Staff and Board of Directors

  Dara Solomon, Executive Director

One of my favourite photos is of Mimi Wise cooking cabbage rolls. A Toronto gal, Wise was born in 1920 and initially lived across from the Woodbine Racetrack in the east end, and later moved to the Christie/Davenport area. She was involved in a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and was especially known for her years of commitment to Hadassah-Wizo. Mimi graduated from physiotherapy at University of Toronto in 1942 and married Dr. Sydney Wise, a long time volunteer to the OJA. We can all relate to this photo of Mimi serving cabbage rolls in her tiled kitchen. The now classic dish—a throwback to the old country—in a completely 1950s setting. Mimi reminds me of my late Bubby Rita (nee Atkins) Kokotow (1918-1999), also a lifelong member of Hadassah. 

Mimi Wise cooking cabbage rolls, 1959. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 16, item 7.

Donna Bernardo-Ceriz, Managing Director

I have always been drawn to this striking image of the Adelaide Girls on an outing in Toronto from the mid 1920s. For me, this photograph so effortlessly captures the giddy tone of the 1920s, before the weight of the Great Depression and the horrors of the Holocaust came to bear down upon the world. There is a great sense of familiarity and camaraderie displayed and the girls likely knew one another beyond their participation in this club. I’m not entirely sure where it was taken; it could be an outing at Stop 17, a popular picnic stop in Thornhill served by an electrically powered rail line called the Radial. Just far enough out of the city to be considered a country outing.

Adelaide Girls' Group outing, Toronto, [1926 or 1927]. Ontario Jewish Archives, photo 1879.

Faye Blum, Archivist and Outreach

Ida Siegel with her children Rivka (far left) and returning Canadian servicemen Avrom (left) and David (right), Toronto, Dec. 1945. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, fonds 15, file 37, item 9.“It’s a Wonderful Life”. When I first saw this photo, it reminded me of the concluding scene in Frank Capra’s Hollywood classic. The narrative is clear and no captioning is required, a jubilant family reunion at the conclusion of a fierce and devastating war. The fashion sense of the women in the foreground added a splash of glamour to what appears to be a professional publicity still rather than a family snapshot. The candidness of their facial expressions are so pure that each time I see this photo I feel myself joining in their celebration. Our stories are indeed your stories.

Ida Siegel with her children Rivka (far left) and returning Canadian servicemen Avrom (left) and David (right), Toronto, Dec. 1945. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, fonds 15, file 37, item 9.

Michael Friesen, Archivist

Manny Gurevitch (Kirkland Lake, ON), 1934. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 926.I have felt for some time that the holdings of the Ontario Jewish Archives would lend themselves to an exhibition on Jewish masculinities. This photograph, taken in 1934, shows Manny “the Jewish Flash” Gurevitch of Kirkland Lake in a staggered wrestling stance with a Star of David visible on his gear. Similar photographs exist in the OJA’s holdings of boxers, weight lifters, and other manly men displaying related motifs. This seems to suggest that these athletes wanted to be photographed (and thus remembered) as not simply boxers, wrestlers, and the like, but as Jewish wrestlers, Jewish boxers, etc. It remains for one of our researchers to tease out just how these two sets of identities (ethno-religious and athletic) should be understood in relation to one another.

Manny Gurevitch (Kirkland Lake, ON), 1934. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 926.

Kara Isozaki, Contract Archivist

Renée Saucier, Penny Rubinoff Fellow

Jewish Information Service office, 22 Glen Park Avenue, Toronto, Spring 1976. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 1384.I was immediately drawn to this image of volunteers at the Jewish Information Service (JIS), which began in 1974 as a pilot project offering information about community services and resources. This photo was taken at the JIS’s location within the Jewish Public Library building at 22 Glen Park Avenue. On one level, I appreciate how it is a snapshot of the main information communication technologies used by volunteers at this time—rotary phones and rolodex-style filing systems. Community members could call and ask about services, activities and rooms for rent; as well, the JIS had a “mobile information booth” to offer information services in-person at community events. On a broader level, to me this photo speaks to the role of information sharing within and across communities, both in the delivery of services and the construction of shared heritage. As someone who is not a member of the Jewish community, the Ontario Jewish Archives is an entry point into learning about the past, present and future of Ontario’s many Jewish communities.

Jewish Information Service office, 22 Glen Park Avenue, Toronto, Spring 1976. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 1384.


OJA Board of Directors

Shoel Silver (Chair)

Larry Blankenstein

Judith Ghert

Bonnie Goldstein

Edwin Goldstein

David Matlow

Hadassa Pertman

Brooky Robins

Penny Rubinoff

Jackie Shulman

Eric Slavens

Cyrel Troster