For King and Country
The Jewish Canadian Military Experience
This exhibition explores the heroic participation of the Canadian military’s Jewish servicemen (and later women), who fought side-by-side with other Canadians in the wars of the past century, particularly the First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945). It includes artifacts, photographs, letters, diaries, uniforms and cartoons drawn from the holdings of the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) and the Jewish Canadian Military Museum (JCMM).
While all those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces shared a similar wartime experience, there were some differences that existed due to each individual’s upbringing, religion, and culture. In this respect, Jewish servicemen were confronted with some unique challenges in regards to observing their religious practices. These challenges included: keeping kosher, celebrating Jewish holidays, and observing daily religious practices. For these reasons, Jewish servicemen needed an active support system to help them cope with their dietary, religious, and social needs. In turn, some of them also encountered incidences of anti-Semitism by fellow servicemen and officers, and so they looked to others of the same faith for camaraderie, support, and a sense of community.
This exhibition is a collaboration between the OJA & JCMM and the OJA is grateful to Al Rubin, President of the JCMM for his generous contributions and the long term loan of many of the artifacts in the exhibition.
The opening of the exhibition and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Lipa Green Building and included over 30 veterans who arrived in uniform. The event began with speeches by David Engel, then chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Al Rubin (presiden of JCMM) and Brooky Robins, then chair of the Ontario Jewish Archives. The opening, not only provided the opportunity to view the exhibition but also to pay tribute to the contribution and experiences of Canadian Jews who served in the military.