Le Mood – AN UNEXPECTED FESTIVAL OF JEWISH LEARNING, ARTS & CULTURE & Parc Lafontaine – My Sunny Sunday in Montreal by Jamie Gilcig – June 6, 2011

Cornwall ON – So I get a ping this morning from a voice from the past.   She tells me about this event in Montreal, Le Mood, in Montreal, which you can tell from the hot poster above is about Judaism.    I’m born Jewish, but have never really practiced the religion and have just separated from my beautiful and lovely about to be former wife whose English and Scottish background was definitely not Jewish either.

Le Mood is a first-edition of a Montreal festival that encourages participants to explore and connect with Jewish life in ways that are unexpected, o-beat and meaningful. This summer festival brings together art, culture and learning in one space. Le Mood will engage hundreds of Montrealers for a day-long exploratory event, the likes of which the city has never seen.

I love my Roast beef with Swiss cheese sandwiches too; and have been known to nibble on pork and shell fish.    In certain religious terms I’m basically doomed!

But there’s more to being Jewish than purely the religious side to it.  There’s a diverse and interesting culture, traditions, and an appreciation for beef brisket and chopped liver.   Oy, I could go full cliche, but will maybe save that for later…

Le Mood was very different for me.   It was interesting seeing so many people, young, old, men, women, many non-Jews just chilling on all things Jewish.

I typed a secret just because it was fun to type on a manual keyboard.  You really have to push your pinkies to make the letters appear!

The sessions and chats were a wild mix too:  Jewish identity as many young Jews aren’t quite sure who they are; (as if any young person is quite sure who they are!)  there was of course the looks to the past and all the grief and weirdness many of our families endured; The Perfect Jewish Food: Making, Appreciating, and Eating Cholent, I haven’t had a good cholent in years; actually I haven’t had any in years…..

There was also some Hip Hop Klezmer  too!  There was a mix of languages.  English, Yiddish, Hebrew, French, and I’m not sure, but I think I even heard some Finnish?

Food of course; music too, you can’t have Jews without music; Kaballahic Yoga; Pork Memoirs: The Complicated Relationship Between Jews and Pigs which looked interesting…  it was a lively mix of subjects.

Cornwall Ontario used to have a Jewish dynamic.  It’s former long time Mayor Aaron Horovitz has a park named after him, and of course Cornwall Ontario’s Jewish son; Nathan Phillips was Toronto’s first mayor, but the city has almost nobody left living here of Jewish heritage.     The Synogogue; a lovely building was converted into a lovely home.   Pitt Street in its heyday was littered with stores owned by the fairly large Jewish contingency; but people move on and times change.

My friend called while I was reconnecting with my heritage and I ended up meeting her at Lafontaine Park.

A leafy oasis where Dogs and Ducks can jump in the greenish water and contract bacteria and people pet and caress pigeons.   It’s always odd seeing someone for the first time in nearly ten years and we caught up on the good and the bad.  It was amazing; magical; poignant, and piquant all at the same time.   The traffic had been nuts because of this little Bike thingy called Le Tour des Montreal which drew about 25,000 people or just over half the population of Cornwall.

People’s life and times.   We intermingle; mostly for unknown reasons; and then we separate like molecules in search of something interesting to bump into and cause a reaction…..I was in the mood for Schwartz’s, but it was getting late and I thought I’d settle for Smoke Meat Pete’s on the Waste Island.   Big mistake.  Long wait; they refused to swap my cole slaw for potato salad and the sandwich was dry.   What a fool I was on that one.

And then it was back home; to Cornwall.       My beautiful little city of nearly 50,000   which probably will not get over 50,000 people unless some cliquey people dig their heads out of their bottoms, and start creating some magic instead of raining on others and being troglodytes. .  –  which does hold much hope for me and some of the amazing people I’ve met here and work with.  What an amazing place I live in where you can pop into the car and be in Ottawa in just over an hour, or Montreal in about the same time, or in the US for a whole other experience in about the same time if the bridge is backed up.

To read more about the Jewish history of Cornwall Ontario click this LINK.

As I was leaving with my friend who walked me to my car I shared how I’d never move back to Montreal.   I’m not sure I’ll stay forever in Cornwall, but like they say; you can never go back….

How was your Sunday?

Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News

Cornwall & Seaway Valley Tourism


  1. What are you going to Ottawa and or Toronto for? Is there better shopping and amenities there then in Cornwall?

    I had the privilege to meet many of the old business people you speak of Jamie over the years. I use to buy my shoes from Nyman’s and clothes from the Youth Center I believe it was. It is use to stand where the Royal Bank now stands. They like the Greeks, Chinese decided to educate their kids and in doing so begins the loss of their culture locally.

    Their children are all now successful business people lawyers and Dr’s working abroad. Mom and Dad lived in the basement of the stores and small homes of the time to make things work.

    All that remains of Cornwall is the simple minded and selfish people and yep as you stated troglodytes.

  2. Author

    Smee the world is our living room nowadays if we want it to be. Cornwall has suffered the changes of times just lime many communities across Canada. I see so much potential here, but it seems to get thwarted by a few small cliques that seem to have far too much control in many instances. Even the CFN has experienced sponsors being threatened that they’d lose custom if they continue to advertise as well as nasty emails sent.

    The small minded pettiness hurts communities in the end. An example are events like Lift Off and Winterfest. These events are run by “volunteers” some of whom are affiliated with certain groups; clicques, or companies. At the end are the decisions made what’s best for the event and the community or best for the clique? The fact that city tax dollars go to some of these groups make it even a bit more absurd! Lift Off being a prime example. Burlington Vermont; not so far, away gets Willie Nelson. We have two jazz fests within 150KM, but we get 3 not so special for a variety of reason acts for Lift Off because of one radio station’s format? No C&W for Lift Off – No rap or hip hop? No blues or Jazz? No Hard Rock or Metal? Does that make much sense? Is there any wonder why Lift Off had to go hat in hand to the city instead of to the Kinsmen or to Corus itself?

    I can tell you that even though we’re number one online in this market place certain charities and groups won’t even allow us to help promote their events because of the cliques and cronyism of certain media; never mind actually buy ads with us. Gordon Lightfoot was about half full? There was no reason for that other than it was narrowly promoted. It’s totally bizarre and unproductive.

    For me the solution is to work harder and find the majority of productive, friendly, and truly amazing people who are there to work with. That’s the hope for me here in Cornwall. There is opportunity to create magic because of the mediocrity that cronyism and cliques breed.

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