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The Jewish Community of Montreal

Montreal

Montreal, second largest city in Canada, in the province of Quebec. The population of the Jewish community in metropolitan Montreal, the oldest and largest in Canada, was estimated at 121,000 in 1970 out of an approximate total of 2.4 million.

Jews first went to Montreal in 1760 as officers with the British army under General Amherst, and after the surrender of the city to the British on Sept. 8, 1760, several Jews settled in Montreal as merchants, fur traders, exporters, and importers. The earliest Jewish settlers in Montreal had previously lived in New York, in which the only synagogue was the Shearith Israel congregation, which followed the Sephardi minhag. In December 1768, when there were sufficient permanent Jewish residents in Montreal, they formed a congregation which adopted the same name and followed the same Sephardi minhag as the synagogue they had attended in New York. The congregation did not receive legal and official government recognition until 1831. The first minister of the Shearith Israel congregation was the Rev. Jacob Raphael Cohen. From 1847-1882 the Rev. Abraham de Sola, grandson of rabbi Raphael Meldola, the haham of the Sephardi congregation in London, served as a spiritual leader to the Montreal Spanish and Portuguese congregation. He was appointed professor of Hebrew and oriental literature at McGill University soon after his arrival in Montreal, was for many years president of the natural history society of Montreal, was a prolific writer on Jewish religious and historical subjects, and was the first Jew awarded an honorary LLd. by McGill University (in 1858). It was not until 1858 that Jews who preferred the Ashkenazi minhag, most of whom had previously been members of the Spanish and Portuguese congregations, were able to purchase a lot and erect a synagogue called the German and polish synagogue. This was subsequently renamed the Shaar HaShomayim synagogue, and was the first Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue erected in Canada.
The number of Jewish congregations in metropolitan Montreal increased rapidly until 1946, and there were 40 synagogues in 1970, of which 33 were Orthodox, three were conservative, three were reform, and one was Reconstructionist.

In accordance with the British North America Act of 1867 there were in Quebec only two types of tax-supported public schools, one Roman Catholic and the other Protestant. All school taxes paid by Jewish property owners went to the Protestant school board, and in return Jewish children had the right to attend the schools of the Protestant school board of greater Montreal, and were exempted from Christian religious instruction upon request of their parents. From 1903 on, attempts were made by the Montreal Jewish community at various times to obtain changes in legislation which would establish a secular nondenominational system of public schools or tax-supported Jewish schools parallel with and with powers equal to the existing roman catholic and protestant public schools, but without success. After protracted negotiations, five Jews were appointed by the Quebec provincial government to the Protestant school board of greater Montreal in 1968 from a list recommended by the Canadian Jewish Congress. The Protestant board agreed to accept as "associate schools" those Jewish voluntary elementary and high schools which had the same pedagogical standards and regulations pertaining to training of teaching staff, curriculum, and salaries, and to pay an annual grant of 350 dollars per Jewish pupil attending nine of these approved "associate" Jewish day schools, leaving Hebrew studies and religious instruction to be financed by the associate Jewish day schools themselves. In 1969 there were about 5,000 children attending the Jewish day schools in Montreal which were approved "associate schools" receiving the aforementioned per capita grant, and the Jewish children attending the Protestant elementary and high schools in 1969 numbered 17,000.

Jews formed the third largest ethnic group in metropolitan Montreal during the period from 1901 to 1961, exceeded only by the population of French origin with 64.2% and those of Anglo-Celtic origin with 17.9%. Thirty-four percent of the total Jewish population of Canada lived in Montreal. By 1961 this percentage had increased to 40.4. In 1961 there were 72 cities, towns, and villages in what is known as the suburban metropolitan Montreal census area, and Jews were resident in 64 of them. There were seven suburban cities and towns within the metropolitan Montreal area each with a Jewish population exceeding 1,000. Those residential suburbs with their Jewish population in 1961 were Outremont (9,033), Cote St. Rue (8,307), St. Laurent (7,696), Chomedy (3,493), Mount Royal (2,617), Westmount (2,222), and Hampstead (1,560).

The majority of the total Jewish population in metropolitan Montreal in 1961 was Canadian-born (56.9%), while 11.7% were born in Poland; 10.0% in Russia; 4.4% in Romania; 3.6% in Hungary; 2.3% in the United States; 1.6% in the United Kingdom; 4.4% in other European countries; and 5.1% in all other countries. 53.8% of the total Jewish population of metropolitan Montreal in 1961 reported English as their mother tongue and 30.2% reported Yiddish as their mother tongue; while 97.2% could speak English and French. Jews engaged in commerce formed 30% of the total Jewish labor force in metropolitan Montreal in 1961, followed by 22% in industry, 16% in clerical occupations, 13% in the professions, 12% in service occupations, 2% in transport and communications, 1% in construction, and 1% in unskilled labor.

In 1970 the national headquarters of almost all Jewish communal organizations in Canada were situated in that city. The Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent Society founded in Montreal in 1863 was the first Jewish social welfare organization in Canada. Its object was to assist the increasing stream of Jewish immigrants fleeing from discrimination and persecution in Eastern Europe. It changed its name to the Baron de Hirsch Institute in 1900 in recognition of the munificent grants made to it by Baroness Clara de Hirsch. As the Jewish population of Montreal increased, the Montreal Jewish community became more self-supporting and fund-raising campaigns multiplied; and in 1916 the Baron de Hirsch Institute, the Mount Sinai sanatorium, the Herzl dispensary, and the Jewish home for the aged combined to form the federation of Jewish community services. During the period from 1916 to 1965 the number of Jewish social welfare and health agencies continued to multiply rapidly and the need for larger
Funds necessary to maintain them brought about the organization of a combined Jewish appeal campaign in 1941, which in 1951 joined with the United Israel Appeal to conduct one annual fund-raising campaign. In 1965 the need for still greater coordination, planning, fund-raising, and cooperative action in Jewish community affairs brought about the reorganization of the Montreal federation of Jewish community services and the combined Jewish appeal into a new all-embracing body named the allied Jewish community services of Montreal.

Members of the Jewish community in Montreal have been prominent in the political, musical, literary, and artistic life of Canada during the past century. Lazarus Phillips, a prominent Jewish lawyer active in Jewish communal life, was appointed a member of the Canadian senate in 1969. In 1970 Victor Goldbloom, who was reelected as a member of the Quebec provincial legislature, became the first Jew to hold the position of a cabinet minister in the Quebec provincial government.

The Jews of Montreal make up the second-largest Jewish community in Canada. The community is one of the oldest and most populous in the country, about 23% of the total population. In 2011, the Jewish population of Montreal was approximately 91,000, with over 40,000 Jewish households. Jews comprise 2.4% of the city's total population. The community is composed of several different Jewish groups that settled in Canada at different time periods and under varied circumstances.

The most recent waves of immigration have included Jews from the former Soviet Union (some via Israel), France, Argentina, and small numbers of Ethiopian Jews from Israel.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish community of Montreal had established numerous organizations. Many of these organizations were in the areas of social welfare, health care, education and culture while others were established specifically to fund various community activities. In 1965, a federation was established to better organize community planning and fundraising. Originally, this federation was known as Allied Jewish Community Services but was renamed to Federation CJA in the 1990s.

The Federation supports several organizations throughout the city of Montreal. Due to their extensive support of Israel and local allocation for social services and educational programs, the Jewish community of Montreal is considered one of the most generous communities per capita in all of North America. Other notable Jewish organizations include The Jewish Community Foundation, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, Canadian Council of Israel, B'nai B'rith Canada, The Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services.

Religious life among the Jews of Montreal is quite diverse. While Orthodox congregations make up the overwhelming majority of the city's synagogues, there are also Reform, Reconstructionist and numerous Conservative congregations. Even within the Orthodox movement is a wide spectrum of communities, including several Hasidic sects, Modern Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox and Sephardi. Orthodox Judaism has historically been very strong in Montreal. Since the early 21st century, Chabad Lubavitch has established a significant presence in the areas of Côte des Neiges and Hampstead.

The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, also known as Shearith Israel is Montreal's oldest synagogue. It is also the oldest congregation in Canada. Formally established in 1768, its original building, designed in a Judeo-Egyptian style, was the first non-Catholic place of worship in the entire province of Québec. It remained the only place of Jewish worship in Montreal until 1846.

Beginning in the 19th century, most Jewish families opted to send their children to private Jewish day schools. Whether due to segregation or the confessional nature of Montreal's public schools, the Jewish community established a number of schools of their own. As of 2015, there were about 13 private Jewish schools in Montreal. More than half of Jewish school age children are enrolled in private Jewish schools. Approximately half of the Jewish students who complete Jewish elementary school continue to Jewish high school. Jewish education in Montreal is quite varied. There are many private schools affiliated with a wide range of Jewish movements and communities, including Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic, Conservative, Yiddishist, and Sephardi.

There are additionally several youth movements and organizations, and a well-established network of camps, after-school activities and educational programs.

The city's major Jewish cultural centers include the Museum of Jewish Montreal (founded in 2010), the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, the Jewish Public Library, the Miles Nada Jewish Community Centre, and the YM-YWHA Jewish Community Centres of Montreal: The Ben Weider JCC and Y Country Camp. There are also more than 25 different Chabad centers throughout Greater Montreal.

The area with the largest Jewish population in Montreal is Cote St. Luc (19,395), where Jews comprise nearly 63% of the overall population. Cote St. Luc also boasts the largest population of Sephardim in Montreal (5,580). Large contingents of Sephardi Jews also live in Ville St. Laurent (3,365) and the West Island (2,205).

The second-largest population is in the West Island, with 12,055 Jewish residents. The affluent suburb of Hampstead has the highest density of Jews than any other area, approximately 75% of its total populace. Other areas with sizeable Jewish populations include St. Laurent, Snowdon and Côte des Neiges.

Montreal is also home to a number of Haredi enclaves. In Outremont are the three Hasidic dynasties of Belz, Satmar and Skver; in Côte des Neiges is a sizeable Lubavitch community; and in the suburb of Boisbrand are the Tash, a group originating in Hungary.

Nearly one third of Montreal's Jewish population was born outside Canada. The largest waves of immigration have been from North Africa and Eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union.

In addition to the Holocaust Memorial, Jewish Museum and the Jewish Public Library, the most significant Jewish landmarks and points of interest can be found in the historic Jewish quarter. Located on St. Laurent Boulevard, or Main Street, this historic neighborhood was once home to a number of synagogues and Jewish businesses. By 1871, a Jewish enclave of 400 people had formed and Yiddish was the common language. Other main streets include Clark Street, Park Avenue, Saint Urbain Street and Esplanade Street.

Serving both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Montreal are various hospitals and health care facilities that had been established by Jews. The most notable are hospitals, Mount Sinai and the Jewish General Hospital. The latter provides general and specialized care and was partially founded by Jewish philanthropist Allan Bronfman. Ground broke on the hospital in 1931 and in 1933 it was officially named the Jewish General Hospital. The first patient was admitted the following year. Other Jewish health care services include Donald Berman Maimonides (geriatric care) and the Miriam Home, a rehabilitation center that provides residential services for children and adults with disabilities.

Circulating throughout Montreal are the city's very own Jewish publications. The largest and most well-known is "Montreal Jewish Magazine". A premium source for all things Jewish, this widely distributed publication has a readership of more than 90,000. Montreal Jewish Magazine includes a wide variety of articles and editorials about community events, local activities and international news.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
148668
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Rubenstein, Louis (1861-1931), figure skater and politician, born in Montreal, Canada, to parents who had immigrated from Poland. He represented Canada in the 1889 unofficial world championships for figure skating which were held in St Petersburg, Russia, and won the gold medal. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Amateur Skating Association of Canada was formed and he remained its president until his death. After retirement from skating in 1892, Rubenstein became involved in the sports of bowling, curling, and cycling. He was elected president of the Canadian Bowling Association in 1895, president of the International Skating Union of America in 1909. From 1913-1915 he was president of the Montreal amateur Athletic Association. In 1981 he was made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
He was alderman in St. Louis ward of Montreal from 1916 until 1931.
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Bronfman, Edgar (1929-2013), philanthropist, international Jewish communal leader, businessman, born in Montreal, Canada. His father was the founder of Distillers Corporation Limited, which in 1928 purchased what was then the largest distiller in the world, Seagram Co Ltd.

After graduating from McGill University in Mongtreal with a B.A. degree in 1951, he joined the family business. In 1957, he took over as head of Seagram's American subsidiary, he increased the range of products sold by the company, improved distribution, and expanded the number of countries in which Seagram's products were sold. In 1966, Cemp Investments, which managed the family's investments, bought 820,000 shares of MGM and in 1969 Bronfman took over the chairmanship of MGM for a short time. Following his father's death in 1971, Bronfman took over as president, treasurer, and director of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd.

In 1979, Bronfman was asked to take over as acting head of the World Jewish Congress. Bronfman was formally elected President two years later. Bronfman “turned the World Jewish Congress into a preeminent international Jewish organization and broadened its base by bringing in new member communities in Eastern Europe and other countries. Through the campaigns to free Soviet Jewry, the exposure of the Nazi past of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and the campaign to compensate victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, notably in the case of the Swiss banks, Bronfman became well known internationally during the 1980s and 1990s. Among the initiatives Bronfman supported were the Jewish college organization Hillel, a major scholarship program for young Jews from Israel and North America called the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and the educational website MyJewishLearning.com.

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, Bronfman was invited to the Kremlin and on September 8–11, visited Moscow, becoming the first World Jewish Congress President to be formally received in Moscow by Soviet Officials. Bronfman met with Gorbachev, and initiated talks of a Soviet Jewish airlift and called on the Soviet Union to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a Washington Post profile a few months after the September trip, Bronfman laid out what he thought had been accomplished during his September meetings. He said, "There's going to be a buildup of pressure through the business community. The Russians know the Soviet Jewry issue is tied to trade... My guess is that over a period of time, five to ten years, some of our goals will be achieved." In March 1987, Bronfman along with fellow delegates of the World Jewish Congress, flew to Moscow once again. Bronfman held three days of discussions with senior Soviet officials. Together, Bronfman and the World Jewish Congress delegates advocated for the freeing of the Jews living under Soviet rule.

On June 25, 1982, Bronfman became the first representative of a Jewish organization to speak before the United Nations. He argued that , "world peace cannot tolerate the denial of the legitimacy of Israel or any other nation-state ... [and the] charge that Zionism is racism is an abomination." Bronfman's goals for the visit were threefold. In his book, "The Making of a Jew", he explained: First, he called for the release of all so-called Prisoners of Zion, the Jews imprisoned for expressing a desire to emigrate to Israel. Bronfman also wanted freedom for Jews in the Soviet Union to practice their religion. Finally, he called for the freedom for Soviet Jews to learn Hebrew, which was forbidden at the time.

A year later, in 1988, Bronfman returned to Moscow to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze This trip resulted in the Soviets promising to legalize the teaching of Hebrew in the Soviet Union and to establish a Jewish cultural center in Moscow. Bronfman said of this visit, "By their actions, they are indicating that they are eager to get the question of Jewish rights and emigration off the bargaining table. And it is actions, rather than simply words, that count."

In 1986, during Bronfman's presidency, the World Jewish Congress accused Austrian President Kurt Waldheim of covering up his past connections to the Nazi party. It was when Waldheim became a candidate for President of Austria that the World Jewish Congress first published material showing Waldheim's active duty in the German army during war time. This evidence was later used to prove that Waldheim must have known about the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, though Waldheim's service as an Austrian in the German army cannot be considered a war crime. Waldheim had served as an intelligence officer in a unit of the army that participated in the transfer of Greek Jews to death camps.

The allegations against Waldheim resulted in public embarrassment for the Austrian president. He was on the U.S. Justice Department's list of undesirable visitors in April 1987. On May 5, 1987, Bronfman spoke to the World Jewish Congress saying Waldheim was "part and parcel of the Nazi killing machine". Waldheim subsequently filed a lawsuit against Bronfman, but dropped the suit shortly after due to a lack of evidence in his favour.

In the late 1990s, Bronfman championed the cause of restitution from Switzerland for Holocaust survivors. He began an initiative that led to the $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks. The Swiss banks, the United States Government, and Jewish groups investigated unclaimed assets deposited by European Jews into Swiss banks before the Holocaust. Negotiations began in 1995 between the U.S. and Switzerland. The parties reached a settlement in August 1998, and signed the $1.25 billion settlement in January 1999. In exchange for the settlement money, both parties agreed to release the Swiss banks and government from any claims regarding the Holocaust.

President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.

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Diamond was the Founder and Chairman of Intalite International Group of Companies (1960 – 1986). 

Diamond is the Founder and Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), an award-winning international project to create an Internet-searchable index of all surviving Jewish vital records of Poland.  Launched in early 1995, JRI - Poland is the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online with many millions of records from more than 550 Polish towns. 

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Poet. Born in Solobkovtsy, Ukraine, he emigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1911. He spent five years in New York (1923-1928) and then returned to Montreal.
Segal’s numerous poems were published in most major American Yiddish literary magazines. His books of poetry include Fun Mayn Velt (1918), Sefer Yiddish (1950) and Letste Lider (1955). He died in Montreal, Canada.

Boy and girl with the Zionist flag. New Year card sent to Glasgow, Scotland, from Montreal, Canada, in 1910
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, courtesy of Hayim Shtayer, Haifa)

Isaac Bashevis-Singer, the famous writer
and Nobel Laureate, meeting with members
of "Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem" congregation
after a speaking engagement, Montreal, Canada 1979.
Photo: Michael Solman, Canada
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Michael Solman, Canada)
The members of the Sephardi Minyan "Shuva Israel"
which is housed in the building of "Beth HIllel" Congregation,
bringing a New Torah Scroll, Montreal, Canada 1979.
Photo: Michael (Mel) Solman, Canada.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Michael (Mel) Solman, Canada)
Children and Hasidim dancing around their Rabbi
at the end of Simhat Torah, Montreal, Canada 1980.
Photo: Malkeh Salzberg, Canada.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Malkeh Salzberg, Canada)
Girls in Purim costume,
Montreal, Canada, 1991
Photo: Amit Janco, Canada
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Amit Janco, Canada)
Rubenstein, Louis (1861-1931), figure skater and politician, born in Montreal, Canada, to parents who had immigrated from Poland. He represented Canada in the 1889 unofficial world championships for figure skating which were held in St Petersburg, Russia, and won the gold medal. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Amateur Skating Association of Canada was formed and he remained its president until his death. After retirement from skating in 1892, Rubenstein became involved in the sports of bowling, curling, and cycling. He was elected president of the Canadian Bowling Association in 1895, president of the International Skating Union of America in 1909. From 1913-1915 he was president of the Montreal amateur Athletic Association. In 1981 he was made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
He was alderman in St. Louis ward of Montreal from 1916 until 1931.
Raphael A. Cohen was born in Meknes, Morocco, in 1932. Already at a young age, Raphael Cohen was active in a number of educational, sport, and youth movements of the local Jewish community. After having taught for ten years at Alliance Israelite Universelle School in Meknes, he attended the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat, Morocco, and following a training period in Paris, France he earned a Diplome de Conseiller en Planification et Orientation Scolaire et Profesionelle in 1962.

Raphael Cohen joined the Office Cherifien de Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan governmental mining company, serving as Director of Human Resources at the Khouribga mining center. In 1967, because of increasing security risks that followed the Israeli victory in the Six Day War, he moved in Rabat where he served as counselor for human resources training at the headquarters of OCP.

In 1972, Raphael Cohen settled in Canada along with his family. He started to work as a counselor for human resources training with Hydro-Quebec (HQ), an electric power company, and in parallel, he attended the University of Montreal, earning a MA in andragogy. He held different positions with HQ – Counselor of Industrial Psychology, Director of Special Projects, and Director of the Trade Strategic Planning – until his retirement in 1995. He continued his professional activities until 2001, as co-founder and managing director of a consulting company to industrial and commercial enterprises.

In 1956, Raphael Cohen married Georgette K. Cohen, born in Meknes in 1932 as a descendant of a distinguished Jewish family. They have three children: Professor Eric A. Cohen, a Canada Research Chair in Human Retrovirology at Montreal University and an internationally renowned researcher of HIV/AIDS, he is married with one daughter, Anne-Esther. His spouse, Dr. Julie Bruneau, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Family Medicine at Montreal University and Deputy-Director of the Research Center of CHUM; Dr. Guittel Haichin nee Cohen, a self-employed dentist at Centre Dentaire Cohen, a private dental clinic that she had established, is married to Dr. Richard Haichin, a cardiologist and Director of the Coronary Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal , and has three children: Mark-Daniel, Michael-Raphael and Kate-Lauren. Gad J. Cohen graduated from McGill University, from which he received a law degree, a past associate at the New York law firm of White & Case. is the President of Stealth Energy Company, a US based developer of independent power projects. He is married to Ellen Cohen nee Weinberg and has two daughters: Madeleine-Leah and Claire-Yael.


The Raphael and Georgette Cohen Collection at Beit Hatfutsot

As of 1993, Raphael Cohen has embarked on a tremendous project dedicated to the genealogical history as well as the visual documentation of the Jewish families and the Jewish community of Meknes. He succeeded in amassing an outstanding collection of photographs showing the vibrant life of the Jews of Meknes in the years just before the large waves of emigration to Israel, France and other countries. The highlights of this visual collection depict the educational activities of the community and especially their endeavors to ensure that each Jewish child, including those from less affluent families, would receive a proper education. The collection of family trees covers the genealogy of numerous distinguished Jewish families of Meknes, among them the Toledano, Boussidan, Cohen, Elkrief, Messas, Ben Attar, Abouhatsera, and Berdugo families, to mention but a few of the many hundreds of surnames and tens of thousands of individuals recorded in dozens of family trees. In 2007, Mrs. Georgette Cohen and Mr. Raphael Cohen decided to donate to Beit Hatfutsot their extensive collection of documents about the Jewish community of Meknes, Morocco. The collection is now an integral part of the database of Beit Hatfutsot.
Caiserman, Hanane Meier (1884–1950), Jewish communal leader, born in Piatra-Neamt, Romania. Caiserman immigrated to Montreal in 1911. A lifelong Labor Zionist, Caiserman was also a union organizer for the Montreal clothing workers and Jewish bakers. During the 1910s, he took a leading role in the strikes for better conditions and union recognition. He also organized and actively promoted Jewish cultural activity, giving evening courses to workers on political economy.

In 1919 he helped organize the Canadian Jewish Congress and was named the organization's general secretary. When the Nazis came to power in Germany he was instrumental in a reorganizaion of the movement in order to help those refugees who came to Canada. In 1920 Caisermnan established the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Canada. He was closely associated with Jewish educational and cultural institutions and supported the establishment of separate Jewish schools in Quebec
Bronfman, Edgar (1929-2013), philanthropist, international Jewish communal leader, businessman, born in Montreal, Canada. His father was the founder of Distillers Corporation Limited, which in 1928 purchased what was then the largest distiller in the world, Seagram Co Ltd.

After graduating from McGill University in Mongtreal with a B.A. degree in 1951, he joined the family business. In 1957, he took over as head of Seagram's American subsidiary, he increased the range of products sold by the company, improved distribution, and expanded the number of countries in which Seagram's products were sold. In 1966, Cemp Investments, which managed the family's investments, bought 820,000 shares of MGM and in 1969 Bronfman took over the chairmanship of MGM for a short time. Following his father's death in 1971, Bronfman took over as president, treasurer, and director of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd.

In 1979, Bronfman was asked to take over as acting head of the World Jewish Congress. Bronfman was formally elected President two years later. Bronfman “turned the World Jewish Congress into a preeminent international Jewish organization and broadened its base by bringing in new member communities in Eastern Europe and other countries. Through the campaigns to free Soviet Jewry, the exposure of the Nazi past of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and the campaign to compensate victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, notably in the case of the Swiss banks, Bronfman became well known internationally during the 1980s and 1990s. Among the initiatives Bronfman supported were the Jewish college organization Hillel, a major scholarship program for young Jews from Israel and North America called the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and the educational website MyJewishLearning.com.

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, Bronfman was invited to the Kremlin and on September 8–11, visited Moscow, becoming the first World Jewish Congress President to be formally received in Moscow by Soviet Officials. Bronfman met with Gorbachev, and initiated talks of a Soviet Jewish airlift and called on the Soviet Union to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a Washington Post profile a few months after the September trip, Bronfman laid out what he thought had been accomplished during his September meetings. He said, "There's going to be a buildup of pressure through the business community. The Russians know the Soviet Jewry issue is tied to trade... My guess is that over a period of time, five to ten years, some of our goals will be achieved." In March 1987, Bronfman along with fellow delegates of the World Jewish Congress, flew to Moscow once again. Bronfman held three days of discussions with senior Soviet officials. Together, Bronfman and the World Jewish Congress delegates advocated for the freeing of the Jews living under Soviet rule.

On June 25, 1982, Bronfman became the first representative of a Jewish organization to speak before the United Nations. He argued that , "world peace cannot tolerate the denial of the legitimacy of Israel or any other nation-state ... [and the] charge that Zionism is racism is an abomination." Bronfman's goals for the visit were threefold. In his book, "The Making of a Jew", he explained: First, he called for the release of all so-called Prisoners of Zion, the Jews imprisoned for expressing a desire to emigrate to Israel. Bronfman also wanted freedom for Jews in the Soviet Union to practice their religion. Finally, he called for the freedom for Soviet Jews to learn Hebrew, which was forbidden at the time.

A year later, in 1988, Bronfman returned to Moscow to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze This trip resulted in the Soviets promising to legalize the teaching of Hebrew in the Soviet Union and to establish a Jewish cultural center in Moscow. Bronfman said of this visit, "By their actions, they are indicating that they are eager to get the question of Jewish rights and emigration off the bargaining table. And it is actions, rather than simply words, that count."

In 1986, during Bronfman's presidency, the World Jewish Congress accused Austrian President Kurt Waldheim of covering up his past connections to the Nazi party. It was when Waldheim became a candidate for President of Austria that the World Jewish Congress first published material showing Waldheim's active duty in the German army during war time. This evidence was later used to prove that Waldheim must have known about the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, though Waldheim's service as an Austrian in the German army cannot be considered a war crime. Waldheim had served as an intelligence officer in a unit of the army that participated in the transfer of Greek Jews to death camps.

The allegations against Waldheim resulted in public embarrassment for the Austrian president. He was on the U.S. Justice Department's list of undesirable visitors in April 1987. On May 5, 1987, Bronfman spoke to the World Jewish Congress saying Waldheim was "part and parcel of the Nazi killing machine". Waldheim subsequently filed a lawsuit against Bronfman, but dropped the suit shortly after due to a lack of evidence in his favour.

In the late 1990s, Bronfman championed the cause of restitution from Switzerland for Holocaust survivors. He began an initiative that led to the $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks. The Swiss banks, the United States Government, and Jewish groups investigated unclaimed assets deposited by European Jews into Swiss banks before the Holocaust. Negotiations began in 1995 between the U.S. and Switzerland. The parties reached a settlement in August 1998, and signed the $1.25 billion settlement in January 1999. In exchange for the settlement money, both parties agreed to release the Swiss banks and government from any claims regarding the Holocaust.

President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
Rubin, Ruth (1906-2000), singer, musicologist and folklorist of Yiddish songs, born Rifke Rosenblatt in Khotin (Hotin), Bessarabia (then part of the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine) and raised in Montreal, Canada, where she arrived at the age of four.

Following her studies of musicology in New York she worked on the musical tradition of east European Jews. As a result she began to sing Yiddish songs without the usual instrumental accompaniment. She published the books "A Treasure of Jewish Folksongs" (1950) and "Jewish Folk Songs" (1965). Her book "Voices of a People", published in 1963, is the story of the Yiddish folksong.Rubin's collection includes over 2000 recordings.

Rubin's recordings are available at various libraries: the AMLI (Americans for Libraries in Israel) in Tel Aviv, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. A separate archive named after her is located in Haifa, Israel.

Died in Mamaroneck, New York, USA.
Poet. Born in Solobkovtsy, Ukraine, he emigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1911. He spent five years in New York (1923-1928) and then returned to Montreal.
Segal’s numerous poems were published in most major American Yiddish literary magazines. His books of poetry include Fun Mayn Velt (1918), Sefer Yiddish (1950) and Letste Lider (1955). He died in Montreal, Canada.
Hart, Cecil (1883-1940), Canadian ice-hockey player, born in Bedford, Quebec, Canada, a direct descendant of Aaron Hart, one of Canada's first Jewish settlers.

Cecil Hart managed and played for the Star Hockey Club from 1900 to 1922. In 1910 he formed the Montreal City Hockey League and his team were the champions in 1914-1915 and again in 1916-1917. He organized the first international amateur hockey series between Canada and the USA. Entering professional hockey in 1921, Hart purchased the "Montreal Canadians" on behalf of a group of businessmen and became their manager.
Cohen, Leonard (1934-2016), Singer and composer, Born in Montreal, Canada. His lyrics center on existential despair while his music is based on a folk or folk-rock idiom. His songs are widely sung by other performers.
Bass-baritone singer. Born in Montreal, Canada, his name was George Burnstein. He studied in Los Angeles with Hugo Strelitzer, Nathan Stuart and Enrico Rosati. His debut as an opera singer took place in 1941 at the Hollywood Bowl and he was then engaged at the San Francisco Opera. Between 1949-1956 he sang at the Vienna State Opera and was guest singer in Bayreuth (1951), La Scala (1952), the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in Moscow (1960). In 1967 he retired from singing. In 1972 he became director of the Opera Theater of Southern California in Los Angeles. He died in Armonk, New York.

Stanley M. Diamond (b. 1933), founder and executive director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), family historian, lecturer, and author, born in Montreal, Canada. He was educated at McGill University, Montreal (B. Commerce 1954), and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA (MBA 1958).

Diamond was the Founder and Chairman of Intalite International Group of Companies (1960 – 1986). 

Diamond is the Founder and Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), an award-winning international project to create an Internet-searchable index of all surviving Jewish vital records of Poland.  Launched in early 1995, JRI - Poland is the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online with many millions of records from more than 550 Polish towns. 

A dedicated family historian for more than 25 years, Diamond was the founder and president of the  Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal; a genealogist member of genetic research project team with McGill University ‑ Montreal Children's Hospital and Hebrew University‑Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem -  research related to Beta‑Thalassemia genetic trait in Ashkenazi Jewish families (1994-2006).  He was also a Founding Board Member of International Institute of Jewish Genealogy, Jerusalem, and served as consultant to producers of "Who Do You Think You Are?" television series, episodes on NBC, CBC, BBC and ABC (Australia) and “Finding Your Roots” television series on PBS (USA), (since 2007). 

His publications include “An Update on Jewish Records Indexing-Poland: Phase Three”, Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Winter 2016; "New Developments in Research of Polish-Jewish Records", Avotaynu,  Spring 2013; “The Role of the Jewish Genealogist in Medical and Genetic Family History”, Avotaynu, Spring 2007; “How I Traced the Beta Thalassemia Trait”,  Avotaynu, Winter 2006; “A Jewish Genealogist’s Wish List”, Avotaynu, Spring 2003; "The 1915-1932 Canadian Naturalization Index", Avotyanu, Fall 2002; "Indexing the Jewish Vital Records of Quebec 1841-1942", Avotaynu, Summer 2002;  Documenting the Fate of the Jews of Ostrów Mazowiecka", Avotyanu, Fall 2001; "Shtetl-Based Jewish Genealogical Research", Avotyanu, Spring 1998; "Jewish Vital Records Research in Quebec", Shem Tov, Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), June 1998.  He is co‑author of "Probable Identity by Descent and Discovery of Familial Relationships by Means of a Rare B‑Thalassemia Haplotype", Human Mutation, Volume 9, No. 1, 1997

Diamond was awarded the Government of Canada Meritorious Service Medal (2017); Nominated for the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2016), and Canada Export Award (1984).   

Isidore (Edmond) Philipp (1863-1958) pianist and composer, born in Pest (now Budapest), Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He studied music at the Paris Conservatory under Georges Mathias, Stephen Heller, and Camille de Saint-Saens. He founded a society for chamber music with Remy, Berthelier and Loeb, performing modern French chamber music. From 1903 he was professor of the Paris Conservatory; he also served as a member of its council and as chairman of the association of conservatory professors. He toured European capitals and then performed in the United States in 1934. He taught at the Fontainebleau American Conservatory and gave master classes in Boston and New York (1934-1935).

In 1941 Philipp immigrated to the USA. He taught piano in New York and at the Conservatoire de musique du Quebec in Montreal, Canada. After World War II he spent the rest of his life between New York and Paris. On March 1955, aged 91, he played the piano part in both Saint Saen’s D minor sonata and Cesar Frank’s violin sonata in New York. In Paris, a year later, he gave his farewell recital at the age of 92 in Paris. He died there after a fall on the Paris metro.

Victor Zilberman (b. 1947), boxer, born in Bucharest, Romania. His career includes winning the title of Romanian champion of the semi-middle category in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974, and in the small medium in 1975. He also won the international tournament "Golden Belt" in 1975 and 1976, and was the European Vice-Champion in 1969 and again 1975. Zilberman participated in the Olympics in 1968 in Mexico City, 1972 in Munich and 1976 in Montreal, where he won the bronze medal.

After the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Zilberman applied for political asylum in Canada, and settled there. He continued his studies in Canada and in 1991 he received a doctorate in education sciences from the University of Montreal. He was a member of the Canadian coaching staff for four Olympic Games and several World Championships. For over 35 years, he worked as a physical education teacher at Vanier College in Montreal.

Vily Juster (1924-2001), architect, designer and painter, born in Iasi, Romania. He studied at the Ion Mincu Faculty of Architecture in Bucharest. Between 1949 and 1973 he designed a series of large-scale buildings in Romania, including Stadionul Național stadium (first known as Stadionul 23 August) in Bucharest (1953) as well as holiday hotels, apartment blocks made of prefabricated materials, etc.

He left Romania and immigrated to Canada, settling in Montreal. From 1974 to 1990, he carried out important architectural works in France and Canada. After his retirement, he dedicated himself entirely to painting, becoming, since 1984, a member of the Painting Council of Québec, holding the position of vice-president of the Painting Council of the same city between 1991-1996. He had nine solo exhibitions and over 28 group exhibitions. In 1999 he produced a retrospective of architecture and painting which he exhibited at Mc Gill University in Montreal. Juster died in Montreal. 

Quebec City

Capital city of the Canadian province of the same name.

Under the French regime prior to the British conquest in 1759, Jews and Protestants were not permitted to settle in Quebec or any part of New France. The first Jews known to have lived in the city of Quebec were Abraham Jacob Franks and Eleazer Levy who settled there in 1767, and by 1784 they were joined by Elias Solomon, David Jacobs and Hyman Myers. John Franks, a Jew, was appointed the first chief of the Quebec fire brigade in 1790, a position which he held until his death in 1799. Abraham Joseph (1815-1886), son of Henry Joseph, a fur trader and one of the founders of Canada's merchant marine, moved to Quebec after the death of his father in 1832. He was elected a member of the Quebec City council, and was the president of the Quebec Board of Trade, president of the Stadacona Bank, and one of the founders of the Banque Nationale. His sons and grandsons played a prominent part in the commercial and cultural life of the city. Sigismund Mohr (1827-1893), an electrical engineer who went to Quebec from Germany in 1871, was the pioneer of hydroelectric development in Canada, harnessing Montmorency falls to light the city of Quebec.

The Jewish population of Quebec City was very small prior to 1901, ranging from 40 in 1851 to 110 in 1861, decreasing to 45 in 1891, and increasing gradually from 302 in 1901 to 436 in 1931 and 495 in 1961. In 1970 most of the Jewish population of Quebec City were the children and grandchildren of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who came to Quebec during the period from 1890 to 1921. The majority (63.6%) of the Jewish population of the city of Quebec in 1961 were Canadian-born and of those who were not born in Canada more than 65% settled in Quebec before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Approximately 80% of the Jews in the city in 1969 were merchants, and a few were clothing manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, and professors at Laval University. Maurice Pollack, founder and proprietor of the city's largest department store, settled in Quebec in the first decade of the 20th century, and was a generous supporter of Jewish institutions in Canada and Israel, and of Laval University, the French Catholic University in Quebec.

A Jewish cemetery was consecrated in 1853, but it was not until 1892 that the first synagogue was built in the lower town section of the city. In 1945, following much opposition, including legal action from the city council, a synagogue building was consecrated in the newer residential area in the upper town section of the city.

Quebec

A province in eastern Canada, predominantly French-speaking. Quebec is the home of the longest-established Jewish community in Canada. 

Canada

A country in the northern part of North America. 

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 390,000 out of 37,000,000 (1%). Canada has the fourth largest Jewish population in the world. It is generally regarded as the fastest growing Jewish community outside Israel. The majority of the Jewish population of Canada is concentrated in the greater area of the largest cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa. Smaller communities exists all over the country, including Winnipeg, MB, traditionally called "Jerusalem of Canada".  

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the main umbrella organization supporting the numerous Jewish Federations and communities in Canada. Established in 2011, CIJA consolidated and included various Jewish organizations, most notably the former Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). 

Mainly of Ashkenazi background with significant Sephardi and Mizrahi communities located chiefly in Montreal greater area, most Jews of Canada belong to the main steams of Judaism with the Conservative and Orthodox movements sharing each about 40% of the Jewish population while the remaining 20% belong to the Reform movement.   

Official name: Cape Breton Island

French: île du Cap-Breton

Scottish Gaelic: Ceap Breatainn, Eilean Cheap Bhreatainn

Mi’kmaq: Únamakika

An island in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.

21ST CENTURY

A pattern of outmigration is common across Cape Breton, and it has deeply affected the island’s Jewish population. All of the synagogues on Cape Breton Island are closed except for the one in Sydney, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Most of the members of the Sydney congregation are seventy-five or older (it is worth noting that Cape Breton’s population, on the whole, is aging). There is no full-time rabbi in Sydney’s synagogue, though a dedicated rabbi visits regularly from Halifax on festivals. The woman who led the religious services died in November 2016. In spite of these hardships, Cape Breton’s Jews remain very dedicated to their Jewish faith and proud of the important contributions they have made to Cape Breton’s economy, culture, and history. They have also ensured that the Jewish cemeteries in Glace Bay and Sydney will be maintained long after their community members have passed on. In this way, members of the Jewish families of Cape Breton will always be able to come home to visit the graves of their ancestors.

Working with local community members and an international research team, ethnomusicologist Dr. Marcia Ostashewski has developed the diversitycapebreton.ca web portal. The project’s main objective is to investigate the historical and contemporary expressive cultures of the island’s Central and Eastern European communities, including its Jewish communities, focusing on their music and dance practices. The publicly-accessible web portal serves as a living archive which provides a platform for Cape Bretoners to share their contributions to the island’s rich heritage.

HISTORY

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Cape Breton’s flourishing steel and coal industries attracted immigrants from around the world, all of whom made important contributions to the island’s cultural heritage. Among these immigrants were hundreds of Jews who entered Canada through Pier 21 (now the Canadian Museum of Immigration) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They traveled aboard ships from Eastern and Central Europe to escape ethnic discrimination and political instability in their homelands. Soon after arriving in Halifax, they made their way across the channel to Cape Breton Island and settled primarily in Sydney, Whitney Pier, Glace Bay and New Waterford.

Most Jewish men arrived in Cape Breton on their own, initially working as peddlers. Later, they entered into retail businesses and then brought their families. Local residents remember that almost all of the commercial stores on the main streets in the island’s two main cities, Glace Bay and Sydney, belonged to Jews. Though most of these Jewish-owned stores eventually closed, Schwartz’ Furniture is an example of one that has to thrive into the 21st century.

Over time, strong and distinct Jewish communities were established across Cape Breton, each with its own synagogue. The earliest synagogue opened in Glace Bay in 1902, the Congregation of the Sons of Israel. For a long time, Glace Bay was home to the largest community of Cape Breton Jews. In 1901, the Jewish population in Glace Bay was 134, and by 1941 it had increased to 939. Sydney, New Waterford and Glace Bay followed similar migration and population growth trends. At its height, the island was home to over 400 Jewish families.

The Jewish communities of Cape Breton were connected through their religion and heritage, but tensions also existed between the communities in Glace Bay, Sydney and Whitney Pier. Glace Bay and Whitney Pier remained Orthodox, while Sydney’s community moved to affiliate with the Conservative Movement, with men sitting with the women in the synagogue. Another notable difference was the duration of the rabbis’ stay in each community. Glace Bay faced a persistent problem of rabbis only staying a few months. As a consequence, Hebrew School students at the Congregation Sons of Israel never quite got past the first book of the Torah, as each new rabbi began with it and left before the book was completed. In contrast, Leon Dubinsky and other members of Sydney’s Jewish community like to share stories about Rabbi Israel Kenner, who remained in the community for over thirty-five years, from 1927-72. Rabbi Kenner was a stabilizing force in the community. He was also an extremely influential figure for the Dubinsky clan, a family known for its musical talents, because he started the shul’s choir. Dubinsky and his siblings joined the choir when they were very young. Their love of music led two of the siblings to become music teachers, and Leon became a celebrated local songwriter. After Rabbi Kenner retired, Dubinsky’s sister, Evie, continued to lead the choir until her death in 2016.

Most of Cape Breton’s Jewish-owned businesses lasted for two generations, as Jewish children were often encouraged to move elsewhere in order to prosper. The financial success that was achieved by many of the Jewish families during the island’s economic boom meant that they could afford to send their children to institutes of higher education. After World War II, many young Jews moved away from Cape Breton to university and never returned. They became lawyers and doctors, establishing families in larger city centers such as Halifax, Montreal and Toronto.

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The Jewish Community of Montreal

Montreal

Montreal, second largest city in Canada, in the province of Quebec. The population of the Jewish community in metropolitan Montreal, the oldest and largest in Canada, was estimated at 121,000 in 1970 out of an approximate total of 2.4 million.

Jews first went to Montreal in 1760 as officers with the British army under General Amherst, and after the surrender of the city to the British on Sept. 8, 1760, several Jews settled in Montreal as merchants, fur traders, exporters, and importers. The earliest Jewish settlers in Montreal had previously lived in New York, in which the only synagogue was the Shearith Israel congregation, which followed the Sephardi minhag. In December 1768, when there were sufficient permanent Jewish residents in Montreal, they formed a congregation which adopted the same name and followed the same Sephardi minhag as the synagogue they had attended in New York. The congregation did not receive legal and official government recognition until 1831. The first minister of the Shearith Israel congregation was the Rev. Jacob Raphael Cohen. From 1847-1882 the Rev. Abraham de Sola, grandson of rabbi Raphael Meldola, the haham of the Sephardi congregation in London, served as a spiritual leader to the Montreal Spanish and Portuguese congregation. He was appointed professor of Hebrew and oriental literature at McGill University soon after his arrival in Montreal, was for many years president of the natural history society of Montreal, was a prolific writer on Jewish religious and historical subjects, and was the first Jew awarded an honorary LLd. by McGill University (in 1858). It was not until 1858 that Jews who preferred the Ashkenazi minhag, most of whom had previously been members of the Spanish and Portuguese congregations, were able to purchase a lot and erect a synagogue called the German and polish synagogue. This was subsequently renamed the Shaar HaShomayim synagogue, and was the first Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue erected in Canada.
The number of Jewish congregations in metropolitan Montreal increased rapidly until 1946, and there were 40 synagogues in 1970, of which 33 were Orthodox, three were conservative, three were reform, and one was Reconstructionist.

In accordance with the British North America Act of 1867 there were in Quebec only two types of tax-supported public schools, one Roman Catholic and the other Protestant. All school taxes paid by Jewish property owners went to the Protestant school board, and in return Jewish children had the right to attend the schools of the Protestant school board of greater Montreal, and were exempted from Christian religious instruction upon request of their parents. From 1903 on, attempts were made by the Montreal Jewish community at various times to obtain changes in legislation which would establish a secular nondenominational system of public schools or tax-supported Jewish schools parallel with and with powers equal to the existing roman catholic and protestant public schools, but without success. After protracted negotiations, five Jews were appointed by the Quebec provincial government to the Protestant school board of greater Montreal in 1968 from a list recommended by the Canadian Jewish Congress. The Protestant board agreed to accept as "associate schools" those Jewish voluntary elementary and high schools which had the same pedagogical standards and regulations pertaining to training of teaching staff, curriculum, and salaries, and to pay an annual grant of 350 dollars per Jewish pupil attending nine of these approved "associate" Jewish day schools, leaving Hebrew studies and religious instruction to be financed by the associate Jewish day schools themselves. In 1969 there were about 5,000 children attending the Jewish day schools in Montreal which were approved "associate schools" receiving the aforementioned per capita grant, and the Jewish children attending the Protestant elementary and high schools in 1969 numbered 17,000.

Jews formed the third largest ethnic group in metropolitan Montreal during the period from 1901 to 1961, exceeded only by the population of French origin with 64.2% and those of Anglo-Celtic origin with 17.9%. Thirty-four percent of the total Jewish population of Canada lived in Montreal. By 1961 this percentage had increased to 40.4. In 1961 there were 72 cities, towns, and villages in what is known as the suburban metropolitan Montreal census area, and Jews were resident in 64 of them. There were seven suburban cities and towns within the metropolitan Montreal area each with a Jewish population exceeding 1,000. Those residential suburbs with their Jewish population in 1961 were Outremont (9,033), Cote St. Rue (8,307), St. Laurent (7,696), Chomedy (3,493), Mount Royal (2,617), Westmount (2,222), and Hampstead (1,560).

The majority of the total Jewish population in metropolitan Montreal in 1961 was Canadian-born (56.9%), while 11.7% were born in Poland; 10.0% in Russia; 4.4% in Romania; 3.6% in Hungary; 2.3% in the United States; 1.6% in the United Kingdom; 4.4% in other European countries; and 5.1% in all other countries. 53.8% of the total Jewish population of metropolitan Montreal in 1961 reported English as their mother tongue and 30.2% reported Yiddish as their mother tongue; while 97.2% could speak English and French. Jews engaged in commerce formed 30% of the total Jewish labor force in metropolitan Montreal in 1961, followed by 22% in industry, 16% in clerical occupations, 13% in the professions, 12% in service occupations, 2% in transport and communications, 1% in construction, and 1% in unskilled labor.

In 1970 the national headquarters of almost all Jewish communal organizations in Canada were situated in that city. The Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent Society founded in Montreal in 1863 was the first Jewish social welfare organization in Canada. Its object was to assist the increasing stream of Jewish immigrants fleeing from discrimination and persecution in Eastern Europe. It changed its name to the Baron de Hirsch Institute in 1900 in recognition of the munificent grants made to it by Baroness Clara de Hirsch. As the Jewish population of Montreal increased, the Montreal Jewish community became more self-supporting and fund-raising campaigns multiplied; and in 1916 the Baron de Hirsch Institute, the Mount Sinai sanatorium, the Herzl dispensary, and the Jewish home for the aged combined to form the federation of Jewish community services. During the period from 1916 to 1965 the number of Jewish social welfare and health agencies continued to multiply rapidly and the need for larger
Funds necessary to maintain them brought about the organization of a combined Jewish appeal campaign in 1941, which in 1951 joined with the United Israel Appeal to conduct one annual fund-raising campaign. In 1965 the need for still greater coordination, planning, fund-raising, and cooperative action in Jewish community affairs brought about the reorganization of the Montreal federation of Jewish community services and the combined Jewish appeal into a new all-embracing body named the allied Jewish community services of Montreal.

Members of the Jewish community in Montreal have been prominent in the political, musical, literary, and artistic life of Canada during the past century. Lazarus Phillips, a prominent Jewish lawyer active in Jewish communal life, was appointed a member of the Canadian senate in 1969. In 1970 Victor Goldbloom, who was reelected as a member of the Quebec provincial legislature, became the first Jew to hold the position of a cabinet minister in the Quebec provincial government.

The Jews of Montreal make up the second-largest Jewish community in Canada. The community is one of the oldest and most populous in the country, about 23% of the total population. In 2011, the Jewish population of Montreal was approximately 91,000, with over 40,000 Jewish households. Jews comprise 2.4% of the city's total population. The community is composed of several different Jewish groups that settled in Canada at different time periods and under varied circumstances.

The most recent waves of immigration have included Jews from the former Soviet Union (some via Israel), France, Argentina, and small numbers of Ethiopian Jews from Israel.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish community of Montreal had established numerous organizations. Many of these organizations were in the areas of social welfare, health care, education and culture while others were established specifically to fund various community activities. In 1965, a federation was established to better organize community planning and fundraising. Originally, this federation was known as Allied Jewish Community Services but was renamed to Federation CJA in the 1990s.

The Federation supports several organizations throughout the city of Montreal. Due to their extensive support of Israel and local allocation for social services and educational programs, the Jewish community of Montreal is considered one of the most generous communities per capita in all of North America. Other notable Jewish organizations include The Jewish Community Foundation, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal, Canadian Council of Israel, B'nai B'rith Canada, The Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services.

Religious life among the Jews of Montreal is quite diverse. While Orthodox congregations make up the overwhelming majority of the city's synagogues, there are also Reform, Reconstructionist and numerous Conservative congregations. Even within the Orthodox movement is a wide spectrum of communities, including several Hasidic sects, Modern Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox and Sephardi. Orthodox Judaism has historically been very strong in Montreal. Since the early 21st century, Chabad Lubavitch has established a significant presence in the areas of Côte des Neiges and Hampstead.

The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, also known as Shearith Israel is Montreal's oldest synagogue. It is also the oldest congregation in Canada. Formally established in 1768, its original building, designed in a Judeo-Egyptian style, was the first non-Catholic place of worship in the entire province of Québec. It remained the only place of Jewish worship in Montreal until 1846.

Beginning in the 19th century, most Jewish families opted to send their children to private Jewish day schools. Whether due to segregation or the confessional nature of Montreal's public schools, the Jewish community established a number of schools of their own. As of 2015, there were about 13 private Jewish schools in Montreal. More than half of Jewish school age children are enrolled in private Jewish schools. Approximately half of the Jewish students who complete Jewish elementary school continue to Jewish high school. Jewish education in Montreal is quite varied. There are many private schools affiliated with a wide range of Jewish movements and communities, including Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic, Conservative, Yiddishist, and Sephardi.

There are additionally several youth movements and organizations, and a well-established network of camps, after-school activities and educational programs.

The city's major Jewish cultural centers include the Museum of Jewish Montreal (founded in 2010), the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, the Jewish Public Library, the Miles Nada Jewish Community Centre, and the YM-YWHA Jewish Community Centres of Montreal: The Ben Weider JCC and Y Country Camp. There are also more than 25 different Chabad centers throughout Greater Montreal.

The area with the largest Jewish population in Montreal is Cote St. Luc (19,395), where Jews comprise nearly 63% of the overall population. Cote St. Luc also boasts the largest population of Sephardim in Montreal (5,580). Large contingents of Sephardi Jews also live in Ville St. Laurent (3,365) and the West Island (2,205).

The second-largest population is in the West Island, with 12,055 Jewish residents. The affluent suburb of Hampstead has the highest density of Jews than any other area, approximately 75% of its total populace. Other areas with sizeable Jewish populations include St. Laurent, Snowdon and Côte des Neiges.

Montreal is also home to a number of Haredi enclaves. In Outremont are the three Hasidic dynasties of Belz, Satmar and Skver; in Côte des Neiges is a sizeable Lubavitch community; and in the suburb of Boisbrand are the Tash, a group originating in Hungary.

Nearly one third of Montreal's Jewish population was born outside Canada. The largest waves of immigration have been from North Africa and Eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union.

In addition to the Holocaust Memorial, Jewish Museum and the Jewish Public Library, the most significant Jewish landmarks and points of interest can be found in the historic Jewish quarter. Located on St. Laurent Boulevard, or Main Street, this historic neighborhood was once home to a number of synagogues and Jewish businesses. By 1871, a Jewish enclave of 400 people had formed and Yiddish was the common language. Other main streets include Clark Street, Park Avenue, Saint Urbain Street and Esplanade Street.

Serving both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities of Montreal are various hospitals and health care facilities that had been established by Jews. The most notable are hospitals, Mount Sinai and the Jewish General Hospital. The latter provides general and specialized care and was partially founded by Jewish philanthropist Allan Bronfman. Ground broke on the hospital in 1931 and in 1933 it was officially named the Jewish General Hospital. The first patient was admitted the following year. Other Jewish health care services include Donald Berman Maimonides (geriatric care) and the Miriam Home, a rehabilitation center that provides residential services for children and adults with disabilities.

Circulating throughout Montreal are the city's very own Jewish publications. The largest and most well-known is "Montreal Jewish Magazine". A premium source for all things Jewish, this widely distributed publication has a readership of more than 90,000. Montreal Jewish Magazine includes a wide variety of articles and editorials about community events, local activities and international news.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Cape Breton, NS
Canada
Quebec
Quebec City, QC

Official name: Cape Breton Island

French: île du Cap-Breton

Scottish Gaelic: Ceap Breatainn, Eilean Cheap Bhreatainn

Mi’kmaq: Únamakika

An island in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.

21ST CENTURY

A pattern of outmigration is common across Cape Breton, and it has deeply affected the island’s Jewish population. All of the synagogues on Cape Breton Island are closed except for the one in Sydney, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. Most of the members of the Sydney congregation are seventy-five or older (it is worth noting that Cape Breton’s population, on the whole, is aging). There is no full-time rabbi in Sydney’s synagogue, though a dedicated rabbi visits regularly from Halifax on festivals. The woman who led the religious services died in November 2016. In spite of these hardships, Cape Breton’s Jews remain very dedicated to their Jewish faith and proud of the important contributions they have made to Cape Breton’s economy, culture, and history. They have also ensured that the Jewish cemeteries in Glace Bay and Sydney will be maintained long after their community members have passed on. In this way, members of the Jewish families of Cape Breton will always be able to come home to visit the graves of their ancestors.

Working with local community members and an international research team, ethnomusicologist Dr. Marcia Ostashewski has developed the diversitycapebreton.ca web portal. The project’s main objective is to investigate the historical and contemporary expressive cultures of the island’s Central and Eastern European communities, including its Jewish communities, focusing on their music and dance practices. The publicly-accessible web portal serves as a living archive which provides a platform for Cape Bretoners to share their contributions to the island’s rich heritage.

HISTORY

At the dawn of the twentieth century, Cape Breton’s flourishing steel and coal industries attracted immigrants from around the world, all of whom made important contributions to the island’s cultural heritage. Among these immigrants were hundreds of Jews who entered Canada through Pier 21 (now the Canadian Museum of Immigration) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They traveled aboard ships from Eastern and Central Europe to escape ethnic discrimination and political instability in their homelands. Soon after arriving in Halifax, they made their way across the channel to Cape Breton Island and settled primarily in Sydney, Whitney Pier, Glace Bay and New Waterford.

Most Jewish men arrived in Cape Breton on their own, initially working as peddlers. Later, they entered into retail businesses and then brought their families. Local residents remember that almost all of the commercial stores on the main streets in the island’s two main cities, Glace Bay and Sydney, belonged to Jews. Though most of these Jewish-owned stores eventually closed, Schwartz’ Furniture is an example of one that has to thrive into the 21st century.

Over time, strong and distinct Jewish communities were established across Cape Breton, each with its own synagogue. The earliest synagogue opened in Glace Bay in 1902, the Congregation of the Sons of Israel. For a long time, Glace Bay was home to the largest community of Cape Breton Jews. In 1901, the Jewish population in Glace Bay was 134, and by 1941 it had increased to 939. Sydney, New Waterford and Glace Bay followed similar migration and population growth trends. At its height, the island was home to over 400 Jewish families.

The Jewish communities of Cape Breton were connected through their religion and heritage, but tensions also existed between the communities in Glace Bay, Sydney and Whitney Pier. Glace Bay and Whitney Pier remained Orthodox, while Sydney’s community moved to affiliate with the Conservative Movement, with men sitting with the women in the synagogue. Another notable difference was the duration of the rabbis’ stay in each community. Glace Bay faced a persistent problem of rabbis only staying a few months. As a consequence, Hebrew School students at the Congregation Sons of Israel never quite got past the first book of the Torah, as each new rabbi began with it and left before the book was completed. In contrast, Leon Dubinsky and other members of Sydney’s Jewish community like to share stories about Rabbi Israel Kenner, who remained in the community for over thirty-five years, from 1927-72. Rabbi Kenner was a stabilizing force in the community. He was also an extremely influential figure for the Dubinsky clan, a family known for its musical talents, because he started the shul’s choir. Dubinsky and his siblings joined the choir when they were very young. Their love of music led two of the siblings to become music teachers, and Leon became a celebrated local songwriter. After Rabbi Kenner retired, Dubinsky’s sister, Evie, continued to lead the choir until her death in 2016.

Most of Cape Breton’s Jewish-owned businesses lasted for two generations, as Jewish children were often encouraged to move elsewhere in order to prosper. The financial success that was achieved by many of the Jewish families during the island’s economic boom meant that they could afford to send their children to institutes of higher education. After World War II, many young Jews moved away from Cape Breton to university and never returned. They became lawyers and doctors, establishing families in larger city centers such as Halifax, Montreal and Toronto.

Canada

A country in the northern part of North America. 

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 390,000 out of 37,000,000 (1%). Canada has the fourth largest Jewish population in the world. It is generally regarded as the fastest growing Jewish community outside Israel. The majority of the Jewish population of Canada is concentrated in the greater area of the largest cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa. Smaller communities exists all over the country, including Winnipeg, MB, traditionally called "Jerusalem of Canada".  

Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the main umbrella organization supporting the numerous Jewish Federations and communities in Canada. Established in 2011, CIJA consolidated and included various Jewish organizations, most notably the former Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). 

Mainly of Ashkenazi background with significant Sephardi and Mizrahi communities located chiefly in Montreal greater area, most Jews of Canada belong to the main steams of Judaism with the Conservative and Orthodox movements sharing each about 40% of the Jewish population while the remaining 20% belong to the Reform movement.   

Quebec

A province in eastern Canada, predominantly French-speaking. Quebec is the home of the longest-established Jewish community in Canada. 

Quebec City

Capital city of the Canadian province of the same name.

Under the French regime prior to the British conquest in 1759, Jews and Protestants were not permitted to settle in Quebec or any part of New France. The first Jews known to have lived in the city of Quebec were Abraham Jacob Franks and Eleazer Levy who settled there in 1767, and by 1784 they were joined by Elias Solomon, David Jacobs and Hyman Myers. John Franks, a Jew, was appointed the first chief of the Quebec fire brigade in 1790, a position which he held until his death in 1799. Abraham Joseph (1815-1886), son of Henry Joseph, a fur trader and one of the founders of Canada's merchant marine, moved to Quebec after the death of his father in 1832. He was elected a member of the Quebec City council, and was the president of the Quebec Board of Trade, president of the Stadacona Bank, and one of the founders of the Banque Nationale. His sons and grandsons played a prominent part in the commercial and cultural life of the city. Sigismund Mohr (1827-1893), an electrical engineer who went to Quebec from Germany in 1871, was the pioneer of hydroelectric development in Canada, harnessing Montmorency falls to light the city of Quebec.

The Jewish population of Quebec City was very small prior to 1901, ranging from 40 in 1851 to 110 in 1861, decreasing to 45 in 1891, and increasing gradually from 302 in 1901 to 436 in 1931 and 495 in 1961. In 1970 most of the Jewish population of Quebec City were the children and grandchildren of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who came to Quebec during the period from 1890 to 1921. The majority (63.6%) of the Jewish population of the city of Quebec in 1961 were Canadian-born and of those who were not born in Canada more than 65% settled in Quebec before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Approximately 80% of the Jews in the city in 1969 were merchants, and a few were clothing manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, and professors at Laval University. Maurice Pollack, founder and proprietor of the city's largest department store, settled in Quebec in the first decade of the 20th century, and was a generous supporter of Jewish institutions in Canada and Israel, and of Laval University, the French Catholic University in Quebec.

A Jewish cemetery was consecrated in 1853, but it was not until 1892 that the first synagogue was built in the lower town section of the city. In 1945, following much opposition, including legal action from the city council, a synagogue building was consecrated in the newer residential area in the upper town section of the city.

Vily Juster
Victor Zilberman
Isidore (Edmond) Philipp
Hart, Cecil
Rubin, Ruth
Caiserman, Hanane Meier
Cohen, Raphael A.
Segal, Yakov Yitzhak
Stanley M. Diamond
Bronfman, Edgar
Denburg, Moshe
Cohen, Leonard
Brant, Henry Dreyfus
London, George
Rubenstein, Louis

Vily Juster (1924-2001), architect, designer and painter, born in Iasi, Romania. He studied at the Ion Mincu Faculty of Architecture in Bucharest. Between 1949 and 1973 he designed a series of large-scale buildings in Romania, including Stadionul Național stadium (first known as Stadionul 23 August) in Bucharest (1953) as well as holiday hotels, apartment blocks made of prefabricated materials, etc.

He left Romania and immigrated to Canada, settling in Montreal. From 1974 to 1990, he carried out important architectural works in France and Canada. After his retirement, he dedicated himself entirely to painting, becoming, since 1984, a member of the Painting Council of Québec, holding the position of vice-president of the Painting Council of the same city between 1991-1996. He had nine solo exhibitions and over 28 group exhibitions. In 1999 he produced a retrospective of architecture and painting which he exhibited at Mc Gill University in Montreal. Juster died in Montreal. 

Victor Zilberman (b. 1947), boxer, born in Bucharest, Romania. His career includes winning the title of Romanian champion of the semi-middle category in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974, and in the small medium in 1975. He also won the international tournament "Golden Belt" in 1975 and 1976, and was the European Vice-Champion in 1969 and again 1975. Zilberman participated in the Olympics in 1968 in Mexico City, 1972 in Munich and 1976 in Montreal, where he won the bronze medal.

After the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Zilberman applied for political asylum in Canada, and settled there. He continued his studies in Canada and in 1991 he received a doctorate in education sciences from the University of Montreal. He was a member of the Canadian coaching staff for four Olympic Games and several World Championships. For over 35 years, he worked as a physical education teacher at Vanier College in Montreal.

Isidore (Edmond) Philipp (1863-1958) pianist and composer, born in Pest (now Budapest), Hungary (then part of the Austrian Empire). He studied music at the Paris Conservatory under Georges Mathias, Stephen Heller, and Camille de Saint-Saens. He founded a society for chamber music with Remy, Berthelier and Loeb, performing modern French chamber music. From 1903 he was professor of the Paris Conservatory; he also served as a member of its council and as chairman of the association of conservatory professors. He toured European capitals and then performed in the United States in 1934. He taught at the Fontainebleau American Conservatory and gave master classes in Boston and New York (1934-1935).

In 1941 Philipp immigrated to the USA. He taught piano in New York and at the Conservatoire de musique du Quebec in Montreal, Canada. After World War II he spent the rest of his life between New York and Paris. On March 1955, aged 91, he played the piano part in both Saint Saen’s D minor sonata and Cesar Frank’s violin sonata in New York. In Paris, a year later, he gave his farewell recital at the age of 92 in Paris. He died there after a fall on the Paris metro.

Hart, Cecil (1883-1940), Canadian ice-hockey player, born in Bedford, Quebec, Canada, a direct descendant of Aaron Hart, one of Canada's first Jewish settlers.

Cecil Hart managed and played for the Star Hockey Club from 1900 to 1922. In 1910 he formed the Montreal City Hockey League and his team were the champions in 1914-1915 and again in 1916-1917. He organized the first international amateur hockey series between Canada and the USA. Entering professional hockey in 1921, Hart purchased the "Montreal Canadians" on behalf of a group of businessmen and became their manager.
Rubin, Ruth (1906-2000), singer, musicologist and folklorist of Yiddish songs, born Rifke Rosenblatt in Khotin (Hotin), Bessarabia (then part of the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine) and raised in Montreal, Canada, where she arrived at the age of four.

Following her studies of musicology in New York she worked on the musical tradition of east European Jews. As a result she began to sing Yiddish songs without the usual instrumental accompaniment. She published the books "A Treasure of Jewish Folksongs" (1950) and "Jewish Folk Songs" (1965). Her book "Voices of a People", published in 1963, is the story of the Yiddish folksong.Rubin's collection includes over 2000 recordings.

Rubin's recordings are available at various libraries: the AMLI (Americans for Libraries in Israel) in Tel Aviv, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. A separate archive named after her is located in Haifa, Israel.

Died in Mamaroneck, New York, USA.
Caiserman, Hanane Meier (1884–1950), Jewish communal leader, born in Piatra-Neamt, Romania. Caiserman immigrated to Montreal in 1911. A lifelong Labor Zionist, Caiserman was also a union organizer for the Montreal clothing workers and Jewish bakers. During the 1910s, he took a leading role in the strikes for better conditions and union recognition. He also organized and actively promoted Jewish cultural activity, giving evening courses to workers on political economy.

In 1919 he helped organize the Canadian Jewish Congress and was named the organization's general secretary. When the Nazis came to power in Germany he was instrumental in a reorganizaion of the movement in order to help those refugees who came to Canada. In 1920 Caisermnan established the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Canada. He was closely associated with Jewish educational and cultural institutions and supported the establishment of separate Jewish schools in Quebec
Raphael A. Cohen was born in Meknes, Morocco, in 1932. Already at a young age, Raphael Cohen was active in a number of educational, sport, and youth movements of the local Jewish community. After having taught for ten years at Alliance Israelite Universelle School in Meknes, he attended the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat, Morocco, and following a training period in Paris, France he earned a Diplome de Conseiller en Planification et Orientation Scolaire et Profesionelle in 1962.

Raphael Cohen joined the Office Cherifien de Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan governmental mining company, serving as Director of Human Resources at the Khouribga mining center. In 1967, because of increasing security risks that followed the Israeli victory in the Six Day War, he moved in Rabat where he served as counselor for human resources training at the headquarters of OCP.

In 1972, Raphael Cohen settled in Canada along with his family. He started to work as a counselor for human resources training with Hydro-Quebec (HQ), an electric power company, and in parallel, he attended the University of Montreal, earning a MA in andragogy. He held different positions with HQ – Counselor of Industrial Psychology, Director of Special Projects, and Director of the Trade Strategic Planning – until his retirement in 1995. He continued his professional activities until 2001, as co-founder and managing director of a consulting company to industrial and commercial enterprises.

In 1956, Raphael Cohen married Georgette K. Cohen, born in Meknes in 1932 as a descendant of a distinguished Jewish family. They have three children: Professor Eric A. Cohen, a Canada Research Chair in Human Retrovirology at Montreal University and an internationally renowned researcher of HIV/AIDS, he is married with one daughter, Anne-Esther. His spouse, Dr. Julie Bruneau, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Family Medicine at Montreal University and Deputy-Director of the Research Center of CHUM; Dr. Guittel Haichin nee Cohen, a self-employed dentist at Centre Dentaire Cohen, a private dental clinic that she had established, is married to Dr. Richard Haichin, a cardiologist and Director of the Coronary Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal , and has three children: Mark-Daniel, Michael-Raphael and Kate-Lauren. Gad J. Cohen graduated from McGill University, from which he received a law degree, a past associate at the New York law firm of White & Case. is the President of Stealth Energy Company, a US based developer of independent power projects. He is married to Ellen Cohen nee Weinberg and has two daughters: Madeleine-Leah and Claire-Yael.


The Raphael and Georgette Cohen Collection at Beit Hatfutsot

As of 1993, Raphael Cohen has embarked on a tremendous project dedicated to the genealogical history as well as the visual documentation of the Jewish families and the Jewish community of Meknes. He succeeded in amassing an outstanding collection of photographs showing the vibrant life of the Jews of Meknes in the years just before the large waves of emigration to Israel, France and other countries. The highlights of this visual collection depict the educational activities of the community and especially their endeavors to ensure that each Jewish child, including those from less affluent families, would receive a proper education. The collection of family trees covers the genealogy of numerous distinguished Jewish families of Meknes, among them the Toledano, Boussidan, Cohen, Elkrief, Messas, Ben Attar, Abouhatsera, and Berdugo families, to mention but a few of the many hundreds of surnames and tens of thousands of individuals recorded in dozens of family trees. In 2007, Mrs. Georgette Cohen and Mr. Raphael Cohen decided to donate to Beit Hatfutsot their extensive collection of documents about the Jewish community of Meknes, Morocco. The collection is now an integral part of the database of Beit Hatfutsot.
Poet. Born in Solobkovtsy, Ukraine, he emigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1911. He spent five years in New York (1923-1928) and then returned to Montreal.
Segal’s numerous poems were published in most major American Yiddish literary magazines. His books of poetry include Fun Mayn Velt (1918), Sefer Yiddish (1950) and Letste Lider (1955). He died in Montreal, Canada.

Stanley M. Diamond (b. 1933), founder and executive director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), family historian, lecturer, and author, born in Montreal, Canada. He was educated at McGill University, Montreal (B. Commerce 1954), and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA (MBA 1958).

Diamond was the Founder and Chairman of Intalite International Group of Companies (1960 – 1986). 

Diamond is the Founder and Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), an award-winning international project to create an Internet-searchable index of all surviving Jewish vital records of Poland.  Launched in early 1995, JRI - Poland is the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online with many millions of records from more than 550 Polish towns. 

A dedicated family historian for more than 25 years, Diamond was the founder and president of the  Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal; a genealogist member of genetic research project team with McGill University ‑ Montreal Children's Hospital and Hebrew University‑Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem -  research related to Beta‑Thalassemia genetic trait in Ashkenazi Jewish families (1994-2006).  He was also a Founding Board Member of International Institute of Jewish Genealogy, Jerusalem, and served as consultant to producers of "Who Do You Think You Are?" television series, episodes on NBC, CBC, BBC and ABC (Australia) and “Finding Your Roots” television series on PBS (USA), (since 2007). 

His publications include “An Update on Jewish Records Indexing-Poland: Phase Three”, Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Winter 2016; "New Developments in Research of Polish-Jewish Records", Avotaynu,  Spring 2013; “The Role of the Jewish Genealogist in Medical and Genetic Family History”, Avotaynu, Spring 2007; “How I Traced the Beta Thalassemia Trait”,  Avotaynu, Winter 2006; “A Jewish Genealogist’s Wish List”, Avotaynu, Spring 2003; "The 1915-1932 Canadian Naturalization Index", Avotyanu, Fall 2002; "Indexing the Jewish Vital Records of Quebec 1841-1942", Avotaynu, Summer 2002;  Documenting the Fate of the Jews of Ostrów Mazowiecka", Avotyanu, Fall 2001; "Shtetl-Based Jewish Genealogical Research", Avotyanu, Spring 1998; "Jewish Vital Records Research in Quebec", Shem Tov, Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), June 1998.  He is co‑author of "Probable Identity by Descent and Discovery of Familial Relationships by Means of a Rare B‑Thalassemia Haplotype", Human Mutation, Volume 9, No. 1, 1997

Diamond was awarded the Government of Canada Meritorious Service Medal (2017); Nominated for the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2016), and Canada Export Award (1984).   

Bronfman, Edgar (1929-2013), philanthropist, international Jewish communal leader, businessman, born in Montreal, Canada. His father was the founder of Distillers Corporation Limited, which in 1928 purchased what was then the largest distiller in the world, Seagram Co Ltd.

After graduating from McGill University in Mongtreal with a B.A. degree in 1951, he joined the family business. In 1957, he took over as head of Seagram's American subsidiary, he increased the range of products sold by the company, improved distribution, and expanded the number of countries in which Seagram's products were sold. In 1966, Cemp Investments, which managed the family's investments, bought 820,000 shares of MGM and in 1969 Bronfman took over the chairmanship of MGM for a short time. Following his father's death in 1971, Bronfman took over as president, treasurer, and director of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd.

In 1979, Bronfman was asked to take over as acting head of the World Jewish Congress. Bronfman was formally elected President two years later. Bronfman “turned the World Jewish Congress into a preeminent international Jewish organization and broadened its base by bringing in new member communities in Eastern Europe and other countries. Through the campaigns to free Soviet Jewry, the exposure of the Nazi past of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and the campaign to compensate victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, notably in the case of the Swiss banks, Bronfman became well known internationally during the 1980s and 1990s. Among the initiatives Bronfman supported were the Jewish college organization Hillel, a major scholarship program for young Jews from Israel and North America called the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and the educational website MyJewishLearning.com.

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, Bronfman was invited to the Kremlin and on September 8–11, visited Moscow, becoming the first World Jewish Congress President to be formally received in Moscow by Soviet Officials. Bronfman met with Gorbachev, and initiated talks of a Soviet Jewish airlift and called on the Soviet Union to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a Washington Post profile a few months after the September trip, Bronfman laid out what he thought had been accomplished during his September meetings. He said, "There's going to be a buildup of pressure through the business community. The Russians know the Soviet Jewry issue is tied to trade... My guess is that over a period of time, five to ten years, some of our goals will be achieved." In March 1987, Bronfman along with fellow delegates of the World Jewish Congress, flew to Moscow once again. Bronfman held three days of discussions with senior Soviet officials. Together, Bronfman and the World Jewish Congress delegates advocated for the freeing of the Jews living under Soviet rule.

On June 25, 1982, Bronfman became the first representative of a Jewish organization to speak before the United Nations. He argued that , "world peace cannot tolerate the denial of the legitimacy of Israel or any other nation-state ... [and the] charge that Zionism is racism is an abomination." Bronfman's goals for the visit were threefold. In his book, "The Making of a Jew", he explained: First, he called for the release of all so-called Prisoners of Zion, the Jews imprisoned for expressing a desire to emigrate to Israel. Bronfman also wanted freedom for Jews in the Soviet Union to practice their religion. Finally, he called for the freedom for Soviet Jews to learn Hebrew, which was forbidden at the time.

A year later, in 1988, Bronfman returned to Moscow to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze This trip resulted in the Soviets promising to legalize the teaching of Hebrew in the Soviet Union and to establish a Jewish cultural center in Moscow. Bronfman said of this visit, "By their actions, they are indicating that they are eager to get the question of Jewish rights and emigration off the bargaining table. And it is actions, rather than simply words, that count."

In 1986, during Bronfman's presidency, the World Jewish Congress accused Austrian President Kurt Waldheim of covering up his past connections to the Nazi party. It was when Waldheim became a candidate for President of Austria that the World Jewish Congress first published material showing Waldheim's active duty in the German army during war time. This evidence was later used to prove that Waldheim must have known about the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, though Waldheim's service as an Austrian in the German army cannot be considered a war crime. Waldheim had served as an intelligence officer in a unit of the army that participated in the transfer of Greek Jews to death camps.

The allegations against Waldheim resulted in public embarrassment for the Austrian president. He was on the U.S. Justice Department's list of undesirable visitors in April 1987. On May 5, 1987, Bronfman spoke to the World Jewish Congress saying Waldheim was "part and parcel of the Nazi killing machine". Waldheim subsequently filed a lawsuit against Bronfman, but dropped the suit shortly after due to a lack of evidence in his favour.

In the late 1990s, Bronfman championed the cause of restitution from Switzerland for Holocaust survivors. He began an initiative that led to the $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks. The Swiss banks, the United States Government, and Jewish groups investigated unclaimed assets deposited by European Jews into Swiss banks before the Holocaust. Negotiations began in 1995 between the U.S. and Switzerland. The parties reached a settlement in August 1998, and signed the $1.25 billion settlement in January 1999. In exchange for the settlement money, both parties agreed to release the Swiss banks and government from any claims regarding the Holocaust.

President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
Cohen, Leonard (1934-2016), Singer and composer, Born in Montreal, Canada. His lyrics center on existential despair while his music is based on a folk or folk-rock idiom. His songs are widely sung by other performers.
Bass-baritone singer. Born in Montreal, Canada, his name was George Burnstein. He studied in Los Angeles with Hugo Strelitzer, Nathan Stuart and Enrico Rosati. His debut as an opera singer took place in 1941 at the Hollywood Bowl and he was then engaged at the San Francisco Opera. Between 1949-1956 he sang at the Vienna State Opera and was guest singer in Bayreuth (1951), La Scala (1952), the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in Moscow (1960). In 1967 he retired from singing. In 1972 he became director of the Opera Theater of Southern California in Los Angeles. He died in Armonk, New York.
Rubenstein, Louis (1861-1931), figure skater and politician, born in Montreal, Canada, to parents who had immigrated from Poland. He represented Canada in the 1889 unofficial world championships for figure skating which were held in St Petersburg, Russia, and won the gold medal. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Amateur Skating Association of Canada was formed and he remained its president until his death. After retirement from skating in 1892, Rubenstein became involved in the sports of bowling, curling, and cycling. He was elected president of the Canadian Bowling Association in 1895, president of the International Skating Union of America in 1909. From 1913-1915 he was president of the Montreal amateur Athletic Association. In 1981 he was made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
He was alderman in St. Louis ward of Montreal from 1916 until 1931.
Cohen, Raphael A.
Raphael A. Cohen was born in Meknes, Morocco, in 1932. Already at a young age, Raphael Cohen was active in a number of educational, sport, and youth movements of the local Jewish community. After having taught for ten years at Alliance Israelite Universelle School in Meknes, he attended the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat, Morocco, and following a training period in Paris, France he earned a Diplome de Conseiller en Planification et Orientation Scolaire et Profesionelle in 1962.

Raphael Cohen joined the Office Cherifien de Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan governmental mining company, serving as Director of Human Resources at the Khouribga mining center. In 1967, because of increasing security risks that followed the Israeli victory in the Six Day War, he moved in Rabat where he served as counselor for human resources training at the headquarters of OCP.

In 1972, Raphael Cohen settled in Canada along with his family. He started to work as a counselor for human resources training with Hydro-Quebec (HQ), an electric power company, and in parallel, he attended the University of Montreal, earning a MA in andragogy. He held different positions with HQ – Counselor of Industrial Psychology, Director of Special Projects, and Director of the Trade Strategic Planning – until his retirement in 1995. He continued his professional activities until 2001, as co-founder and managing director of a consulting company to industrial and commercial enterprises.

In 1956, Raphael Cohen married Georgette K. Cohen, born in Meknes in 1932 as a descendant of a distinguished Jewish family. They have three children: Professor Eric A. Cohen, a Canada Research Chair in Human Retrovirology at Montreal University and an internationally renowned researcher of HIV/AIDS, he is married with one daughter, Anne-Esther. His spouse, Dr. Julie Bruneau, is an Associate Professor at the Department of Family Medicine at Montreal University and Deputy-Director of the Research Center of CHUM; Dr. Guittel Haichin nee Cohen, a self-employed dentist at Centre Dentaire Cohen, a private dental clinic that she had established, is married to Dr. Richard Haichin, a cardiologist and Director of the Coronary Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal , and has three children: Mark-Daniel, Michael-Raphael and Kate-Lauren. Gad J. Cohen graduated from McGill University, from which he received a law degree, a past associate at the New York law firm of White & Case. is the President of Stealth Energy Company, a US based developer of independent power projects. He is married to Ellen Cohen nee Weinberg and has two daughters: Madeleine-Leah and Claire-Yael.


The Raphael and Georgette Cohen Collection at Beit Hatfutsot

As of 1993, Raphael Cohen has embarked on a tremendous project dedicated to the genealogical history as well as the visual documentation of the Jewish families and the Jewish community of Meknes. He succeeded in amassing an outstanding collection of photographs showing the vibrant life of the Jews of Meknes in the years just before the large waves of emigration to Israel, France and other countries. The highlights of this visual collection depict the educational activities of the community and especially their endeavors to ensure that each Jewish child, including those from less affluent families, would receive a proper education. The collection of family trees covers the genealogy of numerous distinguished Jewish families of Meknes, among them the Toledano, Boussidan, Cohen, Elkrief, Messas, Ben Attar, Abouhatsera, and Berdugo families, to mention but a few of the many hundreds of surnames and tens of thousands of individuals recorded in dozens of family trees. In 2007, Mrs. Georgette Cohen and Mr. Raphael Cohen decided to donate to Beit Hatfutsot their extensive collection of documents about the Jewish community of Meknes, Morocco. The collection is now an integral part of the database of Beit Hatfutsot.
Girls in Purim costumes, Montreal, Canada, 1991
Children and Hasidim dancing on Simhat Torah, Montreal, Canada 1980
Members of the Sephardi community bringing a New Torah Scroll, Montreal 1979
Isaac Bashevis-Singer after a lecture in Montreal, Canada 1979
Boy and girl with Zionist flag. New Year card send from Montreal, Canada, in 1910
Girls in Purim costume,
Montreal, Canada, 1991
Photo: Amit Janco, Canada
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Amit Janco, Canada)
Children and Hasidim dancing around their Rabbi
at the end of Simhat Torah, Montreal, Canada 1980.
Photo: Malkeh Salzberg, Canada.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Malkeh Salzberg, Canada)
The members of the Sephardi Minyan "Shuva Israel"
which is housed in the building of "Beth HIllel" Congregation,
bringing a New Torah Scroll, Montreal, Canada 1979.
Photo: Michael (Mel) Solman, Canada.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Michael (Mel) Solman, Canada)
Isaac Bashevis-Singer, the famous writer
and Nobel Laureate, meeting with members
of "Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem" congregation
after a speaking engagement, Montreal, Canada 1979.
Photo: Michael Solman, Canada
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Michael Solman, Canada)

Boy and girl with the Zionist flag. New Year card sent to Glasgow, Scotland, from Montreal, Canada, in 1910
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot, courtesy of Hayim Shtayer, Haifa)

Segal, Yakov Yitzhak
Poet. Born in Solobkovtsy, Ukraine, he emigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1911. He spent five years in New York (1923-1928) and then returned to Montreal.
Segal’s numerous poems were published in most major American Yiddish literary magazines. His books of poetry include Fun Mayn Velt (1918), Sefer Yiddish (1950) and Letste Lider (1955). He died in Montreal, Canada.
Stanley M. Diamond
Bronfman, Edgar
Denburg, Moshe
Cohen, Leonard
Brant, Henry Dreyfus
London, George
Rubenstein, Louis

Stanley M. Diamond (b. 1933), founder and executive director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), family historian, lecturer, and author, born in Montreal, Canada. He was educated at McGill University, Montreal (B. Commerce 1954), and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA (MBA 1958).

Diamond was the Founder and Chairman of Intalite International Group of Companies (1960 – 1986). 

Diamond is the Founder and Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), an award-winning international project to create an Internet-searchable index of all surviving Jewish vital records of Poland.  Launched in early 1995, JRI - Poland is the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online with many millions of records from more than 550 Polish towns. 

A dedicated family historian for more than 25 years, Diamond was the founder and president of the  Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal; a genealogist member of genetic research project team with McGill University ‑ Montreal Children's Hospital and Hebrew University‑Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem -  research related to Beta‑Thalassemia genetic trait in Ashkenazi Jewish families (1994-2006).  He was also a Founding Board Member of International Institute of Jewish Genealogy, Jerusalem, and served as consultant to producers of "Who Do You Think You Are?" television series, episodes on NBC, CBC, BBC and ABC (Australia) and “Finding Your Roots” television series on PBS (USA), (since 2007). 

His publications include “An Update on Jewish Records Indexing-Poland: Phase Three”, Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Winter 2016; "New Developments in Research of Polish-Jewish Records", Avotaynu,  Spring 2013; “The Role of the Jewish Genealogist in Medical and Genetic Family History”, Avotaynu, Spring 2007; “How I Traced the Beta Thalassemia Trait”,  Avotaynu, Winter 2006; “A Jewish Genealogist’s Wish List”, Avotaynu, Spring 2003; "The 1915-1932 Canadian Naturalization Index", Avotyanu, Fall 2002; "Indexing the Jewish Vital Records of Quebec 1841-1942", Avotaynu, Summer 2002;  Documenting the Fate of the Jews of Ostrów Mazowiecka", Avotyanu, Fall 2001; "Shtetl-Based Jewish Genealogical Research", Avotyanu, Spring 1998; "Jewish Vital Records Research in Quebec", Shem Tov, Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), June 1998.  He is co‑author of "Probable Identity by Descent and Discovery of Familial Relationships by Means of a Rare B‑Thalassemia Haplotype", Human Mutation, Volume 9, No. 1, 1997

Diamond was awarded the Government of Canada Meritorious Service Medal (2017); Nominated for the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2016), and Canada Export Award (1984).   

Bronfman, Edgar (1929-2013), philanthropist, international Jewish communal leader, businessman, born in Montreal, Canada. His father was the founder of Distillers Corporation Limited, which in 1928 purchased what was then the largest distiller in the world, Seagram Co Ltd.

After graduating from McGill University in Mongtreal with a B.A. degree in 1951, he joined the family business. In 1957, he took over as head of Seagram's American subsidiary, he increased the range of products sold by the company, improved distribution, and expanded the number of countries in which Seagram's products were sold. In 1966, Cemp Investments, which managed the family's investments, bought 820,000 shares of MGM and in 1969 Bronfman took over the chairmanship of MGM for a short time. Following his father's death in 1971, Bronfman took over as president, treasurer, and director of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd.

In 1979, Bronfman was asked to take over as acting head of the World Jewish Congress. Bronfman was formally elected President two years later. Bronfman “turned the World Jewish Congress into a preeminent international Jewish organization and broadened its base by bringing in new member communities in Eastern Europe and other countries. Through the campaigns to free Soviet Jewry, the exposure of the Nazi past of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and the campaign to compensate victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, notably in the case of the Swiss banks, Bronfman became well known internationally during the 1980s and 1990s. Among the initiatives Bronfman supported were the Jewish college organization Hillel, a major scholarship program for young Jews from Israel and North America called the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and the educational website MyJewishLearning.com.

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, Bronfman was invited to the Kremlin and on September 8–11, visited Moscow, becoming the first World Jewish Congress President to be formally received in Moscow by Soviet Officials. Bronfman met with Gorbachev, and initiated talks of a Soviet Jewish airlift and called on the Soviet Union to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a Washington Post profile a few months after the September trip, Bronfman laid out what he thought had been accomplished during his September meetings. He said, "There's going to be a buildup of pressure through the business community. The Russians know the Soviet Jewry issue is tied to trade... My guess is that over a period of time, five to ten years, some of our goals will be achieved." In March 1987, Bronfman along with fellow delegates of the World Jewish Congress, flew to Moscow once again. Bronfman held three days of discussions with senior Soviet officials. Together, Bronfman and the World Jewish Congress delegates advocated for the freeing of the Jews living under Soviet rule.

On June 25, 1982, Bronfman became the first representative of a Jewish organization to speak before the United Nations. He argued that , "world peace cannot tolerate the denial of the legitimacy of Israel or any other nation-state ... [and the] charge that Zionism is racism is an abomination." Bronfman's goals for the visit were threefold. In his book, "The Making of a Jew", he explained: First, he called for the release of all so-called Prisoners of Zion, the Jews imprisoned for expressing a desire to emigrate to Israel. Bronfman also wanted freedom for Jews in the Soviet Union to practice their religion. Finally, he called for the freedom for Soviet Jews to learn Hebrew, which was forbidden at the time.

A year later, in 1988, Bronfman returned to Moscow to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze This trip resulted in the Soviets promising to legalize the teaching of Hebrew in the Soviet Union and to establish a Jewish cultural center in Moscow. Bronfman said of this visit, "By their actions, they are indicating that they are eager to get the question of Jewish rights and emigration off the bargaining table. And it is actions, rather than simply words, that count."

In 1986, during Bronfman's presidency, the World Jewish Congress accused Austrian President Kurt Waldheim of covering up his past connections to the Nazi party. It was when Waldheim became a candidate for President of Austria that the World Jewish Congress first published material showing Waldheim's active duty in the German army during war time. This evidence was later used to prove that Waldheim must have known about the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, though Waldheim's service as an Austrian in the German army cannot be considered a war crime. Waldheim had served as an intelligence officer in a unit of the army that participated in the transfer of Greek Jews to death camps.

The allegations against Waldheim resulted in public embarrassment for the Austrian president. He was on the U.S. Justice Department's list of undesirable visitors in April 1987. On May 5, 1987, Bronfman spoke to the World Jewish Congress saying Waldheim was "part and parcel of the Nazi killing machine". Waldheim subsequently filed a lawsuit against Bronfman, but dropped the suit shortly after due to a lack of evidence in his favour.

In the late 1990s, Bronfman championed the cause of restitution from Switzerland for Holocaust survivors. He began an initiative that led to the $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks. The Swiss banks, the United States Government, and Jewish groups investigated unclaimed assets deposited by European Jews into Swiss banks before the Holocaust. Negotiations began in 1995 between the U.S. and Switzerland. The parties reached a settlement in August 1998, and signed the $1.25 billion settlement in January 1999. In exchange for the settlement money, both parties agreed to release the Swiss banks and government from any claims regarding the Holocaust.

President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
Cohen, Leonard (1934-2016), Singer and composer, Born in Montreal, Canada. His lyrics center on existential despair while his music is based on a folk or folk-rock idiom. His songs are widely sung by other performers.
Bass-baritone singer. Born in Montreal, Canada, his name was George Burnstein. He studied in Los Angeles with Hugo Strelitzer, Nathan Stuart and Enrico Rosati. His debut as an opera singer took place in 1941 at the Hollywood Bowl and he was then engaged at the San Francisco Opera. Between 1949-1956 he sang at the Vienna State Opera and was guest singer in Bayreuth (1951), La Scala (1952), the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in Moscow (1960). In 1967 he retired from singing. In 1972 he became director of the Opera Theater of Southern California in Los Angeles. He died in Armonk, New York.
Rubenstein, Louis (1861-1931), figure skater and politician, born in Montreal, Canada, to parents who had immigrated from Poland. He represented Canada in the 1889 unofficial world championships for figure skating which were held in St Petersburg, Russia, and won the gold medal. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Amateur Skating Association of Canada was formed and he remained its president until his death. After retirement from skating in 1892, Rubenstein became involved in the sports of bowling, curling, and cycling. He was elected president of the Canadian Bowling Association in 1895, president of the International Skating Union of America in 1909. From 1913-1915 he was president of the Montreal amateur Athletic Association. In 1981 he was made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
He was alderman in St. Louis ward of Montreal from 1916 until 1931.
Stanley M. Diamond

Stanley M. Diamond (b. 1933), founder and executive director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), family historian, lecturer, and author, born in Montreal, Canada. He was educated at McGill University, Montreal (B. Commerce 1954), and Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA (MBA 1958).

Diamond was the Founder and Chairman of Intalite International Group of Companies (1960 – 1986). 

Diamond is the Founder and Executive Director of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland (JRI-Poland), an award-winning international project to create an Internet-searchable index of all surviving Jewish vital records of Poland.  Launched in early 1995, JRI - Poland is the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online with many millions of records from more than 550 Polish towns. 

A dedicated family historian for more than 25 years, Diamond was the founder and president of the  Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal; a genealogist member of genetic research project team with McGill University ‑ Montreal Children's Hospital and Hebrew University‑Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem -  research related to Beta‑Thalassemia genetic trait in Ashkenazi Jewish families (1994-2006).  He was also a Founding Board Member of International Institute of Jewish Genealogy, Jerusalem, and served as consultant to producers of "Who Do You Think You Are?" television series, episodes on NBC, CBC, BBC and ABC (Australia) and “Finding Your Roots” television series on PBS (USA), (since 2007). 

His publications include “An Update on Jewish Records Indexing-Poland: Phase Three”, Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Winter 2016; "New Developments in Research of Polish-Jewish Records", Avotaynu,  Spring 2013; “The Role of the Jewish Genealogist in Medical and Genetic Family History”, Avotaynu, Spring 2007; “How I Traced the Beta Thalassemia Trait”,  Avotaynu, Winter 2006; “A Jewish Genealogist’s Wish List”, Avotaynu, Spring 2003; "The 1915-1932 Canadian Naturalization Index", Avotyanu, Fall 2002; "Indexing the Jewish Vital Records of Quebec 1841-1942", Avotaynu, Summer 2002;  Documenting the Fate of the Jews of Ostrów Mazowiecka", Avotyanu, Fall 2001; "Shtetl-Based Jewish Genealogical Research", Avotyanu, Spring 1998; "Jewish Vital Records Research in Quebec", Shem Tov, Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto), June 1998.  He is co‑author of "Probable Identity by Descent and Discovery of Familial Relationships by Means of a Rare B‑Thalassemia Haplotype", Human Mutation, Volume 9, No. 1, 1997

Diamond was awarded the Government of Canada Meritorious Service Medal (2017); Nominated for the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2016), and Canada Export Award (1984).   

Bronfman, Edgar
Bronfman, Edgar (1929-2013), philanthropist, international Jewish communal leader, businessman, born in Montreal, Canada. His father was the founder of Distillers Corporation Limited, which in 1928 purchased what was then the largest distiller in the world, Seagram Co Ltd.

After graduating from McGill University in Mongtreal with a B.A. degree in 1951, he joined the family business. In 1957, he took over as head of Seagram's American subsidiary, he increased the range of products sold by the company, improved distribution, and expanded the number of countries in which Seagram's products were sold. In 1966, Cemp Investments, which managed the family's investments, bought 820,000 shares of MGM and in 1969 Bronfman took over the chairmanship of MGM for a short time. Following his father's death in 1971, Bronfman took over as president, treasurer, and director of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd.

In 1979, Bronfman was asked to take over as acting head of the World Jewish Congress. Bronfman was formally elected President two years later. Bronfman “turned the World Jewish Congress into a preeminent international Jewish organization and broadened its base by bringing in new member communities in Eastern Europe and other countries. Through the campaigns to free Soviet Jewry, the exposure of the Nazi past of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim and the campaign to compensate victims of the Holocaust and their heirs, notably in the case of the Swiss banks, Bronfman became well known internationally during the 1980s and 1990s. Among the initiatives Bronfman supported were the Jewish college organization Hillel, a major scholarship program for young Jews from Israel and North America called the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, and the educational website MyJewishLearning.com.

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985, Bronfman was invited to the Kremlin and on September 8–11, visited Moscow, becoming the first World Jewish Congress President to be formally received in Moscow by Soviet Officials. Bronfman met with Gorbachev, and initiated talks of a Soviet Jewish airlift and called on the Soviet Union to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a Washington Post profile a few months after the September trip, Bronfman laid out what he thought had been accomplished during his September meetings. He said, "There's going to be a buildup of pressure through the business community. The Russians know the Soviet Jewry issue is tied to trade... My guess is that over a period of time, five to ten years, some of our goals will be achieved." In March 1987, Bronfman along with fellow delegates of the World Jewish Congress, flew to Moscow once again. Bronfman held three days of discussions with senior Soviet officials. Together, Bronfman and the World Jewish Congress delegates advocated for the freeing of the Jews living under Soviet rule.

On June 25, 1982, Bronfman became the first representative of a Jewish organization to speak before the United Nations. He argued that , "world peace cannot tolerate the denial of the legitimacy of Israel or any other nation-state ... [and the] charge that Zionism is racism is an abomination." Bronfman's goals for the visit were threefold. In his book, "The Making of a Jew", he explained: First, he called for the release of all so-called Prisoners of Zion, the Jews imprisoned for expressing a desire to emigrate to Israel. Bronfman also wanted freedom for Jews in the Soviet Union to practice their religion. Finally, he called for the freedom for Soviet Jews to learn Hebrew, which was forbidden at the time.

A year later, in 1988, Bronfman returned to Moscow to meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze This trip resulted in the Soviets promising to legalize the teaching of Hebrew in the Soviet Union and to establish a Jewish cultural center in Moscow. Bronfman said of this visit, "By their actions, they are indicating that they are eager to get the question of Jewish rights and emigration off the bargaining table. And it is actions, rather than simply words, that count."

In 1986, during Bronfman's presidency, the World Jewish Congress accused Austrian President Kurt Waldheim of covering up his past connections to the Nazi party. It was when Waldheim became a candidate for President of Austria that the World Jewish Congress first published material showing Waldheim's active duty in the German army during war time. This evidence was later used to prove that Waldheim must have known about the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, though Waldheim's service as an Austrian in the German army cannot be considered a war crime. Waldheim had served as an intelligence officer in a unit of the army that participated in the transfer of Greek Jews to death camps.

The allegations against Waldheim resulted in public embarrassment for the Austrian president. He was on the U.S. Justice Department's list of undesirable visitors in April 1987. On May 5, 1987, Bronfman spoke to the World Jewish Congress saying Waldheim was "part and parcel of the Nazi killing machine". Waldheim subsequently filed a lawsuit against Bronfman, but dropped the suit shortly after due to a lack of evidence in his favour.

In the late 1990s, Bronfman championed the cause of restitution from Switzerland for Holocaust survivors. He began an initiative that led to the $1.25 billion settlement from Swiss banks. The Swiss banks, the United States Government, and Jewish groups investigated unclaimed assets deposited by European Jews into Swiss banks before the Holocaust. Negotiations began in 1995 between the U.S. and Switzerland. The parties reached a settlement in August 1998, and signed the $1.25 billion settlement in January 1999. In exchange for the settlement money, both parties agreed to release the Swiss banks and government from any claims regarding the Holocaust.

President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
Denburg, Moshe
Cohen, Leonard
Cohen, Leonard (1934-2016), Singer and composer, Born in Montreal, Canada. His lyrics center on existential despair while his music is based on a folk or folk-rock idiom. His songs are widely sung by other performers.
Brant, Henry Dreyfus
London, George
Bass-baritone singer. Born in Montreal, Canada, his name was George Burnstein. He studied in Los Angeles with Hugo Strelitzer, Nathan Stuart and Enrico Rosati. His debut as an opera singer took place in 1941 at the Hollywood Bowl and he was then engaged at the San Francisco Opera. Between 1949-1956 he sang at the Vienna State Opera and was guest singer in Bayreuth (1951), La Scala (1952), the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in Moscow (1960). In 1967 he retired from singing. In 1972 he became director of the Opera Theater of Southern California in Los Angeles. He died in Armonk, New York.
Rubenstein, Louis
Rubenstein, Louis (1861-1931), figure skater and politician, born in Montreal, Canada, to parents who had immigrated from Poland. He represented Canada in the 1889 unofficial world championships for figure skating which were held in St Petersburg, Russia, and won the gold medal. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Amateur Skating Association of Canada was formed and he remained its president until his death. After retirement from skating in 1892, Rubenstein became involved in the sports of bowling, curling, and cycling. He was elected president of the Canadian Bowling Association in 1895, president of the International Skating Union of America in 1909. From 1913-1915 he was president of the Montreal amateur Athletic Association. In 1981 he was made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
He was alderman in St. Louis ward of Montreal from 1916 until 1931.