2018 Acquisition Highlights
Toronto Jewish community leader Moses Gelber was presented this ceremonial bronze key at the opening of the newly constructed Brunswick Talmud Torah on December 26, 1925. The Talmud Torah was an important communal institution in Toronto and was built by Jewish architect Benjamin Brown. The supplementary school eventually evolved to become today’s Associated Hebrew Day School. The key was recovered in Israel in the former home of Moses Gelber’s son Edward E. Gelber who eventually emigrated from Toronto to Israel with his wife Anna (née David). Thank you to Sheila Lemonsky for recovering the key and ensuring its safe transfer to the OJA with the assistance of Esme and Elly Gotz.
Freiman family. Accession consists of textual records and photographs documenting the Freiman family. Included are photographs taken at the Föhrenwald displaced persons camp in Bavaria, Germany after the Second World and film footage of Jack M. Freiman's bar mitzvah, which was held on 24 April 1960 at Murray House in Toronto.
Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre. Southern African Legacy Project Launch. On 5 December 2018, the OJA acquired photographs and video from its Southern African Legacy Project (SALP) launch. The launch, which was held in Toronto on 26 November 2018, featured a panel discussion on southern African immigration to Ontario as well as the sharing back of results of a sociological study. The photographs, which were taken at the event, depict a cross section of the southern African community; the videorecording, meanwhile, captures the entirety of the panel discussion.
Ray and Rose Wolfe. Elizabeth Wolfe donated more records from her parents, community leaders Ray and Rose Wolfe. Included in the accession are photo albums and scrapbooks, one folder of certificates, one folder of correspondence, and a recording of a speech Abba Eban gave in 1975 to the Canadian Friends of Haifa University.
On 1 November 2018, the OJA acquired photographs of Toronto-based photographer Nir Bareket (1939-2015). Bareket, who was born in Mandatory Palestine, moved to Toronto in 1975, where he became the first living photographer to have his photographs acquired by City of Toronto Archives. Among the topics he explored in his photography were homelessness, theatre in Toronto, cities, Ellis Island, and the Don Jail. He also photographed the March of the Living educational program in Poland and Israel.
The physical extent of the graphic material acquired works out to about two carts. After archivists make their selection of what to keep, the material will be housed in the OJA’s climate-controlled vault, a small portion of which will be housed in cold storage in order to further extend the life of the materials.
From Latkes to Laffas: Jewish Toronto's Favourite Eateries, 1900-2017. In 2017, Beth Tzedec’s Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum hosted the From Latkes to Laffas exhibition, which examined Jewish eateries in Toronto from 1900-2017. As part of mounting the exhibition, a great deal of research was done. The findings of that research, which afford a unique look at local food culture over a one-hundred-year period, were then compiled in a binder that Gella Rothstein, co-chair of the shul’s museum committee, donated to the OJA. The binder has already been consulted by two U of T iSchool students as part of their research on Jewish storefronts.
Jonathan Maister. On 26 November 2018, the OJA formally launched its Southern African Legacy Project. The project, which explored the southern African community in Ontario, motivated South African expat Jonathan Maister to donate a photograph of himself in military uniform to the OJA along with a document titled “The Experiences of Zaida Isaac Zlotnick, Maternal Grandfather,” which Maister took down in 1982. Maister’s donation complements a previous donation of his that includes a memoir recounting some of his experiences in the South African military.
Ray and Rose Wolfe. Elizabeth Wolfe, former chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, donated family photographs and textual records documenting the lives of her parents, Ray and Rose Wolfe. Described in the Canadian Jewish News as “the power couple that led the community in business and social causes,” the photographs span a good part of the couple’s life together. As befits their key role in the Jewish community, many photographs depict Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe with various dignitaries, including one photograph of Mrs. Wolfe with a young Justin Trudeau.
Wahl family. Towards the end of November, Stephen Wahl donated photographs documenting his family. Stephen’s immediate family was made up of his mother and father, Jack and Sydney Wahl, himself, and his two sisters, Charis and Pauline. In addition to photographs of his immediate family, the accession also includes photographs of grandparents, confirmation portraits, and six class photographs, most likely taken at Forest Hill Collegiate in the 1950s and ’60s.
Back in 2004, Peter Sevitt successfully transplanted the Jewish learning festival Limmud to Toronto. Fourteen years later, he made the decision to donate Limmud Toronto’s organizational records to the OJA.
Among the records Peter donated are records from the first Limmud Toronto event (then Limmud Canada). Examples include fifty-five colour photographs, a DVD of footage from the same event, correspondence, publicity materials, meeting minutes, a draft of Peter’s speech, and much else besides!
Peter’s donation complements a prior donation from another “Limmudnik,” Sharoni Sibony, back in June. The latter accession contains material up to 2017 and helps fill in the more recent history of the organization.
Rother family. This accession consists of graphic material and textual records documenting the Rother family, in particular Irving and Florence Rother. Included are several of Irving Rother’s service records; professional and educational certificates for the same; records documenting the sale of the family’s Rother Cigar Store; group portraits of the Hadassah-WIZO Rishon Chapter, which Florence Rother belonged to; and an Alpha Phi Pi scrapbook.
Rubinoff family. Accession consists of slides, photographs, films, and textual records documenting the personal lives of the Rubinoff family of London, and their business interests in the Commonwealth Holiday Inns and the White Oaks Mall.
Strauss family. Aviva Shiff Boedecker donated textual records and graphic material documenting the Strauss family. Included in the accession are three interviews with lawyer and father Nathan Strauss; certificates for Naomi Fay Strauss; family trees; over fifty loose photographs; and a photo album put together by Nathan Strauss’ daughter, Irene.
Workmen’s Circle (Hamilton, Ont.) In August, Jeffrey Levinn donated a group portrait of the Hamilton branch of the Workmen’s Circle. In October, another donor, David Price, donated a second portrait of the same branch, this one taken in front of an ambulance that the branch donated, possibly during the Second World War.
On 16 September 2018, Kulanu Toronto, the city’s largest Jewish LGBTQ group, ceased operating. It had been existence in some form or another for twenty years. But while September 16 may have marked the end of an era, the group’s story will live on through the OJA, which acquired records from its former executive director, Justine Apple, earlier that same month.
The records, which consist of approximately 2.25 GB textual records and other material, include meeting minutes, budgets, photographs, videos, Pride materials, and a copy of the letter patent that incorporated the group as a not-for-profit organization in 2014. Taken together, the records help tell the story of Toronto’s best-known Jewish LGBTQ organization during a key period of its existence, and will be of interest to researchers exploring the rich history of Jewish LGBTQ organizing here in Toronto.
Camp Winnebagoe (Ont.). Margot Freedman of New Jersey donated a panoramic group portrait (20 x 90 cm) of Camp Winnebagoe campers taken in 1942. Camp Winnebagoe was the first Jewish co-educational camp in Canada.
Pearl Mekler. Accession consists material documenting Mekler, her family, and her involvement in several Jewish organizations including Na’amat Canada and Bialik Hebrew Day School. Of interest is a Living History interview conducted with Mekler, in which she describes her experiences growing up in Toronto.
In August, Toronto-based photographer Victor Helfand donated his Women of the Bimah series of photographs to the OJA. The idea for the project came after Helfand, who did not grow up seeing women occupying a prominent place in the synagogue, saw a female friend serving as a gabbai. The photographs feature Jewish women in strong poses at the bimah.
The accession, which includes 17 prints, is made up primary of digital records. The total size of the latter comes out to 118 GB, although that number may be brought down slightly once the selection process is complete. Together, these records, digital and print alike, provide a glimpse into the religious lives of Jewish women, a subject that until now has not been particularly well-documented in the OJA's collections.
Kevin McBean. The McBean accession consists of 81 digital photographs of the Jewish Workmen’s Circle Colony in Ajax sometime in May 2016. The photographs show the property in various stages of decay before it was bulldozed for a suburban housing development.
Netivot HaTorah. Accession consists of records of the Thornhill-based Jewish day school. Included are administrative records, photographs, DVDs, architectural drawings, blueprints, and much else.
Nirenberg family. Melissa Nirenberg, the granddaughter of Yiddish folk singer Mariam Nirenberg, donated four folders of textual records and photographs of the Nirenberg family, including photographs of her grandmother. Melissa intends this accession to be the first of several that will tell the story of the extended Nirenberg family.
J.B. Salsberg. The niece of the late J. B. Salsberg has donated more records documenting the left-wing politician, thereby complementing the existing J. B. Salsberg fonds. Because archives are organized by creator (provenance), the accession will eventually be integrated into said fonds.
Workmen’s Circle (Hamilton, Ont.). Jeffrey Levinn of New York donated a rare photograph of the Hamilton branch of the Workmen’s Circle. The photograph, which was taken in 1939, depicts the membership of the left-wing group on the occassion of its thirtieth anniversary
In July, Act to End Violence Against Womenannounced that it was folding operations. While the organization itself will be sorely missed in the community, its story will live on through its records, which were acquired by the OJA that same month.
This is not the first donation of records the OJA has received from the organization: Previously, the OJA had acquired records from the organization in 2011, when it was known as Jewish Women International of Canada. Once the new records have been processed, they will become part of the Act to End Violence Against Women fonds.
Cantor Harold Klein. This accession contains sound recordings, sheet music, and other textual records for the cantor.
Teme Kernerman. This accession consists of material documenting Teme's long-standing involvement in the Israeli Dance Festival and other dance-related activities.
Lilian Rosenthal. This accession consists of forty-seven photographs documenting Lilian's family, including her parents, Miriam and William Rosenthal, the original owners of Miriam's Judaica.
In June, Lisa Rose, daughter of Marcia Rose (left), donated her mother’s collection of photographs of Balfour Manor Camp. Named after British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour, the camp was situated on Morrison Lake and offered a range of activities to Jewish youth including canoeing, swimming and tennis. Founded by Irene Granovsky in 1935, it closed in 1952.
What makes this collection so valuable is the fact that Marcia provided identification for almost every one of the seventy-nine photographs. Marcia even identified the camp’s horse: Seabiscuit. The fact that most individuals are identified makes this collection a valuable resource for academics researching the history of Balfour Manor Camp as well as genealogists looking for photographs of family who might have attended the camp.
Dr. John E. Ackerman. Following on the successful exhibition highlighting the photography of Dr. John E. Ackerman, this most recent acquisition includes the remaining negatives and slides from his large collection.
Miriam Beckerman. This accession consisting of letters and photographs relating to Miriam and her husband’s experiences in Mandatory Palestine and later Israel. A highlight is a letter written by Miriam in January 1948, in which she briefly describes the mood prevailing Tel Aviv.
Congregation BINA. This accession consists of the complete operational records of this Indo-Canadian congregation beginning with its founding in 1891.
Sen. David Croll. This accession includes photographs and scrapbooks related to the political life and work of one of Canada’s most notable Jewish politicians. Also included are records related to Sen. Croll’s distinguished military career.
Hazza family. This accession consists of material documenting the Hazza family. A highlight is the documentation regarding the Flea-Free Pet Comb, which was patented by John Hazza and Sidney Marcus and promoted at the CNE.
Sharoni Sibony. This accession consists of material documenting Sharoni’s involvement with Limmud Toronto. Sharoni served as Limmud Toronto’s festival chair from 2008-2009.
Cyrel Troster. This accession consists of material documenting Cyrel’s involvement in different Jewish organizations in Toronto. Of special significance are the interview transcripts with prominent Jewish Torontonians that were generated as part of an oral history project in 1973.
Toronto Grand Order of Israel. This accession consists of material documenting the fraternal organization. Highlights include eight oath books and a composite group photograph.