Remembering Michael Kutz

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Michael was my neighbour, friend, supporter and advisor. His assistance during election campaigns was always genuine and heartfelt. As his longtime City Councillor I could always count on his wise. What’s more, his opinion mattered to the entire council and helped to shape policies and programs.

Michael enriched the lives of countless others, young and old. He was a passionate advocate for human rights, tolerance and acceptance. He had an open mind, he listened to all and he challenged when necessary, politely and respectfully. In short, he was a true Mentsch.

Kutz was the recipient of countless community awards including CSL Ambassador of the Year in 2013. He was presented with the Supreme Chancellor’s medal by the Supreme Lodge of the Knights of Pythias and he was a member of the board of governors, board of directors and executive of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. Michael regularly spoke to students, was a longstanding member of the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 and the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club. He published his autobiography, Life after darkness.

On learning of Michael’s passing, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum said,”He was a gentle and courageous soul, whose generosity of spirit was all the more exceptional given the harrowing experience of the Holocaust that he endured.”

Former Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor Richard Schwartz said he would Richard fondly remembered Michael’s attendance at CSL council meetings and admirable contributions to the community. “We will miss his kind heart and sense of humour.”

Mike Cohen, City Councillor for District 2 and newspaper columnist told me this about Michael: “I have such fond memories of Michael Kutz. He and the late Gerry Weinstein were the dynamic duo of community activism. Michael was also a wonderful speaker about the Holocaust to young students.”

CSL Mayor Mitchell Browntein shared these thoughts with me: “Michael Kutz was an active volunteer in so many Cote Saint-Luc activities and a leader in Holocaust Remembrance.  He was kind, caring and passionate, always ready to lend a hand to support minority communities and believed strongly in justice and respect for all.  It was a pleasure working along side him on so many important issues for over 30 years. He was a dear friend and will be dearly missed.”

 

Michael Kutz memoirs

The Azrielli Foundation created the Holocaust Survivor Memoir Program where Michael Kutz was interviewed and shared his story: Nearly buried alive, ten-year-old Michael Kutz narrowly escaped the Nazi death squad that killed 4,000 Jews, including his own family, in his hometown of Nieśwież. Guided by his mother’s last words and determined to survive, he became the youngest member of a partisan resistance group in the dense Belorussian forest, and took part in daring operations against the Nazis and their collaborators.

He will be missed. He will be remembered.

Deepest condolences to Pat, Randy and Judy.

More:

Highly acclaimed CSL resident Michael Kutz passes away, Suburban Newspaper

Who’s your guardian angel?

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Quebec Premier Francois Legault has thanked “Guardian Angels” repeatedly during his daily press conferences. Emergency responders have paraded by local hospitals, sirens wailing, as a signal to the personnel inside, technicians, orderlies, nurses, doctors and auxiliary staff, that they are appreciated and honoured for their professional and personal efforts during these difficult days. Social media posts thank those working in long-term care facilities and rehab centres for caring for the elderly and the infirmed, restaurant staff for take-out and delivery and truckers and grocery store workers for keeping essential supplies flowing.

We all have our guardian angels. Mothers, fathers, neighbours, caregivers, friends and volunteers.

To be sure, these have not been easy days and weeks for many who are dealing with loneliness in their isolation, job layoffs, financial hardship, and health problems. Others are busy just trying to care for their families and dealing with emotions of physical isolation or boredom or lack of routine. And yet others, sadly, tragically, are grieving the loss of loved ones.

For my family, like many of you, we are trying to stay healthy of mind and body, positive in thought and good humoured.

Family online Shabbat Shalom

Yet we are concerned for our parents, 96 and 91 years of age, living independently at home, thankfully with a wonderfully dedicated caregiver. Daily check-in calls and video chats and tumultuous gatherings for the Passover Seders and welcoming Shabbat on Zoom and care packages lovingly left at the door by sisters-in-law, brothers and my wife provide comfort and relief and closeness in a less than completely satisfying way. They are happy and mostly healthy and for that we are thankful and anxious to be together, really together, soon.

Jeremy in class

Our kids are busy with online classes, music lessons, homework and studying, and friends by phone and video, Netflix parties and Tik-Tok and just hanging out together. Thank God they get along!

How to get through another day at the office from home and keep the family safe and fed and clean and sane? A concern facing us and millions of others.

How I enjoy our almost-daily walks (10,000 steps, my new record!) with my co-quarantined brother and kids along with a couple of neighbourhood friends – our family on one side of the road and theirs on the other – and playing outside with my son. How many menu items can we invent from our “Passover Pandemic Pantry” that we stocked to overflow weeks before anyone thought of hording toilet paper? And thankfully, there are wonderful friends that have delivered fresh produce as we have isolated ourselves for more than three weeks from the rest of the world.

Judy between deliveries, on call for Family Med OB-GYN at the Jewish

And most of all we miss our own Guardian Angel, my wife, Judy, who has lived apart from us for more than three weeks. As a physician at the Jewish General Hospital she has kept our family safe, like so many other doctors, by physically secluding herself from her children and husband. The risk of infection is too great, so Judy and so many of her colleagues in healthcare, have taken unprecedented steps to safeguard family while focusing their care on their patients. We all worry when they head in to the hospital and are relived to hear that they have returned home and feel just fine, other than exhausted.

We are so proud of her for her dedication to her patients and for the sacrifices and we pray that she remains safe, that all Guardian Angels remain in good health. We love and miss her and are anxious for this to pass and to be reunited as a family.

No, these are not easy days. But we are fortunate that this isn’t a man-made war. It’s not a natural disaster that will demolish homes. This isn’t civil strife or political upheaval. We are directed to stay home, to wash our hands and to stay apart from others. Who knew that something so simple could be so hard?

Thankfully, we all have our Guardian Angels watching over us and things will get better!

Côte Saint-Luc mayor urges self-isolation as 4 people test positive for COVID-19 | CBC News

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3 cases linked to synagogue, 1 in assisted living facility

CBC News · Posted: Mar 20, 2020 9:03 AM ET

Three confirmed cases were traced back to the Beth Chabad community centre and synagogue. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

Four people in Côte Saint-Luc have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the mayor to urge residents to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus.

Three of the people recently attended the Congregation Beth Chabad community centre and synagogue. 

The fourth person lives in the King David assisted living facility and recently attended a wedding at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue on March 12. That person was transported to the Jewish General Hospital Tuesday.

The Cavendish Mall closed on Friday in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Beth Chabad is asking all congregants who have been in the synagogue since March 14 to place themselves in self-isolation.

In a statement, Shaar Hashomayim’s rabbi Adam Scheier said the synagogue had been rented for the wedding.

“Our clergy were not present. At no time did any guest enter our kitchen or anywhere other than the public spaces of the building,” he said in the statement. 

“We have instructed our employees who were present at that wedding to quarantine and be alert for symptoms.”

One case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the King David assisted living facility in Côte Saint-Luc. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

‘Our worst nightmare’

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told CBC News he is concerned his city could become the “epicentre” of the COVID-19 pandemic in Quebec.

“We know we have a dense city, [we] live close together, many religious institutions as well as senior residents and hospitals,” Brownstein said. “This was our worst nightmare.”

Brownstein said the city had tried to shut down events, such as weddings, to avoid such a situation.

The city enacted state of emergency measures Tuesday, which would allow the city to call public health and Montreal police to shut down events of over 10 people.

All the synagogues in the city agreed to shut down as of yesterday, he said. Shaar Hashomayim, where the wedding took place, is located in neighbouring Westmount.

“It’s a shame it took until now,” he said.

He said the city is dealing with a “mushrooming” situation, because snowbirds — elderly residents who go down south during the winter months — recently returned from places such as Florida.

“We’re trying to get this all to stop, but we don’t know where the virus has spread to.”

Brownstein said Quebec public health will investigate when and where the confirmed cases went and will have details for the public soon.

COVID-19: Côte Saint-Luc activates state-of-emergency power to help stop mass gatherings

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The City Council of Côte Saint-Luc declared a state of emergency effective today at 3:30pm, which is a power granted to cities under the Civil Protection Act.

The Act states that: “A local municipality may declare a state of emergency in all or part of its territory where, in an actual or imminent major disaster situation, immediate action is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity which, in its opinion, it is unable to take within the scope of its normal operating rules or of any applicable emergency preparedness plan.”

This state of emergency is coming into effect based on Cote Saint Luc’s special demographics including having the highest percentage of seniors in the province, many snowbirds returning from abroad, more places of worship than any city of our size and numerous hospitals and senior residences that need our protection.

The City is taking this step to limit the number of social and religious public gatherings to a maximum of 10 persons and as such, the City is asking Public Health Authorities and the Montreal police department (SPVM) to enforce this rule on its local territory. 

The top priority of a city is the health of its population. 

The state of emergency will allow Côte Saint-Luc to ask Public Health Authorities to use their powers to stop all events and gatherings of more than 10 people with the assistance of the SPVM. The state of emergency will last for a 5-day period and can be renewed should the Quebec Ministry of Public Security so authorize. 

We understand that in the coming three weeks, there are many weddings and celebrations planned before the onset of Passover followed by the seven weeks of the Omer, where weddings and celebrations cannot take place according to the Jewish tradition. While we understand that people have made plans and invited guests, we cannot take the risk of allowing large gatherings in our community at this time. We are confident that the residents will understand and support this effort.

Resolution to declare a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 in the territory of Côte Saint-Luc (PDF)

WWII Vet George Nashen to be honoured by National Assembly

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By CJN Staff – January 13, 2020 

Second World War veteran George Nashen, right, poses for a picture with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Second World War veteran George Nashen, 96, will receive a special national assembly medal from David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee, at a ceremony in June.

Nashen will be honoured in the name of all of the men and women who served the cause of freedom in that conflict. Nashen, who lives in Côte-St-Luc, Que., is one of the few surviving Jewish-Canadian war veterans.

In announcing the move, Birnbaum explained that he wanted recognize the contribution of our Second World War veterans while it was still possible. “It struck me at our last Remembrance Day ceremonies in the riding how sadly close we are to a time when no first-hand witnesses to the Second World War will be with us to remember, or to be honoured for their sacrifice, courage and legacy in saving our fundamental freedoms here in Quebec, in all of Canada and around the world,” he said.

“Furthermore, this riding that I serve is home to one of the highest number of Holocaust survivors and their families in Canada. The obligation of remembrance is deeply felt here and this medal is one further way of expressing that obligation.”

George Nashen in 1944.

Nashen is a long-time community volunteer and former clothing manufacturer who held the rank of sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the war, Nashen lost a number of dear friends and has always made it his duty to share his experience, particularly with young people.

“I was 19 when I enlisted,” said Nashen, a Baron Byng High School graduate, “and I wasn’t that worldly. I didn’t understand much about politics. By 1938, with the rise of Hitler, the terrible threat to the free world started to become clear. I thought, I have to go over.…

“It’s important for young people to learn about the atrocities and the sacrifices of the Second World War. Do they really know the seriousness of war, the feeling of daily life, when you get issued a helmet and a gas mask to make sure you survive the day?”

In 1943, Nashen was stationed in London. “I went over on the Queen Mary,” he recalled. “We were 26,000 enlisted men and women; the ship normally carried only 2,000.

“It was a humbling and scary few years. I remember the rumbling of incoming and outgoing bombers overhead, every night in London. The stakes were enormous, and the freedoms we take for granted today were in peril back then. That should never be forgotten.”

Nashen expressed his appreciation for the medal, but stressed that he would only accept the honour in the name of all the veterans.

Each spring, Birnbaum bestows three D’Arcy-McGee national assembly citizenship medals upon individuals chosen for their community contributions by a three-member jury. Nashen will formally receive his medal at that ceremony, which will be held on June 1. The names of all the medal winners become part of the permanent national assembly record and are noted in perpetuity on its official website.

Canadian Jewish News

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year – une année de joie, santé

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Although a couple of years old this melodious video is still one of the best to get your foot tapping and to bring out a smile. May your smile last a very long time!

Que ce soit pour vous tous une année de joie, santé et réussite dans tout ce que vous entreprendrez.

Wishing all my friends and family a year of good health, abundant happiness and great prosperity. And may peace reign across the Mideast and throughout the world.

Happy New Year from the Nashens, along with our good friend Anthony Housefather

Thank you to our illustrious and gifted Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Anthony Housefather,  for these wonderful Rosh Hashanah greetings of a couple of years ago highlighting the enormous contributions of Canada’s Jewish community to our great country.

Thank you as well to our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who has strengthened the solid bond between the Government of Canada and the Jewish community as well as with the State of Israel. This greeting is from 2016. His 2019 greetings are here.

 

Review: The Pianist of Willesdan Lane is a gripping, intense and beautiful story

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“Mona Golabek’s one-woman show is both a tribute to her mother’s triumph over persecution and a celebratory concert of life-affirming classics.”
– Montreal Gazette

“A story that deserves to be told…and heard.” – Montreal Mom

“[Mona Golabek’s passion] drives the audience to its feet to applaud with heartfelt gusto.” – Montreal Rampage

“A compelling one-woman show. Not to be missed.” – Pat Donnelly 

“This production [launches] the 2019-2020 theatre season with panache, grace, style, class and an emotional heartstring tugger.”- Orcasound

The Pianist of Willisden Lane is described as a Musical Journey of Hope and Survival. Now on stage at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, in Cote des Neiges, this One Woman Show is just that, and so much more.

The story is about the life and times of Mona Golobek’s mother, Lisa Jura, who was born in Vienna. With the Nazis marching through Austria, Lisa’s parents make the heart wrenching decision to send their youngest child out of the country to escape the war and the horrors erupting across Europe.

Mona recounts Lisa’s teenage war story and also portrays some of the other characters that enter her life during these dark years. She is serious and youthful, whimsical and scared. She takes her audience with her on an emotional rollercoaster ride. All around her baby grand piano.

Mona’s grandmother and mother, both accomplished pianists, would be so proud. Not only has Mona carried on in the tradition of her matriarchs, she does so with great aplomb and in awe of their great success against all odds. Indeed, a very real story of hope and survival.

With many mesmerizing interludes at a large, impressive piano at centre stage Mona captivates the audience with classical pieces from some of Europe’s greatest composers while paying tribute to, and sharing her for her dear mother.

After 90 uninterrupted minutes of sharing her family’s story in character and in music with superb projections of portraits and video from that era Mona draws to a close in a masterful concerto number as tears well up in my eyes.

Powerful. Stirring. Hopeful.

The Pianist of Willisden Lane was adapted for theatre and directed by Hershey Felder and is based upon Mona’s novel, The Children of Willisden Lane. Her book has been translated into several languages and has been read by hundreds of thousands of readers.

Playing at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts through September 29, 2019.

Mike Cohen and Glenn J. Nashen go kosher at Luzzatto on Decarie

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I recently dined with my friend Mike Cohen at Luzzatto Kosher Restaurant at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Decarie Boulevard, near Plamondon. If you’re looking for a different option in Kosher dining in Montreal’s West End this Glatt Kosher fine Italian dining restaurant is worth a visit.

They offer Soups, Fresh Salads, Italian Dishes, Grilled Specialties, Mediterranean Platters, Sandwiches and Pitas, Wraps, Chinese Dishes, Drinks and More.

Read our full review here.

Creating a future of miracles: Israel Guide Dog Center

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


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

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

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

Glen and Eli


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How can you help? Adopt a dog!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hampstead pressing to enable armed off-duty police at synagogue

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Hampstead pressing to enable armed off-duty police at synagogue
The Montreal Torah Centre in Hampstead. themtc.com

Hampstead is pressing to enable the congregants of the Montreal Torah Centre to be able to pay for armed off-duty police officers to provide security.

This, in light of recent synagogue shootings in the United States. As well, other religious institutions have been attacked around the world, including at a mosque in Quebec.

But Hampstead councillor Harvey Shaffer says the SPVM will not allow such officers to be hired.

“Many Hampstead residents, especially those who attend synagogue on a regular basis, were very concerned and somewhat alarmed about the problem of security at synagogues,” he explained. “In Hampstead, there are four synagogues. The one which receives the largest attendance is the Montreal Torah Centre.”

Shaffer added that in Ontario, synagogues can retain the services of off-duty, armed police officers, along with a police car, for as many hours as is required, “usually four hours.

“Due to the fact many congregants at MTC were concerned and sought that type of protection, I communicated with a ranking officer at police headquarters on St. Urbain and asked if it would be possible that the MTC be authorized to hire [two] armed, off-duty police officers and a police car for a little under four hours,” the councillor said. “I was told how much the rate would be if approved. Unfortunately, later that day, I was told the request was refused.”

Shaffer said he was told the request could only possibly be granted by the town going through Montreal city hall or having the issue publicized in the media.

“There seems to be no justification why we shouldn’t have it,” he added. “I wasn’t give a reason. It was simply refused.

Mayor William Steinberg agrees synagogues should be allowed to hire armed off-duty officers.

“I’m in favour of it — every synagogue hires unarmed guards, and it’s much better to have armed policemen. It’s obvious. I will investigate to see what the rules are and what I can do so that this can happen. When I sat on the [agglomeration’s] Public Security commission, I was aware that off-duty policemen were being hired in all kinds of situations. I’m not aware if they had guns or not, but they were being hired. Once I get more information, I will be advocating on behalf of this.

“We live in dangerous times and you want effective protection.”

We contacted the SPVM, which declined comment. Steinberg told us he is still working on the matter. Montreal Torah Centre officials have not responded by press time.

joel@thesuburban.com

Life is a cabaret ‘ol friend, come to the cabaret

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What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play!

Another smash hit has reached the stage as curtain’s went up last night on the latest production from the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society: Cabaret.

“The contrast between the over the top musical numbers and the stark reality of the injustices occurring outside the cabaret captivated my attention [years ago] as it still does today,” said Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. “We need to be leaders and speak out in defence of human rights. Cabaret has given us all that opportunity.”

Once again, it’s hard to believe that this is local, community theatre as the entire production, from costumes, set and design, to choreography, acting and live music exceed expectations by leaps and bounds.

Cabaret is not for the light-hearted. The theme is raw with drama and emotion in pre-war Germany. The burlesque-style night club acts are raunchy and lewd. The actors play with your spirits from eccentric to despair, from hopeful to hopeless.

“…There was a city called Berlin in a country called Germany and it was the end of the world…”, wrote lead actor Calder Levine who played the role of of wide-eyed American Cliff Bradshaw. His command performance in portraying his love for the English Berlin nightclub doll, Sally Bowles, played by the extraordinary Jeanne Motulsky, was musical and magical.

Jeanne Motulsky

Speaking of music and magic, the ever so talented Motulsky returns for her sixth show with the CSLDS. The Communications grad from Concordia University is headed towards production in film and television. As I wrote following her stellar performance in last year’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “her future looks bright.” Motulsky captured the audience with her incredible voice and stage presence, particularly performing “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Cabaret”. Sensational.

The entire show is tied together by the unbelievably talented Craig Dalley who plays The Emcee. Returning for his fourth show with CSLDS, Dalley captivates your attention from the upbeat beginning, singing the well-known, “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome” opening theme to Cabaret, right to the very end, deep in the darkest places humanity has gone, some 80-plus years ago.

Dalley’s talent, not to mention his sexually provocative leather clothing, profane language and naughty gestures will have you laughing, and then crying. What a job he did with Money Makes the World Go Round! He can sing. He can dance. And he can control the audience and the stage. Fantastic.

Linda Babins (Fraulein Schneider) and John Kovac (Herr Schultz) play an adoring, mature, tentative couple. Babins is a longtime member of the CSLDS team while Kovac returns to theatre after a 40 year hiatus. The two hit it off in song and dance with an air of confidence – she as a stodgy, serious German woman and he as a whimsical, fun-loving older gentleman – a German Jew. You’d never know he stepped off the stage for four decades but thankfully he’s back!

While it was hard to cozy up with Edward Le Vasseur who played the role of red armband toting Nazi, Ernst Ludwig, I’ll admit that he was faithful to his increasingly angry character and the more I despised him the more I realized what a strong actor he was.

Finally, Maria Jimenez deserves praise for her beautiful voice as her back lit profile steamed out from an old fashioned gramophone. Dreamy staging indeed. In the role of Fraulein Kost, a bit of a loose lady (as if any of them was anything less) she was very funny as her many sailor boys sauntered out of her room.

Artistic Director Anisa Cameron with CSL Mayor and CSLDS Founder Mitchell Brownstein

There are so many more praiseworthy cast members who entertained the gala night audience with impressive choreography and delightful musical numbers.

The five-piece live band adds to the experience and really gives the feeling of actually being in a live cabaret. They were great.

A show like this, especially community theatre, doesn’t just come together with a heck of a lot of hard work and incredible talent by the creative and production teams under the direction of the absolutely incredible, dedicated and tremendously talented Anisa Cameron.

(Mini shout-out to backstage crew members Nicole Nashen and Naomi Salama).

“As a theatre director, I felt compelled to produce this show. It seems Cabaret has only become more and more relevant to what is tragically happening in our own province and country, in North America and around the globe. Cabaret stands as a seductive, staggering and stark lesson in the dangers of complacency, denial and willful ignorance in the face of unbridled nationalism and the rise of a fascist tide. Never again is now, said Cameron.

CSLDS partnered with the Montreal Holocaust Museum in providing educational panels to understand the historical context in which Cabaret takes place.

Israeli Consul General David Levy was also instrumental in providing informational panels about diplomats from several countries who went against their orders and laws in doing the “right thing”, in rescuing thousands of Jews from the grips of the Holocaust.

CSLDS’s Cabaret is sure to be another sold-out smash success, worthy of an eventual Montreal English Theatre Award for its production value, quality musical arrangements and its thought-provoking message of using the past to influence the future.

So what good is sitting alone in your room? Come to the Cabaret!!

Cabaret runs through June 16 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in Cote Saint-Luc City Hall on Cavendish Boulevard. Tickets and information at CSLDramaticSociety.com.

CJN: A new Hasidic heaven in Cote-St-Luc

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The make-up of Cote Saint-Luc continues to evolve in interesting ways. In this fascinating report by the Canadian Jewish News we learn about the influx of some Hasidic families from Outremont and their warm welcome into Cote Saint-Luc.

via Scher: A new Hasidic heaven in Cote-St-Luc

Many thanks to all our great teachers

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

 

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

 

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

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

Canada apologizes to Jewish community for “None is Too Many”, turning back refugees to Hitler’s Nazi Germany

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This was a historic, monumental day not only for Canadian Jews, but for Canada. Today’s apology by the Government of Canada for turning away the 907 Jews fleeing the Holocaust aboard the ill-fated MS. Saint Louis was long overdue. In issuing today’s apology Canada has solidified its place as a tolerant, peace-loving and safe land. The Prime Minister has committed to doing more to safeguard places of worship and to fight antisemitism.

Thank you to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his eloquent and emotional words of accountability and apology. Your words, Mr. Prime Minister, are powerful and meaningful and will be felt for generations. Thank you to the Government of Canada and to all Members of Parliament for standing in solidarity, united across party lines, to acknowledge the failures of the past and to take corrective actions to secure our future. The occasion was made even more powerful by the solemn remarks by the leaders of the Conservative Party, NDP and Green Party.

Thank you as well to our honourable and outstanding Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Anthony Housefather, for his leadership role in today’s declaration. Anthony has worked tirelessly on behalf of not only his constituents but all Canadians in ensuring the Government of Canada support its Jewish Communities, fight against BDS, denounce antisemitic acts of hate and support the Jewish State of Israel.

Canada has taken a major step in ensuring ‘Never Again’ resonates from coast to coast to coast.


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 10:43


The NDP’s Guy Caron taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 9:36


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 7:19

A Bintel Brief: Yiddish Theatre alive and well in Montreal

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A review by Glenn J. Nashen

NEW: Now featured in the Jewish Standard Magazine!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Sam Stein and Aron Gonshor (Courtesy CJNews.com)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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