Clarence de Sola, a Montreal businessman and diplomat, wrote this letter to his wife Maude—which vividly evokes the atmosphere in Montreal at the start of the First World War: “1st August 1914 Saturday Evening 10 P.M. Dearest Love, War has been declared by Germany against Russia and France! The blow fell today, and at about 6 o’clock this afternoon the cables brought the news… The excitement here is something truly dreadful. I have never witnessed anything like it in all my life. Immense crowds pack the streets and watch the bulletins and buy up all the newspaper extras by the thousands as they appear at every short interval. One hears nothing but the shouts of the boys yelling out the latest extras and latest war news.” To continue reading click here and you can also read a description of the collection. —Courtesy of the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives
The Farbstein Family donated footage of their circa 1960 excursion to Crystal Beach Park. Delightful moments are captured of the family visiting the cross-border attraction in Fort Erie, Ontario, a popular destination for Americans and Canadians alike. What’s the value of preserving home movies? They provide an unofficial historical view of regional history and contribute to reconstructing our past—and help remind us of our shared cultural experiences. —Courtesy of Ontario Jewish Archives
The Gesher Project was a 1998 multidisciplinary and intergenerational project which employed creative approaches and discussion to bridge generations and heal Holocaust trauma. This detail photograph is a portion of the Gesher, a 19-foot-long collaborative canvas painting, within which each participant took a portion one-foot wide by six-feet tall. Group members pictured their Holocaust experience under the bridge. The aftermath and the promise of the future were painted above it. The bridge was discussed as a symbol of the slender separation of opposites and as symbolic rites of passage. Members shared close physical space while painting the bridge with intense energy, inspiration, appreciation and respect. —Courtesy of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre
Camp Wooden Acres was a small Jewish community-subsidized camp that ran from 1954 to 1977, near Saint-Adolphe-d’Howard in the Laurentians, Quebec. It offered a sliding fee scale to families, enabling Jewish youth from all economic backgrounds to participate in the joys of summer camp. —More photos are featured on Flickr and in the catalogue of Montreal’s Jewish Public Library
Beth Israel Synagogue in Vancouver hosted a confirmation ceremony for this group of young adults on June 2, 1968. The synagogue itself, founded in 1932, will soon will be the focus of a 90th anniversary celebration in a new building completed in 2014—as a rebuild of the original site from 1948. More archives from Beth Israel can be found here along with more background on the building. —Courtesy of the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.
Photo by Franz Lindner. Back row L-R: Harry Sherman, Alan Glasses, Ralph Aknin, Sheldon Smollan. Centre row L-R: Rabbi Solomon, Mark Weintraub, Michael Zaitzow, Cantor Nixon. Front row L-R: Susan Berman, Tannis Koffman, Fern Rogow.
Wolf Bodovsky was a butcher who brought this abacus from Russia to Ottawa in 1913, and set up shop in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. Four years later, on Oct. 24, 1917, Mrs. Bodovsky and their daughter, Annie, began the journey to join him—a trip that took six months by train and boat. The abacus was used in Bovodsky’s Kosher Meat Market for over 25 years. —Courtesy of the Ottawa Jewish Archves
Toby Molly Carnat was one of three children born to Harry and Sarah Carnat, who came to Calgary from Minneapolis around 1912. After the Second World War was declared, Toby Molly’s brother Morris joined the Canadian army, while she stayed in Montreal selling war bonds. But by 1944, she joined the U.S. army and met a naval officer named Harry Rose—he would later teach one of their young nieces to tie her shoes using a variety of knots. The following year, Toby Molly and Harry married in Paris, then settled in Perth Amboy, N.J. (Toby Molly Carnat Rose died Calgary in June 1973.) —Courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta
Yom ha-Shoah v’Hagvurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) was designated in 1959 by the State of Israel on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, to coincide with the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Earl Bales Park has traditionally been the location for these events in Toronto: Holocaust survivor Arnold Friedman is pictured speaking on Yom ha-Shoah in 2010. (He passed away in 2015.) —Courtesy of the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.
Pesach seder with Mel and David Perlman in St. Catharines, Ont., 1974: Each Passover, the process of redemption is re-enacted. The text of the sages in the Mishnah incorporated into the Haggadah is as follows “In each generation is every man to look upon himself as if he personally had actually gone forth out of Egypt.” This passage was cited in the opening reflection by Rabbi William Drazin published in Beth Midrash Hagadol’s (Simcoe Street Shul) April 1944 bulletin in which he also shared vital messages about liberty. Unlike a possession, liberty cannot be passed down from generation to generation, taken for granted or regarded passively. He wrote, “true liberty is won only when it continues to be guarded with the same active vigilance, the same unyielding courage, the same willing readiness to sacrifice for which it was first achieved.” —Courtesy of Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre
“The Matzah Bakery” is a photographic essay from Liliane Aberman, who visited a Montreal factory in March 1995, a few days before Passover: “As I observed the work in progress, it seemed to me that I was a spectator at a ballet of sorts where each individual fit into a perfectly orchestrated series of steps,” she explained. “There are no extraneous movements and no wasted time, as each batch of matzah must be prepared within 14 minutes.” The entire collection of 39 images can be viewed here. —Courtesy of the Jewish Public Library Archives
Sgt. Tommy Prince with Rachel, Harry and Perle Flam, and Zlata Flainblit. The Flams operated a mink farm in Scanterbury, Manitoba, on the Brokenhead Ojibway Reserve. Their children were lifelong friends with Tommy Prince, one of the most decorated soldiers of the Second World War and the Korean War—and, while he was serving, they hung on to his military medals. —Courtesy of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.
The Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver held the pictured Purim Parade in 1989. Established in 1928, the original JCCGV at 2675 Oak St. signalled a southward shift for local Jews after the First World War. In 1947, as the community further grew, its Beth Israel Synagogue and Talmud Torah School moved nearly 20 blocks south to 27th Avenue. Today, the JCCGV stands at 41st and Oak. —Courtesy of the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC
The Hillel Student Organization at McGill University mounted By George ’47—A Purim Revue in Modern Temp on March 10, 1947. The Mount Royal Lodge of B’nai Brith established Hillel at McGill in 1944. A year later, B’nai Brith purchased the building at 3460 Stanley, which has been used as the Hillel House ever since. —Photo by Mike Rachmil. From the Hillel Student Organization collection (I0081), Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives
Bernard Smith wore this top hat on the occasion of his marriage to Miss Rebecca Reinstein—which happened to be Ottawa’s first recorded Jewish wedding. The ceremony took place on on Nov. 1, 1894: the Ottawa Free Press reported it was performed by Reverend Jacob Mirsky. The Smiths were among the earliest Jewish families in the nation’s capital; Bernard was one of the early members of the city’s first synagogue, Adath Jeshurun. (His signature is recorded at a meeting from Apr. 25, 1892.) —Courtesy of the Ottawa Jewish Archives
Nu Mode was a higher-end ladies’ wear shop located at 70 Charlotte St. in Saint John, N.B. from the early 1940s to the 1970s. It was owned by Sidney Grosweiner, assisted by his wife, Ella and daughter, Susan (who was paid 25 cents an hour!). A bridal boutique and a children’s clothing department were part of the store at different times in its history. Mr. Grosweiner offered credit when his customers could not pay. The store placed regular advertisements—like this one from 1958—in local newspapers, particularly near holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas. —Courtesy of the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum
The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964. Seventy-three million people were watching across North America. The impact can be seen in these ringers performing with the toys on hand, albeit for a smaller audience. Lynne Pearlman, standing in the centre spot, recalls the day: “The photo was taken on our back patio in Sarnia… I am guessing I am age six—so probably 1964, and those are neighbours as my bandmates. If I recall correctly, my mother had just thrown out her back either that morning or the day before, so was flat on her back in bed and missed the event. I had my heart set on it so much, that despite my mother’s unfortunate timing with her back, my parents were good natured, and agreed that… the show must go on!” —Beatles concert, (Sarnia, ON), 1964. Morris and Rose Pearlman collection. Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2021-8-1
Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Montreal held a Hanukkah party on Dec. 27, 1959, in co-operation with the Menorah Chapter of the B’nai Brith Women’s Organization. More than 40 recently immigrated children participated, according to a JAIS bulletin the following March, from which this image is taken. —Courtesy of CJArchives (Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives)
Freimans celebrated its 22nd birthday in 1922 with tokens that shoppers could redeem for prizes. Ottawa’s first major department store was owned by A.J. Freiman (1880-1944), who was a prominent presence in the Jewish community and beyond. The store was owned and operated by his family until 1971—when it was sold to The Hudson’s Bay Co. The original building still stands as part of the Rideau Centre. —Courtesy of Ottawa Jewish Archives
Abraham Calp opened his Saint John, N.B., store in 1933, and the entrances on both Charlotte Street and Kings Square made it the most prominent in the city. Calp’s sold clothing and shoes for men and women along with specialty departments like a wedding boutique, a make-up counter, and a bargain basement. The landmark was known for the quality of its merchandise, annual bridal shows and elegant window displays—as evident in this 1950s photo of the Charlotte side decorated for Christmas. More about this New Brunswick history can be found in an online exhibit, Open for Business. —Courtesy of the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum
The Association of Former Concentration Camp Inmates in Montreal issued this 1966 membership card in to Michel Mielnicki, who moved west to become a founding member of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. Bialystok to Birkeneau: The Holocaust Journey of Michael Mielnicki, published in 2000, collected the stories he shared for decades as an outreach speaker. (The VHEC has launched its annual membership drive with an invitation to join its Holocaust-based anti-racism education and commemoration.) —Card donated by Michel Mielnicki to the VHEC
The Tivoli Theatre in Calgary opened in 1936 as a first-run movie house at 2015 Fourth St. SW, built in the Moderne style by Winnipeg architect Cecil Blankstein. It would go on to screen everything from art films to second-run releases, and eventually Chinese-language and “blue” movies—until Lionel and Mitch Ravvin converted the building into the Tivoli Shops, which opened in in 1991. Currently, over a dozen Jewish locals make their living in the film industry, while prior generations worked for the Calgary Film Exchange, and as independent theatre owners and managers. While just a few of those early cinemas still serve the function they were built for, the 21st annual Calgary Jewish Film Festival has been carrying their torch—even if 2021 requires watching the movies at home. —Photo by Jack Switzer/The Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta
NEW at The CJN: Jewish archives will feature items from their collections to challenge your ideas of what history is, who is remembered, and what is celebrated (keep scrolling for more!)
Aline Gubbay (1920-2005), a Canadian photographer, art historian and writer, added to her travel diary during a 1983 visit to Petra, Jordan. Before a 1994 peace treaty opened up the stone-carved city of the Nabataeans to Israelis, it lured adventurers who visited secretly. “The combination of awesome natural scenery, the grandeur of that narrow gorge, the intense colours of the rocks,” wrote Gubbay, “is really powerful and unlike anything else we have seen the world over.” —Courtesy of the Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal
The Hadassah Bazaar was first held in Toronto in 1924, initiating a mammoth volunteer-run concept later followed by other cities across Canada. The earliest events sold used clothing, hand-sewn items and home-cooked kosher specialties. Subsequent years introduced “carnival elements” and social events like fortune telling, bingo and floor shows. The war effort became a major focus in the early 1940s—while disco contests appeared in the latter 1970s. Proceeds were directed to medical and welfare services for women and children in Israel. Crowds of up to 60,000 lined up on the last Wednesday of October—like in this photo from 1970—until the final bazaar took place at Exhibition Place on Oct. 29, 2008. —Courtesy of the Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre
Louis Slotin (1910-1946) was born in Winnipeg and educated at the University of Manitoba and King’s College, London. While planning a return to teaching physics, he died 25 days after a Los Alamos National Laboratory accident involving a plutonium core. Slotin’s parents flew in from Winnipeg to visit the New Mexico base hospital before he passed away. Along with sympathy cards from around the world, they received this lapel pin in recognition of their son’s work in developing of the atomic bomb, as part of the Manhattan Project. —Courtesy of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
Leonard Frank (1870-1944) was the B.C.-based photographer of this 1932 capture of Black Tusk in Garibaldi Provincial Park, with a view that’s remained relatively unchanged. It’s not just today’s Instagram influencers who modify natural images: the original black-and-white snapshot was hand-tinted by Frank himself, which gave it the look of a timeless postcard. So, get outside and keep in mind that wilderness photography played a part in the artistic history of Jews in Canada. —Courtesy of the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia
Tola and Avrum Feigenbaum are in this photograph taken at the Mount Royal Belvedere in 1951, the year after the couple settled in Montreal. Both Holocaust survivors, they married in 1946 in Lodz, Poland. With the help of the Jewish Labour Committee, Tola and Avrum were recognized as political refugees, which allowed them to immigrate to Canada. —Courtesy of the Montreal Holocaust Museum/Musée de l’Holocauste Montréal
Simchat Torah rallies were major focal points for protests in support of the Jews of Soviet Russia, starting in the late 1960s. At this 1985 Canadian Jewish Congress event in Montreal, the crowd outside the Russian consulate was addressed by the late Martin Penn, then executive director of the Canadian Committee for Soviet Jewry. —Photo by Howard Kay, from the CJC collection at the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives
Pure Spring Company Ltd. was originally named the Ottawa Bottle and Trading Co. Started in the early 1920s by David Mirsky, the son of Ottawa’s first rabbi, its first product was water bottled from a local spring. Inspired by the ginger ale craze, Mirsky decided to create a soft drink line that also included cream soda, minted grape, and Gini Bitter Lemon. During decades of business that ended in 1987, Pure Spring had flavours like these consumed across Canada and beyond. —Ottawa Jewish Archives, OJA 2-328
The Henrietta Szold Chapter of Hadassah was, arguably, the most active Jewish organization in Saint John, N.B., in the 1960s. The group had more than 70 members who were active in organizing fundraising events including fashion shows, art exhibitions and sales, thrift shops and annual Youth Aliyah dinners. Meetings were held monthly from September to June in the Shaarei Zedek Synagogue or nearby Jewish Community Centre. Members received postcards in the mail with reminders of the meeting date and special events.
—Katherine Biggs-Craft, Executive Director and Curator, Saint John Jewish Historical Museum, Saint John, N.B. jewishmuseumsj.com
Shofar blowing demonstration at UJA’s Walk for Israel, Toronto, 1991. The shofar, a ceremonial horn typically made from a hollowed ram’s horn, is sounded 100 times during a Rosh Hashanah service. Additionally, a long shofar blast marks the end of the fast day of Yom Kippur. Blowing a shofar is not an easy task and there are techniques and rules for blowing including when, how and who can blow, and proper sequencing of blasts, so instruction is helpful. This year, Israel’s Health Ministry issued recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including holding services outdoors and ensuring that shofar blowers have received their third booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. —Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 67, series 17-1-17, file 29