Edinburgh News chronicles Côte Saint-Luc native’s brush with intolerance

An Edinburgh bagel shop owner was left “shocked” when her landlord branded her request for a rent break during the Covid-19 lockdown as “typical Jewish behaviour.”

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 4:45 pm

Larah Bross, who runs the Bross Bagels shop in Portobello, said she tried to make alternative rent payment arrangements with Mario Aydemir Demirezen for the next three months due to the economic impact of the pandemic, as she has done with the landlords at her four other Edinburgh shops.

But Mr Demirezen, who is retired and has deteriorating health, said he is stuck in Turkey due to the lockdown after going there recently for private medical care. He says he wants April’s rent payment now because he is unable to sort out any financial assistance from outside of the UK.

Speaking from Turkey, the 66-year-old claimed Miss Bross has the money to pay this month’s rent and said that small businesses in other commercial properties he owns in Portobello have done so.

And he said his reference to her “typical Jewish behaviour” in a text message to Miss Bross concerning the dispute should be viewed as a compliment on her ability as a clever businesswoman, and that he has “no intention of upsetting anyone” or “going against any religion.”

But Miss Bross, whose Jewish identity is reflected by the kosher menu in her Montreal-style bagel shops, is adamant she can not pay after being forced to close her five Edinburgh shops – Potobello, Leith, Bruntsfield, West End and Stockbridge – and furlough 39 of her 47 staff.

The 42-year-old says she was “shocked and disgusted” by the text message, which was sent at the weekend and has been seen by the Edinburgh Evening News. She said: “My first thought was ‘wow,’ I can not believe that someone, not only in this day an

Miss Bross says the fallout has exacerbated an already stressful situation which has involved shutting her shops and dealing with endless paperwork for rent rearrangements for her other landlords, bank loans and staff furlough payments.

She continued: “I want people to realise this is a difficult time and want to help other people who might be struggling here, other independent businesses.

“I want landlords to be considerate to their tenants who are just trying to make it through, just like they are.”

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The Portobello Bross Bagels shop. Copyright: Other 3rd Party

She says she also offered a compromise to Mr Demirezen to review the situation with coronavirus in May instead of automatically deferring the next three months’ rent.

But she is unsure if they will be able to sustain a relationship in the future given recent discussions.

‘She should be proud’

Mr Demirezen, who says he recently had two heart bypass operations and two strokes and is currently hooked up to an oxygen machine, said: “We are talking about the relationship between landlord and tenant here and she is a clever Jewish lady and she is taking advantage of Covid-19 and making more (money) than anyone else.

“When I say typical Jewish, I mean they are the richest people in the world and very clever people. She should be proud of her Jewish identity. Jewish people are always clever and there’s nothing wrong with that, she should be proud.

“She has got money but not paying it. She is doing quite well in Edinburgh with the opening of all of these branches and she has five shops. If you are running five shops in three years then you must be clever.

“I do not wish to fall out with her as a person and it’s nice to be nice to people.

“I have no intention to go against any religion.”

Home delivery

Miss Bross says she has furloughed 39 staff across her business and that her new ‘Bross Deli’ home delivery service is helping to pay some of their wages while they wait on the UK Government’s furlough payments coming through.

The new home delivery offering, which is run by eight staff from her Bruntsfield shop, sends deli ingredients to customers to make up their own bagels at home during the lockdown period.

Miss Bross said: “We’re trying to continue the food service and keep the company in operation so there is a business for the 39 staff members to return to.

“All I want to do is put some kind of arrangement in place.”

In response to Mr Demirezen’s explanation for the meaning of his text message, Miss Bross said: “I would love to know in any context at any time where the term ‘typical Jewish’ was used as a compliment. I will be happy to offer free bagels for a year to anyone who can provide me with one.”

Miss Bross has been in discussions with her Portobello landlord over deferring rent payments since March 23rd.

Established in August 2017, owner Larah Bross has seen big success with her authentic Montreal style bagels. Organic and kosher, they are homemade in the Bross bakery in Leith.

Financial assistance

Where they are paying business rates, commercial landlords may be eligible for support, including rates relief, grant funding and loans – depending on individual circumstances –during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Montreal Jewish Community Unites to Make MADA’s Passover Food Distribution a Success Despite Challenges of Covid-19 Crisis

MADA, a non-profit community center with a mission to care for people in need by providing basic necessities, today announced that individual volunteers, the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF), Federation CJA (FCJA) and Centraide Montreal have united to help MADA fulfill its mission of delivering Kosher for Passover food to thousands of Jewish households in Montreal.

Around 2,000 Passover baskets have already been delivered and more than 5,000 “Seder in a Box” packages are being delivered today. 

 Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, MADA has tripled its efforts to deliver food to an increasingly large number of vulnerable people. Working with a skeletal staff, MADA is primarily reliant on the tireless efforts of about 350 volunteers who contact clients by telephone, prepare food, package food and deliver it by car. All volunteers are observing strict health policies including social distancing and the wearing of gloves and masks.

“We wish to thank all volunteers, the JCF, the FCJA and Centraide Montreal for their support,” says Rabbi Chaim Cohen, Executive Director, MADA. “MADA has become the principal platform for feeding vulnerable members of Montreal’s Jewish community. Thanks to our combined efforts, we are completing our mission of ensuring a blessed Kosher Passover for thousands of households, despite the Covid-19 crisis. Our community is more resilient that ever and on behalf of the MADA team, I wish to thank everyone who contributed.”

Founded in 1993, MADA is a volunteer-based organization that relies upon private donations from individuals and foundations. Based on the vision that protecting individual dignity is inseparable from the provision of care, we provide our patrons with social and crisis services free of charge and serve as a safe haven for those in need. MADA’s mission is to help people with the basic necessities of life, while helping them to become self-sufficient. MADA’s food bank feeds more than 4,500 people, on average, per month. Our cafeteria ends the loneliness and indignity of hunger in an uplifting environment. Friendly volunteers bring delicious meals directly to patrons’ tables, restaurant style. MADA also delivers meals and friendly visits to elderly patrons with limited mobility. Rooted in Jewish tradition and founded on a vision of caring, MADA welcomes, supports and embraces all people, irrespective of religion, race or nationality. MADA is committed to treating all people with dignity. Feeding people is often the end result but the approach involves opening hearts, acting as an extended family and treating people with respect. For more information on these and other services, please visit www.madacenter.com.

World premiere of new Yiddish translations of two songs

By Ben Gonshor

In the fall of 2018, the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre presented A Bintl Brief, one of our most popular and produced plays.

One of the new elements we brought to this Bintl was the incorporation of music and song that weaved throughout the play. Most notable was the medley of two iconic English songs: “The Ballad of the Triangle Fire” and “Bread & Roses.” These songs commemorate the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which claimed the lives of 146 young women in March 1911, while highlighting the pioneering role that women, in particular, played in fostering political, social, labour and economic reform in its aftermath.


The medley was the high point of the play – a moment so dramatic that it is indelibly etched on our minds to this day. This could not have been foreseen, yet became so due to the unique, remarkable phenomenon that is the DWYT.

Yes, we performed the medley – but in Yiddish. It didn’t exist in Yiddish. So… how? Why? What a question. Because that’s the DWYT! And when the decision was taken, it took no time at all for the sui generis team of Aron Gonshor and Edit Kuper –  two lifelong, devoted members of the DWYT –  to deliver poetry equal to the iconic, original English lyrics.

Not everyone got to see Bintl and experience that powerful moment. Now they can.

In commemoration of those who perished and in homage to pioneering women (including the namesake of our theatre company), I have the distinct honour of presenting to you the Yiddish language world premiere video of the “Triangle Fire & Bread and Roses” medley, as performed by the DWYT.

Here is the video

Please go to this website for more information: https://www.segalcentre.org/en/triangle-fire–bread–roses

 

MADA Initiates COVID-19 Emergency Plan – Food Distribution Now “Take-Out” Only

Pandemic expected to be particularly difficult for the elderly and socially isolated

MADA, a non-profit community center with a mission to care for people in need by providing basic necessities, today announced its COVID-19 emergency plan.

Specific measures include:

  • Clients, volunteers and employees are asked to avoid MADA if they:
    • Have been in contact with anyone testing positive for COVID-19
    • Have been outside Quebec in the last 14 days
    • Are showing cold-like symptoms
  • Children under 18 and seniors over 70 years of age are asked to avoid MADA until further notice.
  • Clients, volunteers and employees will wear gloves and masks, and adhere to a strict social distancing policy.
  • The Cafeteria remains open. All meals will be served in individually-wrapped containers for “take-out” only. Access to the building will be restricted. Meals will be distributed in a temporary tent in MADA’s parking lot.
  • The Food Bank also remains open, but groceries will be distributed in pre-packed bags.
  • Shabbat to Share food boxes will be delivered on Thursdays. Volunteers will leave boxes at clients’ doors. They will no longer be permitted to enter clients’ homes.
  • All communal Passover Seders have been cancelled, however “Seder in a Box” will be available to clients who register online.
  • Passover Food Baskets will be distributed as planned. Pick-up will be from a temporary tent in MADA’s parking lot.
  • The Clothing Depot is closed until further notice. Donations of clothing may be deposited in bins in the nearby Decarie Square parking lot.
  • The Furniture Depot is closed until further notice.
Safely packing Passover boxes at the MADA warehouse.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting people all over the world,” says Rabbi Chaim Cohen, Executive Director, MADA. “At this difficult time, we are focused on caring for members of our immediate community – the elderly and often alone – who are among the most vulnerable in our society. We are committed to distributing food to as many people as possible. However, to reduce the risk of infection, all food will be for “take-out” only. While the reduction of personal human contact between clients and volunteers is a big loss for all concerned, it is necessary to protect public health. Our top priority remains our clients, whose needs are greater than ever during this unprecedented time. We thank everyone for their support and understanding.”

Founded in 1993, MADA is a volunteer-based organization that relies upon private donations from individuals and foundations. Based on the vision that protecting individual dignity is inseparable from the provision of care, we provide our patrons with social and crisis services free of charge and serve as a safe haven for those in need. MADA’s mission is to help people with the basic necessities of life, while helping them to become self-sufficient. MADA’s food bank feeds more than 4,500 people, on average, per month. Our cafeteria ends the loneliness and indignity of hunger in an uplifting environment. Friendly volunteers bring delicious meals directly to patrons’ tables, restaurant style. MADA also delivers meals and friendly visits to elderly patrons with limited mobility. Rooted in Jewish tradition and founded on a vision of caring, MADA welcomes, supports and embraces all people, irrespective of religion, race or nationality. MADA is committed to treating all people with dignity. Feeding people is often the end result but the approach involves opening hearts, acting as an extended family and treating people with respect. For more information on these and other services, please call(514) 342-4969 x 770 or visit www.madacenter.com .

 

Prominent rabbi shares his insight on how to clean and prepare fruits and vegetables

Hosted by MK, Canada’s Kosher Certifier , Rabbi Yossi Eisen,  was in Montreal for a whirlwind 48-hour visit to share his insights on how to clean and prepare fruits and vegetables.  He is a world-renowned expert in kashrus and hilchos tolaim,

“I was impressed with the comprehensive approach of MK and the strength of the organization’s leadership and commitment to ensuring Montrealers benefit from the highest quality of kosher food,” noted Rabbi Eisen. “At the same time I was overwhelmed by the interest in preparing fruits and vegetables in keeping with our traditions, from the students I met at the different schools to the impressive crowds at my public lectures.”

Rabbi Yossi Eisen world expert on infestation with Rabbi Berel Bell & Rabbi Saul Emanuel of MK – Canada Kosher

Rabbi Yossi Eisen is the chief administrator of the Five Towns Far Rockaway Kashrus agency in New York City. Rabbi Eisen is a world expert in the subject of Hilchos Tolaim and removing infestation from fruits and vegetables.

On Sunday evening Rabbi Eisen met with the rabbinical leadership of the Jewish Community Council and them made a multimedia presentation entitled “Tell the Bug to Bug Off to over 400 community members at the Montreal Torah Centre. The following afternoon over 250 attended a repeat performance at the Congregation Toldos Yakov Yosef Of Skver. In between the Rabbi met with students at different school  and provided a tutorial for 20 cooks at a private home in Côte Saint Luc.

“Our goal in inviting the Rabbi was to send out a positive message about the preparation of kosher food and the importance of following the rules and regulations that have been set to ensure the Kosher standards and well being of Jewish Montrealers,” explained Rabbi Saul Emanuel. “His dynamic and informative was a practical tutorial on how to identify and remove infestation.”

MK certifies over 850 companies across Canada, including close to 100 establishments, caterers and synagogues across the island of Montreal. MK Canada Kosher has eight  Rabbis from across the city who meet weekly and is known worldwide as a highly respected Kosher Certification agency

Evening of Musical Inspirations at Dorshei Emet April 3

Congregation Dorshei Emet in Hampstead will be hosting  a wonderful event on Friday April 3 with a Kabbalat Shabbat evening called Musical Inspirations.  which will be led by two of  members Olga Gross and Deborah Kraus. The former is a harpist and pianist with the  MSO and Ottawa Symphony;  the latter,  an opera singer.

“What better way to welcome the arrival of Shabbat than an evening of song?” asks Ms. Gross.   “We  will present musical arrangements of the Shabbat liturgy to transition us from the bustle of the week to a place of contemplation and renewal.

There will be a potluck dinner afterwards. Participants should  bring a vegetarian or dairy dish. They can also call the office for more information 514-486-9400 and RSVP to programdirector@dorshei-emet.org.

 

Author of book recounting his mother’s survival from The Holocaust wants to speak in Montreal

By Mike Cohen

Seven years after the death of his mother, Malka, Stanley A. Goldman traveled to Israel to visit her best friend during the Holocaust. The best friend’s daughter showed Goldman a pamphlet she had acquired from the Yad Vashem that documented activities of one man’s negotiations with the Nazi’s interior minister and SS head, Heinrich Himmler, for the release of the Jewish women from the concentration camp at Ravensbrück. While looking through the pamphlet, the two discovered a picture that could have been their mothers being released from the camp. Wanting to know the details of how they were saved, Goldman set out on a long and difficult path to unravel the mystery.

After years of researching the pamphlet, Goldman learned that a German Jew named Norbert Masur made a treacherous journey from the safety of Sweden back into the war zone in order to secure the release of the Jewish women imprisoned at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Masur not only succeeded in his mission against all odds but he contributed to the downfall of the Nazi hierarchy itself. This amazing, little-known story uncovers a piece of history about the undermining of the Nazi regime, the women of the Holocaust, and the strained but loving relationship between a survivor and her son.

Left to the Mercy of a Rude Stream: The Bargain That Broke Adolf Hitler and Saved My Mother is Goldman’s book about his mother

Montreal broadcaster Peter Anthony Holder, who continues to air his excellent online radio show The Stuph File, interviewed Goldman recently. You can hear the interview and the entire show at this link.

Holder told me that Goldman is eager to come to Canada to speak to interested groups.  Interested parties can email me at info@mikecohen.ca and I will forward the requests.

 

Bialik High School wins prestigious Weizmann Canada Physics Tournament

The Bialik High School team has won the  Weizmann Institute’s local Shalheveth Freier Physics Tournament, Weizmann Canada’s physics safe-cracking tournament.

The winning team members of the “Safe-Cracking” Competition yesterday are: Lola Arbeiter, Erin Burak, Zoe Dodson, Michael Gotlieb, Adam Greenstone, Ari Itovitch  and Eli Jacobson. The coaches: are Spencer Meltzer, class of 2015 and Zac Groszman, class of 2019. Gabriela Grosu gets credit for mentoring both teams.

The winning Bialik team.

Participating students formed teams of five and built safes that operate on the principles of physics. The students are then encouraged to use their physics knowledge and creativity to build a safe with a locking mechanism that is “uncrackable.”

Winning this local competition means that the Bialik team will be travelling to Israel to compete in the international tournament in March, at the Weizmann Institute of Science.  This tournament is part of Weizmann Canada’s commitment to helping nurture future scientists by stimulating the love of math and science at all levels.

The Bialik community is exceedingly proud of our student’s accomplishments in this extremely demanding and difficult competition. We wish them continued success as they travel to the international competition in Israel and represent our school on the world stage. Both Bialik teams represented our school with exceptional poise, knowledge and creativity.

Their dedication to the goals, their unwavering teamwork and respect for the process and each other are truly exemplary of the values of Bialik students.

Bialik also wants to congratulate its second team: Jesse Dym, Daniel Fishko, Emma Grover, Ben Murad, Taylor Sacks , Evan Schachter , and Jonathan  Lebensztajn Shahraban. The coaches were Sam Wein, class of 2018; and  Mica Buchbinder, class of 2018.

Shira Choir, Federation CJA and The Cummings Centre to mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month

February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance & Inclusion Month (JDAIM), a unified effort among Jewish organizations worldwide to raise awareness and foster acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions and those who love them.

As part of this initiative, the dynamic husband and wife duo of Cantor Daniel Benlolo and Muriel Suissa Benlolo have a fabulous program at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue (4894 St. Kevin Avenue) featuring The Montreal Shira Choi on Saturday, February 8.  Meanwhile, the Cummings Centre will be featuring several programs at its main campus located at 5700 Westbury Ave.

The  Montreal Shira Choir is an inclusive group of singers with developmental disabilities dedicated to celebrating the power of music, to bring joy, to inspire and unite people of all ages and abilities.  Cantor Benlolo serves as the musical director and leads the choir, with the assistance of Rebecca Bensimon.   Muriel acts as the liaison/administrator and organizer. “This is one of my closest encounters of what doing good in this world is all about,” the charismatic Cantor told me.

Since its inception, the choir has received a number of community grants. This will allow the group to spread its wings. New members are always welcome. They have also launched a long-term project, which involves the creation of a documentary film by Evan Beloff about the choir geared mainly for educational purposes that epitomizes the power of music.

The Montreal Shira Choir will be collaborating this year with the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue to offer two events in celebration of JDAIM. This is going to be the first time that the Spanish, which Cantor Benlolo joined a few months ago (indeed a star free-agent signing), will participate in JDAIM events. “It was important for Cantor Benlolo and myself to offer both a Shabbat morning event and an evening event,” said Muriel. “The Shabbat morning service will offer the members that attend the regular weekly and shabbat services a small preview of what JDAIM is all about and the evening event will be opened to both members and the community at large.”

At the morning event there will be a keynote address by Sam Benamron from Physio-Verdun, an inclusive business for the past four years. Male Jewish choir members who have a wide range of disabilities will be integrated into the service with aliyahs to the torah or honours like opening the ark, followed by a congregational Kiddush. The keynote speaker will be.

The evening event will start at 7 pm and will begin with a short Havdallah service.  Cantor Benlolo will introduce the choir and they will perform three songs. Sam Benamron will speak again at night and introduce a 23 minute documentary. There will then be a panel discussion and Q&A with questions directed to his four special needs employees. Cantor Benlolo will ask questions to a few choir members and open the floor to the audience. The evening will conclude with the choir singing a couple more songs and a light dessert reception.

MOVIE NIGHT FEBRUARY 12

On Wednesday night February 12,    Federation Movie Night the St Laurent Spheretech location of Cinemas Guzzo will feature two beautiful motion pictures, one in English and one in French.   Muriel is the co-chair of this activity, presented by the Federation CJA Sephardic Division. The movie is called Hors Normes and delves into the world of autism. The English film is being presented by Federation CJA West Island and entitled The Samuel Project.   You can see the trailers here.  The evening will start with a big cocktail shared by all the people attending both movies. Doors open at 6 pm and the program commences at 7 pm at 3500 Boulevard Côte-Vertu Ouest. For more information, please contact Elise Abecassis at 514.734.1601.

 

 

CUMMINGS CENTRE

Here are the events from the Cummings Centre, all at no charge:

On Wednesday February 12 from 3 to 5:30 pm an Intergenerational Discussion about Inclusion will be held at the Cummings Centre. Featured are a presentation on Inclusion and Belonging by Professor Darla Fortune, an intergenerational group discussion led by recreation therapy students from Concordia University and a creative exploration and collaboration on What Inclusion / Belonging Means to You with Art Therapist Jessica Gardner. To register call 514.343.3510.

On Monday February 17 from 10:30 to 11:30 am a discussion of The Benefits of Animal Therapy for people living with mental illness and/ or disabilities will be held at the Cummings Centre followed by a group therapy session. To register call Rosanna Magnone 514.734.1738.

On Thursday February 27, from 3 to 5:30 pm, the Cummings Centre presents an inclusive musical event, If You Want to Sing Out featuring the Glee Club, an afternoon of singing in celebration of diversity in the community. All ages and abilities are welcome. To register call Victoria McNeill 514.734.1779.

Also on Thursday February 27, from 10 am to 2 pm, Disability Inclusion at the Cummings Centre will be presented with an exhibition of community programs and accessories for adults 50+ living with disabilities. Information and resources will be made available for individuals living with mental illness, cognitive or physical disabilities or recovering from surgery. Partner organizations will be on-site exhibiting as well. Caregivers are welcome.

Among the areas to be featured are homecare, meals-on-wheels, transportation, and community mental health, day programs for people living with dementia, adapted programs (creative arts / fitness), support groups, virtual learning, in-home exercise training and volunteer opportunities.

Here is an extensive look at what is happening for Jewish Disability, Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month. 

 

New historic building tour: inside The Yiddish School

The Museum of Jewish Montreal (MJM) is excited to announce the launch of a new historic building tour, Inside the Yiddish School, opening to the public this February.

This brand new tour takes us back in time to Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood in the 1940s and 50s, to the heart of a vibrant Yiddish community. Visitors will discover the historic hallways and classrooms of the building that once housed the Peretz Shule, Montreal’s first secular Jewish day school.

A tour in progress.

This building, unassuming at first glance, tells the often unheard stories of the immigrant families that established themselves in what is now the Plateau after the Holocaust – the difficult realities they faced, and the courage of the community that supported them as they started new lives. Through multimedia usage of the students’ own journal entries, photos, school materials, and oral histories, we share the stories of the students, teachers, and families who grew up in the neighbourhood and called the Peretz Shule “home” – many of whom went on to become influential figures in Montreal to this day.

“Through the tour, we come to understand that the Peretz Shule was more than just a school, and Yiddish was more than just a language,” says Aviv Milgram, Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives at the Museum of Jewish Montreal. “Both were at the heart of political and social questions within the Jewish community in postwar Montreal, and would shape the future of Jewish identity in the city and beyond.”

A classic original photo from the Jewish Public Library Archives of students in class.

This tour is delivered in partnership with the Maison de l’amitié, a community centre located in the former Peretz Shule building. The Maison de l’amitié is dedicated to promoting social integration of immigrants and reducing cultural divisions within the community – a mission that parallels the role the Peretz Shule once played.  Developing this tour has also been a collaborative effort, with the help of the Jewish Public Library Archives and the Canadian Jewish Archives for the use of their archival materials, and numerous Peretz Shule Alumni who shared their stories through photos and oral histories. This tour has been made possible through Federation CJA’s Shaping our Future and Ville de Montréal’s Patrimoines Montréalais : Une mise en Valeur dans les quartiers program.

This guided tour is mainly indoors, perfect for the winter months, and will run throughout the year. The tour is appropriate for children ages 9 and up, and we encourage families to join us and explore what school was like for their grandparents or great-grandparents.

Tickets can now be booked for tours in February or March via the museum’s online booking service, using the following link: https://www.eztix.co/ezbook/en/1429742

The Museum of Jewish Montreal (MJM) is an innovative place to connect with Montreal’s Jewish life and identity, share the community’s diverse heritage, and create new cultural experiences. Through multidisciplinary programming, the Museum provides an accessible gateway for all tolearn about and interact with Montreal’s Jewish culture, art, food and heritage while also enabling the public to share their stories and experiences. Visit us in person, on Facebook or at our website museemontrealjuif.ca to learn more about the walking tours and events we have to offer.