Printed from

The Blog of Chabad South Shore

Our Blog

Our thoughts shared with you about personal, community and world events!

Shabbat Fire and Ice Kislev 5779

WhatsApp Image 2018-11-13 at 12.45.02 PM.jpeg 

“God gave each of us a soul, which is a candle that He gives us to illuminate our surroundings with His light, we must not only illuminate the inside of homes, but also the outside, and the world at large.” the Rebbe 1990

Cette phrase résume très bien notre dernier shabbathon qui avait pour thème « Fire and Ice ». Le feu je l’ai senti, le feu je l’ai vu, le feu je l’ai accueilli comme plus de 50 personnes pour ce Kabbalat Shabbat. Une ambiance incroyable remplie d’émotion positive, de rires contagieux, de présences inspirantes.

Sterna and Zalman Samama, our Shluchim, made our Chabad centre a place where families meet, mingle, love, listen, inspire, learn, grow as individual but mostly as a community.

Mon amie Dina Cohen dirait que c’est rassembleur, et elle a tout à fait raison. Une table fructueuse remplie de bonne chose à manger, des gens d’ici et d’ailleurs de différentes inclinaisons du judaïsme partageant une même flamme.

We were inspired by many things on that Shabbathon. Kids being kids and making us smile. Audi Gozlan our guest speaker lighting up our soul with the right substance. Rabbi Zalman created with his lovely wife and children a peaceful place. The Longueuil police protecting our lives as we were treasure, and we are. We are and we have so much to offer to our neighbours. This shabbathon was all of that.

Il est difficile pour un juif vivant dans une communauté comme celle de Côte-St-Luc de comprendre que notre communauté est vivante et fonctionnelle. Cette communauté est plus que de simples gens, ce sont des gens d’une même famille. Tous avec une seule mission ; garder une flamme vivante juive et pure. Ce shabbathon a servi à partager et à façonner notre réceptacle pour accueillir cette lumière. Que nous soyons observant un peu, beaucoup à la folie, nous en avons tous tiré profit.

Our week was transformed by this wonderful havdalah so inspiring with music sang by everyone. It was as magical as Shabbat was.

Et malgré la noirceur qui s’était installée tôt samedi soir, le début de ce shabbathon ne faisait que de se transformer en un rite de passage vers une semaine prometteuse de bonnes nouvelles.

So let’s make sure we are feeding each other with the right substance so we can keep our wick light and shine as bright as it can so maybe, just maybe inspire other wick to kindle.

Shavua tov


Inauguration of our New Chabad Center



On August 29, Chabad South Shore had their inauguration for the new center they just opened. B''H many people from the South Shore, from Montreal and from surrounding areas came together to celebrate. You can feel the joy in the air!

Janice Arnold from CJN joined us a wrote up a beautiful article about the evening.

Here is an excerpt taken from the article:

 Sterna Samama finally has her house back. After years of ceding her living space to Shabbat minyanim, holiday celebrations and classes that brought together the scattered and diverse Jews of Montreal’s South Shore, Chabad now has its own centre there.

Chabad of the South Shore officially opened on the ground floor of a commercial building at 7900 Taschereau Blvd. in Brossard, Que., on Aug. 29, before an overflow crowd of well-wishers.

Rabbi Zalman Samama, who is originally from Strasbourg, France, and his wife Sterna, a Montreal native, moved to the South Shore seven years ago and began operating out of their modest home. It was Chabad’s first permanent presence in the area.

Now with four children, the couple has been dreaming for some time of finding a permanent home for the centre.

“In the past couple of years, the number of activities and attendance significantly rose,” said Sterna Samama. “By having an official place where we can run all our programs, we will be able to better serve the community.”

One year ago, their 24-hour online fundraising campaign surpassed their $60,000 goal, which was enough to rent the space. People then pitched in to renovate the space, which has large room and a smaller one, plus a lobby and office.

Chabad runs programs for all ages, including a Sunday Hebrew school, bar and bat mitzvah classes, a group for teens, adult education programs and communal Shabbat dinners. It also helps those in financial need.

The Samamas reach out to any Jew who lives from the St. Lawrence River to the U.S. border. They have found some who thought they were the only Jews around.

They are Ashkenazim and Sephardim, native born and immigrants, they speak English, French and other languages, and range from secular to traditional. Intermarriage is common.

The couple’s easygoing manner has attracted them. Rabbi Samama has become famous for his breakdancing and figure skating.

Yet living far from the heart of the Jewish community poses challenges, such as having to drive their kids into Montreal every day for school.

June Wright Laliberté, who has lived on the South Shore since 1952 and was among the early leaders of the SSJC, said she was attracted to Chabad because it is “so warm and accepting. I’m not religious, but I don’t feel uncomfortable at all.…

“The rabbi makes no difference between those who were born Jewish and those who were not. They are such gentle, marvellous people.” Her husband, Michael, a convert, feels right at home, too, she said.

She enjoys the women’s group. Her two daughters are also involved, and four of her grandchildren go to the Hebrew school.

Dina Cohen, who has lived on the South Shore for 27 years, said, “I really feel I am part of a family.”

“Our mission,” said Rabbi Samama, “is not to pray and enjoy ourselves at 7900 Taschereau; our mission is to bring God into the homes of each of you … into the heart of every person.”

Excerpt taken from CJN article published September 5 2018.

Click here for full article:


Bringing light to the homes


It is known that on Chanuka there is a mitsvah of Pirsumei Nissa- publicizing the miracle. That is why many people light their Chanukiah by the window, in order to spread the light and message of the flames to the outside world. But bringing it into peoples homes? That is less heard of!
This year, Chabad South Shore brought in a few boys from a Yeshiva in the States to spread light and goodness all over the Shore. They visited peoples homes to bring them Chanukiahs, candles, latkes, doughnuts and showing them how to light.
Rabbi Zalman shares with us one of his positive feedbacks he got: "On the last day of Chanuka, I received a call from a Jewish women living in Brossard. She was calling to tell me how surprised and touched she was when three young Jewish guys came to her place to light the Chanukia and give her donuts.
-You know Rabbi, she tells me, sometimes I don't know the exact day of the holiday. When they came and gave me the candles and explained to me what to say and how to light, they realy made the Holiday become real to me."

A big thank you to Moshe Javen, Nathanel Benathan and Moshe Samama, the Yeshiva boys who came in from the States to do this special Mitsvah. 

May the light of Chanuka bring clarity, peace and joy to all those who need it! 

Rabbi Zalman 

The Sukkah that comes to you!


Did you see the Sukkah mobile driving around the South Shore.
Oh what is a Sukkah mobile?

A Sukkah mobile is a pickup truck with a Sukkah in the back. Instead of going to find a Sukkah, the Sukkah comes and finds you.

During Sukkot, Rabbi Zalman and his children went around to different peoples homes to bring them the joy of the holiday. There was food and drinks to make the bracha in the Sukkah.
There was also the Lulav and Esrog, four species used on Sukkot so people can do the mitsvah. 

The joy and unity felt was seen on the peoples faces.

This was the conclusion to the month of Tishrei, which was full of celebrations at Chabad South Shore and a just the beginning to many more!  

First steps towards a new center!


 Email Header Charidy.jpg


On September 10th, at 2pm, Chabad of South Shore will launch an exciting, 24 hour fundraising campaign with an $60,000 goal. Funds raised will go to to help open the first Chabad Jewish educational center on the South Shore.

Rabbi Zalman and his wife, Sterna, moved to the South Shore six years ago. From their home, they have been hosting numerous Shabbat dinners, holiday services, classes for children and adults, and preparing food baskets and coupons for those in need. Now, due to the incredible growth and attendance of events, it is time to open a Chabad center for the vibrant, growing Jewish community on the Shore.

“This past year, the amount of activities and attendance significantly rose. By having an official place where we can host and run all our programs, we will be able to better serve the community,” says Sterna, director of Chabad activities.

Chabad has lots of new and innovative projects planned for the coming years. Programs for all age groups, from toddlers to seniors, women’s circle, communal Shabbat dinners and Holiday events. Rabbi Zalman and Sterna value the individual and don’t want anyone to feel left out!

This campaign is the main fundraiser for the year, helping cover the costs to be able to open this new center and run all these programs for the community.

You can help!

Spread the word! Call, send texts, emails, messages, WhatsApp blasts, and more to your contacts to let them know we are having a campaign and need their support. Like Chabad of South Shore’s Facebook page at and share campaign updates!

Give! Whether it is $18, $180 or $1,800, your support creates a profound impact and ensures that South Shore will have a permanent center for Jewish life. Go to on September 10th at 2pm to donate!

Join us at

Challah baking at Chabad


It’s a rainy and cold Sunday morning, there is a power outage, but that won’t stop me from going to Chabad for the Challah bake.

The table is all set up in an organised fashion, bowls, spoons, aprons, gloves. I find myself a spot with my little boy. Flour, water, oil, sugar, yeast and eggs, mixing, spilling, kneading, feeling the dough with our hands, my little boy is overjoyed, so am I. Kneading some more, waiting ,rising.

I make myself a coffee and sit with the other women to chat, my boy went with the other children to make a bee. It`s that time of year again, I still remember my first Rosh Hashanah, the first time I walked into Chabad.  I look around at my new friends who are like family to me now. The feeling of connection and belonging to something so big, practising traditions that are old, but not outdated or lost. This is why I keep coming back.
''Wait! What is that sound?''
I am pulled back into reality with the sound of the Shofar. The rabbi says it is a custom to blow it a whole month before Rosh Hashanah.

Now we are back with our dough, a moment of silence, I close my eyes while the blessing is recited and a piece of challah is removed. This is a special moment to pray to G-d. I silently thank G-d for bringing me here today and hope that my son feels the same way!

Should I braid my challah or make it round? Round for continuity? Then round it shall be! My son helps me make the challah, it’s a little floppy, but he is so proud. I’m sure it tastes the same.

I’m home now, I watch my challah rise and turn golden in the oven. Mmm its smells so good, I don’t think I will be able to resist and wait for Rosh Hashanah to taste it!




IMG-20170903-WA0019.jpg IMG-20170903-WA0014.jpg


Shmurah Matsah for every Jew




“Many thanks - TODA RABA for the MATZA SHMURA. It is very appreciated and the first I ever had. It means a lot to receive it from you. Wishing you and your family Hag Pesach Sameach.”


This is one of the many messages Rabbi Zalman received this Pesach when he launched his Shmurah Matsah campaign.


A few weeks before the holiday, Rabbi Zalman wanted to carry out the project which the Lubavitcher Rebbe launched many years before of making sure that every Jew has Shmura Matsah for the Seder. He wasn't sure how many he needed and how they would all be delivered.

He went on with it anyways and 100 packages with 2 Shmurah Matsahs, a passover guide and an explanation on the importance of Shmurah Matsah were prepared by the Yavneh boys students.

Now the next big step was how to get the packages delivered. After a few phone calls to people in the community, Rabbi Zalman had 13 volunteers from different areas on the South Shore to deliver the packages.


The packages were quickly distributed to all the homes throughout the South Shore, from Longueil to Chateauguay and going all the way to Lacolle. Some of the Hebrew school students gave to their Jewish friends in school.

A few days before Pesach due to high demands, Rabbi Zalman realised he needed more packages. Until a few hours before the holiday, the packages were still being distributed and people were calling in search for Matsah.


Thanks to the Lubavitcher Rebbe who cared for every single Jew and whose vision went so far, over 150 packages of Shmura Matsah were given out on the South Shore, a small but growing Jewish community. We hope that no Jew was forgotten this Pesach!

 We would like to thank our donors and volunteers who helped make this happen.
~Yavneh students ~ Amanda Szostak ~ Sheryl Broca ~ Dina Cohen ~ Mike Dadoun ~ Erez and Avraham Natanblut ~ Samuel Elgrably ~ Jeff Soussana ~ Laurent Zaltsman ~ Daniel Silvera ~ Maya Carteron ~ Anita Gagnon ~ Rav Yehouda Dahan ~ Kimberly and Zoe Laliberte


Unity amongst diversity




It's been a month since the terror attack on the mosque in Quebec. This incident caused a lot of movement in many communities. Rabbi Zalman received calls from the Christian, Muslim and few other diverse communities reaching out to connect and show solidarity.
One person told the Rabbi: ''This event made us aware of the lack of communication and we need to open our doors and communicate to the different communities.''

A few days after the attack in Quebec, Rabbi Zalman joined père Sylvain Tremblay, Imam Foudil and many other people from various religions and backgrounds in a ceremony honoring the victims of the terror attack. 

The words Rabbi Zalman shared that night was how education is the key to avoid similar attacks like this one. We must teach tolerance and accept others. We have to teach our youth the right way to look at others.

In a second event of unity amongst diversity that he was asked to talk, Rabbi Zalman explained the passage of Shema Israel. He said that all creations come from one G-d, if we really understand this we will only see good and beauty in the other.

The many positive responses from this horrible tragedy gives us a strong message. The world is changing and people are ready to accept differences. We hope that this will only lead to a better world where all nations will be able to live in peace amongst their many differences and serve One G-d. 





A chanuka filled with light


This year, for chanuka, our mission was to bring more light and awarness on the South shore.

Even before chanuka started until the very last day of chanuka, the Jewish community throughout the South shore was busy with chanuka activities and mitsvot!

The Sunday before the holiday started, the Hebrew school children and other children who were not part of the Sunday program, went to Home depot for a pre chanuka workshop. Icy cold weather did not stop anyone from coming and the workshop was full! It was so much fun making super dreidles with pencils, wooden cubes, paint sticks and string. The children also got to make their very own menorahs.

During Chanuka, yeshiva boys came in from the US to bring light and share the joy of the holiday with others.  They went to shopping centers and to over 50 houses in the whole area of South shore, lighting menorahs, giving donuts and spreading joy.

On Wednesday, was the grand Chanukah on ice party. There is no better way to celebrate then with the main winter activity in this city- Ice skating. Hockey players or regular ice skaters all joined on the ice for fun chanuka games with Zvi Hershcovich. His fire and ice show had the crowd blown away. There was hot chocolate with different toppings to warm everyone one up, cotton candy to make the experience so much more exciting and of course the traditional Chanukah  foods- donuts and latkes. At the end of the show, everyone gathered around the beautiful 7 ft tall silver menorah. The Rabbi sang the blessings with his loud and beautiful voice and the crowd watched the lighting of the Menorah. There were 5 candles that night and those flames dancing in the middle of the ice skating rink gave over a powerful message to those watching.

Chanuka ended off with a Shabbat morning minyan and Kiddush in honor of the passing of 2 congregants deceased mothers.

Spreading the joy and warmth of Judaism is vital for the Jewish community and the world.  The Jewish community here is growing and vibrant. Spreading that awareness and freedom of self expression is the message which the Menorah and chanuka flames give over.

With this busy and filled Chanuka, we hope it brought us a step closer to when the world will be filled with light and true freedom and peace will be upon the earth!



More than just a Hebrew school


grad 2016.jpg

We were having our prize store where my students got to buy prizes with dollars they collected over the past few months for class effort. Everyone was excited to spend and buy the great prizes displayed in front of them. One student wanted to buy a prize but didn’t have enough dollars. Without hesitating another student handed him the amount he needed. This happened this past Sunday, on the last day of Hebrew school.
Let me tell you a bit about our school.

We started a Hebrew school after a few parents in the community asked us if we had Hebrew classes for children. I remember being a little nervous and not knowing where to begin. I had experience in teaching and loved children, but this was challenging. Learning a foreign language and bible stories on a Sunday morning is not something children look forward to. I wanted to make it a fun experience so that my students would want to keep coming. At the same time I wanted them to finish the school knowing the Hebrew language and having a general knowledge of Judaism. So I used some creativity to make a fun and educational curriculum and Sunday class experience.

 I started with 5 children and an assistant. The first year we learned the Hebrew letters and stories from Bereishit. Everything was taught doing hands on activities, like Aleph bet yoga, drawing, shaping the letters and scrapbooking the stories we learned.
I knew the first year was a success when the same 5 children registered and new students joined. This time, we got the Aleph champ curriculum that is created for the students to learn hebrew at their own pace and go up in colors as they progress in the Hebrew reading. It worked perfectly for us since my students were different ages and on various levels of hebrew knowledge. We also did many hands on activities about Mitsvot in the Torah that helped make it more real for the students.

This past year, we doubled in students and I had to hire two teachers. They were devoted, loving and helped the students grow. I was very proud to see the enthusiasm my students had on wanting to go up in levels and to see how much they progressed over the year.
But more important than seeing them go up in levels, grades, degrees or ranks is knowing that they understood the lessons  the Torah teaches us and to be able to apply it into their daily life . This Sunday made me see how much my students really learned.

In our society, success is measured by how much you know or have and many times kindness, giving and caring is forgotten. Today, more important than ever, we need to give over real values to our children; the values of giving up something for another and of making the world better by bringing light to others. These values are what we as parents and educators should implement in our children’s education in order to ensure that the future generation will have a more peaceful world!

Sterna Samama 

Four years of shlichus

 20150906_101613 (1).jpg

It’s been four years since I moved on shlichus. We moved to a suburb twenty minutes away from the community I grew up in. I had never heard of that place before and felt a little uncomfortable about moving there. You see, I don’t like when people tell me how to think and feel about G-d, I find it very personal and like to do it my own way, so I didn’t want to do that to others. I also thought that if they lived there it was probably because they did not want to be part of a Jewish community. I still agreed to move for my husband, he grew up in that lifestyle and I knew how important it was for him to go on shlichus. I told him "you’re the Rabbi and I’ll do the cooking, but I don’t want to be called rebbetsin or give any classes." 

My experience changed my view and moving out of a Jewish community to go on shlichus made me realise what the Rebbe really wanted from his Chassidim. I felt like it was more for me then for the people who lived there. It made me get in touch with people I would never have met if I lived in the neighbourhood where I grew up. I discovered beautiful and real people with strong values and a strong connection to G-d that I didn’t even have. It challenged me to question myself constantly, if I would have been in their place would I really be who I am today, would I really be better then them? Would I have the strength to change my lifestyle? They were the ones to ask me to open a Hebrew school, they wanted their children to learn about their education, something they weren’t able to have growing up. The discussions were so mind opening and I built friendships with people I would never have if I stayed in my community. It made me dig deeper into myself and think about my own values, beliefs and philosophies. It made me understand (just a little) what the Rebbe's vision about making the world better is.

The Rebbe came right after Hitler and he rebuilt what Hitler tried to destroy. Hitler wanted to get rid of any humans that weren’t perfect like him in his evil eyes. Starting with the Jews, then the disabled, the gays, colored people and so on. He did it with brilliance, starting slowly bringing in people to join him in his evil plan. He then went through the process of spreading hate towards the Jews and slowly crushing their essence, sending them to ghettos, separating children from their parents and killing them, separating couples, sending them to camps and lowering them to the level of animals where their basic needs of survival were at stake.
The Rebbe, the opposite of evil, lead people to spread love and light. Jews from all different backgrounds, non – Jews or just anyone who needed advice in their life came to meet him. He made people with disabilities feel special and empowered children to be a part of his mission. He met with thousands of people privately, uplifting them with his kind words and bringing out their full potential, made gatherings where people united in songs and words of Torah. And more importantly he empowered his followers by giving us the chance to carry on his mission. To become leaders who spread that love and break the stigma of stereotypes and differences that separate people from one another and to accept people as they are.


A few weeks ago, we celebrated our first bar mitzvah from one of our Hebrew School students. His father, who is non – jewish, spoke at the Kiddush and said that it’s important for him that his son knows where he comes from. When I heard this I knew I was on the right track. My job as a shlucha is not to dictate, judge or tell people what to do or think. It’s to educate, empower and love another person for free. It’s to uplift and bring out the best in people just like the Rebbe showed us. I try to apply this to anyone I see, not only the people that are in my community because being a shlucha is everywhere and anywhere. I keep on telling myself that people don’t choose their family, the place they are living in or the life they have, so let them choose how they want to lead their life. I lead by working on myself and fixing myself (the hardest job). Most importantly, I give over that free love over to anyone who needs it.

 I think we all have this mission and every human has to take the responsibility of leading in their own way.It is attainable and it’s the only reason why we are here on earth. We all have something to share with others that someone else doesn't!

Shana Tova and may this year lead us to the coming of Mashiach!

The first Bar Mitsvah in Chabad of the South Shore


Two years ago Ethan joined my Hebrew school. He wasn’t too motivated, but his parents wanted him to learn Hebrew so he can read the Torah for his Bar mitzvah.
I was a little nervous, he was my oldest student and I didn’t want him to feel forced to come on Sunday, his only day off from school. I really wanted to make it an exciting and positive experience for him and the rest of the children. I planned different exciting activities and games in the lesson to make the sunday class something to look forward to.
Ethan’s attitude was very positive and he learned the letters really quickly. He even helped me out with the other students.
On Shabbat when I heard him read from the Torah, I was proud. I was proud to see how far he went and proud to have been part of it. We don't always get to see the fruit of our seeds we planted, but when we do it gives us the motivation to continue. As a teacher, I now how important my role is in my students life and I hope and pray for them, just as I would for my own children, that when they grow up they will be the best they can be!

Party on Chanukah 5773


To see all the pictures and to print Click here

If there is one Jewish holiday which is familiar to the whole world, it has to be Chanukah. Any child, (or even adult!) is familiar with the image of a Menorah. At Rabbi Zalman Samama’s home, Brossard’s first-ever major Chanukah event was celebrated by the Jewish community of the South Shore.

The party took place on the 13th of December, and began with a ceremonial lighting of the Chanoukia (Menorah). Following this, Rabbi Zalman took out more Menorah’s so that each one of his guests had a chance to light the candles for his or her family. Certainly this was a warming experience, spiritually and physically as well!

After indulging in some delicious fruit, pancakes and latkes and having had the chance to become acquainted with the other guests, we let Allan Greenberg take the stage to put on his magic show. His classic performance of tricks kept everyone startled, impressed and entertained non-stop. I’m sure no one could figure out how he pulled so many kerchiefs from his mouth, from where he suddenly pulled out live, colourful birds from nowhere, or how he stuck a long needle through a balloon without popping it. The kids were completely awestruck and captivated. The adults had the double-bonus of enjoying the show themselves and seeing their kids so happy and excited!

The evening was overall a very enjoyable and fulfilling one for all, one of the first of many coming successes for this Chabad. The atmosphere was perfectly comfortable and sociable, and the events moving and downright fun. Chabad of the South Shore took care that everyone they could possibly reach would have a chance to light their own Menorah – this Chanukah is sure to leave a lasting impression on the local Jewish community. We’re all ready now for more – next, Purim!

 Written by Ben Ionsecu, Brossard 

Chabad of the South Shore welcomed the first ever Torah on the South Shore (anglais)

DSC_0094-2077742879-O.jpg DSC_0350-2077361544-O.jpg DSC_0367-2077326767-O.jpg


A year ago, Shluchim Zalman and Sterna Sarah Samama moved to Brossard, a city on the South Shore of Montreal.

One year later, on the 18th of Elul, they were proud to welcome the first Sefer Torah to their Chabad House, the first one for the South Shore area.

The Torah was dedicated in memory of the shlucha's father, R'Michael Serraf obm and in memory of Kim Malkah Chaya Himelfarb obm.

The Siyum was a joyous event where friends, family and community members gathered for a beautiful evening.

The Torah started out at the Serraf's home, and the crowd marched with it to a local hall.

At the hall, a crowd of over 200 people from the South Shore, congregants and friends who knew R' Michael Serraf, and friends who knew Kim Malka Chaya, gathered to celebrate.

Guest speaker Rabbi Berel Bell inspired participants, and the last letters of the Torah were auctioned off to benefit the Chabad House.

"Everyone who was there said they felt the joy and holiness of the event," said Samama.


An article on (anglais)


South Shore's Spiritual Revival

The new Chabad Center of Montreal's South Shore, led by Shluchim Rabbi Zalman and Sterna Sara Samama, held one of their first programs on Purim.

By Karen Schwartz,

For 25 years, Jeff Soussana didn’t know anyone else on Montreal’s South Shore who kept the Sabbath. When he wanted kosher food and a place to spend the 25-hour stint, he’d find himself having to leave the suburbs and stay over in the city, about half an hour away by car.

Then Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Zalman Samama moved to the island.

“And here it’s the best of both worlds,” said Soussana. “I can go to his place and pray and come back home – that’s what I really like about it. It really serves my purposes well.”

In and around Quebec, new Chabad Houses are springing up to serve area residents, offering Sabbath meals, learning opportunities, and new places people can explore their connection to Jewish tradition. Among them are recent additions in the South Shore, Dorval, and Saint Sauveur des Monts.

The South Shore’s Soussana, whose parents moved to the area in the 1960s, said he recalled a Chabad presence in the area in the mid-1990s, but hadn’t seen anything recently until a few months ago, when Samama and his family bought a house in Brossard, close enough to where he lives.

“It was a pleasant surprise to hear there’s a Chabad House here,” he said.

Soussana’s looking forward to seeing it grow beyond guests coming from Montreal, a handful of regulars, and the rabbi’s family, adding that he’d love to see a kosher bakery, kosher butcher or Jewish school move in, too. The rabbi, on the bus with a yarmulke on his head, still draws quite a bit of attention from people not used to seeing such open displays of Jewish pride, he explained. But Sousana hopes it’s all just the beginning.

“They’re very nice, they’re very outgoing,” he said. As for the rabbi, “people naturally gravitate to him.”

Samama and his wife, Sterna Sarah, moved to the area in October 2010 with their two children. They spent a year before they moved knocking on doors and visiting area shopping centers, getting to know the residents and trying to get a feel for people’s interest in the opportunity.

“Many time people opened the door and opened their houses, they were really excited to see us,” noted the rabbi. “That really encouraged us to go and carry on.”

Their first event was a Purim party featuring the only public reading of the Scroll of Esther in the South Shore. Held in a barbershop, the bash was arranged by someone the Samamas had met just two weeks before.

“He told me he would do it with pleasure,” said the rabbi, “and the same day, I printed the fliers and handed them out to everybody.”

By Passover, the couple was giving out 100 boxes of special handmade matzah and the rabbi was making weekly trips to the area. A Sabbath weekend that drew 20 people for the Friday night meal clinched their decision, as they listened to singles, young couples, and families with kids talking about how they wound up living on an island with not much in the way of Jewish infrastructure.

“It was very inspiring,” related Samama. “It was a very touching evening, very emotional.”

Between gathering 10 men for a public prayer quorum and hosting holiday events, having people over for Sabbath meals and reconnecting people with Jewish experiences they may not have had in years, the Samamas are keeping busy. Their very first weekend, they spontaneously wound up hosting their next door neighbor, a Jewish man who said it was his first Sabbath in the 35 years he’d lived there.

“That’s one small story, and there’s more stories,” laughed the rabbi. “Every day we’re here, we’re meeting new Jews.”

Rabbi Shmuel and Rivka Kaufmann of the newly-established Chabad of Dorval are in the beginning stages of expanding their Jewish community as well. Among the current draws: “Good company and better food” around the Sabbath table.

“I could sit here and tell you we’re going to light the candles and do the welcome prayers and have a five course meal that will be delicious,” remarked Shmuel Kaufmann. “I could sit here and describe it, and the wonderful conversation, and the things in the [weekly Torah portion], but I think until you actually come for a Sabbath dinner and experience it … It’s a different experience.”

He said he’s excited to build a community and outgrow their current space to give area Jews a place to have positive Jewish experiences.

“We only just started and we have 40 families in the area, which is an encouraging start,” he said.

The Kaufmanns envision one day helping people at the Montreal airport find kosher food and a place to pray, akin to other major airports around the globe.

“Montreal doesn’t have that,” he said, “so it’s something we’d eventually like to open up as well.”

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.