Culmination of 45-Year Journey: Benjamin Zander and Boston Philharmonic Orchestra To Perform a “Revelatory” Beethoven’s Ninth

Carnegie Hall Concert and maestro’s enlightening pre-talk will be live streamed

Beethoven unleashed. Hear the composer’s Ninth Symphony like you never heard it before on Sunday, February 26, when renowned conductor Benjamin Zander leads the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in an orthodoxy-defying version of Beethoven’s Ninth, one of the most influential pieces of music ever written.  

One of the world’s foremost interpreters of Beethoven and Mahler, the concert marks the fulfilment of the maestro’s 45-year quest to finally answer the question “what did Beethoven intend, what did he hear in his mind.” 

Benjamin Zander

After nearly half a century researching and consumed by this monumental work, Zander has reached the apotheosis of his own thinking, one that reflects Beethoven’s explicit tempo markings and indications of pace. “I can be free to approach the music, as I am sure Beethoven would have done himself playing it on the piano, with unfettered abandon,” he says.

The maestro, whose TED Talk on the transformative power of classical music is now the most watched TED lecture on music with a combined 21 million views on TED’s platforms, recorded the Ninth in 2018 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. The Sunday Times said it “heaps revelation on revelation.”  Zander promises this concert will move the needle yet again as “a newly liberated interpretation.” 

Known for his enlightening pre-concert talks, Maestro Zander will discuss Beethoven’s Ninth and his interpretation in depth prior to the Carnegie Hall performance.  Info: https://www.benjaminzander.org.

CONCERT DETAILS

Venue:Carnegie Hall 
Date/Time:Pre-Concert talk: 1:30 PM  |  Concert: 3 PM – Both will be Live Streamed 
Program:Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony 
Performers:Maestro Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra SoloistsTenor Nicholas PhanBaritone Alfred WalkerSoprano Liv RedpathChorus Pro MusicaMarsh Chapel Choir

MNAs Derraji, Kelley and Garceau award $25,000 to West Island food banks

West Island MNAs Monsef Derraji (MNA for Nelligan), Gregory Kelley (MNA for Jacques-Cartier) and Brigitte B. Garceau (MNA for Robert-Baldwin) are proud to unite their efforts to support three local food banks – On Rock Community Services, West Island Mission and West Island Assistance Fund.

Kelley, Garceau and Derraji

This community initiative coincides with the holiday season and with an economic situation that has become increasingly difficult. The face of poverty has changed – now it is characterized by small families, single mothers, children, workers, students and seniors. There are currently 600,000 Quebecers who are monthly users of food banks.

The three MNAs are providing a total of $25,000 in funding in order to allow the food banks to offer much-needed assistance and support to our most vulnerable citizens. Over and above this support, the MNAs are taking advantage of the opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of these three organizations and to thank their members and their volunteers for all they do.

You Can Turn Your House into a Jungle Autumn Houseplant: Swap at the CSL Public Library

By Myra Shuster

The air was abuzz with excitement as the library’s first-ever houseplant swap was about to launch. Plant lovers young and old communed together amidst a mini botanical garden in the Côte Saint-Luc Public Library’s Harold Greenspon Auditorium. As participants arrived, they were assisted by volunteers who helped hoist and carry plants from their cars into the auditorium. Participants were met at the entrance table by Holly, a volunteer who assisted Manager of Community and Family Services Bronwen Cathey organize the event. Holly handed out swap and door prize tickets and a plant journal that participants could use to record the names of new plant acquisitions and oversee their care.


Large and small already-loved and yet-to-be-loved succulents, cohos, pothos, geraniums, ferns, peperomia, mint and other herbs, saplings in cups, and large, towering plants soon adorned the tables in the auditorium, as participants began carefully setting out their swap offerings.


When Bronwen first masterminded the event in celebration of Public Libraries Week, she began by reaching out and networking on social media. The response was excellent.


“Over the pandemic, a lot of people connected on social media over the shared love of houseplants,” she said.

Some of the people at the swap were contacts she met through this shared hobby, and who eventually became her friends. She linked up with people via the Instagram plant community known as ‘Plantstagram.’ After the seeds of the Houseplant Swap idea began to germinate in her mind, she reached out to the greater Montreal community on social media, along with sponsors directly, to see if anyone would be interested in being involved with the swap. She was delighted with an overwhelmingly positive response.

A mom and her young daughter at the Plant Swap.


Safiya from The Painted Leaf was instrumental in the process of promoting the event, as were other sponsors. Alma Plantes, Edgewood Gardens, Studio Foliage and Babar Books also helped by promoting the event on social media and by making generous donations of plants and books.


Nicky Peters, head of Côte Saint-Luc’s Monarch-Friendly Garden Committee oversaw a table devoted to the city’s innovative Monarch Garden project. She answered questions from people interested in learning more about how they could get involved. Creation of the garden in 2021 marked the first step in making Côte Saint-Luc a monarch-friendly city. Beautiful butterfly stickers, hand-painted by Rachel of Cometsplants were available for the taking by children and monarch-loving adults.


We are a quirky bunch, those of us who share a peculiar empathic sense for the life force that makes green and flowering things grow. We share secrets too, I realized, when a woman who introduced herself as Bernadine – a local CLSC nurse, told me she’d have to sneak my geranium plant into her house, past the eyes of her jungle-weary husband. I felt a distinct complicity with her, as my husband and children have long complained about being jungle-weary too, imploring me to reduce the amount of living-room space devoted to my plants. She and I also discovered we both keep a plant Intensive Care Unit in our homes: it’s not only the healthy and beautiful plants we covet – it’s also those in failing health. Seeing them nurtured back to life in our care is a great feeling. We’re a bit like animal rescue folks: same prototype, different objects of our affection.


In addition to swapping and sharing plants, participants swapped tips and insights. As a woman who introduced herself as Goldie laid claim to one of my geraniums, I mentioned I’d discovered that geranium clippings root better in Brita-filtered water, presumably because the chlorine is removed. “I just leave containers of water around, and the chlorine evaporates. I water all my plants with water I’ve left out that way,” she said. A great tip!


After we all settled in and Bronwen explained how to proceed, an animated, auction-like feel to the event took over. We all circulated, placing post-its on plants and plant equipment that interested us, as the moment for swapping approached. Coins were flipped for plants with more than one taker. After the swap and trade period – which resembled a delightful miniature Toronto Stock Exchange, we moved to a free-for-all give and take, donating plants to anyone who wanted them.

Myra Shuster at the Plant Swap.


The event was wrapping up when a young girl wandered in, seemingly unaware of the event until she’d appeared at the library late afternoon with her mother and brother. As she was passing my table, I saw her eying a small unclaimed succulent plant. “You can have it,” I told her, and without a word, she lifted it and cupped it lovingly in her hands, as if it was a new pet bunny. It felt great to send my little aeonium off with full peace of mind, knowing she was in the caring hands of a young girl who loves plants, likely a future plant swapper.


Babar Books donated several books which were given away as door prizes. As I hope to someday have grandchildren, I was thrilled to be the recipient of a picture book called My First Book of House Plants. It has colourful illustrations by Asa Giland and a captivating, albeit simple plot. The first page depicts a living room filled to the brim with plants, like a jungle. Fittingly, it reads “You can turn your house into a jungle. All you need are some nice houseplants!”

When I read these opening lines, I thought of my jungle-weary children, and my shared sneak-in-just-one-more-plant secret with Bernadine. Will my children allow this book to be read in their homes, I wondered. Or will it be relegated to reading at the grandparents’ home, on the couch, nestled in their jungle, between the pink, scarlet and orange geraniums on one side, and the towering Shefflera umbrella plant on the other.

Myra Shuster is a freelance writer, the founder of the Monarch-friendly garden in Cote Saint-Luc, and a lawyer-mediator with the Immigration and Refugee Board

Ontario Keeping Thornhill Seniors Healthy, Active and Connected

MPP Laura Smith (pictured above), Member of Provincial Parliament for Thornhill, visited the Mintz Family Elderhome on Crestwood today, to make an important announcement alongside the Hon. Minister Raymond Cho and PA Daisy Wai. The Ontario government is investing our Thornhill seniors by funding $69,695 in three projects that will help seniors stay safe, fit, active, healthy, and socially connected across the community with Seniors Community Grants. “Age and disability should not be a barrier to happiness. This is why we continue to support non-profits, such as Reena, for the work they do for individuals who mean so much to our communities and families,” said MPP Smith. “Reena has been a strong presence in my riding, for over 20 years, and has continued to recognize and address the increased needs of individuals with developmental disabilities as they age. We support our not-for-profits, because they support us.”

Beit Halochem Canada plans major Toronto Garage Sale

 Beit Halochem Canada, Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel, will be hosting a fundraiser Sale on Sunday, June 26 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in the Dufferin/Steeles area. 

Beit Halochem Canada is committed to rehabilitating, rebuilding, and enhancing the lives of over 50,000 Israelis disabled in the line of duty or through acts of terror. Leading-edge Beit Halochem Centres across Israel provide specialized sports, recreational, and therapeutic programs, as well as activities for our members and their families.

This upcoming Not your Ordinary Garage Sale will feature an extraordinary selection of new and extremely gently used goods, including artwork, books, CDs and DVDs, collectibles, kitchenware, home décor, Judaica, and so much more. 

TBDJ Community Mental Health Shabbat set for May 6-9

The third annual   Community Mental Health Awareness Shabbat, spearheaded by Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc, will take place May 6 to 9. It will be fully virtual, with a Mental Health Symposium on Thursday evening, a Friday workshop for high school students and a Sunday morning Mental Health workshop. This has spread to cities across North America.

This program coincides  with Canadian Mental Health Week. Dr. Rachel Goodman and Yair Meyers are the program co-chairs.  “Our goal is for as many synagogues as possible across the entire Jewish community here, across Canada and the United States to dedicate that Shabbat as part of the Community-Wide Mental Health Awareness Shabbat,” said  Dr. Goodman, a psychologist in private practice.

Dr. Rona Novick

Dr. Rona Novick, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and the Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration of Yeshiva University, will be the keynote speaker throughout the weekend. She holds the Raine and Stanley Silverstein Chair in Professional Ethics and Values. In addition, she serves as the Co-Educational Director of the Hidden Sparks program, which provides professional development to Jewish day schools and Yeshivas. She is internationally recognized for her expertise in human growth and development, social-emotional learning, spirituality, positive psychology, trauma, cognitive behavioral interventions, diverse learners, and family dynamics. She has published a children’s book on Resilience, Mommy, Can You Stop the Rain, available on Amazon.

Dr. Rachel Goodman

On Thursday evening, May 6  (7:30  pm to 9  pm) there will be  a Community-wide Mental Health Symposium featuring   a panel of speakers, including  Dr. Novick,   Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich from TBDJ, Ometz Chief Clinical Officer Barbara Victor and AMI Quebec Family  Caregiver Perla Muyel.    Dr. Goodman will serve as the moderator. The theme will be  Getting Back to Normal when Life Isn’t Normal.  “Other synagogues will each be dedicating that Shabbat in their own way, whether it be a speaker, the Rabbi’s sermon  or an email to their community,” added  Meyers.

 

Yair Meyers

On  Friday, May 7 (10 am) Dr. Novick will address high school students.  The theme for this talk will be  Check-up From The Neck Up: Thinking About What We’ve Been Through And Moving Forward.

Finally, on Sunday, May 9 (10 am),  Dr. Novick will speak on UnMASKing COVID: Strategies & Tools for Staying Strong & Well in the Days Ahead. This will be followed by  Educational Consultant and Mental Health Advocate Marc Fein (11 am), whose topic is Beyond the Diagnosis: Life as a Jewish Depressed Mental Health Advocate. He has lived the experience of depression and has over a decade of experience creating interactive workshops that have empowered thousands of individuals and organizations with practical tools to manage stress, provide emotional support, and break the stigma around Mental Illness. He is certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid and is pursuing a Masters in Non-Profit Management and Leadership at Hebrew University. He  also leads a summer program for NCSY to Poland and Israel.

Marc Fein

Registration for these events (high school is limited to students) is free and you must log on to www.mentalhealth.tbdj.org. For more details you can email  tbdjmentalhealth@gmail.com

Jewish businessman Andy Nulman to bring back The Sunday Express

By Mike Cohen

Montrealers will be getting a new print publication. Jewish businessman Andy Nulman has decided to revive The Sunday Express Newspaper and I have agreed to be a contributor. Publishing will begin by the fall.

For those of you old enough to remember, The Sunday Express was published first by Joe Azaria from 1969 to 1975 and by Quebecor from 1974 to 1985 and had a true Le Journal de Montréal look to it. As a CEGEP and university student, I served as assistant sports editor for three years until it folded. Other noted journalists who cut their teeth there included Nulman, Bill Brownstein, Antonia Zerbisias, Joyce Napier, Marianne Ackerman, Karen Seidman and the late Brodie Snyder and Myron Galloway.

Nulman was the entertainment editor, starting that job as a teenager. He would go on to run The Just For Laughs Festival and get into the technology business. In 2005, he and partner Garner Bornstein sold their company to Japan’s Cybird Holdings for close to $100 million, so financing of this new endeavor is not a problem.

My Site

Dave Stubbs, formerly of The Gazette and now with NHL.com, will be the sports editor. For old times sake, Nulman will oversee entertainment. I will be the restaurant critic. An array of other noted personalities should attract readers as columnists: cinema mogul and Dragons’ Den star Vincenzo Guzzo, Tommy Schnurmacher on politics, Brian Wilde and Rick Moffat on sports and Carmi Levy on technology.

andynulman

Perhaps the most controversial choice of columnists will be former Montreal councillor and Mayor Michael Applebaum, focusing on municipal affairs. “Michael paid his debt to society and it is time for everyone to move on,” Nulman said. “He knows city hall better than anybody. Who  better to cover the next election?”

As for the paper itself, the new publisher is excited. “There is no Sunday English newspaper in this city and just as there was 45 years ago I believe there is a place for The Sunday Express,” Nulman said. “I have a wide array of contacts in the business community and we will have good support when the paper launches.”

Express1

I spoke to Nulman before writing this column to warn him. Happy April Fool’s Day to everyone! There will be no Sunday Express revival (or will there???), but now that we are on the subject let me share with you the truth about a very exciting time in my journalistic career. I was 18 years old and attending Dawson College. My late dad Larry knew the sports editor Bob Amesse, who told him he needed an assistant. “Why don’t you hire my son,” he suggested. Well Amesse took a shot on me and let’s just say I stepped off a plane and found myself on Fantasy Island. Here I was, a teen who barely shaved covering the Canadiens, Expos, Alouettes, Manic (former pro soccer team) and having the likes of Gary Carter, Peter Dalla Riva and even Guy Lafleur calling me by my first name. It was an experience I will never forget.