TORONTO (JTA) — The job may be temporary, but Montreal has its first Jewish mayor.
Michael Applebaum, 49, won a City Council vote to serve as interim mayor for a year, with a promise not to run in the next municipal election, which is slated for November 2013. He also is the first Anglophone mayor in a century of the predominantly French-speaking Canadian city.
Applebaum, who was elected to the City Council in 1994, replaces Gerald Tremblay, who resigned last week in a corruption scandal that linked him to graft and organized crime.
Elected to City Council in 1994, Applebaum is the first Jewish person to assume the office of mayor. The highest ranking Jewish official in municipal history was Joseph Schubert, who served as acting mayor of the city for three months in 1927 in a role that would be more accurately be understood today as deputy mayor or mayor pro tem.
Bilingual, though with rusty French, Applebaum was seen as a dark horse to succeed Tremblay. But he built support among his council colleagues.
"Mazel tov, Michael, on becoming the first Anglo-Jewish temporary interim mayor in Montreal history!" joked longtime Montreal Gazette columnist Josh Freed. The city’s Jewish Twittersphere, he added, "is filled with jokes celebrating the unexpected victory, like one that said: ‘Who’s Montreal’s most powerful new figure? Applebaum’s mother.’ "