2019 Acquisition Highlights
In December 2019, Nancy Levy donated her family's papers to the OJA. Nancy's sister, Lois, was considered the family archivist, preserving these paper for posterity. When her sister died, Nancy was determined to complete her sister's work, trusting the OJA to preserve the Levy family's story for generations to come. The accession consists of material documenting the maternal (Cohn) and paternal (Levy) branches of the donor's family. Included are cards, certificates, degrees, diplomas, family trees, letters, an oral history transcript, passports, photographs, reference materials, telegrams, and other records. Explaining her decision to donate, Nancy said, "I would like to see my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents remembered."
In late November 2019, the OJA acquired records documenting Morris Cohen, Chana Cohen, and other members of the Cohen family. These records offer a fascinating view of the immigration process as it took place in the first quarter of the twentieth century; in particular, they demonstrate the fluidity of names as the individuals who bear them move from one continent to another. Morris Cohen, for instance, was, according to a sworn oath from 1953, known in Russia as Moshe Gersch Nepomyashtski Berkovitch and changed his name to Morris Cohen shortly after arriving in Canada in 1911. According to granddaughter Carol, Morris was told he couldn’t keep his surname and was given the surname Cohen, despite himself not being a kohen. In Morris’ case, the adoption of a new name came gradually. Thus, one record from 18 April 1922 gives his name as Moses Nepomjesze, a second record from 20 July 1922 gives it as Moses Nepomjesze (Cohen), and a third record from 29 December 1931 gives it as Morris Cohen. We can, therefore, see a gradual process by which the individual formerly known as Moshe Gersch Nepomyashtski Berkovitch came to assume the name Morris Cohen. The other records are no less fascinating, shedding light on Chana’s immigration to Canada with her nine-year-old son. Particularly interesting as regards Chana’s case is the way the visa application form attempts to disentangle different aspects of the new immigrant’s identity such as language (Yiddish), race (Hebrew), nationality (Jewish), nationality as shown by passport (Russian), and religion (Hebrew). Chana's answers, in turn, suggest the multiple meanings of a word like "Jewish," which here conveys not religious belief so much as national identity. Consequently, the records should be of interest not only to genealogists, but also to those interested in the process of immigration and issues of identity more generally.
Rabbi Joey Felsen. This accession consists of material documenting Rabbi Joey Felsen’s activism and community involvement while he was a student at CHAT and York University. Included are correspondence, meeting minutes, flyers, bulletins, books and other materials arising from his involvement in different Jewish groups and organizations.
Nate Leicpiger. This accession consists of material documenting Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger’s work in the field of Holocaust education. Included are records documenting Nate’s involvement with the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Holocaust Remembrance Committee, and the March of the Living, as well as thank you letters from students whom Nate addressed.
David Marks. This accession consists of material documenting former UJA campaign director David Marks (1927–2004). Included are photographs and correspondence, as well as three UJA Walk with Israel pins. Golda Meier, Menachem Begin, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau are among those identified in the photographs.
On October 18, the OJA received a fascinating document that affords a window into early Jewish gay and lesbian organizing in Toronto. The document in question is the first issue of the Congregation B'nai Kehillah of Toronto newsletter. As its name suggests, Congregation B'nai Kehillah was a religous group, but one whose mission included providing "a voice for homosexual and lesbian Jews." And whereas some might imagine that such groups are a recent innovation, this newsletter provides evidence that gay and lesbian Jews were forming support groups as early as 1978. Those interested in the history of Congregation B'nai Kehillah can find other issues of the same newsletter at the ArQuives: Canada's LGBTQ2+ Archives in Toronto.
London Council of Hadassah. This accession consists of records documenting the operations of the London Council of Hadassah-WIZO, predominantly under the direction of Patricia Alpert. The accession also includes Jewish city directors for London, Ontario and a small number of negatives.
Aaron Solsberg. This accession consists of five photographs documenting the demolition of Overbook Plaza, which was located in the heart of the Bathurst Manor neighbourhood in Toronto.
David Wulkan. This accession consists of a photograph taken by David Wulkan, a violinist in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and an amateur photographer. The accession also includes documents detailing the post-Second-World-War immigration history of Wulkan and a general history of the Wulkan family in Europe.
Letter thanking Mr. and Mrs. S. Yaffe of the Peggy Anne Hat. Co., 28 Oct. 1941.
In September, the OJA acquired two scrapbooks created by Arlene and Cyril Gryfe for Peggy Anne Jaffey. The scrapbooks document the successful custom millinery business established by Peggy Anne and her husband, Sam. Included in the scrapbooks are photographs, thank-you notes from customers, newspaper and magazine clippings, and various ephemera from the company. The OJA is excited to have this collection because while it is relatively easy to come by the records of individuals and families, records documenting private businesses are more difficult to come by.
Syd Applebaum. This accession consists of a photograph of a YMHA swim team taken at the Brunswick Avenue YMHA pool ca. 1936. Syd Applebaum is one of the individuals identified in the photograph.
Freda Pollack Goldman. This accession consists of a photograph of Freda Pollack with her best friend, Rose Hornfield, that was taken in 1919. The two girls are standing in front of Pollack's home, which was located at the northwest corner of Gerard and Bay Streets in Toronto's St. John's Ward. The Ward, as it was popularly known, was a popular location for Jewish immigrants to the city to settle.
In August, the OJA received a photo album that belonged to Rivka Schneiderman (1911-1983). Rivka immigrated to Toronto from Israel in the 1950s with her first husband. In 1965, she married Benjamin Lajchter, to whom she was introduced by Rabbi Price. Lajchter died in 1982 and was buried with his first wife, Ida Lajchter. Rivka died in Toronto in 1983 and was buried at the Lozer Centre Holocaust Congregation Section of Bathurst Lawn Memorial Park.
The album contains photos and postcards of and from her extended family. The reach of Rivka's network is indicated by the locations that appear in the album: Argentina, Canada, France, Israel, and Poland.
Hyman Bloom. This accession consists of a Czenstochower Aid Society cream-coloured ribbon with gold trim. The ribbon honours the establishment of the CAS on 18 December 1914.
Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl. This accession consists of material documenting the Toronto Board of Rabbis. Included are minutes, governance documents, membership lists, and correspondence.
Jacob Zigelman. This accession consists ofa program for a Jewish music festival that was sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress and held at Beth Tzedec on 12 February 1953. Jacob Zigelman participated in the festival in his capacity as cantor of the Hebrew Men of England Synagogue.
Association of Jewish Seniors. This accession consists of 1.5 metres of records documenting the association, which was founded in 1970.
Fanny Gertzbein. This accession consists of material documenting Fanny Gertzbein (née Goldhar). Included are two portraits and Gella Rothstein's comments on the OJA's oral history interview with Gertzbein.
Eugene Winter. This accession consists of a citation for citizenship from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration that was awarded posthumously to Winter for his community service settling Jewish refugees from Hungary.
A recent donation from Eda Schiff, former president of Freinds of Yidish, provides evidence of the organization's thirty-plus year history enriching and celebrating Yiddish cultural life in Toronto. Included in the donation are Yiddish-language recordings of guest lecturers; event brochures; flyers and posters; coveted recipes by Kokhlefl (Etke Palt); and numerous editions of Dos Bletl, the organization's newsletter.
On June 23, Toronto celebrated its annual Pride Parade. In attendance was the LGBTQ+ at the J group, which was formed following Kulanu Toronto's dissolution in 2018.
A few days after Pride, one of the OJA's archivists reached out to Cara Gold, manager, downtown Jewish life at the Miles Nadal JCC, to see if she would be willing to donate photographs from the festival to the OJA. Thankfully, she was! As a result, the OJA was able to add nine new Pride-themed photographs to its collection.
These nine photographs complement Pride photographs from earlier years that are found in the Kulanu Toronto fonds. Their acquisition, meanwhile, demonstrates that archives are not only interested in old black and white photos!
Howard Chandler. This accession consists of a photograph of a seder held at the Hamilton Mountain Sanatorium.
Kensington Market. This accession consists of full-colour photographs of storefronts in Toronto's Kensington Market. The photographs were taken by Don Adams and capture storefronts on Baldwin Street and Spadina Avenue.
On May 7, Shelly Rosen donated records documenting General Wingate Branch 256 of the Royal Canadian Legion. Named after British military officer Orde Charles Wingate, the branch was entirely Jewish. According to the Canadian Jewish News, it raised over $1 million for veterans, hospitals, seniors, and others.
In 2018, the branch closed after members voted twenty-to-five to close. When the OJA learned of this development, it immediately reached out to acquire the branch's records. Almost one year later, in May 2019, Branch President Shelley Rosen donated three boxes of records to the OJA.
The bulk of the records are made up of the member records of Second World War veterans. The accession also includes thank-you cards written by students and addressed to members of the branch; a pamphlet titled "Portraits of Bravery"; and two certificates, one establishing a ladies' auxiliary within the branch and another establishing the branch itself.
Saul Bernstein. This accession consists of a letter composed by Stephen Hill, curator of the Haliburton Highlands Museum, describing the professional and political life of Saul Bernstein. Bernstein was a former resident, business owner, and member of Haliburton's municipal council.
Don Mills Lodge, B'nai Brith. This accession consists of material documenting the Don Mills Lodge, B'nai Brith. Included are periodicals, programs, a copy of the lodge's constitution and by-laws, and seven albums. The latter contain letters, photographs, and printouts documenting events, achievements, and volunteer services.
Nathan Isaacs. This accession consists of records documenting the military service of Nathan Isaacs, a navigator during the Second World War. Included are letters, photographs, service records, and a sight log, as well as several artifacts including a cigarette lighter that Nathan's ground crew fashioned from an empty shell.
In April, Wendy Schneider donated material documenting Hamilton's Jewish community. Among these records was a very special collection she acquired from the Balinson Family. Henry Balnson (d. 1961) was the editior of the of the Yiddish-language newspaper the Jewish Voice of Hamilton. In addition to print and digitized copies of this newspaper, there are records from his printing business, International Press. In addition, Schneider donated oral history recordings that she conducted with members of the community along with photographs and textual records of her family, and other members of the Hamilton Jewish community.
Aldie Adler family tree. This accession consists of a family tree for a rabbinic family.
Rabbi David Monson. This accession consists of scrapbooks, diaries, and memorabilia of Rabbi David Monson, the founding rabbi of the Beth Sholom synagogue in Toronto.
National Council of Jewish Women. This accession consists of records of the National Counci lof Jewish Women of Canada. Included are anniversary books, a press package, a bulletin, the NCJWC Toronto section constitution, a credo and chronological history, an executive director business card, legal documents, an agreement of purchase and sale, and related correspondence.
Rose Yolleck. This accession consists of a copy of the Naomi Cook Book (third edition), which was printed in 1950. First published in 1928 to raise money for the work of Hadassah in Palestine, the cookbook was popular in Toronto's Jewish community. Although we do not know how Rose acquired the cookbook (it was found among her possessions after her death), we do know that it was common for the cookbook to be passed down from one generation to another, which might be the case with this one. It was donated to the OJA by Rose's daughter-in-law, Phyllis.
In March, Mary Laufer faciliated the transfer of Na'amat Canada Toronto's records to the OJA. A women's organization affiliated with the Labour Zionist movement, Na'amat traces its origins to the first quarter of the twentieth century: Golda Meier was an early member.
Currently, the records' physical extent comes out to 150 centimetres (roughly five Bankers Boxes). Record types include meeting minutes, lists of members and presidents, newsletters, pamphlets, fundraising material, and photographic slides of projects in Israel. OJA staff are excited to have acquired the records of Na'amat Canada Toronto and look forward to arranging and describing them further down the road.
Ismé Bennie. This accession consists of personal photographs of Ismé. An influential figure in Canadian broadcasting, Ismé was a participant in the OJA's Southern African Legacy Project, which collected oral histories and records from members of Ontario's southern African Jewish community. Documented in the photographs is Ismé's early childhood in Vereeninging, Wits University, visits to the beach in Muizenberg and Durban, Johanessburg street scenes, the Habonim Dror youth group, and family events such as bnai mitzvot and weddings.
Kulanu Toronto. This accession consists of material documenting the Jewish LGBT organization Kulanu Toronto. Included are minutes, agendas, event information, posters, and instructions for volunteers. These records, which were donated by Sheri Krell, complement the records that were donated by Justine Apple, KT's first executive director.
Anne Pritzker. This accession consists of textual records and graphic material documenting the military career and education of Anne Pritzker (née Baker). Anne (1916-2010) graduated from the University of Toronto’s physiotherapy program in 1936 and enlisted with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during the Second World War. She served as a lieutenant physiotherapy aide in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
Rose Yolleck. This accession consists of a copy of the Naomi Cook Book (third edition), which was printed in 1950. First published in 1928 to raise money for the work of Hadassah in Palestine, the cookbook was popular in Toronto’s Jewish community. Although we do not know how Rose acquired the cookbook (it was found among her possessions after her death), we do know that it was common for the cookbook to be passed down from one generation to another, which might be the case with this one. It was donated to the OJA by Rose’s daughter-in-law, Phyllis.
Former OJA chair Eric Slavens donated this group portrait of the Forest Hill Junior High School band and majorettes. Helpfully, Eric (one of the boys in the back row) identified fifty or so of his classmates, which will help those individuals find themselves in the archives. In the late 1950s, around the time this photograph was taken, the student population of Forest Hill was largely Jewish. Today, it is more diverse, but maintains a significant Jewish component.
Kurtz-Cohen family. This accession consists of additional material documenting the Kurtz-Cohen family and includes photographs, certificates, and other documents.
Morley Wolfe. This accession consists of a handwritten note addressed to Morley by Rosalie “Rosie” Abella, FRSC. Rosalie is the first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Canada.
Singer family. This accession consists of ten photographs documenting members of the Singer family including Meyer Singer, Leah Singer (née Kudlowitz), Mendel Singer, Toby Singer, Hilda Singer, and Lil Chasen.
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. This accession consists of records created by UJA’s former vice president, strategic community planning and engagement.
In January, Linda Martin, daughter of the late Philip Martin, donated two items that had belonged to her father to the OJA. One of those items was a letter, found inside an old high school yearbook, addressed to one Lillian Noble by the proprietor of Scarfe's French Beauty Shop in Toronto. The proprietor explains that he is unable to extend an offer of employment to Lillian on the grounds that she is Jewish—a fact she had neglected to mention to her potential employer.
The matter-of-fact tone of the letter and the unashamed manner in which its author expresses their prejudice affords an example of the genteel antisemitism that was pervasive in Toronto at the time. Unforunately, we do not know how Philip came into possession of the letter. His daughter explained that he kept a scrapbook of articles pertaining to antisemitism, both at home and in Nazi Germany, so it is possible he acquired it in that capacity. Whatever the case may be, the letter complements the OJA's existing documentation of antisemitism that is preserved in the Community Relations Committee series of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region fonds, as well as in other collections.
Kurtz-Cohen family. Ellen Kurtz-Cohen made two donations of records in December. The records document the different branches of her family including the Kurtz and Tepperman branches. Included are business records for her grandfather Anshel Tepperman's fur store, Tepperman Fur Co.
Lagover Mutual Benefit Society. Frances Jacobson, the recording secretary of the Lagover Mutual Benefit Society, donated the society's meeting minutes for the years 1995-2017. While meeting minutes might not seem like they make for exciting reading, they are a valuable primary source for historians looking to piece together the history of an organization.
Sidney Freedman. This accession consists of textual records, including printed email correspondence, that touch upon Sidney's role as founder of the Toronto Hebrew Memorial Parks.
Singer family. Documented in this accession are two generations of the Singer family including Louis Michael Singer, K.C., Toronto's second Jewish alderman; Dr. Bessie Thelma Singer (née Pullan), an early female admitee to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario; and Burrell Milton Singer, Q.C.