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.


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.”


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.

Life & Legacy a success for Montreal’s Jewish community

 Selected by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) as its Montreal partner for its LIFE & LEGACY® program, the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) is pleased to announce that over the course of its first year, 246 individuals or families have named one or more participating synagogues, schools, social service organizations and other Jewish organizations in their estate plans or other giving vehicle, for a total of over 330 promised gifts.

 “As a community, we take pride in the institutions we have built together and we are determined that they remain strong and vibrant for the next generation of Jewish Montrealers,” explains JCF Executive Director Kathy Assayag.

Added Joshua Rubin, philanthropic advisor at the JCF and lead professional for the program in Montreal: “It is clear that our LIFE & LEGACY® program has struck a positive chord across our community, which is why so many families are stepping up by making an after-lifetime endowment gift. He is grateful for the tremendous work put in by professionals and lay leaders alike and notes, “working together, the organizations in the cohort have created synergies that are benefitting the community as a whole. Many of the donors have chosen to make endowment gifts to multiple organizations, strengthening different pillars of our community”.

JCF’s partners in in the LIFE & LEGACY® program include: 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, Federation CJA,  Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA, Friendship Circle,Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, Hebrew Foundation School,  The Segal Centre for Performing Arts and Jewish Public Library.   

“Our partners represent an important part of the institutional fabric of Jewish Montreal and through this initiative we are taking important steps to ensure their long-term financial stability,” adds   Assayag.

The JCF provides partners with coaching and training and assists individual donors in establishing legacy gifts in the most tax-effective ways. Participating organizations learn best practices for executing legacy plans and how to make compelling cases for legacy gifts by communicating the organizations’ respective raisons-d’être and values and most importantly, the long-term impacts of individual gifts. The JCF is also offering incentive grants to participating organizations with a goal of ensuring that legacy giving becomes integrated in each of their philanthropic cultures.

“Fundraising has been challenging during the pandemic, particularly because special events, which are critical to many of our organizations, have had to be cancelled,” said Rubin. “ One of the advantages of endowments is that they create perpetual income streams that take some of the edge off year-to-year fund-raising pressures like we are all currently facing.”

LIFE & LEGACY®, which was developed by the HGF, has a proven track record. In North America, over 700 participating organizations secured more than 29,000 legacy commitments across 70 communities with a total value of over $1.1 billion (USD) during the program’s first eight years.

Harold Grinspoon

“In 1910, my great grandfather became a founding member of our YM-YWHA,”  said Rob Fainer, Vice-President of the Sylvan Adams YM-YWHA. “Without his generation’s commitment to our JCC, my story would be very different. Similarly, my pledge to the LIFE & LEGACY program crystallizes my commitment to this timeless institution and helps to secure its future for generations to come. From strength to strength! From generation to generation!”  

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 Jewish and innovate philanthropy and its vision is to build a strong and sustainable Montreal Jewish Community.  

Beyond All Memories – The Semer Ensemble and the Rescued Treasure of Jewish Musical Life in Nazi Berlin

November 9, 2020 marks the 82nd remembrance day of the German Reichspogromnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”).

Together with Liberation75, the German Embassy and Consulates want to remember this night in 1938 and reflect on its significance and lessons today. The Webinar tells this story: “Beyond All Memories – The Semer Ensemble and the Rescued Treasure of Jewish Musical Life in
Nazi Berlin”

A short film preview and ensuing discussion will showcase newly interpreted music originally recorded by Jewish musicians in 1930’s Berlin).

Date: Monday, November 9th at 2 pm (Eastern Standard Time).
Moderated by Laila Biali, singer and CBC Radio 2 presenter; Ben Wittman, percussionist, composer.
Participants: Dr. Alan Bern, director of the Semer Ensemble, Dr. Rainer Lotz, music historian and discographer, and Sasha Lurje, singer in the Semer Ensemble. Greetings by Marilyn Sinclair, Director of Liberation 75 and the German Ambassadors in the United States and in Canada.

Please access the following link and register according to the instructions in order to join the
webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nQ_v_cRARzWKttUDKwVT9Q.

The stage show Semer Reloaded features music from the Golden Age of Jewish Music, songs of love and jealousy, dreams and daily life. The music, originally composed and performed by Jewish musicians in 1930’s Berlin, was recorded by Hirsch Lewin through his label ‘Semer.’ Originally the
owner of a Hebrew bookstore in Berlin, Lewin began recording and collecting music by Jewish artists after founding his label in 1932. Lewin was able to create thousands of recordings and produce
hundreds of records. The Semer label defiantly recorded even as the Nazi oppression of Jewish cultural life continuously increased.

Lewin’s important work was violently stopped by the Nazi’s during the Reichspogromnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) on November 9th, 1938.
His label destroyed, the collection was then forgotten for decades, only to be recovered by Dr. Rainer Lotz, a German music historian, in the 1990s. Lotz travelled the world for years, managing to find all of the original records.
The Jewish Museum in Berlin tasked Dr. Alan Bern, a renowned musician and composer, with the evaluation of the musical collection. He found treasures. Ever since, Dr. Bern has gone on to reinterpret and perform the music with the ensemble of outstanding musicians that he united, most of them living in Berlin. The Semer Ensemble brings to the German capital and the world a remarkable cultural heritage that was long lost and has been rescued, a story beautifully captured in Christoph Weinert’s short film, “Beyond All Memories – The Semer Ensemble and the Rescued Treasure of
Jewish Musical Life in Nazi Berlin.”

McGill IBD Research Group proceeds with Zoom fundraiser featuring mentalist Oz Pearlman

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the show must go on and  The McGill IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) Research Group will indeed hold its annual  “Laugh Your Butt Off” fundraising event  – this year dubbed “Laugh Your Butt Off (At Home!)” on Thursday, November 12 via Zoom, featuring international entertainer and mentalist Oz Pearlman.

Oz Pearlman

The evening will also serve as a tribute to the late Dr. Ernest Seidman, the renowned gastroenterologist who was a Professor of Medicine & Pediatrics, Canada Research Chair in Immune Mediated Gastrointestinal Disorders and the Bruce Kaufman Endowed Chair in IBD at McGill. He passed away shortly after last year’s fundraiser, after havingimproved the lives of thousands of patients in his 40-year career.

Back by popular demand, Oz Pearlman has been reading the minds of America’s Got Talent judges, audiences everywhere, and now Zoom viewers. In addition to a 45-minute show, Oz will be doing eight private meet-and-greets with some lucky sponsors.

“These last few months have been uneasy for everyone and one could have never predicted how our world has been shaken,” said Lorne Mayers, chairman of the McGill IBD Research Group. “With all this uncertainty, and emphasis on social distancing, this time has also proven to be one where people have managed to come together for support and comfort, showing resiliency and strength.”

Dr. Ernest Seidman

The McGill IBD Research Group, with its dedicated IBD clinics at the Montreal General, Jewish General, and the Montreal Children’s, was no exception. The clinical team, comprised of the doctors, nurses, and psychologists, quickly established themselves to provide exceptional care through telemedicine, 24/7 email accessibility, online educational sessions for both patients and their families, as well as a rapid-access clinic that remained open during the pandemic. The research team also continued their academic and research trials in both the adult and pediatric populations. “While the world may have been experiencing the unexpected, those with IBD were able to rely upon us to fulfil our mandate to provide expert medical care, services, and resources to those affected,” said Dr. Peter Lakatos, who has tried to fill part of the void left by Dr. Seidman’s passing.

Sponsorships are still available.  

About Oz Pearlman

Dazzling audiences with his unique mind-reading ability for over a decade, Israeli-born Oz Pearlman is a world-class entertainer and one of the busiest mentalists in the country. A top three finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2015, Oz has also appeared on a variety of both national and international networks, including NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Kelly and Ryan, The Today Show.

Watch him her on America’s Got Talent.

About The McGill IBD Research Group

The McGill IBD Research Group was established in 1992 by concerned members of the community to ensure financial support for IBD clinics at McGill University’s teaching hospitals. Its mandate is to continue to provide important services for those living with IBD, as well as their friends and family, with the overall goal of improving quality of life and preventing complications. Services include accessible, state of the art patient-centered care provided by multidisciplinary teams; clinical research on the genetic and environmental causes of IBD, novel, non-invasive diagnostic methods, the most up to date therapies in both the adult and pediatric populations; training the next generation of IBD clinicians and scientists; and  raising awareness about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis through patient education and community outreach programs.

Tickets for the fundraiser are available online at www.mcgillibd.ca or by calling 514-594-0614. The cost is $500 per device.