Student Research at the OJA

This section of the OJA’s website is devoted to new undergraduate student research conducted at the OJA. The essays have been selected from those submitted to York University Professor David Koffman’s Canadian Jewish History Course (HIST3555) taught in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and his History course "Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Religion, and Culture in Canada" (HIST4581) taught in 2017-18 and 2020-21. Following an Information Literacy workshop at the OJA, students were assigned an original research essay. Students chose their topics and with the aid of OJA archivists, examined primary sources at the OJA and other relevant archives as part of their research process. They carefully selected archival materials and used them to present new research arguments on subjects that professional scholars have not yet written. The essays are often the outcome of students' first encounters with archival records. Professor Koffman and the OJA hope to expand this to include research from students at other universities across the country.

This is a partnership between the Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, York University's Department of History and the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies.


Ben Kert with fur pelts (Sault Ste. Marie, ON), 1939. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 4822.Author: Emily Belmonte

Title: Gender and the Canadian Jewish Fur Trader Experience: Expansion and Colonialism in British North America – 1759 to 1812.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2021

Emily Belmonte lives in Woodbridge, Ontario and is a fifth-year undergraduate student at York University pursuing her specialized honours BA in History and her bachelor of education with plans to graduate in 2022 as an Ontario Certified Teacher. She is passionate about studying history and Indigenous studies and was honoured to create a paper showing the early relations between Jewish fur traders and Indigenous peoples in Canada using a gendered lens. She strives to be a teacher who decolonizes history and encourages her students to reach their fullest potential.

Click here to read Emily's paper (pdf will open)


Author: Tabitha Berger

Title: Canadian Jewry: The Response to the 1972 Munich Massacre.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2015

Tabitha Berger is married with two children and is currently working towards her Undergraduate degree in French Studies at York University. She is interested in Jewish culture and enjoys doing research to uncover the hidden truths of the past.

Click here to read Tabitha's paper (pdf will open)


William John Beattie at Allen Gardens, 5 May 1968. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 9, series 12, file 35.Author: Jessica Darlington

Title: Tensions Within: How the Toronto Jewish Community Dealt with The Canadian Nazi Party in the 1960s. 

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2016

Jessica Darlington is a History undergraduate major at York University.  She plans to persue a career in teaching. 

Click here to read Jessica's paper (pdf will open)


Pickets, Dressmakers General Strike, Dressmakers Union I.L.G.W.U, 1931. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 1440.Author: Rebecca Giblon

Title: Labour Negotiations in Toronto’s Jewish Garment Industry, 1931- 1944: Conflict & Cooperation

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2018

Rebecca Giblon is an undergraduate pursuing a dual degree in History and Finance at York University. She plans to continue to graduate study.

Click here to read Rebecca's paper (pdf will open)


Incoming President Lillian Soles with Dora Till at the Women's Auxiliary's closing meeting, 1959. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 14, series 4-2, file 8, item 1.Author: Robin Grossman

Title: The Jewish Old Folks Home: How the Ladies Auxiliary became Invaluable to the Operations of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2016

Robin Grossman is a student in the Department of Equity Studies at York University. She is pursuing an honours BA with a major in Human Rights and Equity Studies, and a minor in Multicultural and Indigenous Studies.

Click here to read Robin's paper (pdf will open)


Canadian Jewish Review, April 7, 1922Author: Tommy Herman

Title: “The Jews are on the Side of Liquor and Always Have”: Attitudes, Anxieties, and Responses to Jewish Bootlegging during the Prohibition Era in Canada.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2018

Tommy Herman was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and just completed his fourth year at York University, as a Humanities major. Throughout his academic career, he has excelled in various courses within Jewish Studies, having had a previous paper published in the York Humanities journal, on the topic of Israeli-Arab relations in Israel. This paper was also awarded the Samuel G. Rosen Memorial Prize for the outstanding essay in Judaic Studies by a third or fourth year student in 2017. In the near future, Herman plans on attending law school and hopes to one-day work in the music industry.

Click here to read Tommy's paper (pdf will open)


Jewish Folks' Shule Graduation Diploma, 1931. Ontario Jewish Archives, item 260.Author: David Iliaguiev

Title: A Tale of Two Languages: Hebrew and Yiddish Language Education in Ontario, 1948-1970.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2016

David Iliaguiev is an undergraduate student at York University. He is working towards an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.

Click here to read David's paper (pdf will open)


Author: Nathan Lev

Title: The Campaign to Implement Fair Employment & Fair Accommodations Practices in Ontario.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2015

Nathan is a recent History graduate from York University, who is now pursuing a legal education at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Click here to read Nathan's paper (pdf will open)


Author: Bianca Magliocchetti

Title: Maccabi Canada and the Maccabiah Games: The Integration of Canadian Jewish Youth.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2016

Bianca Magliocchetti graduated from York University in June 2016 with a Spec. Hons. B.A. in History. She will be attending teachers college in Fall 2016. 

Click here to read Bianca's paper (pdf will open)


F61_s2-2_f30_i1.jpgAuthor: Ariella C. Markus

Title: Gender Prescriptions and the “Jewish Body”: Sports Programming for Girls and Women in the Early Years of the Y.M.H.A.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2015

Ariella Markus lives in Thornhill, Ontario. She graduated from York University in 2015, with a B.A. in Children's Studies and a B.Ed. in Jewish Education. Ariella believes that girls should be afforded multi-faceted opportunities.

Click here to read Ariella's paper (pdf will open)


Exterior view of Honest Ed's, Toronto, 4 July 1959. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 5014.Author: Jeff McMahan

Title: It Takes a Village: How The Jewish Grocery, Garment Worker, and Real Estate Communities in Toronto Built Ed Mirvish

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2021

Jeff McMahan is an undergraduate student at York University. He holds a bachelor of performing arts from Capilano University and is pursuing an honours bachelor of arts with a major in history and a certificate in public history.

Click here to read Jeff's paper (pdf will open)


Steerage immigrants on ship from Ukraine, 1926. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 541.Author: Saranqi Naveendrathas

Title: Jewish Immigration Restrictions in the Context of Canadian Eugenics During the Interwar Period and Post WWII

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2021

Saranqi Naveendrathas is in her fourth and final year of her undergraduate studies at York University. She will be graduating in October 2021 with an Honours Degree in History and Human Rights and Equity Studies (HREQ).

Click here to read Saranqi's paper (pdf will open)


Author: Carlo Pagtalunan

Title: Honour Thy Brother: The Strengthening of Christian-Jewish Relations in Canada 1968-1995.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2016

Carlo graduated from York University in 2016 with a Specialized B.A. in History and lives in Toronto, Ontario. He is currently pursuing a career in video game development.

Click here to read Carlo's paper (pdf will open)


Bathurst-Prince Charles building opening, 1986. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, fonds 38, series 7-11, file 25, item 1.Author: Sarah Polychronopoulos

Title:  "Furthering the Welfare”: The National Council of Jewish Women of Canada And Its Effort to Enfranchise Toronto Jews with Disabilities, 1980-1987.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2018

Sarah Polychronopoulos is an undergraduate student at York University, who is currently pursuing a Honours B.A Double Major English Literature and History. She hopes to pursue a career in law.

Click here to read Sarah's paper (pdf will open)


Canadian Jewish News_March 9 1962_pg 2_insetAuthor: Sonya Richards

Title:  “Cowering from hatred and unfair treatment was rarely an option:” Jewish and African Canadian Communities in The Post World War II Period.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2021

Sonya Richards is an undergraduate at York University pursuing an honours B.A. in History. She is a first generation Canadian of Jamaican heritage. Sonya believes in the notion of remembering and acknowledging the past as a means to construct a better future.

Click here to read Sonya's paper (pdf will open)


Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. theatre group, [ca. 1950]. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 61, series 6, item 17.Author: Matthew Williams

Title: The Jewish Theatre Committee of Toronto and its Contributions to Jewish Theatre Culture.

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST3555, York University, 2016

Matthew Williams is a fourth year History major at York University, with interests in writing, journalism, and law.

Click here to read Matthew's paper (pdf will open)


Heinz Cassel, 1940. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, fonds 93, file 8Author: Sarah Zimbalatti

Title: Constructing A Lively Community in the Midst of Oppression: Jewish Refugees Interned in Canada During WWII

Prepared for: Prof. David Koffman, HIST 4581, Worry and Wonder: Jewish Politics, Society and Religion in Canada, York University, 2021

Sarah Zimbalatti is a fifth-year undergraduate student at York University pursuing her Specialized Honours BA in History. In her fourth-year of university, Sarah completed her first-year of the Concurrent Education program at York University, and will complete her second and final year of this program next year in 2022, graduating as an Ontario Certified Teacher. Throughout her university career, Sarah has accumulated an extensive knowledge of history that she aspires to share in her classroom.

Click here to read Sarah's paper (pdf will open)