Neighbours helping neighbours: Standing with Lac-Mégantic

“When we heard what had happened [in Lac-Mégantic] our first response was that this is something we want to help with, there must be such an immense need,” said President of Federation CJA Susan Laxer. “It really resonated with us.”

Indeed, we were all horrified by the tragic loss of lives and devastation stemming from the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic- especially given that the small town is so close to Montreal.  When the train carrying crude oil derailed, 47 people lost their lives, more than 30 buildings in the town’s center were destroyed, and over 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Federation CJA immediately created an emergency appeal and our community collectively stood together and offered financial and emotional support to our fellow Quebecers.

“It filled me with pride to know that members of our community had stepped up, without any prompting, to offer their financial support to a non-Jewish community in distress,” explained Federation CJA CEO, Deborah Corber.  “Here was tangible evidence that giving to others – not because they were Jewish, but simply because of our shared humanity – was in our DNA.”

Deborah Corber, Dr. Victor Goldbloom, Colette Roy Laroche – Mayor of Lac-Mégantic, Susan Laxer, Evan Feldman, and Luciano Del Negro (CIJA).

On Thursday, October 24th, Corber and Laxer were proud to join delegates from the Montreal Jewish community — including those who had established their businesses in Lac-Mégantic — who travelled to the disaster site to offer support and to present the relief cheque.  A small presentation ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Lac-Mégantic, local citizens and various media outlets. Dr. Victor Goldbloom was also on hand and remarked on the Jewish community’s 250-year history in Quebec.

As a result of our community’s generous support, we raised $100,000 for disaster relief.  The relief gift represented $60,000 from Federation CJA and $40,000 from our sister federation in Toronto. The funds were given to Fonds Avenir Lac Mégantic, whose purpose is to redistribute the money collected to various works of rehabilitation at their discretion.

Federation CJA President Susan Laxer presents the relief cheque to the Mayor of Lac-Mégantic, Colette Roy-Laroche.

The mayor, and others who attended, were truly overwhelmed that two Jewish communities, far away from the tragedy, would care so much.  Funds from both communities were not a direct allocation, but rather, the result of many individuals making their own donations online: Individuals reaching out to other individuals in distress, with one goal—to help.

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