Zionist Organization of Canada (ZOC)

From 1921 until 1978, the Zionist Organization of Canada (ZOC) acted as the official voice of Zionism in Canada, promoting its aims in communities across the country. The founder of the movement was Dr. Theodore Herzl, who infused a vibrant spirit of hopefulness that Eretz Israel could be a reality. The ZOC adhered to the principles of the Jerusalem Programme of the World Zionist Movement founded by Herzl in 1898 at the First Zionist Congress held in Basle, Switzerland. These principles included: the promotion of immigration to Israel (then Palestine); raising funds to carry out the aims of Zionism; encouraging investment in Israel; fostering Jewish national consciousness; and mobilizing public opinion about Israel and the Jewish communities of the Diaspora.

In 1898, a year after the convening of the World Zionist Congress, the first Zionist Society in Canada, “Agudat Zion” was organized in Montreal. Shortly afterwards other societies came into existence in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Vancouver, Winnipeg and smaller centres across the country. Together, in 1898, they formed the Federation of Zionist Societies of Canada (FZSC), a national collective of groups representing Zionist interests. In 1917, the Balfour Declaration was signed in which the British Government promised the Jewish people a national home in Palestine, electrifying Canadian Jewry and boosting support for Zionism in this country. Shortly after, the FZSC began an active campaign to raise funds for various projects in Palestine and to promote the Zionist cause among co-religionists and the Canadian public.

In 1921, the organization changed its name and was incorporated as the Zionist Organization of Canada (ZOC), becoming the primary umbrella organization for Zionist groups in the country. It elected as its first president, Clarence I. de Sola, who served for 20 years. The ZOC programs promoted a stronger Jewish identity amongst Canadian Jews and familiarity with Hebrew through the periodical, Canadian Zionist. Programs included book clubs, lunch clubs, film exhibits, youth camps, travel and fact-finding missions, and two television programs on cable television during the 1970s in Montreal and Toronto.

It conducted annual campaigns for Keren Hayesod, the Jewish National Fund and the United Palestine Appeal (later the United Israel Appeal) across Canada to raise funds for Israel and to support those, who by necessity or choice, wished to settle in Israel. The ZOC oversaw funds and administered the budgets of such organizations as Canadian Hadassah-WIZO, the Men's Zionist Organization of Canada and Young Judaea. While headquartered in Montreal, and then Toronto, the ZOC provided smaller communities with programs run out of regional offices and local Zionist councils.

In 1967, the ZOC became a constituent member of the new Federated Zionist Organization of Canada (FZOC), along with Canadian Hadassah-Wizo, the Labour Zionist Movement of Canada, Mizrachi Hapoel Hamizrachi Organization of Canada, Zionist Revisionist Organization of Canada, Achdut Avoda, and Friends of Pioneering Israel (Mapam). In 1972, FZOC became the Canadian Zionist Federation (CZF). Established as a national federation for Zionist organizations across Canada, it is the official representative and voice of Canadian Zionists to the World Zionist Organization and remains committed to Jewish education, Jewish culture and the centrality of Israel in Jewish life.

During the 1970s, the ZOC's functions were gradually absorbed by the Canadian Zionist Federation and by 1978, the Zionist Organization of Canada had ceased to function as an organization.

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