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.

JPPS-Bialik introduces Shawn Taylor as new basketball head coach

By Matt Starr, Director of Athletics

The Bulldogs Athletics Department of  JPPS would like to welcome Shawn Taylor as the new head coach for the juvenile boys basketball team for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Shawn brings with him 27 years of basketball experience. Most recently he coached the Dawson College CEGEP Division 2 Men from 2014-2017. He has successfully coached intercity basketball in Laval, Dawson Community AAA and at Red Rush in the South Shore.

“I am looking forward to working with a new group of kids this season and teaching them team concepts, communication and life skills,” he said.

His main goals are to make sure the kids work hard, are determined and put in the effort to grow and get better on and off the court.

Shawn Taylor is welcomed aboard by Matt Starr.

We asked Shawn a few questions to get to know him a bit better:

What is your favourite sports brand? ‘‘Nike’’

What is your favourite type of music? ‘‘Old school hip hop’’

Who is your favourite sports reporter? ‘‘Chris Berman’’

Do you have a favourite food? ‘‘Roti’’ (Carribean dish)

Do you play Fortnite? ‘‘NO!’’

What would you do with $150,000? ‘‘Pay off debts and start a youth center’’

Do you have a charity of choice? ‘‘No but from time to time I donate to certain causes’’

Who is your favourite basketball player? ‘‘Damian Lillard’‘ (wants to play with players he has, doesn’t want to pair up with another superstar)

What is your most/least favourite basketball rule? ‘‘14 seconds in the front court is my favourite and the new FIBA travelling rule is my least favourite.’’

What is your favourite part about coaching? ‘‘Making kids better, showing them the game and relating it to life.’’

Shawn resides in Laval with his wife Lara and kids Kashawna, Tristan and Jasmine. Please join me in welcoming Shawn to JPPS-Bialik.


Four local teens were part of a true Cinderella basketball story at the JCC Maccabi Games

By Mike Cohen

Côte Saint-Luc youngsters Adam Miller and brothers Josh and Noah Liebman and Hampsteader Ariel Nathan,  recently returned from the JCC Maccabi Games in Atlanta where  they became part of a true Cinderella story. Adam attends Bialik High School and the latter three Herzliah.

Adam, Noah & Josh with coach Andy Robinson.

More than  1,600 participants, aged 12 to 16, competed in  13  different sports. The event   included an Olympic-style opening, closing ceremonies and a community service day.

The local JCC (Jewish Community Center) did not have enough players  to form their own team in Atlanta, so organizers assembled the J Team. It was composed of Adam, Ariel,  Josh, Noah and 10 other kids from American cities who also did not have a delegation. Well, one would have thought this patched together squad had no chance of winning any games. Lo and behold they went all the way to the finals and despite being 24 points behind to Baltimore, they made an extraordinary comeback and won the game 53-49. “It was something right out of the movies,” said Mish Granik, grandfather of Adam and great athlete in his day.

Robbie Granik, Adam’s mom, said her 13 year old son has been playing basketball with the YM-YWHA Wolves since he was eight.  That is where his love for the game started, under the outstanding leadership of  coach Martisha Richards. He also plays for Bialik. His dream is to play in the Israel Macabiah Games in two years.

Noah, 12, has been playing Wolves basketball for three years now. He also played for his school team last year. Josh, 14,  played for his elementary school team, as well   Herzliah for the past two years. “They  both love basketball,” said mom Heather Leckner. “We found out about the Maccabi Games through an email that the Jewish schools received. When I saw that there was the opportunity to play basketball, I knew that it would be a great experience for the boys, as well as the advantage that they were able to play on the same team.”

Ariel Nathan in action.

Ariel, 13, has been playing basketball since the age of nine. He  started with the Wolves and then the Solomon Schechter team.

Didier Serero and his wife Stacy Herman chaperoned the kids. as well as coached the girls U14 soccer team.

MP Rachel Bendayan announces federal security funding for Outremont synagogue

By Mike Cohen

The government of Canada is helping protect people against hate-motivated crimes through the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP). By funding better security systems, the federal Government is helping to keep our communities safer.

Liberal Member of Parliament for Outremont Rachel Bendayan, on behalf of the Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparednes Ralph Goodale, announced up to a little more than $131,000 in federal funding to the Congregation Toldos Yaacov Yosef and the Congregation Kehal Toldos Yakov Yosef.

Rachel Bendayan with synagogue leaders.

Since the launch of this program, the government has quadrupled its funding as part of its commitment to better protect organizations against hate-motivated crimes. As committed in Budget 2019, $4 million is available each year, until 2021-22 and $3 million in ongoing funding thereafter.

“There is no social license for hate in Canada,” said Bendayan. “Our country is diverse and inclusive, but we must not take our safety and security for granted. Protecting our communities from violence, including our community centres, educational institutions and places of worship, is the right thing to do. I am pleased to fight for funding that will help keep Outremont safer.”

Added Joseph Silberman, Secretary, on behalf of Congregation Toldos Yaacov Yosef and Congregation Kehal Toldos Yakov Yosef: “The security issues in general in community centers need to be addressed to the highest standards possibly available, so that the public shall feel safe, sound and secure and use these facilities in a relaxed atmosphere. We are confident and assured that with the funding that we will be receiving from the SIP program, Public Safety Canada, our community centers will be offering a safe and secure environment for the entire district, which will be to the benefit of the whole community at large.”

Here are some quick facts:

  • In 2017, police reported an increase of 47 percent  in criminal incidents in Canada that were motivated by hate. Incidents targeting the Muslim, Jewish, and Black populations accounted for most of the national increase. Hate crimes targeting religious groups increased by 83 percent with incidents committed against the Muslim community increasing the most, by 151 percent.
  • SIP is designed to help communities at risk of hate-motivated crime improve their security infrastructure, which will help make Canada safer for all Canadians.
  • Funding is available to private, not-for-profit organizations linked to a community at risk of being victimized by hate-motivated crime. Approved projects may receive up to 50 per cent of total project costs, to a maximum of $100,000 per project. Eligible organizations that have multiple locations may now apply for projects at each of their sites, rather than being limited to one project per year.
  • Interested organizations representing places of worship, provincially and territorially recognized educational institutions, and community centres can apply annually from December 1 to January 31 and from June 1 to July 31 through Public Safety Canada’s website.






JNF Negev Dinner is September 19

The Campaign

This year’s funds raised will be allocated toward the construction of the new Abramovich Building, future home to TAU’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Center, a state-of-the-art building on campus galvanize technological research and development at Tel Aviv University.

Made possible through a US$30 million gift, the building will be the dedicated new home of TAU’s Nano Center, established as the first of its kind in Israel in 2000. Today, the Center comprises 90 research teams who have published over 1,700 scientific papers, registered 200 patents and provided advanced services to dozens of industrial affiliates. Once complete, the building is expected to captivate the nanoscience community, reinforce multidisciplinary research and technological innovation, intensify industry collaboration, and create new connections between the scientific world and society at large.

On September 19, 2019, JNF Montreal will close the Campaign at their Annual Negev Gala, this year celebrating its 65th Sapphire Jubilee Anniversary, honouring Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University Immediate Past National President and 2007 Tel Aviv University Honorary Doctorate Recipient, Barbara Seal, C.M.. Barbara is the first woman to be honoured at this event in 22 years – and only the fourth woman in the Gala’s history.

Drawing her inspiration from the Jewish value of “Tikkun Olam”, Barbara hopes to seed future medical breakthroughs by spurring support for the construction of the Abramovich Building for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at Tel Aviv University. This revolutionary project is a multimillion-dollar effort to bring Barbara’s vision of improving humanity to fruition.