Showing 96 results

People and organizations
Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre

Ajalon Lodge

  • Corporate body
  • 1929-

The Ajalon Lodge was first organized on 10 March 1929 as the Ajalon Club of Young Judaea. The founding members were Abe Bohnen, Hyman Cohen, Isaac Gringorten, George (Hamell) Himmelstein and Lou Hochman. The group met at the Zionist Institute at 206 Beverley Street in Toronto. The name was selected by Abe Bohnen and Mark Zimmerman, the Young Judaea supervisor, from a map of Palestine which hung in the Young Judaea library.

The first leader of the club was Morris Kertzer followed by Al Zimmerman. In 1930 the lodge began to record its activities in scrapbooks, which it later named the Ajalon Archives. The archivists over the years included Max Schwadron, Ben Marks, Myer Bromberg and Willie Zimmerman.

The club was actively involved in Young Judaea literary, social and fundraising activities. In 1935, the club graduated from the Young Judaea movement and become a lodge of the Zionist Order Habonim. By 1939 however, the Ajalon, Balfour, Bialik and Jaffa lodges merged into the Toronto Habonim Lodge due the waning membership as many men went off to war. After the war, the four lodges returned to their original state. In 1940, the lodge acquired club rooms on the third floor of the Zionist Building and in 1944 several wives of lodge members organized the Ajalon Ladies Auxiliary. By 1953, Habonim became the Zionist Men’s Association of Canada, an affiliate organization of the Zionist Organization of Canada and by the 1960s, Ajalon Lodge became directly affiliated with ZOC. Over the course of its existence membership in the lodge has been between 40 and 90 members.

Ajalon Lodge participated in many fundraising campaigns for Jewish organizations in Toronto, such as the Jewish National Fund and the United Palestine Appeal. Many of its members also served on the Board of Directors for organizations such as the Toronto Zionist Council and Young Judaea. The lodge was involved in several fundraising initiatives, including the establishment of a kindergarten in Ashkelon, Israel in 1972. In later years the Ajalon Lodge was affiliated with the Zionist Organization of Canada.

Alpert, Patricia Joy

  • Person
  • 1931-2001

Patricia Joy Alpert (1931-2001) was an internationally-acclaimed artist, a teacher, and a dynamic community leader, most notably serving as National President of Canadian Hadassah-WIZO from 1996 to 1999. Pat was born in Toronto in 1931 to parents Oscar and Gertrude Pattenick. Oscar Pattenick, the son of Benjamin Pattenick and Pauline Goldenberg, was born in 1892 in Galicia and immigrated to Canada with his brother as a young man. The brothers ran a retail clothing business that expanded to several locations around Ontario, including Toronto and Bowmanville. Oscar married Gertrude Breslin (1896-1988) in 1917. She was one of 14 children of Hyman Breslin and Sarah Pearl Papernick and had been raised in Toronto. Together the couple raised three children: Bernard (Boon), and twin girls Patricia and Pearl.
Pat and her sister showed artistic talent from an early age. After graduating from Oakwood Collegiate high school, Pat enrolled at the University of Miami and graduated with a B.A. in Art History in 1956. She started her career as a designer and display artist at Simpson’s department store, doing freelance artwork and volunteering at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Pat married Herbert S. Alpert in 1958 and they had two daughters, Lisa and Nancy. Pat went back to school at Toronto Teacher's College and then taught kindergarten for eleven years for the North York Board of Education. She also earned a Supervisor's Art Certificate and taught art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, North York Public Library, and Associated Hebrew Schools. Her artistic career took off in the 1970s, when her drawings were exhibited in solo and group exhibitions around North America. She typically drew human figures using ink.
Pat Alpert’s volunteer work began soon after her marriage, when she joined Toronto's Carmel chapter of Hadassah as a way to make new friends. In 1983, she became president of Toronto Hadassah-WIZO, serving until 1985. She continued with Toronto Hadassah as vice-president and corresponding secretary. Pat was deeply committed to Jewish life and to the State of Israel. Choosing Hadassah as the focus of her passion, she left her professional career in the 1990s to become a full-time volunteer. She served as chair of the Canadian Hadassah-WIZO Foundation, Vice-president of National Hadassah, National President from 1996 to 1999 and president of Toronto Jewish National Fund from 1992 to 1994. Pat also held positions for Israel Bonds, Jewish Women’s Federation, B’nai Brith League for Human Rights, the Holocaust Centre of Toronto, Baycrest Women’s Auxiliary and Board of Governors, and Reena Foundation. Pat Alpert died on October 4, 2001, at the age of 70.

Amalgamated Dawes Road Trustees

  • Corporate body
  • 1950-

The Amalgamated Dawes Road Trustees (ADRT) is a non-profit body that was established in 1950. Its primary mandate has been to oversee and maintain the Jewish cemetery located at Dawes Road, which was established around 1903. This has involved maintaining the grounds, fixing and straightening monuments, and beautifying the surroundings. All funds that they receive are spent on the maintenance of the cemetery. In 1953, the ADRT took over responsibility for the Jones Avenue cemetery as well, at the request of Beth Tzedec Congregation after the merger of its two predecessor congregations who owned the two cemeteries.
Previously, ADRT reported to the Canadian Jewish Congress, however, was an autonomous entity with independent decision-making powers. The Trustees that run it are drawn from the congregations and societies who own plots at these two cemeteries. During the early years, there were also representatives from the CJC and the United Jewish Welfare Fund of Toronto.
In 1950, there were 34 groups that possessed cemetery plots, and today, there are 51. Some of the larger and more prominent ones include Beth Tzedec, Temple Sinai, Beth Emeth, Beth David, the Toronto Hebrew Benevolent Society, the United Jewish People's Order and the Keltzer Sick Benefit Society. The ADRT office was originally located at 150 Beverley Street. It later relocated to 3169 St. Clair Avenue East, closer to the cemetery.

B'nai Brith Lodge No. 1154

  • Corporate body
  • 1930-1974

Brantford’s B’nai Brith Lodge No. 1154 was formed on December 31, 1931 with Max White as its first president. B’nai Brith is an international service organization that was first formed in New York in 1843 to unify the American Jewish Community. B’nai Brith lodges began appearing in Canada in the late 1800s and by 1981 Canadian membership in the organization had grown large enough for the establishment of a separate Canadian district, B’nai Brith Canada. As a member of B’nai Brith, the Brantford lodge shared its mandate of assisting those in need both at home and abroad, supporting the state of Israel and promoting human rights. The Brantford lodge has not been active since 1974. Brantford’s Jewish community has been largely inactive since 2001, when the diminishing Jewish population finally forced the closure of Brantford’s synagogue (Congregation Beth David).

B'nai Brith Youth Organization, Lake Ontario Region

  • Corporate body

In accordance with the mandate and ideals of the International B'nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), the Lake Ontario Region (LOR) is dedicated to helping Jewish youth understand their history and culture while developing leadership skills through various activities and community service programs. BBYO was first introduced in Ontario as early as the 1920s but LOR was not officially established until after the Second World War. In 1929 the B'nai Brith Toronto Lodge sponsored the first youth chapter with 35 young men as bearers. Membership steadily grew overtime and new chapters began opening throughout the province. By the end of the Second World War, the rapid growth of new lodges and chapters resulted in the formal creation of the Southern Ontario Region (SOR), LOR's precursor. SOR included chapters in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Guelph and Peterborough. By the 1990s, its name had changed to LOR and chapters from Buffalo, Rochester and Upstate New York were added to its jurisdiction.
LOR is organized into a series of chapters comprised of AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) for boys and BBG (B'nai Brith Girls) for girls with a focus on teens from grades 8-12. Chapters are supervised by an adult board and are youth-led. Members are democratically elected to office by their peers and have control over planning and organizing programs which include dances, sports activities, festivals, fundraisers, group discussions, community services, trips abroad and weekend conventions with other BBYO members. Summer camp programs are also offered with the goal of building interpersonal and leadership skills. LOR remains faithful to its original purpose of providing learning experiences for its youth and instilling within them the desire to contribute to their communities as confident and responsible adults.

Baine, Shirley

  • Person
  • 1905-2005

Shirley (Gertzbein) Baine (1910-2005) was born in Lithuania in 1910. She came to Toronto to live with her extended family during the 1930s. She later married Arthur Baine, a widower who had two children. Together, they had three additional children of their own.
Soon after her arrival in Canada, Shirley Baine became very involved in the Mizrachi organization. She was first a member of the Bruria Girls, during the late 1930s, and then joined the Etzion women's chapter later in her life. The role of both groups was to raise funds and provide support for Palestine (and later Israel). In 1972, she was honoured by this chapter with an inscription of her name into their Golden Book. She died in Toronto in 2005.

Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

  • Corporate body
  • 1917-

As early as 1916 the Ezras Noshem Society (a mutual benefit society for Jewish women) started to raise funds to purchase and renovate what would become The Toronto Jewish Old Folks' Home (Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care’s forerunner) after its members recognized the need for a home in Toronto where the Jewish elderly could receive kosher meals and communicate with staff in their own language. Property at 31 Cecil Street was purchased in 1917 and sometime between September 1918 and January 1920 the Home officially opened there. The Home was run by a small staff and the women of Ezras Noshem who volunteered their time to make beds, cook kosher meals, do laundry and sponsor fundraising events. By 1938 the Home had expanded into its neighboring houses at 29, 33, and 35 Cecil Street and was caring for 115 residents. It provided residents with synagogue services, a hospital ward and social activities. At this time the Home also became a member of the United Jewish Welfare Fund.
In 1946, the need for a larger and more modern building prompted a fundraising campaign, which was headed by Abe Posluns, to purchase and build a new facility. In December 1954, the new building opened at 3650 Bathurst Street and consisted of two new institutions: The Jewish Home for the Aged and Baycrest Hospital. This location continued to expand over the years, including a new building for residents in 1968, an apartment building for seniors called the Baycrest Terrace in 1976, and a community centre known as The Joseph E. and Minnie Wagman Centre in 1977. These additions enabled Baycrest to expand its programs to include a day care program, recreational programs, and a Sheltered Workshop which was run in cooperation with the Jewish Vocational Service and provided residents with employment. In 1986 a new Baycrest Hospital was erected, and in 1989, the Rotman Research Institute, which is also affiliated with the University of Toronto, opened to create a research facility where top researchers could study and find new treatment methods for the elderly.
In recent years, Baycrest’s services and programs have continued to expand. In 2000, the Apotex Centre, the Jewish Home for the Aged and the Louis and Leah Posluns Centre for Stroke and Cognition opened to help residents with progressive dementia caused by vascular disorders. In 2001 a condominium building opened at 2 Neptune Drive for seniors, and in 2003 the Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic was established to provide out-patient services for seniors with memory disorders. Baycrest Centre also provides numerous cultural and religious programs for the inhabitants and the greater community, including a heritage museum, art exhibits and a Holocaust program.

Berg, Maurice

  • Person
  • 1913-1993

Maurice "Moishe" Berg (1913-1993) was a Toronto businessman who devoted much of his life to Jewish communal work and particularly to Zionist work. He was born on July 29th, 1913 in Russia to Rachel and Jacob Hochberg. He came to Canada in 1920, with his mother, two brothers, and one sister. Berg was educated in Toronto and became president of Maple Leaf Press, a printing and office furniture company that was founded in 1945. He was also an active member and leader of Canadian Young Judaea and past president of Ajalon Lodge. He became president of the Central Region of Young Judaea, and later, national president. He was also chairman of the Regional Young Judaea Committee and chairman of the Biluim Committee. Berg was instrumental in starting up Camp Shalom. He also served on the Board of Directors of the YM & YWHA and was active with many other Jewish groups and organizations. He was affliliated with Adath Sholom Congregation. Maurice Berg died on February 27th, 1993.

Beta Sigma Rho Fraternity

  • Corporate body
  • 1910-

The Beta Sigma Rho fraternity was founded in 1910 at Cornell University in Ithica, New York by four Jewish veterinary students who were unable to obtain membership in existing fraternities because of their religion. Originally named Beta Samach, the purpose of the fraternity was to promote fraternal spirit and good fellowship among its members, to diffuse a liberal culture, to advance scholarship, and to further equity in college affairs. Although not formally stated in its constitution, the fraternity also served a social function allowing its members to develop friendships and to take part in social events, such as dances.
The fraternity began to expand nationally in 1914, and in 1920 the fraternity’s name was changed to Beta Sigma Rho. The fraternity expanded into Ontario in 1930 with the Eta Chapter at the University of Toronto. In 1944 a second Canadian chapter was opened at the University of Western Ontario, known as the Iota Chapter.
Membership in Beta Sigma Rho began to decline in the late 1960s, and in 1972 its national office merged with the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity for financial assistance. The chapter at Pennsylvania State University chose not to take part in the merger and became an independent fraternity under the new name Beta Sigma Beta.

Beth Isaiah Congregation (Guelph, Ont.)

  • Corporate body

The Guelph Hebrew Congregation, precursor of Beth Isaiah Congregation, was established in the early 1900s by the Jewish families which settled in Guelph shortly after 1900. Rev. Pearl was the congregation's first spiritual leader and teacher. Services were held in private homes until 1925, when the congregation purchased a building at the intersection of Surrey and Dublin Streets and remodeled it as a synagogue. An extension was added to this building in 1935 to meet the needs of the increasing membership. Planning for a new synagogue began in the early 1940s, and construction was completed in 1949 of the new synagogue on the same site. The name of the congregation was changed to Beth Isaiah, in honour of congregation member Isaiah (Sidney) Acker, who was killed on active service on 3 November 1942, while with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Over the years, congregation members formed other organizations whose activities were tightly intertwined with the congregation, given the relatively small size of Guelph's Jewish community. These organizations included the Beth Isaiah Congregation Hebrew School, the Guelph Jewish Welfare Fund, the Ir Shalom Chapter of Hadassah, and the B'nai Brith Guelph Lodge. The B'nai Brith Guelph Lodge was chartered in Apr. 1942. It held the first Brotherhood dinner in Canada in 1947, which gave impetus to the formation of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. Beth Isaiah celebrated the 100th anniversary of the congregation in 2004.

Board of Jewish Education (Toronto)

  • Corporate body

Established in 1949 as the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Board of Jewish Education (BJE) is the central Jewish agency in Toronto whose mandate is to preserve, enrich, and promote Jewish education in the Greater Toronto area. Its primary tasks are to coordinate and provide leadership in teacher training and professional development, curriculum development, school administration, and inter-school activities, and also to allocate funds to affiliated Jewish schools raised through the annual UJA Federation fundraising campaign. The BJE was established following the recommendations of a 1948 study of Jewish education in Toronto undertaken by Dr. Uriah Z. Engelman of the American Association for Jewish Education, and sponsored by the United Jewish Welfare Fund (UJWF; now, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto) and the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), Central Region. In its constitution, the bureau was described as having the dual characteristics of being an autonomous agency of the UJWF and also as acting for the UJWF in the field of Jewish education. The bureau was governed by a board of governors with representatives from affiliated schools, the UJWF, CJC Central Region, and from the community at large. The inaugural meeting of the board took place on 20 March 1950. The organizational structure of the Bureau of Jewish Education mirrored that of the UJWF, with a board of directors and executive committee, standing comittees, and a professional staff. Samuel Posluns was the first president of the BJE and Dr. Joseph Diamond was its first executive director, serving in this position for 18 years. In the 1950s, the staff consisted of the executive director, an administrative assistant, and a school consultant. Over time, the staff was expanded to meet the increased demand for BJE services as the number of affiliated schools grew. For example, the position of director of school finances was created in 1976 to oversee school budgets, monitor tuition fees and teacher salary profiles, and perform other duties relating to financial management. The BJE's offices were located with those of the United Jewish Welfare Fund, first on Spadina Avenue and then on Beverley Street, until the 1960s, when the board moved to offices in the Jewish Public Library on Glen Park Avenue. The board remained there until 1983, when the BJE moved into the newly built Lipa Green Building, on Bathurst Street, along with the other departments of the Toronto Jewish Congress, as the UJWF was renamed in 1976. During the 1950s and early 1960s, the BJE sponsored adult education programs in Toronto through the Institute for Jewish Studies, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) and CJC. The BJE also provided assistance and advice to the CJC in support of Jewish education in the smaller Jewish communities in Ontario. The BJE's role in adult education diminished significantly after its reorganization in 1968, but this again became a responsibility for the BJE in the late 1990s. The BJE has gone through several periods of reorganization since it was founded: in 1968, when the bureau became the Board of Jewish Education and its board was reduced in size significantly; in the late 1970s, with the implementation of recommendations of the 1975 UJWF Study Committee on Jewish Education; in the early 1990s, following the development of a strategic plan for the BJE; and in the late 1990s, following the recommendations of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto Commission on Jewish Education (1996). The 1968 reorganization was the most significant of these, with the BJE Board of Directors reduced from over 80 members to just 20 members approved by the UJWF, and the number of standing committees was reduced to two. Stephen Berger was appointed as first chairman of the Board of Jewish Education in 1968, and in 1969, Rabbi Irwin E. Witty became the second executive director of the BJE. Later reorganizations typically involved alterations to the number and responsibilities of BJE committees. Although its primary function is to support existing educational institutions, the BJE has also participated in establishing several new instititions in Toronto. In 1953, to meet the need for qualified teachers in affiliated schools, the BJE and CJC Central Region founded a Jewish teachers' seminary (Midrasha L'Morim) in Toronto, which was jointly funded by the BJE and CJC for many years. In 1960, the BJE and UJWF sponsored the establishment of a non-denominational Jewish high school, the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT), with the BJE Executive Director as its director. In 1978, the Orah School for Jewish Children from the Soviet Union was established by the BJE, to meet the special needs of the large numbers of recent immigrants from the Soviet Union. At its founding, the BJE served a total of 21 day and supplementary schools. When it ceased functioning in 2012, the BJE served more than 70 day and supplementary schools in the Greater Toronto area, with the position of chair held by Baila Lubek and the position of executive director held by Dr. Seymour Epstein. The Board was replaced by the Mercaz and later, the Centre for Jewish Education.

Brantford Hebrew Association

  • Corporate body
  • 1907-1950

The Brantford Hebrew Association, Congregation Beth David’s precursor, was founded in 1907 when Rabbi Backer officiated Brantford’s first public Jewish religious service in an upper hall on George Street. Services had previously taken place in the homes of Jewish families, who had begun settling in the area around the turn of the century. By 1911, services had moved to the old Conservative Hall at Dalhousie and King Street. In 1915, the Congregation purchased a building at 33 Palace Street and remodeled it into a synagogue. This building was also used as a community centre and for the Congregation’s Hebrew School.
On October 13th, 1911 the Congregation was incorporated, and the following year it purchased land for a cemetery in the northeast corner of Mount Hope Cemetery. Due to increasing membership, a new synagogue was built at 50 Waterloo Street in 1948. In January 1950, the Congregation changed its name to Beth David in honour of member David Axler, who died during the Second World War while training as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Congregation was at its peak in the 1960s with 150 member families. However, membership drastically fell after the children of this generation moved to larger cities and their parents followed after retirement. By 1999, only 28 families remained as members and services were reduced to being held on the High Holidays and special occasions, such as, Bah Mitzvah’s. Dwindling resources and membership forced the Congregation to close around 2001. Throughout its existence, over 30 rabbi's served the Congregation, including Rabbi Saul Wolfe Gringorten (ca. 1910-1923). Its cemetery continues to be looked after by Allan Norris, a past president of the Congregation.

Brown, Alexander, Dr.

  • Person
  • 1909-1984

Dr. Alexander Brown (1909-1984) was a leader in the field of Jewish education in Toronto. He held various positions with Toronto’s Board of Jewish Education (BJE) and the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, and was actively involved with other Jewish organizations, such as the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and the United Jewish Welfare Fund (UJWF).
Brown was born in the Ukraine on 14 February 1909 to Louis and Bessie Brown. The family immigrated to Canada in 1920. Brown attended the Simcoe Street Talmud Torah and studied under Rabbi Jacob Gordon. He continued his education at the Hebrew Theological College of Chicago and returned to Toronto in 1933. Between 1934 and 1936 Brown served as the first Executive Secretary of the CJC, Central Region. From 1936 to 1937 he was an announcer for the Jewish Radio Hour, where he read the News of the Week. In 1945 he graduated from the University of Toronto with a BA and then again in 1948 with an MA in Oriental Languages. Brown was married to Dorothy Mercovitch (1912-2009) of London, Ontario and together they had two children, Martin and Paul.
Brown entered the field of Jewish education as the Principal of Shaarei Shomayim Hebrew School from 1942 to 1948, as a Principal of the AHS of Toronto and as Dean of the Midrasha L'Morim. From 1957 to 1964 he worked as a consultant with the BJE in Toronto and then became the BJE's Associate Director until the early 1980s. He also was a member of the UJWF’s Study Committee on Jewish Education, the National Council of Jewish Education, the Toronto Zionist Council and the Educational and Cultural Committee of the CJC. In 1969, he received an honourary doctorate in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois.
Dr. Brown died on 15 September 1984 at the age of 75.

Brown, Benjamin

  • Person
  • 1888-1974

Benjamin Brown (ca. 1888-1974) was the first practicing Jewish architect in Toronto. Born in what is now Lithuania, he arrived in Toronto at an early age and soon after, quit school to take a job in a garment manufacturing factory to help out his impoverished family. Not finding this career to his liking, Brown enrolled in the Ontario School of Art and Design with the intention of becoming an artist. When this profession proved financially unfeasible, Brown decided to pursue a career in architecture. After completing his high school equivalency, he enrolled in the University of Toronto architectural program, graduating in 1913. Soon after, Brown opened up a practice with fellow architect Robert McConnell, which lasted until the early 1920s. After the partnership ended, Brown set up an independent practice, which he maintained until his retirement in 1955.

Canadian Jewish Congress

  • Corporate body
  • 1919-2011

By 1919 the plight of post-war Eastern European Jewry and the need for a united community voice for Canadian Jewry led to the creation of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Its founding meeting was held on March 16, 1919 in Montreal. Though it briefly maintained a tiny regional office in Toronto, the CJC remained inactive until 1933, when it fully reconvened by opening offices in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Toronto. Egmont L. Frankel was the first President of the new Central Division in Toronto. While the National Office in Montreal focused on the overarching issues of the social and economic rights of European Jewry, assistance for Jewish immigrants, and combating prejudice in Canada, the Toronto office dealt with local violent anti-Jewish demonstrations as well as continuing discrimination both in employment and in access to public recreational facilities. The structure was based on regular national biennial plenary conferences at which policies were delineated and national and regional executives were elected. Between plenary sessions, National and Regional Councils were in charge. These were augmented by the following standing committees: Administrative, Officers, Personnel, Financial, Publications, and Educational and Cultural. Special committees were created to deal with issues such as: youth, community loans, kashruth, fundraising, Israel, Russian Jewry, and various emergency issues such as refugees, immigration, and housing. During the 1930’s the Central Division Office moved several times and occupied offices in the following locations; Yonge St., the Bond St. Synagogue, Scheuer House, the Zionist Building, and its long-term home at 150-152 Beverley Street where it remained until its July, 1983 move to the Lipa Green Building in North York. Its activities expanded to include taking responsibility for Jewish educational standards but, by 1941, its main efforts shifted to support for Canada’s war effort. Immediately after the end of the war, the focus again shifted to Jewish immigration projects and the maintenance of Jewish identity in small communities. By 1950, the CJC’s use of the title “division” was changed to “region” to accommodate internal operational “divisions” within each region. Also, by then, the Central Region was busy expanding its programs for all Ontario Jewish communities, creating a province-wide council of youth groups, and working with the newly-created Bureau of Jewish Education (later Board of Jewish Education, now Mercaz). Standardization of kashruth rules in Ontario was implemented. As well, regular educational conferences and cultural events were held throughout the province, while province-wide fund-raising efforts in support of Moess Chittin for relief projects in Israel and for local Congress activities were expanded. Many of its educational and cultural responsibilities necessitated working with other Jewish organizations such as the United Jewish Welfare Fund, Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), Hadassah, the Canadian Legion, B’nai B’rith, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress, and the many Landsmenshaften (Jewish mutual benefit societies, each formed by immigrants originating from the same Eastern European community). During the 1960s, the Central Region began sending Moess Chittin relief shipments to Cuban Jews unable to acquire kosher foods for Passover. Its lobbying efforts included participation in the Royal Commissions on Hate Propaganda, and its greatest success came with the introduction and implementation of Ontario’s Fair Employment and Fair Accommodation Practices legislation, an achievement in which Congress played a pivotal role. From 1971 to 1989 the major focus became international and Canada-wide lobbying for, and providing support to, Soviet Jewry. Virtually all local and Canadian efforts to assist the Soviet Jewish “refusniks” were organized and coordinated in Toronto by the CJC Ontario Region office, which provided staff and funding for the many lobbying activities and public demonstrations which characterized this successful effort. As of November, 1975, the CJC Central Region’s responsibilities in Toronto were radically altered. To improve cost efficiency in Toronto, CJC educational and social service program activities were merged with similar programs already provided by Toronto’s United Jewish Appeal. The UJA assumed sole responsibility for these amalgamated programs in Toronto and was renamed Toronto Jewish Congress. The CJC Central Region still retained province-wide responsibilities for Ontario’s smaller Jewish Communities, and its office remained in Toronto. Also, following this reorganization, its name was changed to Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region. Although CJC no longer provided direct social and educational programs to Toronto, the TJC’s senior executive was, at the time, still obliged to continue to keep it notified about developments concerning previous Congress responsibilities. From 1983, the Ontario Region's offices were located in the Lipa Green Building at 4600 Bathurst Street. It continued its work of financially supporting various Israeli institutions and fostering Canada-Israel relations. It also spearheaded the movement to support and protect Jews in Arab lands, especially in Syria. Funding for the CJC came from the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, which restributed a portion of the funds raised by the local Jewish federations across Canada.
The CJC dissolved in 2011. Today, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) acts as the Jewish community's primary lobby group.

Cass, Isadore M., Dr.

  • Person
  • 1916-1996

Dr. Isadore M. Cass (1916-1996), a well-known pathologist and practicing mohel--Jewish ritual circumcisor--for the Toronto Jewish community, was born and educated in Toronto, attending the University of Toronto's medical school. After serving with the army during the Second World War, Dr. Cass returned to Toronto to private practice. He began studying pathology in 1953, and performed research at the Ontario Cancer Institute, Connaught Labs and the Ontario Department of Health throughout his career. He was chief of pathology at Ajax and Pickering hospitals for twenty-three years, until his retirement in 1986. In 1945, Dr. Cass began doing ritual circumcisions and was the first medical doctor in Toronto to do so. He performed over 40,000 circumcisions throughout Canada and the eastern United States and trained many physicians to perform them as well. Dr. Cass was a member of the following organizations: New York Academy of Sciences; the Academy of Medicine, Toronto; the Israel Medical Association; General Wingate Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion; and many other associations and societies. Dr. Cass studied Torah under Rabbi Jacob Gordon and was a Torah reader at Goel Tzedec Synagogue and later, Beth Tzedec. He also studied and taught Torah throughout his life, chairing the Canadian Jewish Congress' Tanach study group for many years, and leading weekly Gemara classes at Beth Tzedec. He belonged to Shaarei Shomayim and Beth Lida synagogues, as well as Lubavitch. In 1987, Dr. and Mrs. Cass were honoured as "Couple of the Year" by Machanaim, The Network of Educational Institutions in Kiryat Gat, Israel, for their great contributions to this charity over the years. Dr. Cass was married to Miriam Cass and they had four daughters: Sharon, Hylah, Judy, and Elaine. He had four brothers: the late Rabbi Samuel Cass, Harry, Al, and Elie (who was a Reform mohel), and two sisters: Miriam Cass and Zelda Fink. He also had seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Dr. Cass died on January 24, 1996 of cancer.

Cassel, Henry

  • Person
  • 1912-2009

Heinz Kassel (1912-2009) (later changed to Henry Cassel) was a German refugee during the Second World War who was classified as an enemy alien by the British government. He spent two years in an internment camp for prisoners of war (POWs) in Quebec. He later became a naturalized Canadian citizen and enlisted in the Canadian military.
Heinz was born on October 25, 1912 in Aschaffenburg, Germany to Adolf and Olga Kassel. Adolf owned a successful banking business which he had inherited from his father. The family resided above the bank and lived a comfortable life during these early years. They moved to Frankfurt around 1920 after Adolf sold his business to buy a partnership in a bank there.
Heinz’s parents had hoped that he would one day become a corporate lawyer. In 1931, in preparation for his future career, he began studying law and economics at Frankfurt University. He enjoyed his initial university years. However, after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 he became alarmed when his non-Jewish university friends began ignoring him and when the German government passed laws forbidding Jews from practicing law in court. Determined to leave Germany and seek out a better life elsewhere, he begged his parents to immigrate with him to the United States. They refused to go, unwilling to leave behind the life they had worked so hard to build. In accordance with his parents’ wishes, Heinz relocated to nearby Italy instead of the US in 1934. He learned Italian and eventually secured a job with an engineering firm.
Sensing that the political climate in Italy was becoming dangerous for Jewish people, Heinz applied for immigration to the US in early 1939. Eager to leave Italy, he relocated to London to await the approval of his US visa. He left just in time – Britain declared war on Germany less than a week after his arrival. His parents, in turn, managed to escape to Holland. Soon after Britain’s declaration, all immigrants from enemy countries were considered enemy aliens and suspected of being spies.
On May 12, 1940, the British military arrested Heinz and interned him with other German immigrants and POWs. He believed his detainment was only a precautionary measure and that he would be cleared within a few days. However, the British shipped him to the Isle of Man where he remained for several months. Fearing an invasion, the British shipped 3,000 of the POWs, including Kassel, to Quebec, where he was briefly interned at a POW camp set up at the Plains of Abraham. In October 1940, he was moved with 736 other refugees to an abandoned railway yard (later known as “Camp N”) in Newington, near Sherbrooke, Quebec. While there, he confronted a great deal of anti-Semitism from the guards.
While he was interned in Quebec, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) interviewed him and other Jewish prisoners in order to lobby for their release. Realizing that the internees were not POWs, the Canadian government declared the camp a refugee camp in 1941. By October 1942, the CJC was successful in helping Heinz secure employment with Benjamin Pape & Company in Toronto.
Heinz met Reta Freeman in Toronto and they were married in November 1944. Reta was born and raised in Toronto. After their nuptials, they were both briefly classified as enemy aliens and had to report to the RCMP on a regular basis. Shortly thereafter, Heinz enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army and was sent to basic training in Manitoba. On January 21, 1946 he was granted landed immigrant status, and in April of that year, he became a citizen.
After the war, Heinz learned that his parents as well as other relatives had been transported to concentration camps and had not survived. He was certainly one of the few fortunate ones to leave the country, despite the circumstances of his removal. He resented being interned for so long, but did not blame the British for rounding him up with other Germans based on their initial fears regarding enemy aliens. His feelings about Canada's treatment of him during that time, however, were not as sympathetic.
The couple lived their lives in Toronto. They first resided at 2346 Yonge Street. Heinz legally changed his name to Henry Cassel. He worked as an accountant and later was a controller for the United Jewish Welfare Fund. The couple had two children: Andrew (b. 1947) and Richard (b. 1951). Reta passed away in August 1962 and Henry later remarried Esther Cassel. He passed away at the age of 96 on February 15, 2009.

Clairmont, Harry

  • Person
  • 1907-1977

Harry Wolf Clairmont (1907-1977) was a Toronto labour activist, involved for many years in the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). Clairmont was born in Chmielnik, in the province of Kielce, Poland, and moved to Canada in December, 1923. He began working in the garment industry as an operator's helper at the J. and G. Cloak Shop in Toronto, and soon became involved in the labour movement and the ILGWU. Claimont held many positions with the ILGWU, including recording secretary of the Operators' Local 14 and business agent of Sportswear Local 199. He was also an active member of the Jewish Workers' National Alliance, the Young Communist League and the Canadian Trotskyist movement. He was married and had two children. He passed away in 1977.

Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Catharines, Ontario

  • Corporate body
  • 1909-

In 1909, the congregation legally adopted the name Chavra B’nai Israel and R.J. Hoffman became the first president. Services were held at a variety of different homes, including those of Mr. Barnett and Mr. Zalavinsky.
After the synagogue was left a large bequest in 1917 by the Friedman family, the congregation decided to purchase the house that it had been renting earlier for $3,500. The partitions between the rooms were removed to construct the sanctuary. It still continued to house the Hebrew school and provide living accommodations for the teacher and shochtim.
Due to the expansion of the community after the First World War, the house became too small to accommodate the congregation. The community therefore began to plan for a new building. The Building Committee accepted a design submitted by Nicholson & McBeth and the shul was built by the Newman Brothers. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 14, 1924. Once the synagogue was completed, a larger ceremony took place in July 1925. Services were conducted according to Orthodox tradition and membership at that time was about 30 families.
The congregation adopted a constitution in 1945. The synagogue remained affiliated with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Mixed seating emerged during the later years of the decade, however, Orthodox rabbis continued to serve the synagogue for years to come.
In 1981, the synagogue was incorporated as a charitable and religious organization. It also joined the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism organization. At this time, membership began to decline and they were barely able to maintain a minyan for daily and Friday night services.
In May 2002, B’nai Israel celebrated the 100th anniversary of the community. The celebration included an extended Shabbat service featuring Cantor Howard Shalowitz from New York, followed by a gala dinner on Saturday night with entertainment by the Toronto band Bais Groove.

Congregation Beth David, Brantford, Ontario

  • Corporate body
  • 1950-2001

The Brantford Hebrew Association, Congregation Beth David’s precursor, was founded in 1907 when Rabbi Backer officiated Brantford’s first public Jewish religious service in an upper hall on George Street. Services had previously taken place in the homes of Jewish families, who had begun settling in the area around the turn of the century. By 1911, services had moved to the old Conservative Hall at Dalhousie and King Street. In 1915, the Congregation purchased a building at 33 Palace Street and remodeled it into a synagogue. This building was also used as a community centre and for the Congregation’s Hebrew School.
On October 13th, 1911 the Congregation was incorporated, and the following year it purchased land for a cemetery in the northeast corner of Mount Hope Cemetery. Due to increasing membership, a new synagogue was built at 50 Waterloo Street in 1948. In January 1950, the Congregation changed its name to Beth David in honour of member David Axler, who died during the Second World War while training as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Congregation was at its peak in the 1960s with 150 member families. However, membership drastically fell after the children of this generation moved to larger cities and their parents followed after retirement. By 1999, only 28 families remained as members and services were reduced to being held on the High Holidays and special occasions, such as, Bah Mitzvah’s. Dwindling resources and membership forced the Congregation to close around 2001. Throughout its existence, over 30 rabbi's served the Congregation, including Rabbi Saul Wolfe Gringorten (ca. 1910-1923). Its cemetery continues to be looked after by Allan Norris, a past president of the Congregation.

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