New site now in the plans for new synagogue

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A register for a rezoning bylaw to enable a new synagogue to be created on Mackle Road by the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim was held on Thursday, June 15 at City Hall. 23 people signed the register. Only 17 were required to sign in order to call for a referendum.

The register was called for, under provincial law governing rezoning, after 33 out of 56 eligible residents signed a petition to demand the register a month earlier.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said if enough people sign the register, there will be no need for a referendum and, as a result, another location will have to be found for the synagogue.

The city wishes to help its residents and support its institutions. Given the results we will help the congregation to find a new location.

As the Councillor for the area (District 6) I believe it is important to keep our residents united and supportive of one another. I am confident that a better solution can be found to meet everyone’s needs.

Mayor Brownstein said he met with the residents and Rabbi Benoliol after the register closed and assured everyone that we shall work together as a community to find the congregation a more suitable place for them in our City.  The mayor said we are moving quickly to find solutions and all parties are pleased with our proactive approach and that he expects to be able to announce an excellent alternative shortly.  We are a beautiful, proud community that shall always find solutions to accommodate each other through consensus building, he said.

CSL council votes 4-2 to enable synagogue register

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Côte St. Luc council voted 4-2 Monday night for a rezoning bylaw to enable a new synagogue to be created on Mackle Road, even though it is being generally acknowledged the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim will very likely not be built in that location.

A register on the synagogue, in which residents can sign to express their desire for a referendum, will take place 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 15. More information on the particulars will be sent out by Côte St. Luc.

Councillors Allan Levine, Sidney Benizri, Sam Goldbloom and Mike Cohen voted in favour, while Ruth Kovac and Steven Erdelyi voted against. Councillor Glenn Nashen was absent, but passed on the message he would have voted in favour. Dida Berku, who has abstained from these votes, was also absent.

The vote came after enough signatories — 33 out of 56 eligible residents — signed a petition to spark a register, on which only 17 signatures would be needed to prompt a referendum. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said if enough people sign the register, there will be no need for a referendum and, as a result, another location will have to be found for the synagogue.

Brownstein said it is the city’s mandate to help all residents, and support religious communities. He added that even those who oppose that location for the synagogue want to help its congregants find a new location.

“I assure you now that we’re continuing to look into [potential] locations,” the Mayor said.

Kovac objected to council passing the bylaw to enable the register. The councillor emphasized that she is not against the synagogue, just the proposed location, as are the 33 residents who signed for a register.

“For me to drag this out to June 15 and ask these same residents to come a second time to say the same thing is a little bit unfair,” she added. “We already know we’re not going to a referendum.”

Synagogue rezoning on Mackle. Public info meeting, Monday, April 3, 7:30PM

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The City of Cote Saint-Luc has received a request from the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim who wish to construct a synagogue on Mackle Road, backing onto the Cavendish Mall parking lot.

Provincial law requires a notice of motion to be given at City Council on the draft bylaw to begin the zoning amendment process required to render the residential land for institutional use. The law provides for a public information meeting which will take place on April 3, 2017 at 7:30 P.M. Interested residents should attend this meeting at City Hall to learn about the project, ask questions and get answers in order to decide for themselves if they agree with the rezoning.


The residents within the adjacent zones (neighbouring streets) are the ultimate decision-makers on matters of rezoning.

A sign was placed in front of the property so that all residents may be adequately informed about the proposed changes. Additionally, a letter advising residents in the contiguous zones of the request and the public meeting is being delivered to the homes in question this week.

More information about the rezoning is available at or by calling the Cote Saint-Luc Urban Development Department at 514-485-6800.


Rezonage d’un terrain dans le secteur du Mail Cavendish

Une proposition de rezonage d’un terrain résidentiel à un terrain institutionnel sur le ch. Mackle afin de permettre la construction d’une synagogue est en cours. Le terrain est entre l’entrée du stationnement arrière du Quartier Cavendish et du 6794 Mackle.


Une consultation publique aura lieu le lundi 3 avril à 19 h 30  à l’hôtel de ville, salle du conseil, 5801, boul. Cavendish. Pour en savoir plus, consulter l’avis public sur le site du terrain en question ou à


Pour toutes questions, envoyer un courriel à ou composer 514-485-6800, poste 1607.


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Synagogue proposed for Mackle Road next to Cavendish Mall, public info meeting April 3

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At last night’s Public Council Meeting the City of Cote Saint-Luc dealt with a request from the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim who wish to construct a synagogue on Mackle Road, backing onto the Cavendish Mall parking lot.

In recent years, the new homes on Kellert, and the four lots on Mackle between Kellert and the Mall parking entrance were added to District 6, which I represent. This property is the eastern-most point in the district.

The notice of motion was read aloud and City Council adopted the first draft bylaw to begin the zoning amendment process required to render the residential land for institutional use.

In fact, the property is currently composed of two lots that are currently zoned for a semi‐detached dwelling. The amendment would change the zoning from residential to institutional use.

The Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim is a religious institution that currently occupies, and conducts its affairs at 5750 Parkhaven Avenue. They are seeking to re-establish itself in a new premises to be built on a lot at 6790-6792 Mackle Road.

Rabbi Yehuda Benoliel is the spiritual leader of the congregation.

The City, having officially adopted the notice of motion and first reading of the bylaw, has started the legal steps for the request for rezoning.

The residents within the adjacent zones (neighbouring streets) are the ultimate decision makers. The law requires that eligible residents can demand a register to be opened for any neighbour that chooses to contest the rezoning.

The next step is a provincially-mandated public information meeting on April 3, 2017 at 7:30 P.M. as required by law. Interested residents should attend this meeting at City Hall to learn about the project, ask questions and get answers in order to decide for themselves if they agree with the rezoning.

A public notice is then given around mid to end of April for those residents who ultimately wish to sign a register to force a referendum on the issue.

Meanwhile, a sign will be placed by the City in front of the property so that all residents may be adequately informed about the proposed changes. More information about the rezoning is available by calling the Cote Saint-Luc Urban Development Department at 514-485-6800.

Suspect in 10 synagogue robberies arrested

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Suspect in 10 synagogue robberies arrested
No hate crime involved
The Suburban, February 15, 2012
By Joel Goldenberg

Montreal police recently arrested a 41-year-old man suspected of robbing synagogues in the Station 9 (Côte St. Luc-Hampstead) and Station 26 (Côte des Neiges) areas in recent months. Station 9 commander Sylvain Bissonette told The Suburban last week that the individual is charged with eight break and entries and two of stealing less than $5,000 – instances where he walked into the synagogues in broad daylight and stole money. In each case, petty cash was stolen, nothing was vandalized, nothing religious was stolen, and the incidents are not considered hate crimes, he added. The suspect was also charged with four counts of breach of parole conditions.

“The person was arrested in the Station 26 territory while he was doing a break and entry,” Bissonnette said. “At Station 9, we were trying to find him. We linked him to several cases. There were nine cases in Station 9. He was in court last week and he is now detained.”

Commander Bissonnette said police are proud of this arrest. “Last year, at around this time, we had synagogues that were vandalized, so we paid special attention this year [with the cooperation of Côte St. Luc and Hampstead],” he explained. “We were wondering if something would happen at the same time of year. We did an operation with several stations and it was during that operation that this person decided to do a break and enter. Probably just bad timing for him. “He was caught red handed. There were video cameras inside the other synagogues, so that’s why we were able to identify him for the other robberies.” The video footage also revealed a robbery of which officials of one synagogue were not even aware.

Bissonnette thanked Federation CJA officials involved with synagogue security for giving the information to synagogues regarding the robberies, giving police “a clearer picture.”

In my opinion:  Kudos to Commander Sylvain Bissonnette and to Federation CJA Community Security.  They have worked on this case for more than a year and were intent on solving this case.  I also thank Cote Saint-Luc Public Security agents and volunteer Citizens on Patrol along with CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson for playing an important role in safeguarding the community and in working closely with the commander on this and other cases.

Attacks on Montreal shuls went unreported in 2010

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Attacks on Montreal shuls went unreported in 2010

By DAVID LAZARUS, Staff Reporter

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The Canadian Jewish News

MONTREAL — Police in Cote St. Luc have revealed that “four or five” area synagogues were hit by vandals throwing rocks through windows a year ago using the same modus operandi as the attacks earlier this month, but Jewish community leaders decided not to make the news public.

“It was decided to keep the situation low key” to give police a chance solve the case, but no arrests were made, said Cmdr. Sylvain Bissonnette of Station 9. He said the similarities between the attacks last year and this year point to the same perpetrator.“We know the modus operandi, that’s for sure,” Bissonnette said in an interview last week with The CJN.

As in January 2010, “we know that it was only one individual [committing the attacks]. We have an idea of the model [of the car. At each location], the driver of the car got out, went to the trunk, opened it, took the rock and threw it at the window, closed the trunk and got back into the car.”

He said the method used in this year’s attacks matched last year’s almost exactly. In the 2010 incidents, rocks were also thrown through the windows of several synagogues, also in the dead of night, using what police think might be the same car. Bissonnette said in both years, “almost the same [type of] rocks” were used.

As well, four months before the January 2010 vandalism, in September 2009, three synagogues in Cote St. Luc were hit, but video evidence was negligible. That vandalism was reported in the media.

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, chair of Federation CJA’s security co-ordinating committee, acknowledged the January 2010 vandalism, but said the affected institutions themselves preferred that the incidents not be made public. The committee “did not want to pre-empt them,” he said.

Additionally, there was concern over triggering copycat incidents and handing a “victory to the vandals” by generating publicity, but that changed after the Jan. 16 vandalism due to the “cumulative effect” of having several incidents take place since September 2009.

On Jan. 16 this year, three synagogues and a school in Cote St. Luc, one synagogue in Hampstead, and another synagogue in NDG – the Shaare Zedek, discovered only the next day – were hit between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., all with single rocks thrown through their windows. All the targets were within a few minutes drive of one another. Police were expecting to be able to confirm the sequence of this year’s attacks based on video evidence.

The story quickly “went viral” around the world. B’nai Brith Canada described the vandalism as a “wave of attacks on Jewish institutions” and said it summoned up memories of the 2004 firebombing of the United Talmud Torahs school in St. Laurent.

But Bissonnette said while the vandalism of synagogues could be a potential hate crime, once an arrest is made, “we will know for sure.“We will know that only when we have all the facts.”

Bissonnette said police had planned to wrap up “most of its investigation” of the Jan. 16 attacks by last Friday, with the odds of making an eventual arrest hinging on being able to clarify surveillance camera images enough to see the face of the perpetrator and confirm his car’s model and year.

Bissonnette said there was still no evidence to indicate that the attacks this year, despite being co-ordinated and planned, were the work of an organized group “with a particular cause,” since no one has claimed responsibility or left behind any notes at the scenes to that effect.

Bissonnette said solving the case is a priority. Officers from Station 9 have extensively interviewed those living in the neighbourhood of the institutions hit, as well as municipal workers and anyone else who might have seen or heard something in the early morning of Jan. 16, a particularly cold night when people tended to stay inside.

The station also has its own detective focusing on the case and is using its own “specialist” to get more detailed images from the surveillance video – a challenge, Bissonnette said, given the nighttime darkness at the time of the vandalism.

Police have also been in constant and close consultation with relevant police stations – such as PDQ 11 in NDG and PDQ 26 on Decarie Boulevard – and with community and security officials at Quebec Jewish Congress (QJC), Federation CJA and B’nai Brith.

The Jewish community entered a more heightened state of alert in the wake of the vandalism. Police boosted patrols around synagogues in Cote St. Luc, Hampstead, and Notre Dame de Grâce and met with synagogue and Jewish school officials. As well, teachers were asked to review lock-down procedures with students.

The list of groups and individuals condemning the attacks was lengthy.

Besides QJC, Federation CJA and B’nai Brith, they included Liberal party Leader Michael Ignatieff and Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, Quebec Premier Jean Charest, the Montreal Board of Rabbis, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney, the Friends of Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies and Québec Solidaire.

Bissonnette said that while there was an understandable sense of trauma felt by the Jewish community, some solace could be taken from the fact the attacks were against buildings and not people.

“It’s important to make people feel secure and to send them a message that this is an important case, but also that it was one person attacking various places.”

Montreal picking up the pieces following recent wave of vandalism

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Montreal picking up the pieces following recent wave of vandalism

Written by Daniel Smajovits

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

MONTREAL – The Jewish communities of Cote St. Luc and Hampstead are slowly picking up the pieces following the wave of coordinated vandalism which targeted four synagogues, a daycare centre and a school in the early hours of Sunday, Jan. 16.

As of Monday, the Montreal Police Department had no further leads.

“It’s just broken windows; it was not like someone painted a Swastika or slogan saying ‘We hate Jews’ on the buildings. It’s very difficult to work off these acts of mischief,” said Daniel Lacoursière, a spokesperson for the Montreal Police hampDepartment.

However, the picture might be much worse than reported. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post by Canadian journalist Rhonda Spivak, other serious incidents in Montreal are going unreported as part of a concerted effort to downplay how bad things are in Montreal.

As for the recent Montreal incidents, Rabbi Chaim Steimetz of the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem thinks the attacks are more than what officers are making them out to be, saying that it’s clear they were not random acts of violence.

“This set of attacks showed a certain amount of sophistication. A guy had to plan and hit six different places in the very same night…this was not your average teenagers on a Saturday night,” he said. “When someone can be that motivated, you have to be a little bit nervous that they can do something on a much grander scale. We’re telling people to be much more wary and careful and to keep their eyes open.”

Evidence from Yeshiva Yavne further confirms this sophistication.

According to a spokesperson, the damage occurred behind the school, which is enclosed by a fence and is directly adjacent to train tracks. They believe that the individual must have scaled at least one portion of the fence to hit the school.

Nearly two weeks later, the reaction of the community has run the gamut of emotions.

“Things have been overall very calm. However, I think people are indignant and worried that such a thing could happen in this day and age,” said Rabbi Ron Aigen of the Dorshei Emet Congregation. “While there was minimal damage, the message is unacceptable. Our congregants will continue to be more vigilant and concerned. Personally, it hurts that your synagogue was attacked.”

“Our congregation was shocked,” said Rabbi Alan Bright of the Shaare Zedek Congregation. “I’ve received calls and support from all over the place. It’s been very gratifying that people care on this level, when they hear that theirsynagogue was also attacked. Everyone is dumbstruck.”

While the community is moving forward, B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights is urging that these incidents are taken as a clear sign that action must be taken to combat future events, which if the trend continues, are inevitable.

“We deplore these incidents, which have specifically targetted Jewish institutions in the community,” said Allan Adel, national chair of the league. “As the organization that tracks and documents antisemitism in this country, we see all the hallmarks of antisemitic activity. Looking back at the league’s data for 2010, we note that these types of incidents are not new experiences for Quebec, and that they mirror incidents that have targetted the Jewish community both elsewhere in Canada and globally…. Communities need to stand together when facing hate of this nature.”

Growing up in England, Rabbi Bright has seen the escalation of violence before and fears the worst.

“I saw antisemitism evolve from an isolated skinhead to synagogues being firebombed. Do you know what it’s like to watch your synagogue and community centre burn to the ground? I was 14 years old when I witnessed that and it’s marked in my brain. I will never forget it.

“Yes, they only broke windows, but next time it’s going to be something else. The reality is that it’s happening; this was not minor and cannot be treated as minor. Jews, by and large, have learned to accept these sort of things – nobody got killed, nobody got hurt, but that’s not the right attitude.”

D’Arcy MNA Lawrence Bergman cites this event as well as the ongoing boycott of a local shoe store for its sale of Israeli goods that a rise in anti-Israeli and antisemitic sentiment is clear.

“This was an attack against a community and an attack against religious freedom. There’s no place in our society for demonization of groups of individuals. We have to be vigilant, leaders of our society have to speak up and take action,” he said. “It’s important to show that the leaders condemn these actions and that we will take all necessary steps to find those who caused these injustices and bring them to justice.”

After leading his congregation through a recent vandalism incident, Frank Cwillich, president of the Young Israel of Chomedey Synagogue immediately reached out to offer his support and guidance. In October 2010, 2,300 litres of oil contaminated the synagogue’s lawn, causing more than $100,000 in damage. If it were not for a stream of donations, the synagogue would have been left on the brink of bankruptcy.

“Having been the recipients ourselves of so much goodwill and kindness throughout the community, the least we could do is offer our support and we hope we can do something for them,” said Cwillich. “As a community, we cannot be intimidated. We’re here to stay, we’re proud of our identity and random acts of hatred will not do anything to our resolve and our will to thrive as a people.”

Following the attacks, all the institutions affected a plan to upgrade their security systems to include cameras, which will be capable of night-time filming.

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