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Intersection of Kindness and Warmth

Simi Besser

Sunday mornings in Montreal see a cheerful, bearded crossing guard singing parshah rhymes, and bringing smiles to children and adults alike

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

 Mishpacha image



n Orange Vest

It started, like so many great things, in good fun. Twenty-one years ago, when Mr. Reuven Stein’s oldest daughter was six years old, he’d walk her to school every morning, and at the busy intersection of DeVimy and Goyer Streets, there was a crossing guard, courtesy of the City of Montreal.

But not on Sunday, when municipal schools are closed, but our yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs are open for business (I know, grooaaaannnn.).

On Sunday mornings, Mr. Stein would see many children walking to school alone, since, for various reasons, their parents couldn’t walk them. He started hanging around, after he’d dropped his daughter off, and crossing these children, and after a few weeks of providing this service, people expected him to be there. A Bais Yaakov staff member brought him an orange vest and red stop sign, and asked him to officially do the job.

And 21 years after accepting the volunteer job, Mr. Stein is still there — crossing kids, making them smile, and leaving them with a memorable parshah rhyme.


People often assume the job requires special skills, but really, Mr. Stein says, anyone can be a crossing guard. The main thing is to make sure the cars actually stop. It’s happened that Mr. Stein walked right into the street with his stop sign held high and a car zipped right by the girls.

And that was back when he started. Today, with drivers often speaking on cell phones, they’re more distracted than ever.

“Always make sure the road is clear before crossing,” Mr. Stein warns. “Mostly, being a crossing guard is common sense.”

No Matter the Weather

Montreal is known for its freezing, snowy winters. How does Mr. Stein stand outside for a half hour in the biting cold? He says it’s no big deal. “When it gets really cold, I put on a couple of pairs of pants, some sweaters, and I make sure to keep moving.” He stresses that it’s very important to dress warmly.

When he was younger he used to cross the girls at two different crosswalks and because of the constant running, back and forth, he never got cold.

It’s happened that Mr. Stein couldn’t make it: What does he do then? “My wife substitutes for me. The parents expect me to be there, so at this point, we can’t not have an adult at the crosswalk.” He laughs. “But of course, she can’t sing the parshah rhymes!” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 694)

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