Knesseth Israel
The Synagogue Today
Early History Architecture Religion Social The Synagogue Today    

The Alexandroff Family

Boris Alexandroff was one of the founders of Knesseth Israel synagogue and one of its early presidents. He was born in 1878 and raised in Ochokov, Ukraine. He came to Canada in 1903, partially out of fear that he would be called upon to fight in the Manchurian War after having just completed military service in the Ukraine.

He initially landed in Montreal and then migrated to North Bay, where he worked in a lumber camp before riding the rails to Toronto, where he became a moulder in a foundry. In 1905, Boris started to court a young tobacco factory worker named Rebecca Rifke Nikolaevsky, who was originally from Dashiv near Kiev, Ukraine. Her father, Tsvi Hersh Nikolaevsky, had brought her to Toronto that year with her two sisters, and then had left to return to the Ukraine.

Boris and Rebecca married on Dominion Day, July 1, 1906, but only after he promised his future bride that he would find another, less dangerous occupation. Soon thereafter, he began work in the area of produce delivery, a cost-effective venture due to the Junction’s close proximity to the farms on the outskirts of the city. He later worked as a peddler, a construction labourer, and a wrecking contractor, the last occupation being his most successful with projects in Ontario and in the United States.

Initially, the Alexandroffs lived in the Junction on Boler Avenue, the first street east of the Synagogue, where their first child Joseph was born in 1907. They later moved to Clendenan Avenue at Maria Street. The Alexandroffs had four children: Joseph, Morris, Max, and Harry. Harry is currently Vice-President of the shul. Rebecca and Boris remained supporters of Knesseth Israel until they passed away in 1960 and 1971 respectively.



Alexandroff boys in their Maria Street backyard (1921)

Rebecca and Boris Alexandroff at Niagara Falls (1927)

Joseph and Mary Alexandroff’s wedding portrait, September 1, 1930
Joseph and Mary Alexandroff’s wedding portrait (September 1, 1930)

Joseph Alexandroff (1986)




CanadaUJA Federation of Greater TorontoThe Ontario Jewish ArchivesRyerson UniversityCanada's Digital Collections