In 2022, the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) and the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives nominated the records of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) for inclusion in the Canada Memory of the World Register. Maintained by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), the Canada Memory of the World Register showcases documentary heritage of national significance. Later, the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia and the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada joined the nomination, both repositories holding records of the CJC. Today, CCUNESCO announced that the CJC records had been included in the register.
Founded in Montreal in 1919, the CJC served as a national voice for Canada's Jewish community for almost one hundred years. In addition to its national headquarters (first in Montreal, later in Ottawa), the CJC had several regional offices, including in Toronto, which is how its records came to be distributed across the country. The work of the CJC was vast and encompassed files as diverse as immigration and settlement, antisemitism, human rights, chaplaincy services, and war efforts. While the CJC no longer exists–its functions having been taken over by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)–its achievements remain significant not only for Jewish Canadians but for Canadians of all backgrounds.
Delegates to the first Canadian Jewish Congress, Montreal, 1919.
Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 45, item 41.
Commenting on the inclusion of the CJC records in the Canada Memory of the World Register, Shimon Koffler Fogel, chief executive officer of CIJA, wrote, "We are incredibly proud of our community’s long tradition of being a leading voice for human rights in Canada, including the work of CIJA’s predecessor organization the Canadian Jewish Congress. In their tireless efforts to counter antisemitism and advocate for policies that make Canada more inclusive for all communities, generations of Jewish activists made an invaluable contribution in our country’s development as a vibrant, multicultural democracy. The inscription of the Canadian Jewish Congress’ records in CCUNESCO’s Memory of the World register is an important step in honouring this history and the role of Canadian Jewry in human rights advocacy, which continues to this day.”
For his part, Jeff Rosenthal, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto chair, wrote, "On behalf of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, we extend congratulations and appreciation to the Ontario Jewish Archives/Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives, Jewish Museum and Archives of British Colombia, and the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada on having the records of the Canadian Jewish Congress inscribed in CCUNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. UJA is proud to support the Ontario Jewish Archives which, together with partner Jewish archives across the country, plays a vital role in preserving our heritage and sharing our history with all Canadians. This milestone is an important recognition of the excellence of our communal archives, as well as the remarkable history of Canada’s Jewish community."
The records of the CJC, which are held by the four repositories listed in the first paragraph, include documents as well as over 15,000 photographs, audio records, videos, and films offer important insight into Jewish community. Without a doubt, the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region fonds is the most important collection stewarded by the OJA. Researchers wishing to consult the records are encouraged to contact the OJA to set up an appointment.
To read the official CCUNESCO announcement click here.
Learn more about the CJC Ontario Region records held at the OJA in our 50th anniversary video.