Ralph Benmergui on why he left Toronto for Hamilton—and never looked back

Hamilton is evolving from an overlooked industrial city to a gentrified home for Toronto expats. Where does that leave its Jewish community? (Image courtesy of Steve Shook/Flickr)

Ralph Benmergui has been hosting Yehupetzville, The CJN’s podcast about small-town Jewish life in Canada and around the world, since its debut on Mar. 17, 2021. Since then, we’ve virtually visited Jews from Glace Bay to North Bay, Jamaica to Jasper, Little Rock to Lethbridge and beyond.

To mark the second anniversary of his successful show, we decided not to look outward, but to turn home—and home, for Ralph, is Hamilton, Ont.

Hamilton is not a small city, nor is its community of 5,000 Jews unimpressive. But its makeup is changing. The long-overlooked industrial city is now exploding with new developments, condos and gentrification, expanding with Toronto expats and new immigrants attracted by a vibrant urban life and (relatively) affordable housing. Local Jewish organizations have been trying to capitalize on this opportunity for years now, and the results speak to how the face of the city is evolving.

On today’s episode of Yehupetzville, Ralph sits down with two community leaders who’ve been at the forefront of Hamilton’s transition: Gustavo Rymberg is the CEO of the Hamilton Jewish Federation, and Laura Wolfson leads the Federation’s “Welcome Home Hamilton” initiative, which helps newcomers transition smoothly into the city.


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 peartreecanada.com. This show is a member of The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast or donating to The CJN.