CSL Men’s Club gala raises funds for Canadian Magen David Adom

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The Côte St. Luc Men’s Club hosted an “Evening of Entertainment” last week at the city’s Aquatic and Community Centre to raise funds for Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel.

CMDA sends ambulances and medical supplies to Magen David Adom for use in Israel.

On hand were CMDA president Michael I. Levine, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Côte St. Luc council members, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, Beth Tikvah Rabbi Emeritus Mordecai Zeitz and many others. Cantor Yossi Pomerantz, accompanied by Joseph Milo, sang; and humourist Al Kustanowitz performed.

The event also marked the donation of ambulances, medical emergency scooters and funds for medical equipment to Israel. One ambulance, displayed at the event, was donated by the Men’s Club; and by Simon and Fagey Rossdeutscher and Judith and Harry Rossdeutscher in memory of their families who perished in the Holocaust.

“Almost a year ago, I decided that as the Men’s Club is growing enormously, we should do something special for the State of Israel, where I’ve been many, many times,” said Men’s Club president Syd Kronish. “I went to see Sidney Benizri, executive director of CMDA, and for 40 minutes, he showed me what Magen David Adom accomplishes for Israel. I decided that’s for us.

“The Men’s Club took all of our smaller donations and we contributed the other half for the ambulance,” he explained. “Four of our members, including myself, each bought a medical scooter, which cost $32,000. They are already in Israel.”

The Rossdeutscher family has been involved with CMDA for more than 30 years and has donated at least several other ambulances over the years, including one dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Sidney Shoham of Beth Zion Synagogue.

Another ambulance was donated by Derek and Richard Stern and Families. Mayoral candidate Robert Libman was on hand for the event, representing the Stern family.

Benizri, who is also a Côte St. Luc councillor, was very appreciative.

“It was a pleasure working with the Executive Committee and the members of the Cote St. Luc Men’s Club for the past seven months and I am very grateful to them for undertaking this initiative, ‘Evening of Entertainment,’ to benefit Canadian Magen David Adom,’ Benizri said. “They are motivated and dedicated to the cause of helping Magen David Adom continue to offer lifesaving and humanitarian services to anyone in the State of Israel and abroad when called upon to do so.”

Benizri also thanked the Rossdeutscher family for the new ambulance, the Stern family for the other ambulance and other families for the medical scooters.

The scooters were presented to the people of Israel by Sheila and Nat Agensky in memory of Brian Agensky; by Marion and Lazarus Caplan; by Elaine and Syd Kronish; Steven, Etty, Samantha and David Kronish; and the Spector Family. As well, Harriet and Harry Fried made a major donation for medical equipment.

The balance of the gala evening’s proceeds “will be used to provide essential medical equipment for MDA Israel paramedics and first responders,” says a CMDA statement.


What a great feeling to see the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club emblem on this ambulance destined for Israel. Judy and I were thrilled to be able to participate and contribute in a small but meaningful way.


Magen David Adom is innovative in their ability to outfit a scooter with emergency medical equipment to respond rapidly to urgent calls even with congested streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We can learn a lot from them.

Mimouna night in CSL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judy Hagshi, Lison Benarroch and Elaine Brownstein

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sidney Benizri takes oath of office

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Councillor Sydney Benizri delivers open address in the City Council chamber

Councillor Sidney Benizri delivers open address in the City Council chamber

With a signature and a solemn oath Cote Saint-Luc’s new Councillor for District 7, Sidney Benizri, was sworn into office this evening and began his official duties.

“I promise to fulfill by duties in the best interest of all citizens,” said Benizri reading the official oath of office. “I am looking forward to working with the mayor and council.”


The Nashens welcome longtime friend Sydney Benizri to City Council

The Nashens welcome longtime friend Sidney Benizri to City Council

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein welcomed Benizri as well as his wife and children to their new council family. “We all work together like a family, and spend lots and lots of time together. Welcome. Bienvenue.”

The new council meets in public on April 19, 2016

The new council meets in public on April 19, 2016

With ceremonial duties complete Benizri wasted no time in bidding farewell to his wife, Sandra, and children Kelly, David and Yoel, as he was ushered into his first closed door meeting, in preparation for his first public meeting taking place this evening.



Cote Saint-Luc City Council. April 19, 2016

Cote Saint-Luc City Council. April 19, 2016

Le nouveau conseiller municipal Sidney Benizri – In conversation with Cote Saint-Luc’s new city councillor

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Mayor Mitchell Brownstein in conversation with newly elected Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor Sidney Benizri:

Councillor Benizri will be sworn into office on Tuesday, April 19 and will appear at his first Public Council meeting that evening. Come and join the council in welcoming Councillor Benizri at the 8pm public meeting.

Le Conseiller Benizri sera assermenté le mardi 19 Avril et apparaîtra lors de sa première réunion public du Conseil ce soir-là. Venez rejoindre le conseil pour accueillir le conseiller Benizri au réunion publique à 20h00.


Sidney Benizri wins CSL council by-election

Sidney Benizri won Sunday’s Côte St. Luc council by-election Sunday, and will be sworn in this week as the new councillor for District 7.

Benizri, the first member of the Sephardic Jewish community elected to Côte St. Luc council, is the national executive director of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel, which fundraises to send ambulances to Israel. He replaces former longtime councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who was recently acclaimed mayor of Côte St. Luc.

According to the final election results, Benizri received 325 votes, to David Tordjman’s 221, Mitch Kujavsky’s 205 and Lloyd Pedvis’s 20.

“I’m speechless,” a happy Benizri said at Mount Sinal Hospital Sunday night, where the results were tabulated. “I’m very happy to be part of the council of Côte St. Luc. We have a great team, and I’m sure we’ll do very good things for the residents of Côte St. Luc. I’m going to be very devoted to the residents of District 7.”

Benizri added that he will study the concerns conveyed to him during his meetings with residents door-to-door during the campaign.

“I’m going to address those concerns. I promised them, if elected, that this will be part of my agenda.”

Benizri says that while he is the first member of the Sephardic Jewish community elected in Côte St. Luc, “I am there for all the residents of District 7 and all Côte St. Luc residents.”

Brownstein was on hand to hear the results, as were councillors Ruth Kovac, Allan Levine, Mike Cohen and Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, former mayor of Côte St. Luc.

“I thought all the candidates were wonderful — each one had their own strengths,” Brownstein told The Suburban. “I’m very pleased Sidney Benizri is going to be a new member of our council family. Everybody I spoke to in the riding who met him has always said the same thing — he’s a gentleman who listens to the people and I’m really pleased to have him as part of our team.”

Brownstein said he is also pleased to have a member of the Sephardic community on council.

“But I know he is someone who will serve everybody in the community very well,” the mayor added.



Félicitations à Sidney Benizri, élu en tant que nouveau conseiller municipal de la ville pour le district 7

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Sidney Benizri

Sidney Benizri

Congratulations to Sidney Benizri, Cote Saint-Luc’s newest City Councillor. Elections for District 7, to replace the seat previously occupied by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein took place today (Sunday, April 10, 2016). With all polls reporting in as of 9pm the unofficial count shows Benizri captured the seat with 324 votes. 230 votes went to former city employee David Tordjman,  223 to accountant Mitch  Kujavsky and 20 for computer consultant Lloyd Pedvis.

Benizri and I go way back, working side by side at Federation CJA from 1995 to 2000, literally sharing an office. I served as Director of the Young Adult Division, Young Leadership Campaign and Jewish Chamber of Commerce while Benizri served as Assistant Director. I have followed his career closely and remained good friends ever since yet I had to remain neutral during this by-election campaign.

Benizri is a career community man, thoroughly devoted to serving the Jewish community in particular. He currently serves as Executive Director of Canadian Magen David Adom, the local fundraising arm of the Israeli ambulance system and emergency medical services. A longtime resident of Cote Saint-Luc he is intimately familiar with local schools and synagogues, with leaders in community, education, community services and religious institutions. Ask anyone who knows him and you’ll get  resounding chorus of, “Sidney is a really great guy.”

I look forward to continuing to work with Sidney after a break of so many years, and kind of sharing an office once again, this time as equal partners in this great community initiative. He certainly deserves accolades today.

District 7 candidates Mitch Kujavsky, David Tordjman, Sidney Benizri and Lloyd Pedvis with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. Benizri took the by-election with a100 vote lead.

District 7 candidates Mitch Kujavsky, David Tordjman, Sidney Benizri and Lloyd Pedvis with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. Benizri took the by-election with a 100 vote lead.

Congratulations as well to Lloyd Pedvis, Mitch Kujavsky and David Tordjman. Pedvis is interested in community issues and often emails me about his area. I hope he continues to do so. He jumped in with two feet not really sure how things would go and gave it his best. He had a good attitude all along. I met Kujavsky and his wife Jordana in the last couple of years as they got involved in the CSL Dramatic Society and we all worked together on Anthony Housefather’s campaign for Parliament. He is a likable, easy going and funny accountant (imagine that) with a knack for the stage. He too is interested in seeing our community improve and I hope he stays involved. I’ve known Tordjman through his former role working for the city. He spent the last few years working on infrastructure projects in Haiti. I wish him lots of luck in his upcoming marriage.

Another chapter in CSL electoral history opens with Sidney Benizri taking over in District 7. I am confident he will do a fine job, together with his new colleagues on City Council, as we all strive together to continue to make Cote Saint-Luc the fantastic city that it is.

District 7 candidates present themselves ahead of April 10 by-election

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An impressive candidates debate brings us closer to April 10 by-election

By Mike Cohen

With advance polls  set for Sunday, April 3 and the by-election date for Côte Saint-Luc District 7 a week later – Sunday April 10 – we are in the midst of a spirited race to see who will  succeed our new Mayor Mitchell Brownstein as the  city councillor for that area.

District 7 encompasses the homes and buildings near Mount Sinai Hospital,  Hebrew Academy, Congrégation Or Hahayim and St. Richard’s Church. Here is the complete map.

2016-03-29 District 7 Meet the Candidates

Mayor Brownstein and council with the candidates.


There are four candidates vying for the seat: Sidney Benizri, Mitchell Kujavsky, Lloyd Pedvis and David Tordjman.

Harvey Levine, executive director of B’nai Brith Canada, Quebec Region chaired the evening and B’nai Brith Canada legal counsel Steven Slimovitch served as the moderator.

Since Côte Saint-Luc was reconstituted, we have never had such a candidates meeting. For the residents who turned out, it was a difference maker. They had this unique opportunity to hear each candidate respond to some well thought out questions by Levine and Slimovitch.

Each one of these gentlemen handled themselves very well, with opening remarks, closing statements and pretty good answers to questions they could not prepare for. Slimovitch asked them about traffic calming near the two schools in the district, quick access out of the city despite traffic on Heywood, new ideas they had for the district, the Cavendish extension, library services, prohibiting parking in some high traffic areas, upgrading parks and snow removal.

For full details on the by-election click here.

We have delayed our next public council meeting until Tuesday, April 19 in order for the new councillor to join us.

Best of luck to all!

Here is a video of the evening:


Date and Hours: Sunday, April 3, 2016 from 12 pm to 8 pm

Polling Place: Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre (ACC)

Address: 5794 Parkhaven, Côte Saint-Luc, H4W 0A4

Upper level salons.


Date and Hours: Sunday, April 10, 2016 from 10 am to 8 pm

Votings polls for sections 701, 702 and 703:

École Maimonide, gymnasium

5615 Parkhaven, Côte Saint-Luc, H4W 1X3

Votings polls for sections 704, 705 and 706:

Mount Sinai Hospital, room 103

5690 Cavendish, Côte Saint-Luc, H4W 1S7


Meet the candidates of District 7

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District 7 candidates Mitch Kujavsky, David Tordjman, Sidney Benizri and Lloyd Pedvis with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein in the Council Chambers. Who will be the successful candidate?

District 7 candidates Mitch Kujavsky, David Tordjman, Sidney Benizri and Lloyd Pedvis with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein in the Council Chambers. Who will be the successful candidate?

The four candidates for Côte Saint-Luc District 7 will meet the public on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 from 7:30 pm to 9 pm at City Hall (5801 Cavendish Blvd.) in Meet-the-Candidates event hosted by B’nai Brith Canada, Quebec.


The by-election to elect a new councillor in District 7 takes place on April 10. The seat was left vacant by Mitchell Brownstein who resigned his seat before being acclaimed as Mayor of Côte Saint-Luc.


The four candidates in contention for a council seat are, in alphabetical order: Sidney Benizri, Mitch Kujavsky, Lloyd Pedvis, and David Tordjman. The candidates will make opening and closing remarks and each will answer questions from the moderator on relevant issues of concern to the district residents.


“The event will be co-moderated by myself” stated Harvey Levine, Executive Director, B’nai Brith Quebec, “and Steve Slimovitch, who is a criminal lawyer, President of the Lord Reading Law Society and board member of B’nai Brith Canada, League for Human Rights. Mr. Slimovitch is a former resident of Côte Saint-Luc and his parents still reside there.”


Mayor Brownstein will open the event. There will be closing remarks from Côte Saint-Luc resident Gerry Weinstein, who is Past President, B’nai Brith Canada and President of Residence B’nai Brith House and the soon to be built Chateau B’nai Brith — both in Côte Saint-Luc.


Levine also stated “as an important part of the fabric of Côte Saint-Luc, B’nai Brith are happy to host this event. Our mission is to bring Canadian Jewry of all ages and backgrounds together by promoting human rights throughout the world, advocating for the security of the State of Israel and Jewish communities worldwide and providing local services through volunteer activities, cultivation of leadership and charitable work focusing on seniors and the less fortunate.”


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