisa Cameron has proven her versatility in skillfully adapting this 1930’s play for the local stage, and for turning something old into something new.
Funeral scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Funeral scene, Our Town, Jan. 2017

Mrs. Gibbs (Linda Babins) and Mrs. Webb (Karen Pellat-Caron) are strong, supporting characters. The bumbling Simon Stimpson (Shaun Nishmas) is lovable and pitiful at once and co-narraraters Herbert Brownstein and Sam Melnick deserve a special mention for tying it all together playing multiple characters. Newspaper publisher, Mr. Webb (Matthew Mckeown) returns to the CSL stage in another powerful performance.
The Dramatic Society dedicated the performance to the memory of their dear friend and fellow actor, Seymour David, who tragically passed away last week.
It looks like the CSL Dramatic Society is off to an unusual year, and that bodes well for their local audiences. Five more shows run through this Sunday with ticket sales going strong. Local English theatre is rare in our parts. Take advantage of the excellent talent and free parking just a short walk or drive from home, right here in Our Town.

Baron Byng Class of ’39 meets for the 77th time

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By George Nashen:

Baron Byng Class of '39. Left side: Classmates Eddie Wolkove, Nina Cass, George Nashen and his wife. Right side: Mildred Leiter, Samuel Levy and his wife.

Baron Byng Class of ’39. Left side: Classmates Eddie Wolkove, Nina Cass, George Nashen and his wife. Right side: Mildred Leiter, Samuel Levy and his wife.

 

Once again, as we’ve done year after year, the notable Baron Byng high school graduation class of 1939 met recently for our annual reunion, this one being the 77th anniversary.

The sad news is that our numbers are dwindling, as we reach the age of 93. However, six graduates met recently at a West End breakfast place and we hope to continue to meet as long as possible, even if only two of us are remaining.

Mamie Trager had this to say: “It’s a miracle that we are still here.”

Sam Levy said, “We produced many medal winners in various fields.”

From Nina Cass, “I am happy to be here.”

Eddie Wolkove, who has been the reunion organizer for more than fifty years, stated, “We are truly blessed.”

Mildred Leiter added, “Although our numbers are dwindling it is still a pleasure to be here.”

George Nashen, Class of '39

George Nashen, Class of ’39

As for me (George Nashen), “What a wonderful feeling it is to meet with classmates from 80+  years ago. Although there are a few more classmates still around, the inability of them meeting with us varies from distance in other parts of the world whereas other ones are closer but unable to attend because of illness, either physical or emotional.”

Baron Byng High School. Established in 1921 by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montréal, Baron Byng High School taught mostly Jewish students and has several well-known graduates including Irving Layton and Mordecai Richler. Circa 1970. Source : Jewish Public Library. Historical Photographs Collection, 88-107.

Baron Byng High School.
Established in 1921 by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montréal, Baron Byng High School taught mostly Jewish students and has several well-known graduates including Irving Layton and Mordecai Richler.
Circa 1970.
Source : Jewish Public Library. Historical Photographs Collection, 88-107.

The Baron Byng class of 39 included:

  • Mortimor “Michael” Fainstadt, a Montreal City Councillor from the Drapeau era
  • Mel Dobrin of the Seinberg empire
  • Sollie Goldfarb, who hosted many reunions at his country estate in Plantagenet, Ontario
  • Jacob Singer, George’s closest friend, who went MIA laying mines in the North Sea in 1944
  • Sylvia Bercovitch, noted Montreal artist

I recall some other interesting tidbits from way back then:

  • Favourite teacher: Mr. RA Patterson, the nicest person
  • Favourite schoolyard activity: chasing girls
  • We all lived close by and walked to school
  • Baron Byng was made even more famous by Mordechai Richler
  • Who was Baron Byng? He was Governor General in 1923, the year I, and most of my classmates were born. He was a WWI hero.

CJN Article about 65th Class reunion

Baron Byng High School Museum

 

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CSL celebrates with extraordinary florists

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An extraordinary Maisons Fleuries Awards ceremony includes touching honour for the Van Egmonds

By Councillor Mike Cohen

When my city council colleague Sidney Benizri and I were asked to co-chair the 2016 Maisons Fleuries Contest, we agreed to do something different. I suggested Sidney, Parks and Recreation Associate Director Cornelia Ziga, event coordinator Laura Trihas, devoted committee member Louise Ferland and the dean of city employees Harold Cammy that we introduce a Lifetime Achievement Award.  We brought the idea to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and city council and it was approved.

Maisons Fleuries recognizes the superb floral arrangements at homes, condominiums, apartments and business complexes. Judging is done during the summer and every November we hold a ceremony at our Aquatic and Community Centre.

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Members of Council, MP Housefather, MNA Birnbaum and the Van Egmond family.

So who would win our first Maisons Fleuries Lifetime Achievement Award? Dirk Van Egmond was the logical choice. Dirk, who just turned 92, has devoted his life to flowers and plants. He accepted the honour and it was heartwarming to see him at our event, surrounded by his children, their spouses and hi grandchildren. His wife Teuna (Toos) passed away in 2010.

The Van Egmond family own Edgewood Florist, which they operated on Hudson Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc for 56 years. Although the business relocated to Montreal West in 2012 when the land was sold for development, Dirk continues to be a resident of Côte Saint-Luc. Edgewood and the Van Egmond family have been part of the Côte Saint-Luc landscape for more years than most residents of this city. They have played an important role in the lives of thousands over the decades, making milestone events all the more special with their beautiful floral arrangements.

First,a word of thanks to our judges: Sam and Louise Pinsky; Joan and Bernie King; Cookie and Bernie Band; Mark and Tina Bessner; Joe Segal’ Paula and Avie Shuster; Marty Labow; Ellie Pomerants; Mona Aronovitch; Roz Kasner ; and Sandra Segal.

Teacher

Councillor Benizri and I thank Susan Levy.

Single family and semi-detached residences were judged by political districts. Duplex, Townhouse, Institutions, Senior Residences, Commercial Buildings and Highrises were judged overall within the city. We also thank CMS Entrepreneurs Inc. for their sponsorship , George Deligeorge for the wonderful painting he created for this event and Susan Levy and her Painting Acrylics Art Class for their wonderful display.

Rimoks

The Rimokh family of Park Place were winners.

A tip of the hat to our always reliable and talented photographer Rami Negev and to Public Affairs chief Darryl Levine, who put together an excellent video montage of our winners. I was pleased to see a number of winners from District 2. Park Place, still a relatively new street, had some winners. This included Ralph and Carole Rimokh. We presented are top finishers with certificates and plaques. Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal Anthony Housefather and Liberal Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy McGee David Birnbaum joined us. Anthony presented Dirk with a special certificate and a Canadian flag; David read and presented a letter written by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard. Mayor Brownstein and Councillor Allan J. Levine delivered remarks. Allan has been Dirk’s city councillor for 30 years.

Family

The Van Egmond family.

Dirk was visibly moved as he came to the front of the room to accept our gifts and plaudits. Speaking on his behalf was daughter Corinne.
“Our father has worked with plants and flowers his entire life, beginning in Holland, where he cultivated tulip bulbs with his father and his brothers,” she said. “He immigrated to Canada in 1950, where he began working at Gratton Greenhouses in Saint Laurent. He and his wife, Toos, set down roots in Côte Saint Luc with the purchase of Edgewood Nurseries in January of 1956. We are proud to have the opportunity of providing floral arrangements and plants to so many in the community for over 60 years. We have all heard the expression ‘take time to stop and smell the roses.’ How fortunate our family has been to be able to ‘take time to stop and smell the roses’ on a daily basis.”

The surprises were not over yet as Harold Cammy and Maurizio Giobbi wheeled in a beautiful cake, decorated like a giant flower.The ceremony happened to be held on the eve of Dirk’s 92nd birthday so everyone in the room sang together.

Bravo to everyone!
Here is a list of the winners

District  1
W – 1 – 6130 Bernard Mergler
W – 2 – 5889 Tommy Douglas
W – 3 – 5960 Tommy Douglas
District  2
W – 1 – 5778 Park Place (Sadr Ghayeni)
W – 2-  5716 Park Place (Ralph and Carol Rimokh)
W – 3 – 5720 Park Place
District  3
W – 1 – 5588 Randall
W – 2 – 6799 Baily
W – 3 – 6706 Charest
District 4  
W – 1 – 5528 Hudson
W – 2 – 624 Smart
W – 3 – 5527 Hudson and 628 Smart Tied for 3rd

District 5 
W – 1 – 5777 Rand
W – 2 – 5766 Westluke
W – 3 – 5759 Hudson
District 5 Part II
W – 1 – 5710 Wentworth
W – 2 – 5735 Westluke
W – 3 – 5713 Westluke
District 6 
W – 1 – 5830 Einstein
W – 2 – 5604 McMurray
W – 3 – 7480 Spring
District  7
W – 1 – 6848 Emerson
W – 2 – 6845 Weizmann
W – 3 – 5608 Edgemore
District 8 
W – 1 – 6531 Wallenberg
W – 2 – 6529 Aldrin
W – 3 – 6529 Wallenberg
Duplexes
W – 1 – 7386-7388 Kildare
W – 2 – 5860-5862 Shalom
W – 3 – 6613-6615 Baily
Townhouses
District 8 W – 1 – 6043 Cavendish
District 8 W – 2 – 6047 Cavendish
District  2 W – 3 – 6602 Mackle (Robert and Sandra Lubarsky) and 6604  Mackle (Jason and Carol Balinksy) Tied for 3rd
Institutions
W -1 – 6800 Mackle, Beth Israel
W – 2 – 5740 Hudson, Beth Zion
W – 3 – 7070 Guelph, St Richards
Senior Residences
W -1 – 5740 Cavendish – Castel Royal
W – 2 – 8000 Côte Saint-Luc Rd – B’nai Brith House
W – 3 – 6767 Côte Saint-Luc Rd – St. Patrick Square
Commercial Buildings
W – 1 – 7001 CSL Rd – CSL Shopping Center
W – 2 – 5800 Cavendish – Cartier Cavendish
W – 3 – 5850 Cavendish – New Shell gas Station
Highrise
District 2 W – 1 – 5840 Marc Chagall, Bellagio
District 8 W – 2 – 6030 Cavendish, Le Bristel
District 8 W – 3 – 6625/35 Mackle, Mackle Manor

Côte Saint-Luc honours Councillor Allan J. Levine on 30th anniversary on City Council

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allan_levine_anniversary_2016-11-14

The City of Côte Saint-Luc honoured Councillor Allan J. Levine on Monday, November 14 as the long-time council member celebrates the 30th anniversary of his first election.

Councillor Levine was honoured at the start of the City Council meeting this evening.

“Councillor Levine has advocated financial prudence and has continually promoted healthy lifestyles through sports and recreation,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “He has served his constituents well and is a force for remembrance of our veterans, community gardening, and much more.”

Councillor Levine won his first election in November 1986. He was a well-known person in the community, in part from his years teaching at Wagar High School and teaching people to drive.

Councillor Levine advocated for an anti-smoking law in commercial areas, which he helped achieve. He also joined with his council colleagues to support mandatory bicycle helmets and no smoking in parks. He served as chairperson and member of the city planning committee for more than 20 years.

“Councillor Levine has always listened to his constituents and is accessible,” Mayor Brownstein said. “He always considers what is best for children and promotes an active lifestyle for seniors.”

Councillor Levine is the longest-serving member of the current Côte Saint-Luc city council. He has been a member of city council from 1986 to 2001, and from 2005 to present—the only interruption being during the forced municipal mergers of 2001 to 2005.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and City Council present a certificate to honour Councillor Allan J. Levine on 30 years of service (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and City Council present a certificate to honour Councillor Allan J. Levine on 30 years of service (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

We Will Remember Them. Nous Nous Souviendrons D’eux.

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We are so fortunate to still have many veterans with us and honoured to be able to mark Remembrance Day with them. We honour those who served and the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live in such a wonderful country and in a free and democratic society.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

My father, George Nashen, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was stationed at RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London, England for nearly three years during WWII. Luckily, he was not called up to the front lines but his buddies were.

My dad lost his best friend in battle. “Jay Singer was like a brother to me,” my father recounts. “Jay and I were inseparable from kindergarten through Baron Byng High School. Jay was an air force pilot from the age of 19. His plane went missing while laying mines in the Baltic Sea on June 15, 1944. Jay was just 22 year’s old when he died in service. I’ll never forget him.”

Jay Singer

Jay Singer

Le parc des Vétérans, une parcelle de terrain située juste derrière l’hôtel de ville et la bibliothèque, se prête particulièrement bien aux activités du jour de la Victoire en Europe et du jour du Souvenir. Nous sommes vraiment chanceux d’avoir encore avec nous autant d’anciens combattants et de pouvoir marquer ces occasions en leur compagnie.

Remembrance Day ceremony at the Jewish General Hospital

Remembrance Day ceremony at the Jewish General Hospital 2014

Mon père, George Nashen, a servi dans l’Aviation royale canadienne et a été affecté au Quartier général à Londres, en Angleterre, pendant près de trois ans au cours de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Heureusement, il n’a pas été appelé en première ligne, mais ses copains étaient.

Mon père a perdu son meilleure amie dans la bataille. “Jay Singer était comme un frère pour moi», mon père raconte. “Jay et moi étions inséparables depuis la maternelle jusqu’à Baron Byng High School. Jay était un pilote des forces aérien à partir de l’âge de 19 ans. Son avion a disparu tout en jetant des mines dans la mer Baltique le 15 Juin 1944. Jay était juste 22 de ans lorsqu’il est mort en service. Je ne l’oublierai jamais.”

My father will once again fall in as the bugle sounds today at 11:00AM in Veteran’s Park in Cote Saint-Luc. At 93 years young, full of energy and spirit, brimming with memories and hope for the future he is a shining example for the younger generations of those who served. Together with my mom, at 88, they continue to inspire with their open and positive outlook. May they continue to do so in good health for many years to come.

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park 2012

I salute all those who served, past and present. They brought honour to Canada that has lasted for 100 years or more. And they continue to make this country a very special place, the best place to live in the world.

WWII veteran George Nashen, 93, deposits the wreath on behalf of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 at the Cote Saint-Luc Cenotaph in Veterans Park. Accompanied by his grandson Cory, son Jeff and vCOP Phil Mayman. (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

WWII veteran George Nashen, 93, deposits the wreath on behalf of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 at the Cote Saint-Luc Cenotaph in Veterans Park. Accompanied by his grandson Cory, son Jeff and vCOP Phil Mayman. (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

WWII veterans of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 with MP Anthony Housefather, MNA David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council. My father, George Nashen, fourth from left. (Photo Darryl Levine, CSL).

WWII veterans of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 with MP Anthony Housefather, MNA David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council at the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph on Remembrance Day 2016. My father, George Nashen, fourth from left. (Photo Darryl Levine, CSL).

 

 

We will remember them. Nous nous souviendrons d’eux.

 

More:

A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation in CSL

In tribute to my father, the soldier

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

The JGH Remembers

In memory of a great statesman, former President Shimon Peres

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I recall the last time Israel’s 9th president, Shimon Peres, visited Montreal four years ago. He was given a hero’s welcome as he entered the Shaare Hashomayim (Gates of Heaven) synagogue in Westmount yesterday to a packed house of 1800 well-wishers.

How proud I was to deliver a token gift on behalf of Dr. Hartley Stern, Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital at that time.

I was privileged to have met and spoken with Shimon Peres in the mid 90s in Jerusalem.

I was privileged to have met and spoken with Shimon Peres in the mid 90s in Jerusalem.

President Peres humorously indicated how pleased he was to be at the Gates of Heaven.  He added that his official visit to Canada was a “Voyage of profound and sincere friendship”.  In unfailing French he thanked Canada for a warm welcome.  He added that Montreal was the most dedicated and active community in the founding and development of the State of Israel.  “Jerusalem salutes you.”

“Our land is so small, it is just a statistical error by comparison to Canada.  I see your lakes and rivers and I’m jealous.  We have only one river.  It is richer in history than water.  We have two lakes.  One is dead.”

“We were outnumbered, outgunned, not supported, not accepted,” Peres said.  “The greatness of Israel is that we started with nothing.  When you have nothing, you may discover the greatest thing in life:  The human being.”

” We were always numerically inferior. Always being challenged.  There isn’t another country in the world that has faced such challenges.”

Of Jews and Israel, Peres said, “We were born to seek peace. The Ten Commandments  remain our guide after 3500 years.  We don’t exist to threaten or to rule other people.  We are here for Tikkun Olamto create a better world for all.”

“The DNA of our nation became invention and technology.  25% of Nobel laureates are Jewish. This is a gift to the world.”

“Another gift of the Jewish People is dissatisfaction.  We’re never satisfied,” the President proclaimed to great laughter. “So we strive for more.  To do better. To aim higher.”

Huge crowd greets President Shimon Peres in Montreal

Huge crowd greets President Shimon Peres in Montreal

In 2012, at 88 years of age Shimon Peres remained unrelenting in the pursuit of peace. His speech was historic and illuminating. (Watch the entire speech on Federation CJA’s website).

And now, regretfully, he has indeed entered the Gates of Heaven. May the name of President Shimon Peres forever be a blessing.

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