Israel rally makes triumphant return downtown

Some 6,500 Montrealers turned out in perfect spring weather to dance, sing and celebrate Israel's 74th anniversary of independence. The event, organized by The Partnership, returned to downtown Montreal for the first time since 2019, as the COVID pandemic meant this and other events had to be held online in the past two years.

The rally began at Cabot Square at Atwater and Ste. Catherine West, and a colourful parade featuring the flags of Israel, Canada and Quebec proceeded down Ste. Catherine to Place du Canada at René Lévesque West and Peel. The huge crowd, including students from many Montreal Jewish day schools, danced to the intense, pounding music. Cantor Daniel Benlolo revved up the crowd.

Israel Consul-General Paul Hirschson addressed the audience, and also on hand were the Consuls General from Egypt and Morocco. "For two years, we didn't meet like this," the Israeli Consul General said. "And they were two dramatic years, and I'm not referring to the pandemic. I'm talking about Israel, no longer a teenager, now a young adult, more confident and creative, not only in technology, but in development aid and humanitarian assistance. We are building partnerships across the Arab world. Yes, that is what's happening in 2022!"

There were also video messages from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre.

Also on hand were Federation CJA president Joel Segal, Yair Szlak, Executive Director of Federation CJA; Eta Yudin, Vice-President of CIJA Quebec, Jacques Saada of the Communauté Sépharade Unifiée de Québec and representatives of Montreal's Filipino community. Elected officials included Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, Hampstead Mayor Jeremy Levi, DDO Mayor Alex Bottausci, CSL councillor Dida Berku, CSL councillor Lior Azerad, Côte des Neiges-NDG councillor Sonny Moroz, Hampstead councillors Michael Goldwax and Leon Elfassy, and DDO councillor Errol Johnson.

Several prizes were given in the rally's draw — conducted via social media — and included gift certificates for Spa Diva, Best Buy, Amazon and others. The rally concluded with the blowing of shofars and the singing of O Canada and Hatikvah.

Read the full story of the Israel rally in the May 11 Suburban.

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