Education and adaptation: How Kingston’s Jewish community keeps thriving

Richard Kizell, a third-generation Kingston resident, and his wife. (Supplied photo)

Kingston’s Jewish community is unique in Canada, doubling in size—from approximately 1,500 year-round to 3,000—with the influx of students studying at Queen’s University each year. The result is a stable patchwork. The main synagogue transitioned from Orthodox to conservative; the Reform synagogue has no building; Chabad and Hillel dominate the campus space. Meanwhile, Jewish South Africans and Israelis have moved there in droves, finding jobs around the university, an affordable cost of living and burgeoning immigrant communities.

With so much transience, what’s the roadmap for growth? How do you create a stable sense of identity when half the Jewish population leaves every four years? Who chooses to stay—and why? Ralph Benmergui is joined by Richard Kizell, a lifelong Kingstonian, to learn more about this one-of-a-kind community sitting at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.


Yehupetzville is hosted by Ralph Benmergui. Michael Fraiman is the producer and editor. Our music was arranged by Louis Simão and performed by Louis Simão and Jacob Gorzhaltsan. Our sponsor is PearTree Canada, which you can learn more about at This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, watch this video.