Perspectives by Deborah Corber, CEO
Edition 28, June 2017

Montreal Mega Mission: There is nothing quite like it – Part II

Deborah CorberNothing quite prepared me for the moment I saw that Air Canada Dreamliner descend gracefully from the sky to touch down in Israel; nor for the joy that would erupt as the doors of AC 7029 opened and close to 300 Montrealers made their way off the plane and onto the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, walking sleepily into the collective embrace of their fellow Montrealers singing and dancing at the base of the stairs.

It hit me on the tarmac: the reality of it all; the sheer enormity of what was about to happen. That a project begun two years earlier – Montreal Mega Mission: Centennial Edition – was officially about to launch. And I struggled to keep the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes from overwhelming me.

This was the power of community; the power of our exceptional, Montreal Jewish community.

It was a power that would reveal itself on every day, in every way imaginable, large and small. From Ammunition Hill and the opening ceremony at the Kotel, to the exquisite Kabbalat Shabbat at the Davidson Center and Shabbat dinner for 1,000 Montrealers at the old train station, to the Havdalah service and celebration of the 100th birthday of Mickey Rosenthal, z"l on the lawn of the historic King David Hotel, to the magical group Bat Mitzvah on Shabbat morning, to the exuberant welcome by Beer Sheva’s Mayor Ruvik Danilovich and musical/dance performance by Beer Sheva’s best, to the desert extravaganza in Sdom, to the celebration of Federation CJA’s 100th birthday at the ruins of Beit She’an, to the heartfelt sharing of our closing Sikkums and breathtaking ceremony on the beach of Tel Aviv, the sun setting over the Mediterranean as if on cue.

Every day offered endless enrichment: Jewish learning from our resident rabbis and scholars (Poupko, Whitman, Scheier, Fishman and Freundlich), history lessons about Israel from our eminent tour guides – Tzvi Sperber at the helm – analysis of Israeli politics, society, security and culture from local experts, and evidence of our impact on the lives of our brothers and sisters in Beer Sheva and Bnei Shimon.

We danced and sang, laughed and cried, questioned and debated, and waited patiently in line after line to use the bathroom; rarely complaining about the challenges of moving 900 people virtually anywhere.

We bonded with our bus mates – those who we knew before, and those we would never have known but for the Montreal Mega Mission bringing us together; there’s nothing quite like a rollercoaster 16-hour day to make fast friends of strangers.

We took endless inspiration from our fearless Montreal Mega Mission Co-Chairs – Howard Stotland, Jeff Hart, Pascale Hasen, Eva Derhy and Heather Adelson, and Poland Pre-Mission Co-Chairs – Nancy Ditkofsky and Danny Chazonoff. These individuals exemplified excellence in Jewish leadership from the earliest days of planning through every exhausting hour of executing the Mission, and we owe them our thanks.

One participant described the Montreal Mega Mission: Centennial Edition as a “giant, communal love-in”. From my perspective, it was that, and so much more. We were a veritable microcosm of the Jewish community of Montreal, aged 18-100, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, religious and secular, Federation-committed and Federation newcomers, Israel experience veterans and Israel first-timers, Jewish families and interfaith couples, those who had drunk the community Kool-Aid, and those who were reluctant joiners.

We came together in a giant embrace of Israel, of community, of Jewish peoplehood, and of one another. For one whirlwind week (even longer for the intrepid souls who began the Mission with four powerful and moving days in Poland) our Montreal Mega Mission family stood proud as an emblem of our glorious Jewish communal past, and a harbinger of our brilliant Jewish communal future.

Now that I am back at work, with jet lag behind me, I find myself wondering if this magical journey was all just a dream. But no, it was a rich, transformative experience, and very, very real; I have the photos, videos and post-mission love letters to prove it. The Montreal Mega Mission: Centennial Edition  was a testament to what we can be, and what we can accomplish, when our Jewish community comes together as one.

And while the physical voyage may be over, I believe that the end of the Montreal Mega Mission: Centennial Edition… is just the beginning.

We invite you to share your most touching Montreal Mega Mission memories with us. Send your reflections in 300 words or less, along with a relevant photo (optional) to:, and we will publish them on for others to enjoy. We may also use portions of some reflections received in future marketing or press materials.


  Ask Federation CJAAsk Federation CJA

We welcome the opportunity to deepen our conversation with you. Send us a question or offer an observation about the work of Federation CJA, and we will try to provide explanations that clarify. We may even publish those questions and answers we think will interest all readers. While we will do our best to reply in a timely manner, it may not be possible to personally reply to all emails.

* First Name
* Last Name
* E-mail
* Message

  Of Note

A special 1000 for a special 100th

A special 1000 for a special 100th (The Suburban)
As part of the unparalleled year of events celebrating the centennial of Federation CJA, nearly 1000 Montrealers — non-Jews among them — are participating in the largest Mega-Mission ever organized by any Jewish community anywhere to demonstrate solidarity with our sister democracy in the Middle East.
Click here for more

Over 900 head to Israel on Federation CJA mission

Over 900 head to Israel on Federation CJA mission (Canadian Jewish News)
More than 900 people, one of whom is 100 years old, departed for Israel on the Montreal Mega Mission, a highlight of Federation CJA’s centennial activities.
Click here for more

CJA Mission brings 900 to Israel

CJA Mission brings 900 to Israel (eJewish Philanthropy)
More than 900 people, one of whom is 100 years old, departed for Israel on the Montreal Mega Mission, a highlight of Federation CJA’s centennial activities.
Click here for more

Rivlin speaks to delegation from Montreal

Rivlin speaks to delegation from Montreal (Times of Israel)
“Today, the State of Israel is a proud democracy, and I can assure you, there is no gap between Israel as a Jewish state and as a democratic state,” Rivlin tells the delegation in Jerusalem.
Click here for more

Federation CJA unveils art exhibit honoring visionaries

Historic First, Sitting Quebec Premier Leads Delegation to Israel (The Gazette)
From May 20 to 25, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard led an important trade delegation to Israel to promote the exchange of knowledge and encourage new business agreements between Quebec and Israel.  It was a historic first to have a sitting Quebec Premier leading an official delegation to Israel. The Premier thanked the Jewish community and CIJA-Québec, Federation CJA’s advocacy arm, for their active preparation of the mission.
Click here for more

Comedians want to bring Yiddish humour to TV

Comedians want to bring Yiddish humour to TV (The Jerusalem Post)
Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman’s Yidlife Crisis TV show would introduce a cast of characters from other religious and cultural backgrounds who grapple with similar questions of identity.
Click here for more

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Federation CJA.

 Get Perspectives in your Inbox

* First Name
* Last Name
* E-mail

Past Editions Past Editions