Celebrating Dr. May Cohen

March 8, 2021 | 7:30pm EST

Celebrate International Women’s Day by Honouring Dr. May Cohen

Join the OJA on Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. as we celebrate “The Fabulous Dr. May Cohen”. Prior to becoming a powerful advocate for women’s health and the advancement of female physicians, Dr. May Cohen and her husband, Dr. Gerry Cohen, ran a successful medical practice for twenty years in the heart of Toronto’s Bathurst Manor community.

In conversation with Dr. Paula David, clinical, educational, and intergenerational expert working with elderly Holocaust survivors and their families, Dr. May Cohen will share her experiences practicing family medicine in Toronto’s first Jewish suburb. In the mid-1950s, the Manor became home to young Jewish families (including the Cohen family!), many of whom were newly arrived Holocaust survivors. Following their conversation, filmmakers and members of the Cohen family will be available for the Q&A.

**to access this program be sure to register for a free account on the Virtual JCC’s online platform.

The Gender Lady: The Fabulous Dr. May Cohen
Canada, 2018, Cheryl Levitt and Barbara Lent, directors, 47 minutes 18+

The film will be available for FREE from March 5 through March 8 at this LINK.

To view the trailer and film enter the password: CelebrateMay

Dr. May Cohen and her husband ran a successful and popular medical practice in Toronto until 1977. Dr. Cohen became a powerful advocate for women’s health and the advancement of women physicians. This documentary, selected as an audience favourite at 2019 TJFF, celebrates her life and radical achievements.

Get in Touch with the OJA!

Were you a patient of Dr. Cohen’s? Do you have a special anecdote you’d like to share?

Contact us at ojainquiries@ujafed.org to share your memories and questions in advance of our conversation with Dr. May Cohen on March 8.

Jewish Images from the Early Days of CBC: The Stories of Morley Torgov

February 3, 2021 | 7:30pm EST, Zoom Q&A

In partnership with the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and Holy Blosssom

Featuring writer Morley Torgov; Lawrence Mirkin, Story Editor in the CBC TV Drama Department in the mid-1970s; Robert Cohen, Director on the Executive Committee at Congregation Beth Jacob in Sault Ste. Marie.

Morley TorgovMorley Torgov is an award-winning writer, who brought to life stories about Jewish communities in small-town Ontario with humour, warmth and a critical eye. In the mid-seventies, the drama department at CBC produced a series of television plays based on his acclaimed memoir, A Good Place to Come From (1974) about growing up in Sault Ste. Marie. Although these TV adaptations were done by other writers (Conrad Bromberg and Israel Horovitz), here is a chance to see how his sensibility was transferred to the screen.

A practicing lawyer since the mid-Fifties, Morley Torgov won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for A Good Place to Come From and The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick (1982). In 2015, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his “contribution to Canadian humour.” Today, at age 93, he is still a prolific author, with a successful series of crime novels.

The South African Jewish Experience: A Webinar Exploring Jewish Life in Toronto and South Africa

Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 11 am EST


Summers in Muizenberg, SAJAC News, Habonim, Kehillat Shaarei Torah, the Millway townhouses and Boerewors. What do all these things have in common? Find out in a photo-rich webinar about the history of Jewish life in South Africa and the immigration of Jewish Southern Africans to Canada.

Gavin Morris, Director of the South African Jewish Museum shares anecdotes, images and films from the Toronto-bound exhibition The Goldene Medina that tells the 175-years story of Jewish life in South Africa. Dara Solomon, Executive Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives pairs this history with images and interview clips from the OJA’s recent Southern African Legacy Project, which captures the experience of those South Africans who made Ontario their home. Together, they explore the unique experiences of these groups and what shifted in their Jewish identity upon migration to Canada. Q+A follows.

Remember to register or login at the virtualjcc.com/register to access this free content.

The Honest Ed's Experience: Exploring a Toronto Icon

Thursday, August 27, 2020 | 8:00 pm


TJFF and OJA present a special screening series celebrating the life and legacy of Jewish impresario Ed Mirvish and his beloved discount store, Honest Ed’s, a landmark for generations of immigrants upon their arrival in Toronto. Using the new, celebrated documentary, There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace by Toronto filmmaker Lulu Wei as its starting off point, this collection of four films and one panel discussion explores the store’s impact on the city, the history of the diverse cultural community that emerged around the Honest Ed’s block, and the future of these residents in the wake of the store’s closing in 2016 and Toronto’s current condo boom. Webinar with Lulu Wei (Director of There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace), Itah Sadu (owner of A Different Booklist), Franca Longobardi (Advertising Manager at Honest Ed’s), Ken Greenberg (urban designer and author of Walking Home and Toronto Reborn), Gene Mascardelli (Producer of Honest Ed Mirvish: The World’s Most Unusual Shopkeeper).

The Untold Story of Jewish Women and the Second World War

Thursday, August 6, 2020 | 8:00 pm


Journalist Ellin Bessner and Women Studies scholar Jennifer Shaw will discuss the significant roles Jewish women played in the Second World War. This neglected history illuminates not only the status of women in Canada but also the challenges Jews faced during this time and how Canadian Jewish identity was shaped by this war-time experience. While Bessner will focus on Jewish women who served in the military, Shaw will explore the stories of women who developed ground-breaking programs at home to support the troops and their families. Both scholars did extensive research at the Ontario Jewish Archives and will highlight these records in their talk. The conversation will be moderated by Caryn Lieberman, Senior Broadcast Journalist with Global News.

This program is part of the OJA’s ongoing series Our Stories Are Your Stories Speaker Series
Co-presented by the Ontario Jewish Archives, the Virtual J, and the National Council of Jewish Women, Toronto.


Ellin Bessner

Ellin Bessner is a Canadian journalist based in Toronto. She is the author of a new book about Canada’s Jewish servicemen and women who fought in the Second World War called Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War ll. Her career as a journalist took her around Canada and the world, working for CTV News and CBC News, the Globe and Mail, The Canadian Press and other organizations. Ellin is also a professor of journalism at Centennial College. She holds a degree in journalism and political science from Carleton University.

Jennifer Shaw

Jennifer Shaw is a PhD candidate in the Department of Women’s Studies and Feminist Research at the University of Western Ontario. Her dissertation focuses on the lives and experiences of Jewish women and girls on the Canadian home front during World War II, and how their activities affected the wider Jewish community. In addition to her studies, she is a mom to four active kids, works as a research assistant both  in Western’s medical school and for a University of Toronto professor, is a lifelong Girl Guide and likes to sleep when she can find the time.


Caryn Lieberman

Caryn Lieberman is a Senior award-winning Broadcast Journalist with Global News. She studied Journalism and Communication at Concordia University and upon graduation, she joined the Global News team in Montreal as a reporter and host before moving to CTV as a news writer in 2007. A year later, Lieberman reported and produced segments for CP24 before making the jump to Sun News Network in 2011 to host her own national news show, Right Now with Caryn Lieberman. She also reported on hard news stories for the network in 2014 before ultimately becoming a crime and courts reporter with Global News Toronto. While with Global, Lieberman has covered a number of significant events in the GTA including the police shooting of Sammy Yatim, the impaired driving crash that killed three children and their grandfather, the Yonge Street van attack and the Danforth shooting.
In 2011, Lieberman was awarded with the RTNDA Adrienne Clarkson Award for Diversity for her Remembrance Day and Holocaust Education Week stories. Lieberman speaks fluent French and loves travelling and spending time with her daughter and son.

Now You Know: Vos Estu: A Conversation About Early Jewish Food Sources in Toronto
Featuring: Joel Dickau and Miriam Borden

Tuesday, June 23 | 8:00 pm

The COVID-19 Pandemic has sparked a major return to homesteading and more than ever, we are considering where our food comes from. This approach to food prep shares much in common with the early Jewish community’s way of life in Kensington Market, almost 100 years ago. Join OJA Executive Director Dara Solomon for a conversation with UofT Yiddish Doctoral student Miriam Borden and food scholar Joel Dickau about Toronto’s early Jewish culinary infrastructure. They will cover a range of topics including kosher chicken, ritual and regulations, and the move to the suburbs.


Joel Dickau headshotJoel Dickau

Joel Dickau is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Toronto. His main research looks at how the sensation of texture became central to the goals of the modern food industry, however he has always retained a deep interest in the history of Toronto’s foodways, especially with the city’s once laissez faire attitude toward urban livestock.

Miriam Borden headshotMiriam Borden

Miriam Borden is a doctoral student in Yiddish Studies the University of Toronto. She is a translator of Yiddish records and since 2017, has guided the Stories of Spadina walking tour. On her tours, she pays special attention to the way food shapes Jewish memory and experience in Kensington Market.

Now You Know: Being Jewish During a Pandemic: What’s Lost | What’s Gained?

Monday, May 25, 2020 | 4:00 pm

Join the Ontario Jewish Archives for a webinar exploring how COVID-19 has impacted Jewish communal life. Stanford University PhD candidate Josh Tapper who is working to document the impact of COVID-19 on the Jewish community will be in conversation with Memorial University folklorist Jillian Gould. Moderated by OJA Executive Director Dara Solomon, Josh and Jillian will discuss how this unprecedented period of social isolation that has disrupted much of Jewish communal life, has also given rise to renewed connections to Jewish tradition and ritual in our homes.


Josh Tapper headshotJoshua Tapper, Doctoral candidate in Jewish History at Stanford University

His research focuses on the revival of Jewish organizational and cultural life in the late Soviet Union. He holds master's degrees in journalism from Columbia University and European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies from the University of Toronto. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times, the Toronto Star, the Globe and MailTablet, and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, among other publications. He lives in Toronto.

Jillian Gould headshotDr. Jillian Gould, PhD Associate Professor, Dept. of Folklore, Memorial University

Gould teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses including an intensive cultural documentation graduate field school that introduces students to the skills and techniques of ethnographic fieldwork such as audio-recorded interviewing, observational writing, and photography. Her research interests examine Jewish expressive culture, often through the lens of food. She has published journal articles and book chapters on topics ranging from Toronto blueberry buns, to the comfort meal sometimes known as a “hole-in-the-middle,” to a resident-led Sabbath Tea at the Terraces at Baycrest. Her current research explores the everyday and holiday customs of non-Orthodox Jews.

Unpacking the Jewish Camp Experience - Presented as a part of MNjcc's Virtual Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Thursday, May 28, 2020 | 8:00 pm

How did your camp years shape you? What stays with you after all these years? How was your Jewish camp experience a uniquely Jewish one? Take a virtual walk-through the Ontario Jewish Archives’ rich collection of camp photos followed by a lively conversation about the Ontario Jewish camp experience, then and now. Join us for a session filled with nostalgia, music, and reflection about the significance of this quintessential Jewish experience. Led by Dara Solomon, Executive Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives and Historian & Associate Professor David Koffman, Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry at York University. They will be joined in conversation by Mark Kachuk, Assistant Director at Canadian Young Judaea. 

Unpacking the Jewish Camp Experience was part of Virtual Tikkun Leil Shavuot, presented by the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.

Art Out of the Archives: From Yiddish Theatre to Kung Fu Films to Contemporary Art

Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 4:00 pm

Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) Executive Director Dara Solomon and FENTSTER Curator Evelyn Tauben discuss the history of the Standard Theatre (at the north-east corner of Dundas and Spadina), the subject of their 2018 joint exhibition featuring multi-disciplinary Toronto artist Shellie Zhang. The theatre served as a cultural destination for both the Jewish and Chinese communities, opening as a Yiddish theatre in 1922 and five decades later presenting Chinese cinema as the Golden Harvest Theatre. Sharing materials pulled from the OJA collection as well as other private and public archives, the conversation will explore how the theatre connected Chinese and Jewish immigrants with their distinctive cultures and native languages. Discover the surprising backstory of this heritage building and how nearly 100 years after its opening, Zhang represented two significant cultural institutions through a much buzzed-about neon art installation.


Dara Solomon headshot

Dara Solomon, Executive Director, Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre of UJA and Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre

At the OJA and Neuberger, Dara has developed new partnerships and outreach initiatives to engage a broad public in the community’s Jewish heritage. Prior to joining the OJA, Solomon was the Curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco, where she was responsible for curating the museum’s inaugural exhibition seasons. Solomon holds a M.A. in Arts Administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.A. in Religion and Art History from University of Toronto.

Evelyn Tauben headshot

Evelyn Tauben, Curator, FENTSTER

Evelyn Tauben is an independent curator, producer, and writer. She is a recognized expert in contemporary Jewish art and culture with 20 years experience in museums, galleries, and arts organizations including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of American History, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Koffler Centre of the Arts. Evelyn curates FENTSTER, which presents site-specific installations connected to the Jewish experience in a storefront window.

Chris Bateman headshot

Chris Bateman, Acting Manager, Plaques and Public Education, Heritage Toronto

Chris Bateman is a writer and Toronto historian. He has a background in broadcast journalism and has written about Toronto’s history for The Globe and Mail, CityLab, Spacing, and TVO. This year, Bateman was part of the project team at Heritage Toronto that won a Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Dundas + Carlaw: Made in Toronto, a self-guided tour exploring the factories and life on Carlaw Avenue. Bateman currently runs the historical plaques program at Heritage Toronto, which is among most active of its kind in North America.