Shira Choir

Danny Benlolo and the Shira Choir.

Cantor Danny Benlolo is one exceptional individual. He arrived in Montreal two years ago via Ottawa at the Shaare Zedek Congregation in NDG and most recently joined the team at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in Snowdon and coming with him was the Montreal Shira Choir, an inclusive group of singers with developmental disabilities dedicated to celebrating the power of music, to bring joy, to inspire and unite people of all ages and abilities.

Cantor Benlolo serves as the musical director and leads the choir, with the assistance of Rebecca Bensimon. His wife Muriel acts as the liaison/administrator and organizer. “This is one of my closest encounters of what doing good in this world is all about,” he said.

Since its inception, the choir has received a number of community grants. This will allow the group to spread its wings. New members are always welcome. They have also launched a long-term project, which involves the creation of a documentary film by Evan Beloff about the choir geared mainly for educational purposes that epitomizes the power of music.

The choir will next perform on Wednesday Nov. 13 (7:30 pm) at the Centre for the Arts in Human Development benefit concert at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at Concordia’s Loyola Campus in NDG, featuring platinum recording artist Nikki Yanofsky, Centre grads and Cantor Adam Stotland, Tickets: All proceeds will support a unique therapeutic program that changes the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Mark Bergman did a superb podcast on the group recently and you can hear it at

SHIELD OF ATHENA: The Shield of Athena, which offers services to women and children who are victims of family violence, has an exhibit and live auction planned for this Sunday afternoon, Nov. 10 at Thursday’s Montréal Bistro on Crescent Street. This will mark the 25th edition of the event and also commemorate the 15-year anniversary of the Sselter Athena’s House. A wide variety of Montreal, Ottawa and Canadian artists will participate.

YIDLIFE TEMPLE: The zany duo of Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman will bring their always hilarious YidLife Crisis show to a fundraiser for Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Westmount on Nov. 21. Andy Nulman will serve as emcee. Proceeds will help the Temple enhance its cultural and educational programs and the services it offers to the community, with a strong emphasis on youth and Torah school.

VIENNESE BALL: The 2019 Viennese Ball of Montreal will take place on Sat. Nov. 16 at the Hotel Marriott Château Champlain under the distinguished patronage and in the presence of the Austrian Ambassador to Canada, Stefan Pehringer and Debra Jean Pehringer. Guest of Honour will be Patrick Corrigan, General Director of the Opéra de Montréal. A five course gourmet, Viennese -inspired meal will be accompanied by strolling musicians playing Viennese tunes for the diners. All proceeds go to deserving causes focused on helping children in need and other youth initiatives. Info:

CEDARS SYMPHONY: I Medici di McGill Orchestra, under the musical leadership of Maestro Gilles Auger and featuring renowned cellist Stéphane Tétreault, will perform on Sunday afternoon, Nov 17 at The Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul on Redpath Street. Dubbed the Cedars Symphony for ‘The Bell,’ funds raised will support The Bell Fund comfort kits, founded by Judy Martin, a breast cancer survivor who wanted to pay it forward. The Bell Fund comfort kits are distributed to patients during their first treatments and they consist of a soft fleece blanket, a reusable water bottle, a notepad and pen, soothing mints and a magazine. Blankets are also given to patients in palliative care to make their end of life more comfortable.

MYTHIC: Mythic, the new musical at the Segal Centre, is a hit. Please see my blog for a review.

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