The Bridge of Hope
On view: Lipa Green Building on Sherman Campus
4600 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario
The Bridge of Hope is a walkway on Sherman Campus that connects the Lipa Green Building to the Gales Family Pavilion. The OJA has curated a permanent exhibition that honours ten of Toronto’s Jewish Mutual Benefit Societies with archival photos and text.
Societies (landsmanshaftn in Yiddish) were formed by groups of Jews, often from the same town or region, primarily in Poland and Russia, which joined together to first, help each other, and later, the greater Jewish community. Arriving in North America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and in the years preceding and following the Holocaust, these Jewish immigrants came to a foreign land with very little. Many had lost their families and the lives they once knew. Joining the societies helped them to build strong and lasting ties with fellow Jewish compatriots.
Many of the newly arrived struggled with poverty and to give tzedakah was a great sacrifice, but the members of the mutual benefit societies would pool their resources to help fellow members, especially after the Holocaust. Through free loans, medical services, and social opportunities, the societies allowed newcomers to gain a sense of community by connecting with others who spoke the same language and who had experienced similar hardships. Through the support and generosity of its members, the societies contributed to the establishment and growth of a thriving community based on faith, belief, and altruism. By telling their stories, this exhibition illustrates how Jewish immigrants built for their own generation and for those to come.