The Stranger At The Table on Saturday Afternoon

Alan J. Schwarz
10 min readOct 23, 2021
Photo by Gerd Altmann on

The Jewish community in Veltree, Ontario was microscopic. Veltree was located in Northern Ontario, and most of the people who lived there were involved in Nuclear fission projects and academic research. There were operational logging camps outside of Veltree, but when the Government banned clear-cutting, the major players in the lumber industry called it a day and pulled their crews out, leaving economic devastation behind.

The Alfred Bolton Center for Advanced Scientific Research and Studies had become globally recognized for technological breakthroughs and as a result, it attracted brilliant minds. The Ontario government had aggressively offered all kinds of financial inducements for The Bolton Center to locate in Northern Ontario and after much lobbying, the organization accepted their offer. It was a match made in heaven. The Ontario government financed and built the Bolton Center Headquarters and they didn’t care how much it cost. It was a state-of-the-art facility.

The people who worked and played in Veltree loved the rustic setting, but it also took a toll as Veltree was an isolated place. There were some indigenous communities miles down the river and there were great interactions with the First Nation people, but for all intents and purposes, Veltree was situated in the middle of No Man’s land.

Rabbi Mendel Lubow was a Chabad Rabbi who had made Veltree his home with his wife Chaya. They were from Brooklyn and were initially fish out of water. When the couple first came to Veltree, they tried to adjust but it wasn’t easy. The Jewish academics who worked at the Alfred Bolton center were for the most part not very religious and some were proudly atheistic. This did not deter Rabbi Lubow. He worked hard to build a quality Chabad House where the Jewish community could come, meet and pray.

Every Friday Night and Saturday morning the Rabbi conducted services. He made sure to have a special kiddish lunch every Saturday, so after services, people could sit around, relax, eat and talk. It became a popular destination for some of the Jews in Veltree.

The Rabbi became familiar with other clergies in the area, and they often talked. While they may have had different thoughts regarding faith, they shared many of the same types of problems and as a…

Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.