June 23, 2024
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June 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Why is it so annoying to me that I cannot figure out how to watch the first game of the playoffs between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning? I always cared about the Yankees, Rangers and Knicks from afar, but there is just something about the Canadiens that all of us former Montrealers share with each other. Post after post, “Go Habs Go” is written on social media, from the professors at McGill to a Maadan owner from Teaneck to the rebbetzins of leading Orthodox shuls in the Northeast (Lisa Steinmetz, that’s you) to the former rebbetzin of shuls in Montreal (that’s me) to present-day rabbinical leaders (Rabbi Yisroel Roll in Baltimore); we all are deeply committed to seeing this special team win once again after a 28 year lull.

Why, we could ask ourselves? We all know that win or lose, the streets surrounding the Bell Center in downtown Montreal will once again be invaded by hooligans and pranksters. Everyone knows not to leave a car parked anywhere in that downtown area for fear of never seeing it in its natural state once the series is over. Storekeepers are prepared to board up their windows in order to prevent looters and crazies from throwing bricks and rocks through their windows and doors.

Cars might be charred—is this outrageous behavior something any of us would enjoy or partake in? Absolutely not, yet we are thrilled with the thought that our Habs will once again regain the title that many of us believe they deserve. Who can forget Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden, Guy Lafleur and today’s amazing goalie Carey Price? Not sure why all of these names stay with us much more than tri-state residents can recall past players of the Rangers or the Bruins. There is just something special about being a Canadien fan, in every way.

I remember sadly that when my son attended the Yeshiva Gedola in Montreal there were shiurim on Saturday nights only when the Canadiens were playing that night. I also remember board meetings taking place at the Young Israel of Val Royal where we began our Montreal days and there was always a TV present if the meeting coincided with a Canadiens hockey game. We are not talking playoffs. We are speaking of a regular competitive game. Montrealers are hockey fans in love. (Not crazy.)

Yes, we can speak of Mr. Klein’s knishes and egg rolls, Cheskies cheese crowns, the poupou platter from Ernie and Ellie (no more) and the little snow plows that went up and down our sidewalks as soon as the first flakes of snow hit the pavement. There is a certain camaraderie that holds us all together, but certain memories and feelings have stayed and cannot be replaced. In particular, the charm of the Canadiens has a powerful magical touch for all of us.

As a Bostonian, my beloved hubby has no particular affinity to the Bruins. He is probably not a great example, as sports was never his thing. Casey Stengel and Mickey Mantle meant a lot to my brother, but over the years as he meets friends from the past or discusses his life with his friends he rarely if ever would talk about the Yankees. You can be sure that for the past month most Canadiens fans—living out of town and those still living in Canada—have been openly hoping that the Canadiens get to the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup.

The first game was painful, but that will not let any of us give up on our team.

When I am frequently asked by some how long I will be “New in the Neighborhood,” I realize that for me some feelings will never go away, and I hope that the usual ticker-tape parade will take place in a week or two when the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup, and know that if I had the opportunity to be there I would love to have the thrill once again. Go Habs Go!


Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield with her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Glick, after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community.

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