CJE in the Media
CJE Exhibit Chronicling Canadian Jewish Contribution to 150 Years of Canadian Life
Now Showing in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 28, 2018.
Date: March 8, 2018 at 2:39:13 AM PST
Subject: RE: Canadian Jewish Experience Exhibit in Israel
Please find attached a photo of Ambassador Lyons with the exhibition.
I will send more as we get them.
From: Tova [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: March-02-18 6:30 AM
To: Katz, Signe -TAVIV -PA
Cc: Hinton, Anthony -TAVIV -GR; Victor Rabinovitch; MaureenMolot@Cunet.Carleton.Ca
Subject: Re: Canadian Jewish Experience Exhibit in Israel
Delighted to hear that the CJE will be possible on display at various locations as well as the Residence.
We are off very early in the morning to Victoria, where we will launch the CJE exhibition at the
BC Legislature, which is the fifth legislature building that we will be on display.
I attach the postcard/poster of the CJE Exhibition which also lists Israel.
On Feb 28, 2018, at 8:42 AM, Signe.Katz@international.gc.ca wrote:
We have lots of good news regarding the exhibit.
First, we have set it up in the Official Residence in Tel Aviv and today the Ambassador hosted
30 guests (many ambassadors) who all had a chance to see it. I have attached a photo of how
it looks there.
The HESEG House on Rothschild will host it next and they are very excited about it.
We also have just received word that the Foreign Affairs department at the Knesset is in the
process of confirming the exhibit for the spring.
Thank you again for thinking of us for this important exhibit and we will continue to send you
photos from all the venues.
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New Exhibit Chronicling Canadian Jewish Contribution to 150 Years of Canadian Life
Now on at Asper Campus (BERNIE BELLAN)
A new exhibit currently on display at the Asper Campus in the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada glass panels adjacent to the Berney Theatre tells some aspects of the history of Canadian Jewry over the past 150 years in pictures and words.
The exhibit, titled “Canadian Jewish Experience – A Tribute to Canada 150 – Challenges, Achievements, Contributions”, is the idea of a Toronto committee and was curated by former Winnipegger Sandra Morton Weizman.
Two of the major financial supporters of the exhibit include the Asper Foundation and the family of the late Sydney and Pearl Morantz (who lived in Winnipeg).
In a series of nine panels, the exhibit focuses on different themes, including: “patterns of Jewish migration; building a strong and prosperous country; Jewish Canadians in the Canadian armed forces; elected officials and public servants; architects and developers building Canadian cities; Jewish Canadians in hockey, football, and the sporting world; writers, actors, musicians and media leaders; fighting discrimination and developing human rights laws.”
Here are some excerpts from some of the panels:
From “Justice for All”: “During the 1940s and 50s, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labour Committee led the fight against discrimination in housing, jobs and recreation. All minority groups, including Jews, benefitted from new human rights laws and the creation of Human Rights Commissions…
“A major initiative on human rights was led by Israel Asper, Gail Asper and Moses (Moe) Levy through the creation of Canada’s fifth National Museum, based in Winnipeg, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.”
From “Arts and Popular Culture”: “Literature, music and performing arts have been deeply influenced by Canadian Jews. Montreal was home to a cluster of literary giants, such as poet A.M. Klein, novelist Mordecai Richler, poets Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton, Naim Kattan, the writer and French cultural leader, and playwright Ted Allan. Western Canada spawned distinctive Jewish contributions to Canadian literature with figures such as Adele Wiseman, Eli Mandel and Miriam Waddington.”
From “Serving Democracy”: “When Ezekiel Hart was elected in 1807 to the legislature of Western Canada, he was barred from office because of his Jewish religion. In 1832, Jews were permitted to swear their own religious oath of office. Since then, Jews have made enormous contributions to every level of Canadian politics.”
(Interestingly, the same panel goes on to mention that “Israel Asper was elected leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party in 1970”, but fails to mention that Sidney Spivak was elected leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party in 1971.)
The same exhibit is being shown in cities across Canada simultaneously. It will be on until the middle of August in Winnipeg.
Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
February 5, 2018
‘Canadian Jewish Experience Launches Exhibit at the Roman Catholic Diocesan Centre’
Louise Rachlis, Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, January 29, 2018
Left to Right: Victor Rabinovitch, Archbishop Terrence Pendergast, Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka,
Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor, Tova Lynch and MPP John Fraser gather at the launch on
January 24, 2018 of the Canadian Jewish Experience exhibit at the Roman Catholic Archdiocesan
Centre. (Louise Rachlis)
Canadian Jewish Experience has partnered with the Archdiocese of Ottawa. It is the first time the travelling exhibit has been shown at a non-Jewish religious facility. Louise Rachlis reports on this interfaith endeavour.
The Canadian Jewish Experience’s travelling exhibit has, by now, been to many venues across Canada ranging from museums to universities, libraries, city halls, community centres, synagogues, Parliament Hill and provincial legislatures. But a launch held January 24 at the Roman Catholic Diocesan Centre marked the first time it has been seen on the premises of a non-Jewish faith group.
Tova Lynch, a Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) organizer, said one of the main goals of the CJE exhibit is to promote understanding and reach out to people from all religious traditions. “CJE is therefore honoured that the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa has invited many Ottawans of different religious backgrounds to gather here at the Diocesan Centre to open an exhibit that tells the story of Jewish contributions to our great country.”
“We selected February for the exhibit because we have pastoral days February 22 and 23 and all the parishes from Hawkesbury to Almonte will be sending representatives,” said Deacon Gilles Ouellette of the Office of the Archbishop, who worked with Lynch on bringing the exhibit to the Diocesan Centre. “This will enable thousands of priests, deacons and lay leaders across the area to view it.”
“We wanted it to have extensive exposure, so that many will see it and it will touch them very much,” said Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Pendergast. “I want to say how pleased we are to be able to display the exhibit.”
Jewish leaders on hand for the launch were enthused the exhibit is on display at the Catholic institution.
“This is an overwhelming thing for me,” said Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Machzeikai Hadas. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing the archbishop for many years, and we’ve done many things together… You can talk, but to actually bring something here to the archdiocese about Jewish life speaks directly to action and to valuing each other. Thank you, we deeply appreciate this.”
“The exhibit wanted to celebrate what Canada has achieved and will achieve in the future,” said Victor Rabinovitch, chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Communications and Community Relations Committee. “This entire exhibit is about celebration, not just Jewish, but of the country. Let us build together a country that is better and better.”
Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor said the City of Ottawa salutes the initiative.
“What stands out is how we stand together as a people to share each other’s stories. There are many places on our planet where this wouldn’t happen,” said Taylor.
Ottawa South MPP John Fraser said bringing the CJE exhibit to the Diocesan Centre represented a “significant milestone,” noting there are families from 125 countries, 19 languages and dozens of faiths in the riding. “It takes work like has been done here today to bring people together.”
The CJE exhibit will be on display at the Diocesan Centre at 1247 Kilborn Place through February 23. Call the Archdiocese at 613-738-5025 for information on dates and times available for viewing.
As well, CJE has announced the exhibit will soon travel outside Canada with showings already scheduled for Los Angeles and Israel.
“The Bulletin”, Winter 2017 (pp 7 and 17)
Congregation Agudas Israel
715 McKinnon Ave S, Saskatoon, SK S7H 2G2
Huron University College
1349 Western Road
London, ON Canada N6G 1H3
December 13, 2017
From: tova lynch
Subject: Canadian Jewish Experience – Invitation
Date: November 21, 2017
Dear Friends of the CJE,
Hope that you can attend this event at Huron College and please send it to your contacts as well.
Please find attached the invitation that we will share with the Jewish Community in London. We would appreciate it if the invitation for our private reception can also be extended to the Canadian Jewish Experience board, volunteers and sponsors. We are grateful to all the partners in making this exhibition a reality, Huron is proud to host it in London from Nov 20-Dec 22. We will be hosting a reception on December 13 at Huron to celebrate the Canadian Jewish Experience exhibition and also to announce the Jewish Studies Program at Huron. Beginning this year, Huron is the new home to the Jewish Studies Program that was previously administered by Western University.
Thank you very much for your help. I’m not sure what your plans are for December 13 but we would love to see you at Huron if you are in our area.
Director of Development
Huron University College
1349 Western Road
London, ON Canada N6G 1H3
519.438.7224 ext: 214
The Canadian Jewish News
THE JEWISH CONNECTION TO THE NHL’S PRESTIGIOUS HART TROPHY
Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter
December 7, 2017
Sarah Connors Photo
In downtown Toronto, in the inner sanctum of the shrine dedicated to Canada’s national obsession, hockey, one will find a great hall containing the sport’s Holy of Holies, the Stanley Cup, flanked by the game’s lesser awards.
There, behind a glass case, illuminated in a royal purple glow commensurate with the solemnity of the location, is a trophy that is perhaps more sought after than any other individual award – the Hart Memorial Trophy.
Presented each year to the player judged most valuable to his team, the award is the NHL’s oldest and perhaps most storied.
The league’s greatest players have received the prestigious award, with Wayne Gretzky winning it nine times – more than any other player.
The Hart Memorial Trophy is displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Feline Groovy Photo
While other hockey superstars are associated with the award – including Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe and Eddie Shore – few people are aware of its Jewish connections.
The award, which was first presented to Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators following the 1923-24 season, was donated to the NHL by Dr. David Hart, a prominent Montreal physician at the time. David Hart was a descendant of Aaron Hart, Canada’s first Jewish settler.
David Hart’s son, Cecil Hart, continued the family tradition by coaching and managing the Montreal Canadiens for nine years (after one year heading the rival Montreal Maroons), leading them to Stanley Cup victories in 1931 and 1932.
On Dec. 14, the Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) will hold an event marking Canada’s sesquicentennial, titled Remembering Cecil Hart 1883-1940.
The day will be dedicated to memorializing Cecil Hart’s contribution to the game of hockey, while also highlighting the role the Jewish community has played in Canada over the past 150 years, said Tova Lynch, founder of CJE.
The volunteer organization has sponsored various events throughout the year, spotlighting prominent Jews, such as songwriter Leonard Cohen and Louis Rasminsky, the governor of the Bank of Canada who broke through a “glass ceiling” in the financial world, Lynch said.
CJE felt it was appropriate to honour Cecil Hart, who played such a prominent role in hockey, “which is so important for Canada.” What’s more, “nobody knows that Cecil Hart was Jewish,” she said.
Nobody knows that Cecil Hart was Jewish. Tova Lynch
Andrew Ross, an archivist and specialist in hockey at Library and Archives Canada, said Cecil Hart was a prominent figure in both the hockey and baseball worlds in the 1920s. In 1921, he negotiated the purchase of the Montreal Canadiens, on behalf of the Dandurand family, from the widow of George Kennedy, who owned the team.
Together with Léo Dandurand, Joseph Cattarinich and Louis Letourneau, the other owners of the Habs, Hart was known as “the fourth horseman of the Canadiens,” Ross said.
In 1923, then acting as the team’s corporate director, Cecil Hart recruited Howie Morenz to the Canadiens. Morenz would go on to become a superstar of the day and lead the team to three Stanley Cup victories.
In 1924, David Hart donated the Hart Trophy to the league. At the time, it was the league’s only individual award, but it opened the door to a flock of other trophies, including the Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player) and the Art Ross (most points). Some trophies came and went, but the Hart Trophy remained, Ross said.
In its early days, the trophy was in the shape of a cup and small plaques bearing the names of the recipients were added to its base each year. By 1960, the base was full and it was replaced with the current Hart Memorial Trophy, which looks like a fiery ball sitting on top of a pedestal.
The league’s greatest players have received the prestigious award.
The CJE event is scheduled for Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Pellan Room of the Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington St. in Ottawa. It is timed to coincide with the wider festivities surrounding the outdoor Winter Classic game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, which will be held at TD Place in Ottawa on Dec. 16.
As part of the festivities, participants will hear a lecture on the life and times of Cecil Hart, view a specially created CJE panel honouring Cecil Hart, listen to music and watch video presentations by former Hart Trophy winners.
And, of course, they will be able to view the trophy that links the Jewish community indelibly to the great game of hockey.
CANADIAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE OPENS AT THE UNIVERSITÉ DE MONTRÉAL
Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter
November 28, 2017
Université de Montréal rector Guy Breton, centre, greets Herbert Marx, left, and Morris Goodman
at the opening of the Canadian Jewish Experience exhibition. JANICE ARNOLD PHOTO
The long, but little known, relationship between the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and the Jewish community was celebrated at the opening of an exhibition on the contributions Canadian Jews have made to this country over the past 150 years.
UdeM rector Guy Breton hosted the Nov. 27 vernissage for the Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE), which has been travelling across Canada since the spring, while a permanent version continues to show at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa until the end of the year.
Prepared by volunteers and funded by private donations, those who organized the CJE hope to make the Canadian public aware that Jews have been present on this land since the mid-1700s, have excelled in almost every field and are proud Canadians, despite the obstacles and challenges they’ve faced.
By the time its tour ends next July, CJE will have been on 31 university campuses, said Tova Lynch, head of the organizing committee.
The nine-panel thematic exhibition was at Concordia and McGill universities this fall, as well as Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Que. UdeM is the only francophone institution on the Quebec tour.
Breton noted that UdeM, which was founded in 1878, has always been open to everyone, despite its Catholic origins. UdeM – now the largest university in Quebec, in terms of overall enrolment – never had a quota, he added, without naming any that did.
READ: OTTAWA EXHIBIT FEATURES 150 YEARS OF JEWS’ CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANADA
Among the guests at the catered kosher cocktail were two graduates who remember a time when Jews had to have a higher grade average to get into McGill: Herbert Marx and Morris Goodman.
Born in 1932, Marx was a Liberal MNA from 1979-1988, serving as justice minister in the government of Robert Bourassa, and went on to become a Quebec Superior Court judge. He earned a master’s degree in English literature in 1962 and a law degree in 1967 at UdeM. He was also a professor of constitutional law at his alma mater for 10 years.
Goodman, co-founder and chair of Pharmascience Inc., the third largest generic drug company in Canada, graduated in pharmacy from UdeM in 1953, at the age of 21. Over the years, he has paid back the opportunity that was afforded to him through philanthropy.
Goodman and his late wife were instrumental in organizing UdeM’s first official academic mission to Israel in 2013, which was led by Breton.
Another guest, prominent criminal defence lawyer Raphaël Schachter, also feels a strong attachment to UdeM, where he received his law degree in 1969. Six years ago, he established an endowment fund and an annual scholarship in criminal law there.
The Sherbrooke native admitted he had had “a checkered scholastic record” before he was accepted, and is grateful that UdeM “gave me a break.”
Others who were present included: Senator Marc Gold, whose late father, Alan B. Gold, former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court, received his law degree from UdeM in 1941; former federal justice minister and McGill law professor Irwin Cotler, who was just awarded an honorary doctorate from UdeM’s law faculty; and Henri Elbaz, the former executive director of the Jewish General Hospital, who graduated from UdeM’s affiliated business school, HEC Montréal, and was a founder of the university’s Centre Hillel.
CJE is showing in the UdeM’s Carrefour des arts et des sciences in the Pavillon Lionel Groulx, 3150 Jean Brillant St., through December. After that, it will move to the atrium of the Bibliothèque des lettres et des sciences humaines in the Pavillon Samuel Bronfman, 3000 Jean Brillant St., where it will be on display until the end of January.
While the exhibition is always bilingual, Lynch said the edition at UdeM reverses the position of the text accompanying the photos, making the French predominant.
The themes covered (very concisely) include immigration, business, the arts, sports, military service, public life and the fight against discrimination and for human rights legislation.
As Breton observed, the exhibit is “a reminder of the enormous contribution the Jewish community has made to building a prosperous and welcoming Canada, which it, unfortunately, was not always. Many Jews escaped hatred, only to find it here under different guises.”
The CJE project also includes a website, where more information on Jewish life in Canada can be found.
The vernissage concluded with Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, including a stanza in Hebrew, sung by Cantor Daniel Benlolo, who served in Ottawa synagogues for 22 years, before returning to Montreal this summer. Many joined in the chorus.
Travelling exhibit highlights Jewish history for Canada’s 150th at Vancouver Public Library
November 26, 2017
‘This country was built by people from all backgrounds,’ says director at Jewish Museum
Emanu-El of Victoria, completed in 1862, is the oldest synagogue
in B.C. (Congregation Emanu-El/British Columbia Archives )
A travelling exhibit of Jewish history has passed through 20 cities from coast to coast and is now in Vancouver.
Part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the exhibit is now housed at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, highlighting the Jewish community’s contributions to the country and the city.
Michael Schwartz, director of community engagement at the the Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C., said it’s important to showcase diverse histories in Canada.
“As the advocates of our own community, we like to share our own history and hope that other communities will do the same,” Schwartz said. “This country was built by people from all backgrounds.”
Although the Jewish community in Vancouver is not as big as those in Toronto or Montreal, making up only about one per cent of the population here, it has a long history.
“There is much to celebrate, the community has been here for a very long time, since the earliest days, and it has made countless contributions,” Schwartz told Rick Cluff, CBC host of The Early Edition.
The travelling exhibit is currently at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library and will remain there until Nov. 30. (Clare Hennig/CBC)
Jewish history in Vancouver
The exhibit, called The Canadian Jewish Experience: Celebrating the rich history of Jewish life in Canada, showcases some of those contributions.
Nine panels trace through the community’s history, from early patterns of Jewish migration in the 19th century to contemporary arts and culture.
In B.C., Schwartz said, the first Jewish migrants arrived during the gold rush and settled in Victoria in 1858. Within five years, the first synagogue was built.
In the 1870s, the Jewish community grew in Vancouver and people like David Oppenheimer, who later became mayor of Vancouver, began to arrive and build the city.
“Today, we know [Oppenheimer] as the ‘Father of Vancouver,'” Schwartz said.
Strathcona started out as a working-class neighbourhood where many Jewish families settled in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Schwartz said, while more affluent families moved to the West End.
Staging a parade on Laurel Street, circa 1960. At that time, many Jewish families were moving to Vancouver’s Oakridge neighbourhood. (Gail Dodek Wenner/Jewish Museum and Archives of B.C.)
After the Second World War, Oakridge became one of the more popular Jewish neighbourhoods.
“That’s still kind of the emotional heart of the community,” Schwartz said.
The exhibit is on display at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library until Nov. 30.
CJE in the Vancouver Public Library
350 W Georgia St
Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1
Friday 24th, November 2017
Canadian Jewish History
Rabbi Dr. Yosef Wosk was the keynote speaker at the Vancouver
exhibit. (photo by Cynthia Ramsay)
The Canadian Jewish Experience traveling exhibit opened at the central branch of Vancouver Public Library on Nov. 16. The display is presented by the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and VPL.
The opening event was hosted by Michael Schwartz, JMABC director of community engagement. Kayla Epstein, VPL board chair, and Karen James, Jewish Federation board chair, said a few words, as did Tova Lynch, who led the committee that created the exhibit, which opened in April in Ottawa. The multi-panel display celebrates the history of Jews in Canada and was made for the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. The set that is on display at VPL has an additional panel dedicated to the B.C. Jewish community.
“To date, we have created 15 various sets [of the exhibit] that are traveling around the country,” said Lynch. To date, it has been to 35 places, and is scheduled for more, including a push to have it on university campuses. Among the major supporters of the exhibit, she said, are Fred Belzberg and Sam Belzberg. She thanked the Belzbergs, who couldn’t attend the event, as well as Rabbi Dr. Yosef Wosk, whose contributions, she said, made the event possible.
Wosk was also the keynote speaker. He spoke of the importance of books, of stories, of the relative youth of Canada as a nation and about the Jewish community’s participation in national life. He expressed gratitude for living in a country that is safe for Jews and other minorities, but also recalled that it wasn’t always so and that immigrants today still face problems.
The Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, offered greetings from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as her own comments on the contributions of Jewish and other immigrants to Canadian society.
The Canadian Jewish Experience is on view at VPL until Nov. 30.
Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, C300-123 Doncaster Street, Winnipeg, MB R3N 2B2
November 23, 2017
Canadian Jewish Exhibition Officially Welcomed to the Legislature.
The Canadian Jewish Exhibition was officially welcomed to the legislature on November 23rd during a ceremony hosted by Joel Lazer, Chair, Community Relations. Among the speakers were: Hon. Myrna Drieder, Speaker of the House, Hon. Cathy Cox, Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage, Gail Asper, President of the Asper Foundation, Dr. Jon Gerrard on behalf of the opposition.
CJE at City Hall
510 Main St
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1B9
October 27, 2017
Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) Launches in Winnipeg
(L-R) Gail Asper, President, The Asper Foundation, David Asper, Chair,
The Asper Foundation, Tova Lynch, CJE Director and Advisor,
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, Adam Levene, President,
Jewish Federation Winnipeg, Dr. Victor Rabinovitch,CJE Director and Advisor
The Canadian Jewish Experience, a ten-panel exhibition honouring Canada’s 150th birthday, will be opened at a special ceremony at City Hall on October 26, 2017. Reception: 5-7 pm. Winnipeg’s Mayor Brian Bowman will unveil a new panel highlighting the contributions of Winnipeg’s Jewish Community.
The CJE exhibit is built around nine major themes: patterns of immigration; war and diplomacy; public service; justice and human rights; economic growth; arts; culture and sports.
CJE’s purpose is to share with all Canadians Jewish aspects of Canada’s story through the ten panel exhibition, a website, and a special speakers series. The main goal of the CJE exhibit is to be an educational tool for young and old.
Jewish Canadians have played important roles in all facets of life in Canada, dating as far back as the mid-1700s. Their accomplishments reflect the challenges and successes experienced by this country over the past 150 years. Canada’s sesquicentennial is a time for celebration by all citizens and residents, whatever their faith or ethnicity. The CJE exhibit stresses that Canadians continue to build a country that respects cultural and religious diversity, national unity, fairness and progress.
The Exhibit was curated by Sandra Weizman Morton with contributions from Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President Emeritus of the War Museum and the former Museum of Civilization (now the Museum of History).
www.cje2017.com provides additional information about historical topics covered by the CJE exhibit and about many extraordinary Canadians. The website also provides information about venues for lectures and other locations where the traveling exhibit can be seen.
The creation of this special project celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial was made possible by The Asper Foundation and other generous donors.
For further information please contact: Shelley Faintuch 204-477-7423 (email@example.com)
The Asper Foundation
Ste. 2810-201 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The Canadian Jewish Experience: How an Ottawa Start-up Beat the Odds
Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship (Ches)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Thursday, October 26, 2017
By Dr. Victor Rabinovitch
Board member, Canadian Jewish Experience,
Distinguished Fellow, Queens U. School of Policy Studies
Text of an introductory talk at Carleton University, in conjunction with the Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies, for the opening of The Canadian Jewish Experience exhibit in the MacOdrum Library, 3 October 2017
General introduction: the CJE exhibit in perspective
“It’s now October 2017, and Canada’s Sesquicentennial celebration, or its150th birthday, is already nine months old with just three months remaining. In the future, other people will judge the value of the national celebrations this year. Have they been successful? Are they adding to public understanding of the Canadian social and political experiment? Do they expand our vision of Canada?
My focus today is on one Canada 150 project. It isn’t an “official project” because it has not received a penny from federal or local funding. (It has received encouragement from several officials, which I will describe later.) My presentation is not a formal academic lecture on issues in the fields of public history, memory and memorialization, or archival and museological studies. But I hope a there may be a scholar who will use the Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) as a topic for a future study, because there is a lot to learn from what our volunteer group has accomplished.
This presentation provides an opportunity to describe some details on the CJE exhibit and look at some of its background. I will do this by asking and answering a few questions – and in keeping with a Jewish Passover tradition, I’ve framed these points as ‘the four questions’.”
First question: why celebrate?
“Why did a group of volunteers create the initiative to celebrate Canada 150 from the viewpoint of Jewish experience?
The answer is complicated. It starts with an immigrant member of our Ottawa Jewish community, Tova Lynch and her Canadian husband, a former diplomat, Jim Lynch. Sometimes, there are advantages to viewing a society from the outside as this gives a particular perspective on social habits and values. (It is said that Jews have been so prominent in comedy entertainment because they view their societies partly from the outside…they can spot unusual things from this outsider’s perspective.) Tova and Jim conceived the idea that Jews in Canada should take part, AS JEWS, in celebrating the country’s 150 years. They felt we had something special to appreciate and this inspired their vision. They began to create a team of volunteers, and I was recruited along with other people because of my professional and community experience. They also looked for assistance from potential partner organizations.
As most people already know, there were episodes in the Jewish experience of Canada that were far from positive. We know that our journey in this country has its share of dark episodes. Who can forget the MS St. Louis, with more than 900 Jewish passengers who were not allowed to land in Canada in 1939 (nor in Cuba or the US)? These ordinary people were sent back to Europe, and many died in the Holocaust. Or look at some other examples. Everyone Jewish over a certain age remembers the quotas against Jews entering universities like McGill; or, the real estate covenants that prevented Jews buying homes or land in certain places; or, the restrictions on Jews entering certain clubs, such as the Rideau Club and the Hunt Club golf course, right here in Ottawa. I personally remember having stones thrown into our doorway in Lachine, near Montreal, and kids shouting “maudit Juif” at me as a child in the streets.
But the larger picture was much more positive. For Jews living in Canada from the mid 19th Century onward, the experience was one of great freedom, great opportunity. This was not a land of pogroms as in Eastern Europe. Jews were thrilled to be British subjects. They chose to fight for Canada in huge numbers, loyally and with distinction, in both World Wars.
This is why the CJE project was started and why I decided to be so committed. Our choice was to celebrate the positive, highlighting the many stories of achievement. We wanted to show how Jews have helped to build a modern country, with all of its commercial, cultural and social successes. ‘Celebrating’ for us has meant an emphasis on the positive, while also not ignoring the negative.”
Second question: what happened when the Department Canadian Heritage said ‘no’?
“When the federal government did not grant any funding to the CJE, how did the group react and adjust the project?
The federal government’s negative decision to the CJE grant request created a very hard situation, almost spelling the end of the project. The original idea was ambitious: Tova Lynch wanted a full-scale, museum-quality exhibition. The National Capital Commission had offered a space for us to rent in the downtown area. The idea was challenging, but we felt it could be achieved.
We had applied for Canada 150 project funding by following the normal channels set out by the Department of Canadian Heritage. I cannot exaggerate how much time was spent on this, how many phone calls and emails, how many hoops we jumped through while the Department changed its own deadlines. (We’ve heard from other project applicants who received similar treatment.) And then, contrary to all our expectations, we received the bad news in mid 2016, which was much too late for any minor changes. Needless to say, we received no explanations from the Department.
Our first instinct was to give up, but Tova Lynch had been reaching out to private donors, with the intention of matching federal funding with private funding. We began to consider options for a different, smaller-scale project that would reflect our limited funding. We approached potential donors. The breakthrough came from the incomparable Asper Foundation in Winnipeg. They agreed to support a smaller project, and with their commitment a pattern was set for several other donors.
Back to the drawing boards with Tova, and our professional curator, Sandra Morton-Wiseman from Calgary, and me. (Sandra had worked in museum projects many times, so her knowledge, flexibility and abilities are simply first-class). We conceived how to cut down our content and reduce the project to something modest but still substantive. Our solution was to create a panel exhibition that combined photos, solid research and good design, supplemented by the extra content that would be included in a modern website. This would be practical and financially do-able. Our real exhibition work began.”
Third question: what content to include?
“What choices were made in selecting themes and content for the smaller exhibit?
This question is easily understood by someone who has created photo books, or written family histories, or who has worked in a professional setting as a writer, artist, or a designer. The hardest job in creating a presentation is to decide what goes in and what’s left out. The next hardest job is creating a story, a narrative, around which you structure your information.
In museum terminology this process is called ‘interpretive planning’ and its goal is the ‘making of meaning’. It starts with a key question: ‘What is the Big Idea for this exhibition?’ That is, what is the central message and how do we discipline ourselves to stay on the message? From a professional standpoint, this is a key challenge in any exhibition planning, whether large or small. The Big Idea for the CJE can be summed up in three sentences. Most Jews celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary by recognizing how we have been successful in this land. We have contributed in so many ways to making modern Canada. We are not alone in this endeavour, and praise the contributions made by other individuals and communities.
We agreed that a nine-panel exhibition of photos and texts could cover the major themes of Jewish history and life in Canada. This would be brief, of course, really a suggestive outline. If there had been space, time and funding, this information could have been explored more deeply. For example, relationships with other communities, or past challenges and setbacks, could have been described. But a panel exhibition isn’t a full, museum-style installation. It is an overview, a précis. In our CJE panels, every entry is 150 words in length. And even 150 words is a long text for a panel exhibit. The same applies to the photo captions: they must be brief.
So much effort and judgement went into the CJE wording, the selection of photos, and the balancing of information. As well, so much effort went into verifying the tone and meaning of the English and French versions. We also focused much attention on the website version of this exhibition, which was done with equal care, using the advantage of adding more content. There is a special section on the website called “Exceptional builders” which presents brief biographies of a selection of people who have been recognized with the Order of Canada. I still wish we could expand the number of people we write about. But all of this is the price to pay when timing and funding is so limited.”
Fourth question: audience reactions?
“And now the final question: What reactions has this project received from various audiences?
This has been the most positive aspect of the CJE story. While we haven’t received any public funding, we have had solid encouragement from many public and private figures. I will name several people in Ottawa to give a sense of what their words and actions have meant to us.
First, Dr. Mark Kristmanson who is head of the National Capital Commission had welcomed the idea of the CJE at an early stage of our planning, and his staff offered space to us at 30 Metcalfe Street. Because of the NCC’s decision, we were very encouraged and we felt we had a good project and the right idea. We had a place to show our product, but we had to design the product, create its content and package it.
Second, I want to mention Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson, who saw the exhibit at its official opening on April 2. He approached Tova Lynch and said: “I want this exhibit to be displayed in the lobby of City Hall”. This invitation didn’t cost the City anything, as the CJE team assumed all charges. But it fit our goal of reaching out to the broader community, and it fit the municipal idea that City Hall is a showplace for all citizens. The Mayor initiated that step for us.
The third major encouragement came from Mark O’Neill who is the head of the Canadian Museum of History and the War Museum. (Mark is my successor at these national museums, but let me assure any readers that he never spoke to me about his idea.) Mark had also attended the April 2 opening of the exhibit and he asked Tova Lynch if the exhibit panels could be placed on temporary display in the War Museum lobby. The War Museum approach to Canadian history stresses the contributions of ordinary people. One of the people mentioned in the CJE panel on military history is Barney Danson who had participated as a soldier in the 1944 D-day landing, was wounded, and later in life became Canada’s Minister of Defense and a great supporter of the War Museum. What Mark O’Neill demonstrated was that the CJE exhibit meets professional quality standards for content and balance, and it is worthy of display in a national museum. His invitation was exhilarating.
From the April 2 opening onward, we have been overwhelmed by positive feedback across the country. There is great response to Tova, who has contacted legislatures, communities, mayors, and university presidents across the country. Everything starts with the product, meaning the CJE exhibit’s quality and credibility, as well as the quality of the companion website. And so, at this time, the CJE will be shown in every province of Canada. (We have several copies fabricated and available to travel.) It will be in more than 30 universities and in community centres, City Halls, and other public spaces. We have also created local content panels for a few places, notably Winnipeg, Halifax and Vancouver.
The Canadian Jewish Experience outlines a significant aspect of Canada’s life and history. It promotes pride in all of us. It reminds us that building a successful country requires constant efforts by citizens, new immigrants, volunteers, business people, activists and ordinary well-wishers. It conveys an optimistic vision for the country, implying that all immigrant groups – and all Canadians – can succeed in improving their lives and bettering conditions for our society as a whole.
Thank you, and enjoy your visit to the exhibit and our website.”
Short URL: https://carleton.ca/jewishstudies/?p=4214
Monday, October 23, 2017
CANADIAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE EXHIBIT ON PARLIAMENT HILL
An exhibit on the history of Canada’s Jewish Community will be showcased at a reception co-hosted by Members of Parliament David Sweet, Michael Levitt, and Randall Garrison. The event will take place in Room 238-S of Centre Block at 3 pm on Monday, October 23.
The Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) is an exhibit on the proud history of Canada’s Jewish Community, created as a tribute to Canada 150. It is composed of specially created, bilingual exhibit panels illustrating nine major themes, such as: contributions in war and diplomacy, public service, human rights, business growth, arts, culture and sport.
The Canadian Jewish Experience is currently on display to the public at 30 Metcalfe St and at the Canadian War Museum. A travelling version of the CJE exhibit will be hosted in many cities across Canada this year, from Halifax to Victoria. A separate Universities Tour of the CJE will be hosted by 30 universities across Canada.
A parallel web site (www.cje2017.com) has also been created to present more detailed information about the CJE exhibit topics and about many extraordinary Canadians. The web site will also provide information about venues for the lecture series and locations where the travelling exhibit can be viewed
For additional information on the CJE please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 613-680-8820.
L’exposition de l’Expérience juive canadienne sur la Colline du Parlement
Une exposition sur l’histoire de la communauté juive du Canada sera présentée à une réception organisée par MM. David Sweet, Michael Levitt and Randall Garrison, députés. Cette réception aura lieu le lundi 23 octobre 2017 à 15 h à la pièce 238S de l’édifice du Centre.
L’Expérience juive canadienne est une exposition qui raconte la fière histoire de la communauté juive au Canada et a été créée en hommage au Canada 150. Cette exposition est constituée de panneaux d’exposition bilingues, spécialement créés traitant de neuf grands thèmes, dont les contributions en temps de guerre et dans les domaines de la diplomatie, de la fonction publique, des droits de la personne, de la croissance économique, des arts, de la culture et des sports.
L’Expérience juive canadienne est présentement exposée publiquement au 30, rue Metcalfe et au Musée canadien de la guerre. Une version itinérante de l’exposition sera exposée dans plusieurs villes à travers le Canada au cours de l’année, d’Halifax à Victoria. L’exposition sera aussi en tournée distincte dans 30 universités canadiennes.
Un site Web d’accompagnement (www.cje2017.com) a été conçu pour offrir des informations plus détaillées sur les thématiques de l’exposition et sur ces Canadiens et Canadiennes hors du commun. Le site Web contiendra aussi des renseignements sur les lieux où se donneront les conférences et sur le calendrier de tournée de l’exposition itinérante.
Pour en savoir plus sur l’Expérience juive canadienne, envoyez un courriel à email@example.com ou téléphonez le 613 680 8820
Special “Canadian Jewish Experience” is on Display at Edmonton City Hall
October 19, 2017
TOPICS: Edmonton City Hall, Edmonton Jewish Federation, Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Northern Alberta,
The Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute To Canada 150
Members of the community attending the opening of the “Canadian Jewish Experience” exhibit
at Edmonton City Hall.
(Edmonton) – The Jewish Federation of Edmonton, is co-hosting the exhibit of “Canadian Jewish Experience” (CJE) at Edmonton City Hall for the month of October, along with the Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta. The CJE is a special exhibit created to honour Canada on the occasion of the 150thanniversary of Confederation in 2017.
The theme of CJE is a celebration of Canadian Jewish contributions to modern Canada, in honour the 150th anniversary of the country. The CJE exhibit is not a ‘history of Canadian Jews.’ Instead, its focus is on Canada and how Jews have helped make this country what it is today. It was prepared by a small group of people in Ottawa to coincide with Canada 150. The author of the exhibit is historian Sandra Morton Weizman, formerly of Edmonton, now of Calgary. The original exhibit opened in Ottawa in early April and, rather than transporting the panels across the country and limiting their accessibility, replicas were produced so that a total of 10 major cities will be able to display the works, entitled “The Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150.”
In Edmonton, the exhibit opened first at the Beth Israel Synagogue on July 1, before being moved to the Beth Shalom for Doors Open Edmonton, then to Heritage Days in August, to the Edmonton Talmud Torah for the month of September, and now to the atrium of City Hall today, where it will remain on display for the month. It is expected that a more permanent home will be found afterwards.
In addition to work on the display, Weizman was also heavily involved in putting together a complementary website, which allowed her to include more detail on the Jewish history in this country. Those who are interested can check it out at www.cje2017.com.
In terms of the history of Jews in Edmonton, Alberta, the City itself was first incorporated as a town in 1892. At that time, there were about 700 permanent residents. Founded on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River on the site of the former Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Edmonton, it soon began to attract a growing populace.
Abraham and Rebecca Cristall, Edmonton’s first Jews, arrived in 1893. Their children, George and Rose, were the first Jewish children born in Edmonton. Abe became a successful businessman, and helped to bring more Jews over from his native Bessarabia. By 1901, there were 17 Jewish citizens in Edmonton. In 1904, Edmonton became incorporated as a city, and in 1905, Alberta officially became a province and the CN Railway arrived. Today, the Jewish population of Edmonton is around 5000 people.
In the fall of 2004, Edmonton elected its first Jewish mayor, Stephen Mandel. Stephen had previously served as a City Councilor, continuing a long tradition of Jewish City Councilors, including Dr. Morris Weinlos, Abe Miller, Helen Paull, Mel Binder, Tooker Gomberg, Michael Oshry and former MLAs Abe Miller and Karen Leibovici.
There has always been a strong tradition of civic involvement in the Edmonton Jewish Community, with members serving on the boards and executives of many local arts, cultural, educational and fundraising organizations, as well as in the Judiciary, including Associate Chief Justice Tevie Miller, the first Jew to hold that high office in the Province of Alberta. Bora Laskin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, was also a born and bred Edmontonian.
Jews have been involved in every aspect of Civic life in Edmonton, from the founding of the Citadel theatre, Canada’s largest regional theatre by Joe Shoctor, to Jews who have served on the Boards of the Edmonton Symphony, Opera, Art Gallery and Concert Foundation, like Dianne and Irving Kipnes, to Rexall billionaire Daryl Katz, who bought the Edmonton Oilers hockey team in 2008, and now owns the Edmonton Oil Kings and Cracker Cats baseball teams as well.
Jewish businessmen Moe Lieberman, Henry Singer and Joe Shoctor were instrumental in the founding of the Edmonton Eskimos CFL franchise. Broadcasting legend Cecil “Tiger” Goldstick, son of Edmonton’s first Rabbi was a trainer with the early sports teams in Edmonton before becoming a broadcaster and founder of Sports Central, a charity which provides under-privileged kids in the city with sports equipment. A park is named in his honour in the East End of the City, and his picture adorns the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame on the City’s main square.
The two hosting organizations for this exhibit have also been around for quite a while. In 1954, the Edmonton Jewish Community Council was formed as an umbrella organization for the community, and served as such for 28 years. On September 20, 1982, the Community Council merged with Edmonton United Jewish Appeal to become today’s Jewish Federation of Edmonton.
The Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta or(JAHSENA) was founded in 1996 to preserve and promote the history of this vibrant Jewish Community.
Don’t miss this opportunity to view this special exhibit, on display now at Edmonton City Hall until October 31, 2017.
I am writing to draw your attention to a newsworthy event which took place 11 October at Bishop’s.
The Canadian Jewish Experience a Tribute to Canada 150 (CJE) held a vernissage on Wednesday Oct 11 at Bishop’s University, the exhibit will remain at Bishop’s until October 26th.
The group in front of the CJE exhibit from L to R are: Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom; Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie,
Dr. Daniel Miller, Ms. Sharon Smith, Dr. Michele Murray, Mr. Neil Bronson, all from Bishop’s.
Here is more information about the CJE:
CJE’s purpose is to share with all Canadians some Jewish aspects of Canada’s story through a special ten panel exhibition, a website, and special speakers series. The main goal of the CJE exhibit is to be an educational tool for young and old.
Jewish Canadians have played important roles in all facets of life in Canada, dating back to the mid-1700s. Their accomplishments reflect the challenges and successes experienced by this country over the past 150 years. Canada’s 150th anniversary is a time for celebration by all citizens and residents, whatever their faith or ethnicity. The CJE exhibit stresses that Canadians continue to build a country that respects cultural and religious diversity, national unity, fairness and progress.
The text of the nine panel CJE exhibit is bilingual. The panels are built around nine major themes, including patterns of immigration, war and diplomacy, public service, justice and human rights, economic growth, arts, culture and sports.
The Exhibit Curator is Sandra Weizman Morton with contributions from Dr. Victor Rabinovich, President emeritus of the War Museum and the former Museum of Civilization (now the Museum of History).
A website WWW.CJE2017.com provides additional information about historical topics covered by the CJE exhibit and about many extraordinary Canadians. The website also provides information about venues for lectures and other locations where the travelling exhibit can be seen.
A special bilingual quiz on topics drawn from the exhibition and the website is on our website. Visitors of all ages are invited to test their knowledge and expand their understanding.
The CJE panel exhibit has established an outstanding record. The exhibit was first shown in Ottawa, where thousands of visitors have already seen it in this special year. It is on display in three locations: the public lobby of the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa City Hall, and the lobby of a National Capital Commission building at 30 Metcalfe St., two blocks from Parliament Hill. The exhibit will also be on display during 2017 from Newfoundland to Victoria, including the Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Legislatures, Parliament Hill, Winnipeg City Hall, Diefenbaker Canada Centre, Saskatoon, Western Development Museum, Saskatoon, Halifax Public Library, Calgary City Hall, Heritage Park in Calgary, the Stampede Breakfast in Calgary, Edmonton City Hall, and Vancouver Public Library. The list is still growing. The CJE will have a special tour to 30 universities across Canada, CJE is very proud that universities from Nova Scotia to BC will mont the exhibit.
For more information please contact Michele Murray , also copied here.
There is no charge for hosting the exhibit.
The CJE is a volunteer initiative funded entirely through private donations and is a charitable organization.
On behalf of the CJE Board
Bishop’s Hosts Canadian Jewish Experience Exhibit
October 13, 2017
The group in front of the CJE exhibit from L toR are: Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom;
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie,
Dr. Daniel Miller, Ms. Sharon Smith, Dr. Michele Murray, Mr. Neil Bronson, all from Bishop’s.
Over the next two weeks Bishop’s University is hosting a travelling exhibit entitled “Canadian Jewish Experience Exhibit: A Tribute to Canada 150.” On display in the lobby of Centennial theatre, the free display showcases the contributions of Canada’s Jewish communities to core components of the nation’s development as a part of this year’s anniversary celebrations.
“It’s meant to be an educational tool,” said Bishops’ Dean of Arts and Science Michele Murray, explaining that the offer to host the exhibit was appealing in large part because of the broad range of different academic departments that it connects to.
Tova Lynch of the Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE), the charitable organization that organized the exhibit, explained that CJE’S purpose is to share with all Canadians some Jewish aspects of Canada’s story.
“Jewish Canadians have played important roles in all facets of life in Canada, dating back to the mid-1700s,” Lynch said. “Their accomplishments reflect the challenges and successes experienced by this country over the past 150 years. Canada’s 150th anniversary is a time for celebration by all citizens and residents, whatever their faith or ethnicity. The CJE exhibit stresses that Canadians continue to build a country that respects cultural and religious diversity, national unity, fairness and progress.”
The nine bilingual panels of the exhibition are built around nine major themes, including patterns of immigration, war and diplomacy, public service, justice and human rights, economic growth, arts, culture and sports.
Bishop’s held a vernissage for the exhibit on Wednesday, October 11, that Murray said over 50 students, faculty, staff and community members attended. The exhibit will remain on display at Bishop’s until October 26th.
More information on the exhibit and Canadian Jewish history is available online at www.cje2017.com
The Canadian Jewish Experience
Diefenbaker Canada Centre
101 Diefenbaker Pl, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A7
October 1, 2017
This exhibit highlights the challenges, achievements and contributions of the Jewish community in Canada.
Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and Mr. Samuel Bronfman
“Jews have lived in Canada for nearly 250 years. Our numbers were few at first, but grew with immigration. Our entry was not easy. Canada until the 1960s had professional, educational and immigration barriers – and prejudices – targeting Jews. Happily, things have changed. Now nearly 400,000 Jewish people live in all Provinces and Territories in Canada.” The Canadian Jewish Experience.
The exhibit follows the journey of the Jewish people throughout Canadian history and celebrates their contributions and role within Canadian society. This includes their role as business leaders, their participation in the armed forces, elected leaders that served democracy, the architects developing and building Canadian cities, sports, popular culture and art, and fighting discrimination.
Ms. Linda Shaw
On October 1, the Diefenbaker Canada Centre welcomed representatives from Saskatoon’s Jewish community to celebrate the opening of the traveling exhibit “The Canadian Jewish Experience.” Linda Shaw, daughter of Senator and former Saskatoon Mayor Sid Buckwold, spoke about her father’s experience growing up in Saskatchewan. She shared stories of his times at university, of serving in the military during the Second World War, and of his journey into politics and becoming mayor of Saskatoon. She spoke of his struggles against antisemitism in his election campaigns as well as his trials and triumphs as mayor. Today’s presentations highlighted the important contributions made to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Canada by Jewish individuals and communities since long before Confederation.
We are delighted to have hosted this event and to have partnered once again with the Saskatoon Jewish community to make this exhibit opening a success. “The Canadian Jewish Experience” will be at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre until October 30, 2017.
CANADIAN JEWISH EXPERIENCE
July 21, 2017
The Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE) is a volunteer initiative to celebrate Canada and the contributions made by Jews to the building of a modern country. This work is undertaken in connection with Canada’s 150th anniversary, and reflects the pride and love which Canadian Jews have for this country.
CJE is funded entirely through private donations, and it is led by volunteers. The core vision is to share Jewish aspects of Canada’s story through an exhibition, a website, and specialist speakers.
The first site for the exhibition is in Ottawa, where thousands of visitors are expected in the national capital for this special year. An additional travelling version of the exhibition panels will be shown in other cities across the country.
Jewish Canadians have played important roles in all facets of life in Canada, dating back to the mid-1700s. Their accomplishments reflect the challenges and successes experienced here during the past 150 years. A speaker series will highlight some of these contributions.
A specialized website has been created to provide more information about historical topics covered by the CJE exhibit and about many extraordinary Canadians. The website also provides information about venues for lectures and other locations where the travelling exhibit can be seen.
A special quiz on topics drawn from the exhibition and the website is available. Visitors of all ages are invited to test their knowledge and expand their understanding.
Canada’s 150th anniversary is a time for celebration by all citizens and residents, whatever their faith or ethnicity. We continue to build a country that respects diversity and unity, fairness and progress.
All Canadians take pride in our 150th anniversary, but Jewish citizens celebrate with special appreciation. Canada’s peoples come from many backgrounds and religions. Our spirit of tolerance and diversity helps cultural communities thrive within a mosaic.
Jews have lived in Canada for nearly 250 years. Our numbers were few at first, but grew with immigration. Our entry was not easy. Canada until the 1960s had professional, educational and immigration barriers – and prejudices – targeting Jews. Happily, things have changed. Now nearly 400,000 Jewish people live in all Provinces and Territories in Canada, especially Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
This amazing Exhibition, prepared by volunteers and funded by private donations, presents a powerful sample of Jewish contributions to our country. Like every ethnic group of Canadians, we feel blessed to live in peace with our neighbours, learning from the past and building a better future for all.
EXHIBIT CELEBRATES JEWISH CANADIANS
Calgarian helped spearhead national project
Calgary Herald, 8 Jul 2017, CHRIS NELSON
Sam Raskin, left, with Curly Gurevitch, the “Jewish Cowboy” from the
Ramsey-Trochu Farming Colony in central Alberta, 1930.
The Jewish contribution to Canada during 150 years of this country’s history is being celebrated this weekend at Calgary City Hall.
A series of nine panels, covering all facets of Jewish involvement through those many decades, is part of a nationwide exhibit coinciding with the country’s 150th birthday celebrations.
And it is a Calgarian, Sandra Morton Weizman, who has helped spearhead the national project by assembling and curating the entire bilingual display, highlighting how Jewish Canadians have contributed to the fabric of the land since Confederation.
The large panels, measuring almost seven feet tall, each feature themes ranging from original Jewish immigration, through to involvement in business, the arts, culture, architecture and military service.
Deciding what to include and what to leave out was a very difficult task for Weizman, although the process itself became a labour of love for the Calgary woman, who has worked as a successful museum curator for many years.
“There is only so much you can say in nine panels; there are so many stories about so many people,” she says.
The original exhibit opened in Ottawa in early April and, rather than transporting the panels across the country and limiting their accessibility, replicas were produced so that a total of 10 major cities will be able to display the works, entitled The Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150. In each city, one separate panel will feature a particularly local story inspired by a Jewish success in that locale. In Calgary it is the story of Morris Schumiatcher that is being featured.
Schumiatcher arrived with his family from Russia in 1910 and later, after changing the family name to Smith, he borrowed $300 to buy Calgary Hat Works. He changed the company name to Smithbilt Hats, eventually making the white hat synonymous with our city.
Many such stories became part of Weizman’s work since she began curating the project last fall. Among the many remarkable Jewish individuals, she came across in her research, she says one of her favourites is the story of boxer Sammy Luftspring, once the welterweight championship of Canada.
“He and another boxer boycotted the Berlin Olympics in 1936 because of what was going on with Nazism in Germany at the time and they always wore a Star of David on their boxing shorts. Even at a time when there was so much anti-Semitism, prior to World War Two beginning, they were very proud of their Jewish identity,” she says.
Such anti- Semitism in Canada has waned down over the years and Weizman was pleased to track its gradual decline as she worked on the project.
In Calgary, the exhibit opened first at the Jewish Community Centre on June 25 before being moved to the atrium of City Hall Friday, where it will remain on display for five days. Next, it will be taken to Heritage Park for display from July 14 to 20. It is expected that a more permanent home will be found afterwards.
Weizman’s work as a curator and consultant has included a stint as senior curator of cultural history at the Glenbow Museum. Although Jewish history has not been her exclusive area of expertise. it is one for which she has become nationally well-known.
In addition to work on the nine-panel display, Weizman was also heavily involved in putting together a complementary website, which allowed her to include more detail on the Jewish history in this country.
Those interested can check it out at www.cje2017.com
Montreal, QC, June 30, 2017, p.12.
The Canadian Jewish Experience recently held a panel discussion in Montreal composed of Jewish veterans of the Canadian armed Forces who discussed their military experience as Jews. Pictured above, left to right, are rick Garber, Dr. Markus martin, David Hart and Edward Fitch. Readers can go to www.cJe2017.com to learn more about this event and the exhibit in Ottawa.
Ottawa exhibit illustrates the Canadian Jewish experience
Alberta’s Curly Gurevitch, right, the “Cowboy from the Colony”
On a sunny Ottawa afternoon in a very sunny year – as our nation celebrates its 150th anniversary – I happened on a special exhibit. The Canadian Jewish Experience is small but packed with information, covering 250 years of Jewish history in Canada, from pedlars to politicians to stars of stage and screen.
Tucked away at 30 Metcalfe St. in the heart of downtown Ottawa, this free exhibit treats visitors to nine panels illustrated by illuminating archival photographs that tell of both the familiar (Herb Gray, Lorne Greene) and the less familiar (Ezekiel Hart, Drake).
A drawing of the Toronto Jewish artist Drake
Of course, familiarity may depend on your generation. Whereas our son knew all about singer Drake and his Jewish roots – although perhaps not his two bar mitzvahs – we, his parents, were only vaguely familiar with the multiple-award winner’s family and career. And though I was intrigued to learn about Alberta’s Curly Gurevitch, the “Cowboy from the Colony,” shown in a 1930 photo wearing chaps, cowboy boots, Magen David emblazoned on his shirt, Curly’s existence was not news to my Winnipeg-bred husband.
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The Jewish experience in Canada has not always been easy, of course. Prejudice prevailed until the 1960s, the exhibit explains, when that changed – although not completely, as evidenced by a rash of recent hate crimes. In 1914, there were 100,000 Jews in Canada; today there are roughly 400,000. Besides traditional early occupations – pedlars, shopkeepers, fur traders, garment workers – 11 Jewish farm colonies once existed on the Prairies.
The Depression years halted immigration, a situation compounded during the war years by the odious None is Too Many government policy applied to Jews fleeing Nazi Europe. Canada’s borders opened after the war, welcoming 40,000 Holocaust survivors, many of them orphans. In recent years, Jewish immigrants from North Africa and Russia have arrived in greater numbers.
In a panel entitled “War and Peace,” visitors are reminded that Jews have fought for Canada in every war, and that 38 per cent of male Jews volunteered to fight in the Second World War, amounting to 16,880 men. Nearly 2,000 of these soldiers won military awards; 420 died and were buried with both the Maple Leaf and the Star of David on their graves.
While many remember that Barney Danson, minister of defence in the Pierre Trudeau government, had lost an eye during the D-Day invasion, he was far from Canada’s only Jewish war hero. Sgt. David Hart was decorated by King George VI for his gallantry at Dieppe. In 1944, the Canadian Jewish Congress published comic books highlighting the exploits of Jewish war heroes as a morale booster and recruitment tool.
There is, naturally, a collection of “firsts,” like Ezekiel Hart becoming the first Jew elected to serve in the lower house in 1807. However, Hart was banned from taking office due to his religion. This would change in 1832, when Jews could take their own religious oath of office, allowing them to legally occupy political office.
The Hart Affair paved the way for more Jewish political firsts. In 1871, Henry Nathan was elected to serve in the new Canadian House of Commons; in 1955, David Croll became the first Jewish senator; in 1969, Herb Gray, first federal cabinet minister; in 1971, David Lewis, first to lead a national political party; in 1972, David Barrett, first provincial premier.
The National Gallery of Canada at night. NATIONAL GALLERY PHOTO
There are almost too many world-famous Canadian Jewish architects and builders to mention. Here are just a few superstars: at 29 years old, McGill graduate Moshe Safdie, designed his strikingly original modular housing unit, Habitat 67; Ottawa’s National Gallery is another Safdie design. World-renowned architect Frank Gehry hails from Toronto. The esteemed Cornelia Oberlander, now based in Vancouver, began her career as a landscape architect.
This wide-ranging exhibit, touching as it does on every aspect of Canadian life, paints a portrait of the diversity typical of the country in which Jews, native or foreign-born, made their mark.
In the sports world, among names like David Hart, who donated hockey’s Hart Trophy in the 1920s, and whose son Cecil was a longtime Montreal Canadiens coach and general manager, there also appears 1928 Olympic running champion Fanny (Bobbie) Rosenfeld, as well as the lesser-known saga of Montrealer Louis Rubenstein.
Rubenstein won the gold medal at what is considered the first world figure skating championship in 1890 (the event was not official, as there was not yet an international federation). First, the Russian hosts tried to prevent him from competing, then they tried to deny him his victory. Undeterred, the lifetime athlete referred to as the “father of Canadian figure skating” later became known as the “father of bowling in Canada.” Similar tenacity was shown by Canadian Jewish boxers Sammy Luftspring and Norman (Baby) Yack when they protested Nazi policies by boycotting the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
These are inspirational stories, like so many in this exhibit. As a result, this collection should intrigue visitors from every region and demographic. Visitors may indeed find the exhibit’s inspiration contagious.
Once you’re in Ottawa, make sure to drop by Moshe Safdie’s National Gallery, an imposing, soaring structure that contains a wealth of Canadian and international art. Both the current Photography in Canada 1960-2000 and Indigenous Art 1968-to Present exhibits are fascinating, but this time I found my gaze wandering upward, dazzled by Safdie’s vision, as I toured the gallery as if for the very first time. n
If you go: The Canadian Jewish Experience, 30 Metcalfe St., until Dec. 31, 2017. Information on the exhibit’s origins and many stunning archival photographs are available at www.cje2017.com
JEWISH VETS REMINISCE, SAY NO ANTI-SEMITISM IN CANADIAN ARMY
Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter
June 13, 2017
Seventy-five years later, David Hart clearly remembers the slaughter that took place on the beaches of Dieppe, France, on Aug. 19, 1942. More than 900 Canadian soldiers were killed and thousands more were wounded in the raid.
Honorary Col. Hart, 99, recalled that disastrous day at an event organized by the Canadian Jewish Experience (CJE), a project celebrating Jewish contributions to Canada over its 150-year history, held at the Royal Montreal Regiment armoury in Westmount, Que., on May 29.
Hart, an army sergeant, controlled the only communication link between the front line and army headquarters.
“I couldn’t believe the order had been given to attack,” said Hart. “I saw so many killed, and yet, they were still sending people to certain death.”
In the midst of the chaos, Hart pleaded with HQ to be permitted to radio two units that were under heavy fire, to tell them that rescue craft would be arriving one hour earlier than planned. His superiors initially refused, but relented on the condition that he do it in less than two minutes.
Hart relayed the retreat order in 30 seconds through terrible static and deafening noise.
Hart was told that his action saved at least 100 lives. He was later awarded the Military Medal for bravery from King George VI at Buckingham Palace and was commended for “coolness under fire in the continuous performance of duties.”
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In the officers’ mess where Hart spoke hangs a painting by Montreal artist Adam Sherriff Scott, depicting the battle scene that includes Hart with a receiver in his hand.
Hart, who became a chartered accountant after the war, stayed in the military, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, before being honourably discharged in 1965.
In 1976, he was made an honorary lieutenant-colonel, promoted in 2013 to full honorary colonel, of the 34 Signal Regiment, based at the armoury. At almost 100, he continues a military service that began in 1931 as a cadet.
Hart, who was in uniform with a row of medals across his chest, was joined by Jewish veterans of the Canadian armed forces of a younger generation: retired Maj.-Gen. Edward Fitch, who was only the second Canadian Jew to attain that rank and who served in multiple tours with NATO and United Nations forces during his 43-year career; and retired Lt.-Col. Dr. Markus Martin, who commanded the 51st Medical Company in the reserves and was deployed to Cyprus and Afghanistan.
The discussion was moderated by Honorary Lt.-Col Richard Garber, who served in the reserves for 32 years, including commanding the Brockville Rifles regiment.
“War and Peace” is one of nine themes of the CJE, an exhibition currently on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. A mobile version was on display at the armoury for the occasion.
CJE aims to raise awareness of the Jews who fought in all of Canada’s wars and continue to serve today.
The diminutive Hart observed facetiously that he was almost rejected because he was a half-inch below the minimum height requirement.
He made so much “noise” at the recruiting office on Sept. 7, 1939, that he was eventually allowed in.
READ: BAYCREST RESIDENT ONE OF FEW LIVING WWII FIELD DOCTORS
The discussion focused on issues specific to being Jewish in the Canadian forces, including whether the panelists had experienced anti-Semitism.
The answer, in short, was no.
Fitch, an observant Jew who wears a kippah, said that his Jewish identity was strengthened during his years in the military.
“I was brought up in a very Jewish environment in Montreal, but not a religious one. I left that world overnight at 17, when I went to the Royal Military College at St. Jean, where I was the only Jew,” he said.
“A small truth came to me: if I am not prepared to respect my own religion, how can I expect anyone else to? That started my personal journey to Judaism, to my Jewish heritage, and I kept true to it as my knowledge grew, and it still goes on.”
Martin said his first exercise at Camp Wainwright in Alberta – a tough, dirty experience – only confirmed for him how great this country and its forces are. “Everybody worked cohesively as a team,” despite their diverse backgrounds, he said.
Martin’s only regret is that he didn’t sign up earlier and been able to serve for more than 21 years.
Hart said he never had a problem: “I was one of the guys who volunteered, the same as they did. I was looked upon as an ordinary soldier.”
Fitch added that, early on in their training, soldiers are instructed not to discuss religion.
“Units work hard to establish and maintain cohesion; that is the secret of winning battles.… The army is more concerned with what you can do, than where you worship.… It’s one of the purest meritocracies in Canada,” said Fitch, who now lives in Victoria.
Fitch estimates there are “several hundred” Jews in the Canadian forces today, but only the chaplain-general has that personal information. In 2010, Rabbi Lazer Danzinger became the first full-time regular forces Jewish chaplain since the Second World War.
The last word went to Hart, who recalled that when he enlisted, he insisted his dog tags show his religion. “They said the Germans will kill you if you’re caught. I said, let them know a Jew is coming after them.”
April 20, 2017
Anna Sophia Vollmerhausen
From Left to Right: Dr. Mark Kristmanson, Ceo Of The National Capital Commission;
Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Moldaver; Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau;
Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Rabbi Emeritus Of Machzikei Hadas Synagogue; Catherine Bélanger;
Tova Lynch, Chair Of Cje; Linda Kerzner, Chair, Jewish Federation Of Ottawa;
Cantor Daniel Benlolo Of Congregation Kehilat Beth Israel Open The Exhibition.
Did you know that Toronto-born rapper Drake is Jewish? Or that the Hart Trophy, awarded annually since 1924 to the most valuable player in the NHL, was donated by the family of Cecil Hart, a former Jewish head coach of the Montreal Canadiens?
If not, then a visit to the Canadian Jewish Experience exhibition may be in order.
Tova Lynch is one of the main organizers of the CJE which can be viewed at 30 Metcalfe St., across from Parliament Hill, until the end of the year.
The exhibition features nine bilingual panels highlighting Jewish contributions to various areas of life in Canada, in business, the arts, architecture, sports, the war effort, politics and more. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and admission is free.
Before Confederation in 1867, there were fewer than 1,000 Jews living in Canada. Their numbers steadily increased over the years as more Jews fled religious persecution and violence, particularly in Eastern Europe. The most recent data available from Statistics Canada shows that Jews made up about one per cent of Canada’s population, or nearly 330,000 people, in 2011.
But Canada was no exception when it came to anti-Semitism, particularly in the lead up to the Second World War. In 1939, the government refused to accept nearly 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany on board the St. Louis, many of whom later died in concentration camps.
According to Lynch, the main goal of the exhibit is education.
“I think there are a lot of stereotypes about Jews, and unfortunately, the number of anti-Semitic incidents have gone up (recently),” she said.
In Ottawa alone last November, anti-Semitic messages were spray-painted on synagogues, schools and even on a rabbi’s front door in the Glebe.
Cities such as Montreal and Toronto also reported having to remove spray-painted swastikas and other anti-Semitic phrases from buildings during the same month.
“We want to show that Jews are like everyone else — we want to share with everyone else,” Lynch said. “We believe in building bridges and we (want) to celebrate the sesquicentennial.”
Her hope is to educate people about the various achievements and accomplishments of Jewish-Canadians over the years, while also giving the Jewish community a chance to celebrate.
And, there’s a lot to celebrate: Jewish musicians such as Leonard Cohen and Rush’s lead vocalist Geddy Lee, novelists such as Mordecai Richler, actors such as William Shatner, and producers like Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels have all made significant contributions to Canada’s arts scene.
Many Jews who came to Canada in the 20th century have established businesses that operate to this day. For example, Morris Shumiatcher founded Smithbilt Hats in 1918; now, almost 100 years later, the company still produces the iconic white cowboy hats that are a staple at the Calgary Stampede. In Ottawa, for example, the Greenberg family founded the Ottawa-based property development company the Minto Group.
While the Canadian Jewish Experience will only be in Ottawa until the end of the year, Lynch said the team behind the exhibit are planning to turn it into a mobile attraction that can travel across the country.
“Obviously we have a lot to celebrate, and we are very happy to be part of Canada, and I know that Canada is proud of the Jewish community,” Lynch said. “It’s a two way street.”
Plans for the exhibition began in 2015, with a major fundraising initiative that sought to raise $2.9 million. Despite receiving no government funding, and having to adjust the initial vision for the exhibition, Lynch said they are proud of what they and their donors have been able to create in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“It’s a big day for Canada, and if it’s a big day for Canada, it’s a big day for the Jewish community who were very happy to live in Canada,” Lynch said. “It was just something very natural for us to do . . . we felt that we wanted to thank Canada for giving us such a very positive home.”
Anna Sophia Vollmerhausen is a journalist student attending Carleton University.
The Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150 will be installed at 30 Metcalfe Street just two blocks from Parliament Hill. The exhibition will be open to the public daily 9-6PM, starting April 4th 2017.
A new exhibit will open in Ottawa on April 2, 2017 to mark the contribution of Jews to Canada and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
The Canadian Jewish Experience is composed of specially created, bilingual exhibit panels illustrating nine major themes, such as: contributions in war and diplomacy, public service, human rights, business growth, arts, culture and sport. A travelling version of the CJE exhibit will be available for display in other cities in Canada.
A parallel web site has also been created to present more detailed information about the CJE exhibit topics and about many extraordinary Canadians. The web site will also provide information about venues for the lecture series and locations where the travelling exhibit can be viewed.
The Canadian Jewish Experience will also present a speaker series to highlight the contributions of Jewish Canadians to the development of Canada.
CJE has produced a special exhibit panel “Remembering Louis Rasminsky” which describes the work of Rasminsky, who was the first ever Jewish person to be Governor of the Bank of Canada. This will be on display at the Bank of Canada headquarters in Ottawa.
CJE Committee head Tova Lynch thanked donors from across Canada for the financial assistance they provided. In particular, CJE acknowledges the generosity of its major donors: The Asper Foundation and Bel-Fran Charitable Foundation (Samuel and Frances Belzberg) from Vancouver. Tova Lynch added, “The CJE is an example of the tremendous love which Canadians have for our country.” She praised the National Capital Commission for its cooperation. “Through our partnership with the National Capital Commission CJE has an excellent downtown facility at the centre of events celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.”
Lynch noted, “Excitement is building as we approach Canada Day 2017. CJE will tell Canada’s Jewish story to many thousands of visitors to Ottawa in 2017.” Lynch pointed out that “Jewish Canadians have played a key role in all facets of life in Canada. Their accomplishments reflect the challenges and successes experienced by Canada in its first 150 years.”
The Jewish connection to Canada dates back to the mid-1700s. “The first Jewish Canadians arrived more than one hundred years before Confederation,” notes Senator Linda Frum. “We’ve been here for a quarter of a millennium, but many Canadians don’t know the role we’ve played to make our country strong and vibrant. The Canadian Jewish Experience will help to change that.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said that the national capital is the appropriate home for the Canadian Jewish Experience. “In 2017, Ottawa will be at the centre of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday and Jewish people have played a key role in all facets of life in the city. In fact, their accomplishments here reflect all the themes of the Canadian Jewish Experience, including being elected Mayor.”
Other Jewish leaders and organizations who have assisted the Canadian Jewish Experience project include: Victor Rabinovitch, former President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History); the leaders of Jewish Federations across Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. CJE is also supported by: Members of Parliament from all federal parties; Senator Linda Frum, former Senator Gerry Grafstein; and, Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka, O.C.. Sandra Morton Weizman of Calgary is the curator of the CJE exhibit and virtual exhibit.
The following dignitaries have confirmed their participation at the CJE opening: Rabbi Reuven Bulka (Master of Ceremonies); Mayor Jim Watson; Dr. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of the National Capital Commission; Supreme Court Judge Hon. Michael J Moldaver Linda Kerzner, Chair of the Ottawa Jewish Federation, representative of other faiths have been invited.
The CJE needs local volunteers to staff the Ottawa exhibit and provide information to visitors. If you would like to volunteer at the exhibit, or contribute to funding the project, please contact us at 2017CJE@gmail.com, 613 680-8820.
For additional information on the CJE please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 613-680-8820.
For your information, the time of the CJE opening is April 2nd, 1-3 PM.
Canadian Jewish Experience exhibit to be launched on April 2
An exhibit marking the contributions of Jews to Canada and celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation is set to open in Ottawa.
The Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150 will be unveiled on Sunday, April 2, 1 pm, in the lobby of 30 Metcalfe Street, two blocks from Parliament Hill.
The Canadian Jewish Experience is composed of specially created exhibit panels illustrating nine major themes, including Jewish contributions in war and diplomacy, public service, human rights, economic growth, arts, culture and sports. A travelling version of the exhibit will be displayed in other cities across Canada.
The Canadian Jewish Experience will also present a lecture series to highlight the contributions of Jewish Canadians to the development of Canada.
A Canadian Jewish Experience website will be launched to provide more detailed information about the exhibit topics and the accomplished Jewish Canadians it highlights. The website will also provide information about the lecture series and locations across Canada where the travelling exhibit can be viewed.
“Excitement is building as we approach Canada Day 2017,” said Tova Lynch, chair of the Canadian Jewish Experience committee. The exhibit “will tell Canada’s Jewish story to many thousands of visitors to Ottawa in 2017.”
“The first Jewish Canadians arrived more than 100 years before Confederation,” said Senator Linda Frum. “We’ve been here for a quarter of a millennium, but many Canadians don’t know the role we’ve played to make our country strong and vibrant. The Canadian Jewish Experience will help to change that.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said the national capital is the appropriate home for the Canadian Jewish Experience.
“In 2017, Ottawa will be at the centre of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday,” said Watson, “and Jewish people have played a key role in all facets of life in the city. In fact, their accomplishments here reflect all the themes of the Canadian Jewish Experience, including being elected mayor.”
The Canadian Jewish Experience is seeking local volunteers to staff the Ottawa exhibit and provide information to visitors. For more information, contact Tova Lynch at 2017CJE@gmail.com or 613 680-8820.
Mounting A Case For Canada
On a two-hour ride across Ontario last year, my driver was a 30-something Afghani who was raising his family in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. We chatted about our kids, his two decades in Canada — he’d arrived as a teen — and our shared love of Niagara wine. We discovered that our families’ Florida condos were within 10 minutes of each other.
It was the kind of conversation you might have in New York, but it was also delightfully Canadian: the discovery that despite radically different roots, two New World urbanites have a lot in common. And that is precisely the spirit Canada is celebrating during its yearlong 150th anniversary party, dubbed “Canada 150.”
The recent massacre at a Québec City mosque notwithstanding, Canada has long cherished its image as a country of immigrants. This sparsely populated land was the first nation in the world to adopt multiculturalism as official policy, in 1971, and has since embraced newcomers with a zeal rarely seen elsewhere — including, since its earliest days, Jews from across the diaspora.
The contributions of Canadian Jewry are among the highlights of “Canada 150” festivities taking place this year around the country — from coast to coast to coast, as our Arctic neighbors like to say. With pessimism and uncertainty roiling politics to the south and across the Pond, Canada’s joyous celebration couldn’t come at a better time, and it’s the reason Canada topped virtually every “where to go” list for 2017.
Why not start outdoors? This is Canada, after all; vast, dramatic wilderness is its defining feature, as much a part of its culture as museums and Mounties. All year long, Parks Canada is offering free admission to every Canadian park and historic site via a Discovery Card (apply online).
Exploring the mountains, lakes and glaciers of a still largely virgin continent, you’ll discover how Canadian geography has shaped everything from urban layouts (underground winter tunnels and Ottawa’s famous Rideau Canal Skateway, where locals commute downtown on ice) to immigration policy (there’s an awful lot of space, and resources, to cultivate).
For a Jewish take on the sesquicentennial, head to the newly vibrant capital for the Jewish community’s signature “Canada 150” exhibition: The Canadian Jewish Experience. Through photographs and artifacts, this downtown Ottawa show covers territory from Romanian Jewish immigration to Bora Laskin, Canada’s first Jewish Supreme Court Justice and Chief Justice.
Summer can be sleepy in government-centric Ottawa, but this year promises plenty of quirky “Canada 150” fun. Highlights include Inspiration Village, an outdoor concert series to be held in a popup art installation in Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market neighborhood; and Mosaïcanada 150/2017, where 40 large-scale, “living” sculptures will fill landscaped gardens and a walking path through Jacques-Cartier Park along the Ottawa River.
While Canada is a young nation, the French founded Montréal a staggering 375 years ago — and what many consider Canada’s coolest, most cosmopolitan city is mounting its own celebration in 2017.
Montreal’s urban core is a visually stimulating jolt of historic and modern architecture, combining European-style plazas, the strikingly cubist Habitat 67 apartment complex by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, modern art in the metro and grand 18th- and 19th-century structures.
The latter form the backdrop for Cité Mémoire, a year-long series of nightly projections onto the walls of Old Montreal that literally illuminate significant people, communities and events. They include the 1849 burning of parliament to the Jewish Children’s Transport Train of 1947, when nearly a thousand orphaned Holocaust survivors were adopted by Montreal families.
And in November, the late, great Canadian-Jewish musician and poet Leonard Cohen is the subject of a tribute exhibition at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Cohen’s minor-key melancholy, rich with irony and resonant with the overtones of a religious upbringing, feels distinctively Jewish — but does it sound Canadian?
That’s a question Canadian composers are attempting to answer in “Canada Mosaic,” a year-long, country-wide concert series organized by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra that features two-minute commissions called “Sesquies” — short works intended to capture the spirit of Canadian music. Sesquies, naturally, refer to the sesquicentennial, and will be presented alongside everything from a Glenn Gould tribute to the Yukon’s Longest Night Ensemble.
Toronto, of course, is the city where Canada’s evolving, multicultural identity is most dynamic — and for “Canada 150,” the city explores its own piece of that mosaic with “Becoming Canadian in Toronto: Snapshots Through Time.” The exhibition at Market Gallery, near Toronto’s glittering modern waterfront, looks at the city’s changing demographics through key events, from the War of 1812 to the recent arrival of Syrian refugees.
In October, Toronto’s York University will host a sesquicentennial symposium entitled “No Better Home For The Jews…Than Canada?” It’s a provocative question, given the ongoing diversification of Canadian society and the uncertainty of other Jewish destinations.
But if you ask my Afghani driver, and his Québecois Jewish neighbors wintering in Ft. Lauderdale, Canada at 150 is a pretty good bet.