Our Collections

The OJA’s records span all segments of Ontario’s Jewish community. We have records from businesses, families, labour unions, organizations, and synagogues. These records date from the community’s earliest days to its present. What’s more, they come from all over Ontario and in every format you can think of. If you were to lay out all of our boxes, they would stretch from the foot of Yonge Street to Dundas Square!

Below you can find highlights from our newest acquisitions as well as collections that have recently been processed and added to our website search. If you are interested in donating records to the OJA, let us know.

Acquisition of the Month

Copy of Peter Sevitt's spech at the first Limmud event in TorontoBack in 2004, Peter Sevitt successfully transplanted the Jewish learning festival Limmud to Toronto. Fourteen years later, he made the decision to donate Limmud Toronto’s organizational records to the OJA.

Among the records Peter donated are records from the first Limmud Toronto event (then Limmud Canada). Examples include fifty-five colour photographs, a DVD of footage from the same event, correspondence, publicity materials, meeting minutes, a draft of Peter’s speech, and much else besides!

Peter’s donation complements a prior donation from another “Limmudnik,” Sharoni Sibony, back in June. The latter accession contains material up to 2017 and helps fill in the more recent history of the organization.

Other Acquisitions

Rother family. This accession consists of graphic material and textual records documenting the Rother family, in particular Irving and Florence Rother. Included are several of Irving Rother’s service records; professional and educational certificates for the same; records documenting the sale of the family’s Rother Cigar Store; group portraits of the Hadassah-WIZO Rishon Chapter, which Florence Rother belonged to; and an Alpha Phi Pi scrapbook.

Rubinoff family. Accession consists of slides, photographs, films, and textual records documenting the personal lives of the Rubinoff family of London, and their business interests in the Commonwealth Holiday Inns and the White Oaks Mall.

Strauss family. Aviva Shiff Boedecker donated textual records and graphic material documenting the Strauss family. Included in the accession are three interviews with lawyer and father Nathan Strauss; certificates for Naomi Fay Strauss; family trees; over fifty loose photographs; and a photo album put together by Nathan Strauss’ daughter, Irene.

Workmen’s Circle (Hamilton, Ont.) In August, Jeffrey Levinn donated a group portrait of the Hamilton branch of the Workmen’s Circle. In October, another donor, David Price, donated a second portrait of the same branch, this one taken in front of an ambulance that the branch donated, possibly during the Second World War.

Recently Processed

Julius Katz photos, [195-?]. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, fonds 55, series 8, file 30, item 1.J.P. Katz Fonds. Consisting of over 5.5 metres of textual records and photographs, this fonds documents Katz's work with Mizrachi-Hapoel Hamizrachi, the Toronto Zionist Council, the United Jewish Welfare Fund, and other Jewish organizations in Toronto, as well as his fundraising efforts for various theological seminaries and the Jewish National Fund. The records include correspondence and memoranda, meeting minutes, subject files, financial records, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks. The fonds also includes some family records and correspondence, and some business records from the Reliable Tobacco Company. Discover the collection

Testing at Bergen Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1947. Tailor Project photos, 1947. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, fonds 70, file 5, item 4.Canadian Overseas Garment Workers Commission series. In late 1947 and early 1948 representatives of the Canadian garment industry organized what became known as the Tailor Project, an immigration program planned to select more than 2,200 skilled tailors from the Displaced Person camps of Europe, facilitate their immigration, and give them jobs in the garment trade and housing in Canada. Canadian Jewish Congress, eager to rescue Holocaust survivors from the DP camps, knew the government would approve a plan to bring in skilled workers to fill a shortage in the garment trades. The Tailor Project was the first program that permitted large numbers of Jewish adults to immigrate to Canada following the Second World War. Max E. Enkin (men's clothing), Max Federman (fur workers), Joe Mack and others were sent by the Commission to Europe as part of the selection team. In response to Max Enkin's emphasis on providing accommodation, many individuals and community organizations reached out to those in need. Under the direction of the United Jewish Relief Agency, the office of the Canadian Overseas Garment Commission attended to the many and varying needs of the immigrant tailors, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Discover the collection