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Renovation Project in Montreal Signals Boost for Jewish Community

For the next eight months or so, employees of Montreal’s major Jewish communal organizations won’t have to go far to buy kosher meat — or blue jeans.

In the midst of an almost $20 million expansion of facilities and services, the organized Jewish community recently moved into a shopping mall located in the predominantly Jewish suburb of Cote St. Luc.

The renovation, which will place many of Canada’s Jewish community organizations under a central address, is being hailed by Jewish leaders as a huge vote of confidence in the Jewish future in Montreal.

The Jewish population of Montreal has diminished in recent years in part because of what many in the community perceive as the anti-Semitism in the French secessionist movement in Quebec.

The majority of funding for the renovations on Cummings House, which houses Federation CJA and its constituent agencies, came from private donations.

In addition, the federal, provincial and municipal governments have contributed about $800,000 apiece to help finance the renovations. It is not unusual for the Canadian government to participate in such projects.

Meanwhile, mall vendors are excited about the prospect of increased sales at the mall.

“I’m hoping business will go up by about 50 percent,” said Tony Habre, manager of the A.L. Van Houtte restaurant in the Mall.

Two of the mall’s partners, Roy Salomon and Harvey Wolfe, are leaders in the Jewish community. Salomon is on the executive committee of Maccabi Canada, while Wolfe, president of United Israel Appeal Canada, is a former general campaign chairman of the Combined Jewish Appeal and president of the Montreal Jewish federation.

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