At Central Synagogue

Reflections on Trip to Montreal

Posted October 10, 2018

After the 2018 Confirmation class identified that they wanted more opportunities to travel, learn, and experience Jewish faith and tradition beyond New York City, we created an unforgettable experience to explore Jewish Montreal. The 11thgraders explored the city and saw how Jewish life compares to life at home. The group visited Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, the only Reform synagogue in the city, for Shabbat services. They spent some time engaging with local teens to get a better sense of the community in Montreal. The city was filled with many exciting places for the group to explore, including local restaurants serving Jewish food, a walking tour of the Mile End neighborhood, and the Montreal Holocaust museum. Read their reflections, about how they discovered Jewish life in the Canadian city.

Student Reflections

I loved the trip to Montreal. I think one of the main takeaways from this trip is that Jews have a history in almost every place. Before coming to Montreal, I was unaware of the vibrant Jewish population and the history of the various waves of immigration that brought them here. We learned all about the history of Jews in Montreal from both the McCord Museum exhibit as well as simply walking around the city. The Jewish restaurants we encountered on our food tour seemed to be some of most thriving business in the city, with lines overflowing onto the street. We joked about how we were proud of our fellow Jews, but in all honesty, I felt so appreciative to experience a place with an unexpected omnipresent Jewish culture. I originally decided to go on the Montreal trip because every experience I’ve had on a CenSyn teen trip has been amazing, and I wanted to explore a new city. The trip didn’t disappoint- I would 100% recommend this trip because I learned so much, from information about the Holocaust to how Montrealers make their bagels. It didn’t take long to love Montreal!
- Esme F.

Though short, this trip gave me the opportunity to learn about many aspects of the Jewish community in Montreal. It manifested in the identity of the people, and the ways in which they choose to present themselves in the larger city. In New York, I am constantly surrounded by Jews whether it’s my family, many of my school friends, or at Synagogue. Prior to this trip, I wasn’t familiar with the Jewish community in Montreal, so I didn’t know what to expect. After learning more, whether it was attending a Shabbat service at Temple Emanuel Beth El Sholom, trying foods from Jewish owned restaurants, or going to the Holocaust museum, I now better understand how Jews in Montreal present themselves. From what I saw, they are proud of their Jewish identity and unafraid to express themselves. This was the most fascinating thing I took away from this trip. I came into it knowing nothing about people who share the same religion as me, yet I learned that they express it differently than I do. Besides exploring a new place, I had no specific reason for choosing to visit the city, but I certainly have many reasons to come back.
- Rebecca F.

Since arriving in Montréal, I’ve been observing the “differences” between Judaism in New York City and Montréal. Within my school community, Jews are a rare breed, but in the city and in my own personal interactions, I’ve come across many Jews of different kinds who bring something interesting to the table. I’ve noticed this in Montréal as well, which enables me to conclude that in this sense, the people aren’t far too different. However, I noticed the very specific disparities whilst at the Shabbat service Friday night. Though very nice and engaging, it felt awfully short and not as enthralling as I usually feel it is. Attending this service served as a very nice reminder of how I feel about Central. There is more of a connection musically and philosophically, and in theory this service in Montréal possessed those qualities. However, services at Central Synagogue do provide me with a cornucopia of means to think and consider history and the world in a more critical way through Torah readings, discussion, and sermons. Ultimately, I was made more cognizant of all that Central does through services.
- Colette B.

Click here to read more student reflections.