Mont-Tremblant is known worldwide as a ski centre and après-ski hot spot, but this famous Laurentian Mountain resort is actually a popular holiday destination year-round.
The rolling mountains and picturesque lakes and rivers provide an ideal setting for summer activities such as cycling, hiking, golfing and canoeing.
About 90 minutes north of Montreal, the resort village, with its many hotels, spas, boutiques and dazzling mountain-top casino, caters to international tourists that include Jewish visitors from around the world.
It’s not uncommon to see some of them attending Shabbat services and holiday celebrations at Chabad of Mont-Tremblant (819-681-0337), a Jewish centre, which used to be housed in a condo in the resort. The centre recently relocated to 110 Chemin Desmarais, which is a two-minute walk from a ski hill.
Rabbi Yisroel Mockin and his wife, Liba, who have been running Chabad of Mont-Tremblant since its inception six years ago, say they are thrilled with the centre’s new home and very appreciative of the generosity of their supporters.
“People have opened their wallets,” she says “It’s been overwhelming.
“Like most Chabad centres, we are not funded by Chabad headquarters. We have to do our own fundraising.”
According to Rabbi Mockin, it was a challenge to find a new home within walking distance of the resort. “We found a humble house on a humongous property. It’s 1.3 acres.”
The resort did not permit display signs for the centre, he says. “Now we can have a sign and be more visible.”
He explains that many people made a serendipitous discovery of the centre on the ski hill when they noticed him, his wife and their seven-year old son, Mendel, wearing jackets with Chabad Tremblant printed on the back. “We’re a skiing family. The jackets helped direct people to the centre.”
He acknowledges that having the shul in the resort village was very convenient. “People could ski in and ski out. It was an incredible location.”
But, ultimately, it was hard to accommodate all the visitors in the cramped quarters of the two-bedroom unit. “It was very tight. We were bumper to bumper.”
“It was a wonderful atmosphere,” adds the rebbetzin. “It was very international and very heimish. Every weekend we would have a new community.”
Rabbi Mockin says her cooking has always been a big draw. “The kiddush my wife puts out is unheard of.”
He describes the centre as a meeting place for Jews from different communities. “People come to Tremblant from all over – New York, Israel, Mexico, England…
“When people go on holiday, they’re more relaxed and more open to meeting people.”
The centre has also become a place for networking, he says. “I’ve experienced people making business connections.”
And younger people are also connecting he says. “We’ve had teenagers meet at Chabad, and they stay in touch through Facebook.”
The centre also attracts Jews of diverse religious backgrounds – from people who attend shul weekly to those who are non-observant, he continues. “We’ve had people coming to shul on vacation who don’t normally go to shul when they’re not on vacation.”
Chabad tries to help families staying in the condo units “create a home away from home,” he says, pointing out that kosher food can be ordered through their website at www.chabadtremblant.com. It also has details of hotel discounts through Chabad.
The centre is the brainchild of Rabbi Mockin, a member of the Chabad community in midtown Montreal.
He was running a summer camp for some 400 boys just north of Tremblant when he came up with the idea of setting up a Chabad centre at the resort. He was encouraged to proceed by his father, Rabbi Berel Mockin, head emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Quebec.
The Mockins – they also have a 20-year-old son, Peretz, and an 18-year-old daughter, Chaya – divide their time between Montreal and Mont-Tremblant.
The couple had a busy winter holiday season because this year Chanukah overlapped with Christmas.
“On the years when the two holidays coincide, we’ve always had a bigger bash,” says the rabbi.
“Our doors are always open regardless of the time of day,” adds Rebbetzin Mockin. “People are welcome to drop in for a hot chocolate or warm soup, or they can come by to pick up an extra challah or candles for Shabbat.”
Chabad of Mont-Tremblant runs morning and evening services on weekends, holidays, during yeshiva vacation weeks and throughout the summer.
For more information, e-mail Rabbi Mockin at email@example.com.