Life & Legacy Program takes root in Montreal

Less than eight months after having been selected by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) as its Montreal partner, the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) has announced that 15 community organizations have enrolled in its LIFE & LEGACY® program. The purpose of this initiative is to help synagogues, schools, social service organizations and other Jewish entities build endowments that will help ensure their long-term financial stability.

“Our partners in the LIFE & LEGACY® program represent an important part of the institutional fabric of Jewish Montreal,” explains JCF Executive Director Kathy Assayag. “Ensuring they have the financial security to continue as pillars of our community is critical to keeping Jewish Montreal connected and to the passing on of Jewish values to the next generation.

“Over the next several years,” she continues, “we will be supporting these community organizations as they have discussions with their most loyal donors, encouraging supporters to make a lasting impact on the organizations that have influenced them throughout their lives with an after-lifetime endowment gift. The JCF will be providing coaching and training and assisting donors in establishing legacy gifts in the most tax-effective ways. We are also offering incentive grants to participating organizations with a goal of ensuring that legacy giving becomes integrated in the philanthropic culture of our community.”

The first cohort of organizations participating in the program are:

Auberge Shalom pour femmes Les Écoles Azrieli Schools Talmud Torah |Herzliah
Beth Tikvah Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Congregation
Camp B’nai Brith of Montreal Shaare Zedek Congregation
Dorshei Emet Congregation Shaare Zion Congregation
École Akiva School Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA
Friendship Circle Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom
Hebrew Foundation School The Segal Centre for Performing Arts
Jewish Public Library

LIFE & LEGACY®, which was developed by the HGF, has a proven track record. In North America, over 600 participating organizations secured more than 25,000 legacy commitments with a total value of over $900 million (USD) during the program’s first seven years

Rabbi Fishman with Zev Mestel (Executive Director of Beth Zion Congregation) & Howard Zingboim (Beth Tikvah team member). 

“A key benefit of endowments,” notes Ms Assayag, “is that they create perpetual income streams that take some of the edge off year-to-year fund-raising pressures that all nonprofit organizations face. By working together, the organizations in the cohort will create synergies that will benefit the community as a whole, as well as secure their own futures. The experience of HGF, which reflects our own, is that a legacy commitment from an individual often results in endowment gifts to multiple organizations.”

The JCF is committing significant resources to running LIFE & LEGACY® locally for at least four years. Participating organizations will learn best practices for executing legacy plans and how to make compelling cases for legacy gifts by communicating the organizations’ raisons d’être and values and, most importantly, the long-term impacts of individual gifts.

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) creates opportunities to connect with Judaism and the Jewish community at key life moments. In addition to flagship programs that are active across North America and around the world, the HGF invests in Jewish life at home in Western Massachusetts. Everything the HGF does is in partnership. By leveraging philanthropy, the HGF encourages others to invest in Jewish life.

The JCF’s mission is to inspire, promote and innovate Jewish Philanthropy and our vision is to build a strong sustainable Montreal Jewish Community . Its commitment is:

  • To help individuals and families support the causes they care about and achieve their philanthropic goals;
  • To find solutions that are tax-wise and create greater impact;
  • To ensure Montreal and its organizations remain strong and vibrant by helping build and carefully steward financial resources.



Housefather and Tordjman engage in spirited debate

By Mike Cohen

B’nai Brith Canada’s Quebec Region sponsored an animated federal election debate for the Mount Royal Riding on September 24 at the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, featuring incumbent Liberal MP Anthony Housefather and Conservative Party candidate David Tordjman.

The Green Party contender called in sick, the NDP and Bloc Québecois hopefuls declined the invitation while Zachary Lozoff was allowed to set up an information table in the back of the room to share why he chose to run for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).


Left to right: Anthony Housefather, Harvey Levine, David Tordjman and B’nai Brith’s Ronnie Roter and Janna Minkovich.

While Housefather and Tordjman cordially shook hands before the debate, the gloves came off soon after Regional Director Harvey Levine introduced Global TV reporter Dan Spector as the moderator.

Tordjman spoke about his military service, his work for the city and the three years he spent in Haiti as an engineer as part of the reconstruction efforts following the horrific earthquake. Since then he has done a lot of work for the First Nations. “Why am I putting myself out there?” he asked rhetorically. “Because I believe somebody needs to bring honour and ethics back to Parliament! We have seen four years of failures and scandals day by day. The support of Israel pales in comparison to the years of Stephen Harper.”

Housefather went into great detail about his 25 years of service to the community as a municipal councillor, mayor and now an MP. He alluded to a recent cheque of $922,000 he delivered to a day program in Côte Saint-Luc for older adults which gives their caregivers a necessary break. This program was in jeopardy of being cancelled more than four years ago when Housefather stepped in then as mayor and worked out an arrangement to keep it going. In fact he was instrumental in Parliament creating a national dementia program. “This debate is about who will serve the Mount Royal riding,” Housefather said, listing a wide array of achievements which backed up his point.

The audience of about 250 people included some vocal supporters from both sides. Spector had to ask people consistently to tone down the catcalls.

On social services, Housefather spoke proudly of how hard he worked to make the recently opened Chateau B’nai Brith subsidized housing high rise in Côte Saint-Luc a reality and mentioned similar projects in the riding he contributed to.

The section on antisemitism prompted Tordjman to criticize the Liberals for removing East End candidate Hassan Guillet recently for statements he made which were considered both antisemitic and anti-Israel. “Why did we have people like this in the Liberal Party in the first place?” he asked.  “The Liberals got rid of him only after B’nai Brith made his views public.”

Housefather said that he was the first MP to call for a national plan to combat racism in Canada, with antisemitism as a central pillar of this process. “I condemn the BDS movement as does the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party,” he declared.

Pushing further on the BDS theme, Housefather reasoned that it is merely another form of antisemitism. “Canada benefits from Free Trade with Israel,” he explained. “I speak at campuses across the country on this issue. We cannot use BDS as a partisan wedge between parties.”

The candidates were asked about Bill 21, the legislation prohibiting religious symbols in the public sector. “As soon as Bill 21 came out I was the first MP who said how wrong it is,” he remarked, adding that he organized a rally against in his riding.”

Housefather then singled out Tory MP Alain Rayes for openly supporting Bill 21. He noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he leaves the door open to challenge the law while Conservative leader Andrew Scheer condemned the legislation, but said he will not challenge it. Tordjman reasoned that there are already different court proceedings underway so it is best to see how they conclude. “I doubt highly Justin Trudeau will stand up on this,” he said. “He is just pandering.”

Tordjman questioned why “Mount Royal has to be the savior of the Liberal Party when it comes to issues of Israel and antisemitism.” But Housefather made no apologies for his role in this area. “I have been one of the leading voices for Israel and combatting antisemitism,” he said.

There are no other debates in the riding currently planned.


MADA sweetens the lives of others this Rosh Hashanah

More than 2,500 families and individuals from all walks of life will be gathering together on September 30 and October 1, at 7:15 p.m., at 11 locations across Montreal, the largest of which will be in the Federation CJA building, to celebrate the Jewish New Year with the warmth and spirit of the holiday. Full-course festive New Year meals will be served, and guests will hear the blessings over the holiday’s symbolic traditional foods and can also participate in singing and dancing.

“The High Holidays are a time for families to get together, but some people have no family. For many, it’s a very lonely time. At a time when many people cover their tables with delicacies, others can’t afford to. At a time of spirituality and hope, some don’t know where to turn,” said Rabbi Chaim Cohen, Executive Director of MADA. “Everyone should have the opportunity to usher in the New Year with a community and festive meals.”

“This inspiring initiative allows community members, both volunteers, and participants, to “join together, eat, sing, dance and wish one another blessings for the New Year,” said Yosef Drihem, MADA’s Assistant Director. “We can’t think of a better way to sweeten the New Year than to have all those in need have a place at our table.”

Over 700 volunteers will spend the next weeks preparing and delivering 2000 holiday food baskets and serving 2500 festive holiday meals. This is in addition to the 4,550 Shabbat to Share home-delivered High Holiday meals for the elderly and handicapped as well as the more than one thousand meals prepared by the volunteers in MADA’s cafeteria.

A student volunteer sets up a table.

MADA is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in our community. As Montreal’s largest kosher soup kitchen and food bank and offering a variety of services, MADA has been serving the Jewish community for 25 years and seeks to raise awareness of the plight of those in need and to expand its client base.

Volunteers like this make MADA go!

“MADA fills a gap in our community, ensuring that everyone has a seat around the holiday table. The warmth, joy and care expand beyond the dinner served on Rosh Hashanah,” stated Robert Cutler of Delmar International, sponsor of one of the 11 locations.

To reserve a place at any of the 11 locations, visit, or call 514-342-4969. To volunteer or to make a donation, please call 514-342-4969, ext. 229.