Federation CJA’s Mission to Montreal was a fun, filling, sell-out success

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Thanks to Federation CJA for a great tour around Old Jewish Montreal on the recent Around the Bagel tour. What an enthusiastic turnout for the #MissionToMontreal where participants explored the Jewish history and culture of our beloved city along with the Museum of Jewish Montreal and The Segal Centre for Performing Arts!

Federation CJA is celebrating 100 years of building community.

La #MissionToMontreal a connu un véritable succès en permettant, à un grand nombre de participants, d’explorer l’histoire et la culture juives de notre merveilleuse ville avec @Musee du Montreal juif et @segal centre. La Fédération CJA est fière de célébrer 100 ans au cœur de la communauté. Et notre histoire ne fait que commencer.

Thanks to co-chairs Samantha Mintz and Warren Werbitt. This was a unique, fun way to spend the afternoon with old friends and meet new people too. And, oy, the nosh from Cheskie’s was awesome!!


CSL resolution marks Federation CJA’s 100th

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By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban  05.24.17

Côte St. Luc council unanimously passed a resolution last week marking the 100th anniversary of the Jewish community organization Federation CJA.

Along with the resolution, a video was played with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein congratulating the organization.

“Today, Federation CJA is a model for how a community organization — with the help of countless volunteers — can come together to help build a community,” the Mayor said.

The resolution, moved by Councillor Glenn Nashen, points out that many Côte St. Luc residents “have received financial, social and other assistance by Federation CJA and its agencies;

“The organization played a role in the resettlement of a significant number of immigrants, and particularly Holocaust survivors, contributed to the economic, cultural and academic success of our region and today through its charitable efforts supports a wide range of activities that service the 93,000 Jews in Quebec.”

The resolution congratulates Federation CJA on reaching its milestone and also “recognizes the important work of Federation CJA over its history in building the Jewish community here at home, in Israel and around the world, and in serving as a bridge to facilitate dialogue, tolerance and cooperation between the Jewish population and the broader Quebec society.

CSL salutes Federation CJA on 100 years

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WHEREAS the Montreal Jewish community has been served by Federation CJA since its foundation in January 1917;

WHEREAS many residents of Côte Saint-Luc, past and present, have received financial, social and other assistance by Federation CJA and its agencies;

WHEREAS the organization played a role in the resettlement of a significant number immigrants, and particularly Holocaust survivors, contributed to the economic, cultural and academic success of our region and today through its charitable efforts supports a wide range of activities service the 93,000 Jews in Quebec;

WHEREAS many residents of Côte Saint-Luc actively volunteer and donate to Federation CJA today;

WHEREAS Federation CJA recently launched its Centennial Year celebration noting its 100th anniversary and the important contributions in many domains of the Jewish community of the Montreal area to success and growth of our city, province and country;

It was


“THAT the Côte Saint Luc City Council (“Council”) congratulate Federation CJA on achieving the milestone of its 100th anniversary of its founding;

THAT Council recognize the important work of Federation CJA over its history in building the Jewish community here at home, in Israel and around the world, and in serving as a bridge to facilitate dialogue, tolerance and cooperation between the Jewish population and the broader Quebec society.”

THAT a copy of this resolution be sent to Mr. Evan Feldman, president of Federation CJA, so that it may be shared with members of the board of directors, and staff of the organization.”


Fauda creator Lior Raz packs the hall

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Fauda creator Lior Raz at Theatre St. Denis

Fauda creator Lior Raz at Theatre St. Denis

Federation CJA hit a home run by bringing in the Netflix blockbuster Israeli hit series, Fauda. Lior Raz spoke to a packed house at the Theatre St. Denis Monday night after selling out the first two venues within hours of going on sale.

Raz spoke about his humble childhood as the son of Iraqi immigrants who worked alongside Arab neighbours. He learned to speak impeccable Arabic and seamlessly switched back and forth among his two languages and cultures. Eventually he became a valuable IDF commando given his “dual” persona. He spoke glowingly of his military family, about infiltration to the other side in the protection of the State of Israel and the Jewish People, about the loss of his “brothers” in war and of his girlfriend to terrorism.

Once out of the service, he became an actor and was interested in developing a TV series depicting both sides in the ongoing conflict. As the idea of Fauda, Arabic for ‘chaos”, developed he was concerned that there would be no following.

“I thought only my parents would watch it,” the entertaining, humorous story-teller, Raz, told the audience. In its first season, Fauda would go on to capture an audience of more than 60% of the Israeli population, the number one show in the country. Netflix picked it up and suddenly the show was broadcast around the world to more than 200 countries.

Raz proudly accepted many standing ovations as he told many behind the scenes stories in the development and shooting of Fauda. People thought I was crazy in bringing together Palestinians and Israeli Jews in creating this series, he told the audience. Fauda is shot in Israeli towns with actors from both communities collaborating.

Raz was most proud in demonstrating the high level of morals and humanity of Israel in its existential efforts at safeguarding its citizens. In so doing he has brought this message of the Jewish State’s longing for peace to the entire world.

The first season of Fauda is available on Netflix. It is in Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles. Dubbed versions in multiple languages are also options but to get the real feel of the high-stress, action-packed series watch in the native languages with subtitles. Season 2 filming begins this summer and will hit the air in November.

Lior made his mark on Montreal’s Jewish community, and beyond, and his local fan base is immense. Judging from comments on the way out of the theatre, and since, his personal appearance and lengthy standing ovations solidified impressions that he is an international entertainment sensation to follow. I wish Lior much luck and continued success.

The event was part of Federation CJA‘s centennial celebration.



Read more on Mike Cohen’s blog

Listen to Lior Raz interviewed on CBC As It Happens

Mission to Morocco: a trip back in time – Perspectives, by Deborah Corber

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Deborah Corber is the CEO of Federation CJA. In this dispatch she drafts an excellent piece on the evolution of the Montreal Jewish Community into a pluralistic, multicultural yet diverse group that has come together to form a cohesive, modern and progressive community. A wonderful read. Kol Hakavod Deborah.

Every spring my husband, Maurice, and I have the same disagreement: how to choose and organize the colours of our garden flowers. Maurice argues that the more colours the better, while I insist that we need to keep warm and cool colours separate. I now believe that we can put the dispute to bed.

We just came back from an extraordinary trip to Morocco, home of Maurice’s birth. This was my first trip and Maurice’s first visit back since he left, over 50 years ago. As we drove out of the Atlas Mountains and into Marrakesh I was struck by the profusion of bougainvillea falling gently across the retaining walls along the road. And there it was: bunches of bright colours, warm and cool, all mixed together, and utterly breathtaking.

In that moment, I understood that Maurice’s floral preferences were a natural result of having grown up in this environment of bold and exotic colours embedded in the landscape, and all these many years later, embedded in his unconscious memory.

Our trip was a unique tapestry of personal return and communal journey, covering vast geographic territory from the rugged terrain of southern Morocco (which we travelled privately), to the major cities of Casablanca, Rabat, Fez and Marrakesh (as part of Federation CJA’s Mission to Morocco).

We learned about the rich and extraordinary history of Moroccan Jewry – a history that spans thousands of years. About the important and profound contributions of Moroccan rabbis, scholars and philosophers (including Maimonides, the “Rambam”) to our Jewish heritage.

We listened to young children in Neve Shalom Day School recite portions of Megillat Esther by heart, and could only marvel at the skill and enthusiasm of these 6-year olds. We visited cemeteries restored thanks to the dedication of Jewish leadership and support of the Moroccan Government, and lovingly maintained by Berber and Arab caretakers, elderly people who remember the Jews with fondness and respect.

We walked the narrow alleys of the Mellah (Jewish Quarters), most now emptied of Jews, but filled with ancient synagogues and other remnants of the vibrant Jewish life that once pulsated through these streets. We visited the tomb of Solica Hatchuel, a young Jewish martyr, who chose death (she was dragged by a horse through the streets of Fez in 1834) over a forced marriage and conversion to Islam.

We reveled in Moroccan crafts, admiring the workmanship of their rugs, mosaic, bronze, leather and fabrics as we travelled (and shopped) in the medinas (old cities) of Marrakesh and Fez. We delighted at the Jewish artifacts on display throughout the regions of the Atlas Mountains, where Berbers and Jews lived peacefully together for centuries and where our Berber guide said, wistfully, that the departure of the Jews represented the greatest loss that Morocco had ever known.

We were hosted by the Jewish leadership of Casablanca, Rabat, Fez and Marrakesh, and while their hospitality was great, the bleak reality of a dying Jewish community in Morocco was unmistakable.

And what about our financial obligations as part of the Jewish people? Some folks remember when Federation CJA allocations were evenly split between local needs and supporting Israel. Today, that breakdown is roughly 87% local and 13% Israel & Overseas. Some argue that this split is appropriate, given Israel’s relative economic strength today, and growing needs at home. But there is no right or wrong answer here: only trends in the Jewish world and judgments about what is most fitting today.

The history of Jewish life in Morocco is complex and mixed. Although over two thousand years of Judaism are woven into the very fabric of Moroccan culture, those years were not without their challenges for Morocco’s Jews. There appear to have been instances of pogroms during that period, and it is believed that at least 500 Jews lost their lives during the Shoah, which absolutely did reach Morocco in the form of concentration camps courtesy of Vichy France. And while King Mohammed V has been honoured for having protected the Jews from even worse destruction, that legacy is not entirely without controversy.

The Jews who still live there speak of Morocco as a model of Jewish-Muslim co-existence. And yet, Jacky Sebag, the brilliant rabbi who runs the Neve Shalom school confessed that the parents of his students don’t want their children learning Arabic, which is the official language of Morocco. Quite a stark contrast with many anglophone Jewish parents here in Montreal, who, like myself, want their children to master French so that they will be able to thrive in Quebec.

That said, I am neither a historian nor a political scientist. But I do know something about the Jewish community of Montreal. I know that we have been immeasurably enriched by the thousands of Moroccan Jews who emigrated here in the 60s, 70s and 80s. That they brought with them a depth of Jewish knowledge and tradition that has made an indelible mark on the Montreal Jewish community, and of which we can all be proud. That Montreal Jewry is stronger and more vibrant because of them.

This year, I intend to fill the garden with as many bright colours as I can find, hoping to recreate just a little of the splendour that I found in Morocco for our home here in Montreal. Perhaps our garden will become my own personal metaphor for the magnificent diversity of the Jewish people.

Railway fire and explosions rock Cote Saint-Luc in Tabletop Exercise

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Emergency service leaders, city service directors, elected officials and community partners ‘raced’ to Cote Saint-Luc City Hall’s Emergency Operations Centre Thursday morning for a mock rail disaster. The exercise was coordinated by Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson in conjunction with Montreal Agglomeration’s Public Safety Centre.

The live action exercise included Montreal agglomeration police and fire services, Urgences Santé ambulance services, CP Police, West-Central Montreal Health, Federation CJA’s community security branch along with all services in the city of CSL.

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson oversees the Emergency Operations Centre

The scenario involved an overnight train derailment that resulted in a fire and explosion, just east of the Westminster underpass, affecting 250 residents requiring immediate evacuation. Water and electricity was cut off. City personnel established an evacuation centre at the aquatic and community centre on Parkhaven at Mackle. Reichson gave orders to all service directors to huddle and coordinate with their first responders and personnel.

As city councillor responsible for emergency preparedness I can attest that it is evident why CSL is renowned for its level of readiness. The ongoing training, testing and preparing are well worth the investment in time and resources.

Police Commander Jean O’Malley confers with Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. Executive Assistant Tammy McEwan keeps tabs on all decisions.

In this mock scenario I served as official spokesperson for the city in partnership with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, and neighboring municipalities and boroughs. A mock press conference was set up to inform our residents.

Several issues arose for the members of the Emergency Operations Centre to deal with on an urgent basis including diminished air quality, wind direction, sheltering of animals, providing kosher and non-kosher food, evacuation of mobility reduced residents and babies, registering residents willing to take in evacuees, distribution of drinking water and more.

Director Jordy Reichson consults with Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen

Participants dealt with a spreading power outage affecting the whole city. Traffic lights were out. Expectations were two days to restore all to normal.

The three hour scenario demonstrated the participant’s ease in dealing with unraveling urgent situations and in collaborating around the table to ensure the safety of our residents. Discussions, swinging back and forth effortlessly in French and English, flowed smoothly and in a spirit if great cooperation.

Montreal Fire Department Division Chief Martin Ferland and Police Commander Jean O’Malley update the leaders in the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Operations Centre

Cote Saint-Luc residents can take pride in knowing that their emergency, city and community services along with mayor and councillors hold these exercises from time to time and place such a high priority in testing their skills and readiness. Through these exercises improvements and adjustments can be made, professional skills developed and relationships enhanced to be well prepared for the real deal.

On behalf of our residents, thank you to our dedicated leaders around the tabletop mock disaster. Your commitment to emergency services and to our residents and community is exemplary and greatly appreciated. Thank you to Sid-Ali Talbi of Centre de sécurité civile de Montréal and CSL Public Safety Chief Philippe Chateauvert and kudos to Jordy Reichson for his leadership in orchestrating a successful demonstration and return to normalcy for our city.

Councillor Ruth Kovac and I have been involved in emergency preparedness in Cote Saint-Luc for 36 years. I was involved in EMO in the 1987 floods and we both participated in leading city services in the 1998 Ice Storm and in preparation for Y2K. We’ve taken part in many exercises over the years and we were very impressed in how these leaders came together to deal with a sudden, life-threatening crisis in a calm and professional manner.

We’re in good hands in Cote Saint-Luc!

For more information on emergency preparedness in Cote Saint-Luc and to learn what you can do to better prepare your own family please visit the CSL Emergency Preparedness page here or GetPrepared.ca.

Intergenerational survey of the Canadian Jewish community

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An important new intergenerational survey of the Canadian Jewish community is being commissioned by Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA and by your local federation.

Your responses will help them to better understand people’s attitudes, activities and plans. The survey covers all four adult generational groups (Millennials, Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and the WWII/Depression Generation), so if you were born before 1995, they want to hear from you.

This national survey was created by Dr. David Elcott, the Henry and Marilyn Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Stuart Himmelfarb, MA/MBA, Senior Fellow, Faith-Based Civic Engagement at NYU/Wagner; together they are co-founders of B3/The Jewish Boomer Platform, a non-profit initiative dedicated to engaging—or re-engaging—Baby Boomers in Jewish life.

Click here to take the survey.

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