Staff and Board of Directors
Dara Solomon, Executive Director
One of my favourite photos is of Mimi Wise cooking cabbage rolls. A Toronto gal, Wise was born in 1920 and initially lived across from the Woodbine Racetrack in the east end and later moved to the Christie/Davenport area. She was involved in a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and was especially known for her years of commitment to Hadassah-WIZO. Mimi graduated from physiotherapy at University of Toronto in 1942 and married Dr. Sydney Wise, a longtime volunteer to the OJA. We can all relate to this photo of Mimi serving cabbage rolls in her tiled kitchen. The now classic dish—a throwback to the old country—in a completely 1950s setting. Mimi reminds me of my late bubbe Rita Kokotow (née Atkins, 1918-1999), also a lifelong member of Hadassah.
Mimi Wise cooking cabbage rolls, 1959. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 16, item 7.
Donna Bernardo-Ceriz, Managing Director
I have always been drawn to this striking image of the Adelaide Girls on an outing in Toronto from the mid-1920s. For me, this photograph so effortlessly captures the giddy tone of the 1920s, before the weight of the Great Depression and the horrors of the Holocaust came to bear down upon the world. There is a great sense of familiarity and camaraderie displayed, and the girls likely knew one another beyond their participation in this club. I’m not entirely sure where it was taken; it could be an outing at Stop 17, a popular picnic stop in Thornhill served by an electrically powered rail line called the Radial that was just far enough out of the city to be considered a country outing.
Adelaide Girls' Group outing, Toronto, [1926 or 1927]. Ontario Jewish Archives, photo 1879.
Faye Blum, Archivist and Outreach
It’s a Wonderful Life. When I first saw this photo, it reminded me of the concluding scene in Frank Capra’s Hollywood classic. The narrative is clear and no captioning is required: a jubilant family reunion at the conclusion of a fierce and devastating war. The fashion sense of the women in the foreground adds a splash of glamour to what appears to be a professional publicity still rather than a family snapshot. The candidness of their facial expressions are so pure that each time I see this photo I feel myself joining in their celebration. Our stories are indeed your stories.
Ida Siegel with her children Rivka (far left) and returning Canadian servicemen Avrom (left) and David (right), Toronto, Dec. 1945. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 15, file 37, item 9.
Michael Friesen, Archivist
I have felt for some time that the holdings of the Ontario Jewish Archives would lend themselves to an exhibition on Jewish masculinities. This photograph, taken in 1934, shows Manny “the Jewish Flash” Gurevitch of Kirkland Lake in a staggered wrestling stance with a Star of David visible on his gear. Similar photographs exist in the OJA’s holdings of boxers, weight lifters, and other manly men displaying related motifs. This seems to suggest that these athletes wanted to be photographed (and thus remembered) as not simply boxers, wrestlers, and the like, but as Jewish wrestlers, Jewish boxers, etc. It remains for one of our researchers to tease out just how these two sets of identities (ethno-religious and athletic) should be understood in relation to one another.
Manny Gurevitch (Kirkland Lake, ON), 1934. Ontario Jewish Archives, item 926.
Yujia Wu, Archivist
This photograph attracted my eyes when I was browsing through records in Sylvia Schwartz’s fonds. Sylvia was a prominent portrait photographer in Toronto who began her career in the 1940s. She took this photo for her sister, Ruth Schwartz, in 1936. Unlike other traditional portraits, this image demonstrates an innovative and artistic way of using backlighting and props—a bright full moon, maple leaves, fences, and a silhouette of an elegant lady. Nothing can be more poetic. Silhouette portraits often possess a timeless quality and hold significant artistic value by creating a powerful visual impact and emphasizing the essence and beauty of the subject. The informational and evidential value of this photo is modest compared to its artistic value. This may sound counter-intuitive in an archival setting, but the artistic value is exactly what makes this photograph stand out.
Ruth Schwartz, 1936. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 80, series 5-1, item 14. Photo by Sylvia Schwartz.
OJA Board of Directors
David Matlow (chair)
Shoel Silver (immediate past chair)
Wendy Switzer Myles