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Sergiu Comissiona

Sergiu Comissiona (1928-2005), conductor and violinist, born in Bucharest, Romania. He studied at the Bucharest Music Academy. His first appearance as a conductor took place in 1948. He worked with the Romanian State Ensemble, and the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra. In 1959 he settled in Israel and conducted the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and Israel Chamber Orchestra. Later he moved to the United States and conducted the Ulster and Baltimore Opera Houses. He was the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Spanish national broadcasting network orchestra in Madrid, he conductor of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Symphony. He died in Oklahoma City. 

Date of birth:
16th of June , 1928
Place of birth:
Bucharest
Personality type:
conductor
ID Number:
227978
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Bucharest

Romanian: Bucuresti

Capital of Romania

The historic Jewish district of Bucharest used to be centered around the Choral Temple, and spread from Piata Unirii east towards Dristor. However, most of the Jewish buildings that stood there were destroyed during the 1980s in order to make way for the Bulevardul Unirii. As of 2015, there remain a handful of points of Jewish interest in Bucharest, serving the community of approximately 3,500. The Choral Temple, the Yeshua Tova Synagogue, and the Great Polish Synagogue, continue to hold services; the latter also hosts the city's Holocaust Museum. The Beit Hamidrash Synagogue, which dates back to the late 18th century, is abandoned and decaying, though the structure itself is still (barely) standing. Another abandoned synagogue whose building still stands is the Hevra Amuna (Temple of Faith).

The Jewish History Museum (Muzeul de Istorie a Evreilor din Romania) is located in what was once a synagogue called the Holy Union Temple. The synagogue building itself was constructed in 1836; it began serving as a Jewish history museum in 1978. Mozes Rosen, the chief rabbi of Romania from 1964 until his death in 1994, founded the museum and provided a number of items for its collection.

The State Jewish Theater, which is located in Bucharest, is the oldest uninterrupted Yiddish-language theater in the world. The theater features plays by Jewish playwrights, plays about Jewish topics, and Yiddish plays that run simultaneous Romanian translations through headphones. The theater is located next to the Lauder-Reut Jewish school, which has over 400 students enrolled in its kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools.

HISTORY

The Jewish community of Bucharest was formed both by Sephardic Jews who arrived from the south, chiefly from the Otooman Empire, and later by Ashkenazi Jews arriving from the north. A responsum by the rabbi of Solonika during the 16th century that mentions a Sephardic community is the first documented evidence confirming the presence of Jews in Budapest. The Jewish community began to grow and prosper; some were even the creditors of the ruling princes. This economic success, however, eventually came at a steep price (pun intended); when Prince Michael the Brave revolved against the Turks in November 1593, he ordered that his creditors be killed, among whom were a number of Jews.

Ahskenazi Jews began arriving and establishing their own community towards the middle of the 17th century, drawn there after fleeing the Khmielnitski Massacres taking place in Ukraine. Their numbers grew, and eventually the Ashkenazi community became larger than the Sephardic community. For tax purposes, the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities were organized into a single community by the state, and were forced to pay a fixed tax to the treasury. Meanwhile, the general population, afraid of economic competition, was intensely hostile towards the Jews. In 1793 residents of the suburb Razvan petitioned Prince Alexander Moruzi to expel the Jews who had recently settled in the area and to demolish the synagogue that they had built. Though the prince ordered that the synagogue be closed, he did not remove the Jews from Razvan and, in fact, issued a decree confirming his protection of them. In 1801 there were anti-Jewish riots following blood libel accusations, and 128 Jews were killed or wounded.

In 1819 Prince Alexandru Sutu officially acknowledged both the Sephardic ("Spanish") and Ashkenazi ("Polish") communities, allowing them to operate as separate entities. This continued until 1949 when the Communist regime once again forced the two communities to join together. By 1832 there were 10 Ashkenazi and one Sephardi synagogues in Bucharest. The Great Synagogue, which was Ashkenazi, was dedicated on Rosh Hashanah, 1847.

In spite of the impressive Great Synagogue, the Ashkenazi community of Bucharest had to deal with a number of fissures and tensions during the 19th century. There were tensions between those were born in Romania, and those who immigrated to Bucharest, who were not under the same system of taxation as the native Romanians. This led the immigrants within the Jewish community, who were considered "foreign subjects" to refuse to pay the tax levied on kosher meat. This was a problem, as this tax constituted the sole income of the community council. The authorities, who were drawn into the conflict, at first upheld the traditional rights of the Jewish communal organization. However, following repeated complaints from both sides, as well as constitutional changes that took place in Romania in 1832, the community was given a new constitution that greatly curtailed its autonomy. Instead of operating autonomously, it fell under the direct authority and close supervision of the municipality. Eventually, in 1851, the Prussian and Austrian subjects (about 300 families) were officially permitted to found a separate community.

The increasing influence of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), also led to tensions within the Ashkenazi community. It is important to note that this conflict also reflected the economics of the community; those in favor of the Haskalah and who wanted the community to undertake more progressive reforms tended to be from the upper classes, while those who were more traditional tended to be further down the socioeconomic ladder. At that time, the Bucharest Ashkenazi community was torn by strife between the Orthodox and progressive factions. The controversy began to center around a school with a modern curriculum that opened in 1852, as well as the proposal in 1857, led by Ya'akov Lobel, to build a Choral Temple, that would incorporate modern ideas and principles into its services. The appointment of Rabbi Meir Leib Malbim in 1858 as the chief rabbi did not help quell the disputes. Malbim was a fierce and uncompromising opponent of the Reform movement, and he quickly made enemies among Bucharest's Jewish elite. The conflicts between Malbim and those who were in favor of the Reform Movement came to a head in 1862, when Malbim was arrested. He was freed only after Sir Moses Montefiore intervened, and on the condition that he leave Romania. The Choral Synagogue was completed in 1867, and became the center for the modernists of the community.

Among the most prominent spiritual and religious leaders of the community before World War I were Antoine Levy and Moritz (Meir) Beck, who were rabbis of the Choir Temple Congregation from 1867 to 1869 and 1873 to 1923, respectively. Other outstanding figures within the Choir Temple community were Iuliu Barasch and Yitzchak Leib Weinberg. Yitzchak Esiik Taubes was the rabbi of the Orthodox Congregation from 1894 until 1921. The most prominent lay leader was Adolf Stern. Moscu Asher led the Sephardic community, and Rabbi Hayim Bejarano was a noted scholar and poet. Later, the lawyer and politician Wilhelm Filderman would become the president of the Union of Romanian Jews, and Rabbi Jacob Isaac Niemirower would be the country's first chief rabbi. Filderman, in fact, would in 1941 work successfully to annul the decree forcing Jews to wear an identifying badge.

Between the two World Wars the Bucharest community grew in both numbers and importance. The Jewish population of the city, which had become the capital of Greater Romania and attracted immigrants from all parts of the country, increased from 44,000 in 1912 to 74,480 (12% of the total population) in 1930 and 95,072 in 1940. Most Jews worked as artisans, merchants, clerks, and bankers. Others were active in professions such as medicine and law. Several ironworks and foundries were established by the end of the 19th century. Major Jewish business leaders at that time included Leon Abramovici, Sigmund Prager, and Adolph Solomon.

There were a number of Jewish schools in Bucharest, particularly at the turn of the 20th century. Among the most influential was the abovementioned school established in 1852 by Yisrael Pick and Naftali Popper. These founders sought to imbue their school with the Haskalah principles that they believed in, and the school became extremely influential on Jewish education in Romania. There were also vocational institutions serving Jewish workers, including the Ciocanul (Hammer) school which trained Jewish craft workers.

Communal institutions included over 40 synagogues, two cemeteries, 19 schools, a library and museum, two hospitals, a clinic, two homes for the elderly, and two orphanages. There was also a B'nai B'rith, as long as a number of social and cultural organizations serving the community. A number of newspapers also served the community; the first Jewish newspaper, "Israelitul roman," was founded in 1855 and written in Romanian and French. Other publications included "Fraternitatea," "Revista Israelita," "Egalitatea," and "Curierul Israelit." Yiddish and Hebrew language publications included "Et LeDaber," "HaYoetz," and the Zionist newspapers "Mantuirea" and "Hasmonaea." A Yiddish theater was established in the late 1870s, and reached its peak during the interwar period. This theater would later be banned under Ion Antonescu.

Anti-Semitism continued to be a problem for the Jews of Bucharest. In 1866 the visit of Adolph Cremieux, a French lawyer who advocated for the political emancipation of the Jews, resulted in Jewish synagogues and shops being vandalized. The rise of prominence of nationalist leader Alexandru C. Cuza spurred the development of a number of anti-Semitic organizations, many of which were centered at Bucharest University.

In September 1940, with the rise of the Antonescu-Iron Guard coalition, Bucharest became one of the new regime's main centers of the anti-Jewish activities. This culminated in a pogrom during the rebellion of the Legionary Movement; 120 Jews were killed, thousands were arrested and tortured, synagogues were desecrated, and Jewish homes, shops, and community buildings were looted and destroyed.

Until the end of the Antonescu regime in August 1944, the Jews of Bucharest were subjected anti-Semitic legislation and persecution. Jews were legally downgraded to second-class citizens. They could no longer access state-funded education or health care, and their property was confiscated. These restrictions had major economic effects on the community: in 1942 only 27.2% of the city's Jewish population of about 100,000 were registered as employed, compared with 54.3% of the non-Jewish population. In September 1942 several hundred Jews were deported to Transnistria, where many eventually perished. Thousands of other Jews, particularly the young, were required to work as forced laborers.

The lack of access to education, combined with the growing poverty of the Jewish community, spurred the need for the community to greatly expand their own educational and social welfare activities. In 1943 the Jewish community ran 27 schools and 21 soup kitchens. Bucharest became the center of relief activities for Romanian Jews.

The Jews of Bucharest were saved after Antonescu was deposed on August 23, 1944 and German forces were not able to entering the city. Though Adolf Eichmann had begun making preparations to deport Romania's Jews, the fierce opposition on the part of the Romanian army, coupled with the entry of the Soviet Army on August 30, 1944, prevented any of these plans from being carried out.

After World War II, large numbers of Jewish refugees and concentration camp survivors began arriving in the city; by 1947 the Jewish population had grown to 150,000. The Communist regime, which came to power in 1947, gradually closed all Jewish national, cultural, and social institutions in Bucharest. The welfare institutions were nationalized and the schools were absorbed into the general educational network. A state Yiddish school was opened in 1949, but closed a few years later. A State Yiddish Theater was founded in 1948 and a Yiddish drama school was established in 1957. Two Jewish newspapers, the Romanian "Unirea," followed later by "Viata Novua" and the Yiddish "Ikuf Bleter" were published. Of the 44,202 Jews (3.6% of the total population) registered in the city in the 1956 census, 4,425 of them declared Yiddish to be their mother tongue. In spite of the difficulties in living under a Communist regime, Rabbi Mozes Rosen was able to successfully navigate the opaque policies of the Romanian government, allowing Bucharest to continue to serve as the center of Jewish communal and cultural life.

The rise of Nicolae Ceausescu, who was the dictator of Romania between 1965 and 1989, prompted mass emigrations to Israel. In 1969 it was estimated that there were 50,000 Jews living in Bucharest; by the turn of the 21st century there were only about 4,000.

Baltimore

Largest city in the state of Maryland, USA, founded in 1729

Early History

The first Jews in the city at the start of the 19th century were from Germany and Holland and by 1860 the Jewish population numbered more than 8,000, with both Orthodox and radical Reform. With the arrival of Jews from Eastern Europe many landsmannschaft synagogues were opened.

The first Jewish school was opened in 1842, and ten years later a society was formed to provide education for poor and orphaned children. At the start of the 20th century the running of the schools passed to the community, but by the 1950s it had returned to synagogal auspices. Samson Benderly was among those who worked to further Jewish education in Baltimore, and at the start of the 20th century Louis l. Kaplan served as Director of the Board of Jewish education. Several Jewish newspapers appeared in the city in English, German, and Yiddish; a monthly - "Sinai" - edited by David Einhorn, a Reform radical (1856); and the first American Hebrew weekly “Ha-Pisgah” (1891-1893).

Famous rabbis include David Einhorn, Abraham Rice, Benjamin Szold, Bernard Illowy and Jacob Agus. Outstanding in Baltimore's cultural life were the sculptor Ephraim Kaiser, the painters Saul Bernstein and Louis Rosenthal, the writer Gertrude Stein, and the poet Karl Shapiro.

There were two wealthy families, the Ettings and the Cohens, among the early settlers who came from Bavaria. These settlers were mainly peddlers and small traders until they rose to become traders in the garment industry. The German Jews did all they could to stop the influx of east European Jews to their city and employed them in harsh conditions which led to the formation of the needle trade unions after strikes and lockouts had occurred. The Sonneborn firm, one of the largest men's clothing factories in the USA, was forced into collective bargaining in 1914. The immigrants lived in overcrowded poor conditions, but they organized a rich social and cultural life - also involving the Zionists, the Bundists and Anarchists, Orthodox and Maskilim. A night school was started in 1889 by Henrietta Szold and became the prototype of night schools in the country. Many Jews opened their own enterprises and achieved wealth, including Jacob Epstein, who built a successful mail order business.
Jews have served at all levels of city, state and federal government; Etting and Cohen were members of the city council in 1826, Isidor Rayner served as a member of the US Senate 1904-1912, Philip Perlman was solicitor-general, the first Jew to hold this post, and after him Simon Sobeloff. Marvin Mandel was Governor of the State of Maryland.

Baltimore was an important Zionist center. In the 1880s one of the first Hibbat Zion groups arose in the city. The only American delegate to the first Zionist congress in Basel was R. Shepzel Schaffer from Baltimore and the ophthalmologist Harry Friederwald was the second president of the American Zionist Federation. Henrietta Szold, a native of Baltimore, began the Zionist work there, and in 1905 the founding convention of Poalei Zion in the United States took place. The local Hadassah organization had no less than 6,300 members.

In 1970 there were in Baltimore 92,000 Jews with 50 synagogues and a community center, among the largest in America. More than 90% of Jewish children went to Jewish schools. In addition to part-time schools, Baltimore had three Jewish day schools with 1,500 students - 15% of all local Jewish students, a higher percentage than the national average of 10%. Two institutions of higher learning are Hebrew college, founded by Israel Eros with 800 students, and a rabbinical college "Ner Israel" founded in 1933 by Rabbi Jacob I. Ruderman, with about 500 students. Thousands of adults attended various courses run by the Hebrew college and by large synagogues and in 1960 the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland was organized. From 1919 the weekly "Jewish Times" appeared. A central philanthropic organization was set up, also operating in educational fields. Of all the patients treated at the organization's Sinai hospital, 70% are non- Jews.

In 1997 there were 100,000 Jews in Baltimore.


Early 21st Century

In 2010, according to a study sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the city’s Jewish population was numbered at 93,400 people. By 2013, Baltimore and the surrounding metropolitan area boasted a community of nearly 100,000 Jews, approximately four percent of the city’s total population. Almost half of the Jews living in Baltimore were born in other locations in the United States.

Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, many Jews from Iran began to settle in Baltimore. In 1981, ten immigrants from Iran established the Ohr HaMizrach Congregation and Sephardic Center. By 2010, it served an estimated one hundred fifty Persian-Jewish families. During the late 1980s and 1990s, a large number of Jewish families from the former Soviet Union immigrated to the United States. By 2012, they comprised nearly four percent of Baltimore’s Jewish population.

In the Greater Baltimore area are a number of non-profit, community-based organizations which serve more than 43,000 Jewish households. These organizations work to promote Jewish values and to strengthen the Jewish community. They sponsor a variety of programs for children, families and adults. They also provide a wide range of services including healthcare, food, housing, education and financial support. Such organizations include the Hebrew Free Loan Association, Jewish Community Services, the Counseling, Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women, the Pearlstone Center and the Comprehensive Housing & Assistance Inc. Educational programs and support can be found at the Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education, the Baltimore Hebrew Institute, and Shemesh. Many of these organizations are directly sponsored by or are in partnership with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. The Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) for example is one such program. Similar programs are organized by the Jewish Community Center and the Baltimore Jewish Council.

Providing medical care to thousands throughout Greater Baltimore is two of the city’s most prominent medical centers, the Sinai Hospital and the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital. Additional healthcare facilities include the Jewish Caring Network, the Hachnosas Orchim Program and Bikur Cholim.

By 1999, there were more than sixty synagogues, representing every branch of Judaism, from Orthodox to Reconstructionist. There are thirty-two Orthodox congregations, eight Conservative, four Reform, two Reconstructionist, and possibly sixteen or more who identify as independent. The results of the 2010 Baltimore Jewish Community Study revealed that seventy-four percent of Jewish Baltimore felt that being Jewish was important to them. According to the same study, forty-six percent of Jewish households reported to be members of a congregation, while seventy-six percent reported to attend services weekly and on High Holidays.

Since the end of the 20th century, Baltimore has seen a rise in the number of Jewish schools. The Baltimore Jewish community includes a wide range of Jewish educational programs and institutions. As of 2009, there were more than twenty preschools or daycares and over a dozen day schools for children from the elementary school to high school level. These schools are affiliated with the many branches of Judaism, particularly the Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative movements. As are the city’s fourteen Jewish children’s camps. Baltimore is also home to institutions of higher learning, such as the Ner Israel Rabbinical College and Hebrew University, which was founded by Israel Efros in 1919. The Baltimore Hebrew University was active until 2009 when it merged with Towson University, becoming the Baltimore Hebrew Institute. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Judaic studies.

As a way to promote Jewish life and values, the Jewish community of Greater Baltimore established various cultural centers for children, families and individuals. One in particular is the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. A constituent agency of The Associated (The Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore), the JCC offers a variety of cultural and social activities and programs including family events, a fitness center and a center for performing arts.

Located in downtown Baltimore is the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Founded in 1960 to restore the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the museum commemorates the history, culture and experience of the Jewish community of Baltimore. It is the largest regional Jewish museum in the United States. Another prominent cultural site is the city’s Holocaust memorial –the Holocaust Memorial Park. The center plaza was designed to resemble the two triangles which form the symbol of the Star-of-David.

Additional Jewish landmarks can be found throughout the city. Reisterstown road is home to the Jewish shopping district, a thriving area full of Judaic gift shops, book stores and several kosher restaurants.

The historic Park Circle district is a frequent attraction for walking tours as it had been the home to an early community of Jews from Eastern Europe. From the early 20th century to the 1960s, Park Circle had been a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.

An important icon of Baltimore’s Jewish history is the site of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Built in 1875, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Included on the campus of the Jewish Museum of Maryland is the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Founded in 1845, it is America’s third-oldest surviving synagogue.

At the turn of the 20th century, nearly ninety-two thousand Jews lived in Greater Baltimore. Approximately six percent of all households were Jewish. At the time, one quarter of the Jewish population lived within the city limits while seventy percent resided in suburban areas. Many Jewish households lived in predominantly Jewish areas. Major Jewish enclaves were established in Northwest Baltimore neighborhoods like Upper Park Heights, Mount Washington and Pikesville, which is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in all of Maryland.

The Jewish community of Baltimore has a long history of philanthropy and community aid. According to the 2010 Baltimore Jewish Community Study, nearly eighty-seven percent of Jewish households donate to a charity. Sixty-three percent donate to Jewish organizations, programs or causes. In the late 19th century, several charities were established by the German-Jewish community. Many of these charities developed to support the incoming waves of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, many of whom were very poor. As Eastern European Jews established themselves in Baltimore, they began to develop their own charities and communal programs. By the 20th century, two philanthropic networks existed. German Jews created the Federated Jewish Charities and Eastern European Jews established the United Hebrew Charities. In 1921, the two merged, forming the Associated Jewish Charities.

The Sinai Hospital and the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center were created by the United Benevolent Society which was founded in 1834. One of the largest and most successful philanthropic organizations in Baltimore is The Associated. Also known as the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, they fund a variety of programs which benefit the Jewish community including financial and social services, healthcare, education, recreation and cultural activities.

Providing Baltimore’s Jewish community with news and entertainment is the Baltimore Jewish Times, a subscription-based weekly publication founded in 1919 by David Alter. It is the largest and oldest Jewish publication in Maryland and one of the premiere independent Jewish newspapers in the United States. The Baltimore Jewish Times is also the publisher of the Washington Jewish Week and Jewishtimes.com. Another source of Jewish news is the Baltimore Jewish Life, a website developed by professionals in the Orthodox Jewish community of Baltimore. Like the Baltimore Jewish Times, Baltimore Jewish Life publishes articles and content of local and international interest. Both function as educational tools and work to promote Jewish values in the Baltimore community.

New York City

The largest urban Jewish community in history; metropolitan area population 11,448,480 (1970), metropolitan area Jewish population 2,381,000 (1968), of which 1,836,000 live in the city itself.

The New York Jewish settlement began in 1654 with the arrival of 23 Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews from Recife, Brazil (a Dutch possession) who were defending the city from Portuguese attack. The director general of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, did not welcome the Jews. They protested to their coreligionists in the Dutch West India company and privileges were granted them. However, they were not allowed to build a synagogue.

The surrender of New Amsterdam to the British in 1664 brought a number of changes to the Jewish settlement.

Generally, civil and religious rights were widened, Jews were permitted to hold and be elected to public office, and restrictions on the building of a synagogue were lifted.

"Shearit Israel", the first congregation in New York, was probably organized in 1706. Between 1729 and 1730, the congregation erected the first synagogue. During this period, the Jewish merchant took a major interest in the business of overseas trade. Jews were the first to introduce cocoa and chocolate to England and were heavily engaged in the coral, textile, and slave trades, and at times had virtual monopolies in the ginger trade.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Jews represented between 1% and 2% of the total New York City population and in 1701, it is estimated that Jews comprised 12% of all businessmen who engaged in foreign trade.

The advent of the American revolution found the Jewish community divided. Some were supporters of the American cause, while others supported the British. The end of the revolution brought many distinct changes. Civil liberties, which were often a matter of governmental whim under the English, became part of the New York State constitution. Opportunities were expanded and new fields opened. One of the distinctive changes in post-war New York was Jewish involvement in the political life of the community, perhaps best seen in the career of Mordecai Manuel Noah, who was High Sheriff of New York in 1821.

The period after the revolutionary war also saw the proliferation of congregational organizations and divisions within the Jewish community as well as mutual aid societies and Landsmannshaften. There were also numerous fraternal orders founded, the most important being the independent order B'nai B'rith, founded in 1843. In 1852, "Jews' hospital" was founded, which later became known as Mount Sinai.

Beginning in the 1870's and continuing for half a century, great migration from Eastern Europe radically altered the demography, social structure, cultural life, and communal order of New York Jewry. During this period, more than 1,000,000 Jews settled in the city. They were overwhelmingly Yiddish speaking and impoverished. On their arrival, East European Jews found a Jewish settlement dominated by a group strikingly different in its cultural background, social standing, and communal outlook. By the 1870's, this older settlement had become middle class in outlook, mercantile in its economic base, and reform in group identity. In 1870, the less affluent and those whose occupations required it lived in the Southern Ward of the Lower East Side, while the German Jews moved half way up the East Side of Manhattan. The relocation of synagogues and the establishment of other Jewish institutions underscored this process of removal and social differentiation, thus dividing the Jewish populace into "uptown" and "downtown" Jews.

In the decade after the civil war, fathers and sons entered the dry-goods business and transformed their establishments Bloomingdale's, Altman's, Macy's, Stern's, Gimbel's, and Abraham and Strauss. A significant number of German Jews entered the field of investment banking. They also played a central role as entrepreneurs in the city's growing ready-made clothing industry. In 1888, of 241 such clothing manufacturers, 234 were Jewish. The immigrant Jews entered the apparel trade in great numbers because it was close at hand, required little training, and allowed the congeniality of working with one's own kind.

During the 1901-1909 period, the groundwork was laid for the emergence of an aggressive, responsible, and progressive Jewish labor movement. The socialist newspaper, "Forward", was developing into the most widely read Yiddish daily and became a major educational medium for the Jewish working class. The "uprising of the 20,000" - a strike of the waistmakers, mostly young women - in the fall of 1909, was followed by the "great revolt" of the cloakmakers a half year later. These strikes increased the numbers and stability of the international ladies garment workers' union (I.L.G.W.U.).

During the last third of the 19th century, the established community built - in addition to imposing temples - a number of large and progressive philanthropic institutions.

Two developments of major significance for the future course of orthodoxy in New York took place between 1910 and movement and in the year 1915 Yeshivat Etz Chaim and the Rabbi Elchanan theological seminary united.

The sharp rise in immigration after 1903 underscored the need for more rational use of the resources and communal wealth which the community possessed. Some downtown leaders recognized the ineffectualness of their own institutions.

In both sectors of the community, the alienation of the younger generation from Judaism and Jewish life was viewed with alarm. These concerns led to the development of the short-lived New York Kehillah, an attempt to create a united community structure. The immediate catalyst was the accusation of the New York police commissioner in 1908 that 50% of the criminals in the city were Jews. Led by Judah Magnus, a coalition of representative leaders established the Kehillah as a federation of Jewish organizations in 1909. Magnus served as chairman until its demise in 1922. The establishment in 1917 of the federation for the support of Jewish philanthropies proved more lasting than the Kehillah.

The Yiddish speaking masses who settled in New York created a rich and varied cultural life. Between 1872 and 1917, 150 journals in Yiddish appeared. The Yiddish theater reinforced the press.

During the 1920's, the New York Jewish unions entered areas of activity never previously known to U.S. trade unions. They conducted large scale adult education, health clinics, a bank, summer resorts, built modern urban housing, and generously subsidized struggling trade unions.

Jews constituted 51% of enrollment in the city's academic high schools in 1931, and 49.6% of the city's college and university students in 1935. Also by the 1930's, over half the city's doctors, lawyers, dentists, and public school teachers were Jews.

As the largest single ethnic group, Jews were a highly important factor in the political life of the city. In no other city could Jews as a group weigh so heavily in politics or were real or alleged Jewish political interest reckoned with so carefully.

In 1967, there were 539 orthodox, 184 conservative, 93 reform, and five unclassified synagogues known in Greater New York; all but 163 of the total were within the city's boundaries. Actual synagogue affiliation tended to be low, however. The city's conservative congregations leaned close to orthodoxy in which most of their members and leaders, at least before 1950, had been raised. The Jewish Theological Seminary is the focal institution of the conservatives and exercised broad spiritual influence in the Jewish and general community. Jewish education in New York followed nationwide trends in the slow disappearance of the Cheder, the rise and decline of the communal Talmud Torahs, and Yiddish schools in the period from 1915 to 1950.

The city of New York is home to the largest Jewish population in the entire United States. Behind the central districts of Israel, New York City has the highest number of Jews in any metropolitan area in the world. By 2013 there was approximately 1.5 – 1.7 million Jews living throughout New York City, accounting for nearly 18% of the city’s total population (8.3 million).

Serving the Jewish people of New York City are several organizations. Many of these focus on Jewish religious practice, healthcare, education and family services. Throughout the city’s five boroughs are many foundations which support local communities and advocate for Jewish and Israeli causes. Some of the major organizations include UJA Federation of New York, The Jewish Communal Fund, The World Jewish Congress, The American Jewish Congress, AJC (Global Jewish Advocacy), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and COJECO, the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations. There are additionally many local organizations that specialize in the needs of their respective communities, such as the Bensonhurst Council of Jewish Organizations, which is the oldest in New York City, the Bronx Jewish Community Council, the Crown Heights Community Council, the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, and the Boro Park Community council.

Found across New York City are hundreds of synagogues, representing nearly every movement within Judaism. While the majority of these are in permanent buildings, some are held in temporary places. Many of these are not found in directories. There is an estimated 50 Orthodox synagogues, 8 Conservative, 17 Reform, 2 Reconstructionist and 5-7 which are unaffiliated with any particular movement. Among the wide range of Jewish educational services, are more than 350 private Jewish day schools which serve over 140,000 students. These include 191 high schools, 247 elementary schools and 159 preschools. Outside of school are many programs for Jewish youth, such as the Bnei Akiva Religious Zionist Youth Movement, Friends of Israel Scouts (Tzofim) and Young Judea.

New York City is well known for its numerous cultural institutions and museums. Many are internationally known and visited by thousands every year. Among those of which are culturally focused, are several Jewish museums and Holocaust memorials, such as the Anne Frank Center (USA), Bernard Museum of Judaica, and The Center for Jewish History. Other museums include the Derfner Judaica Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Jewish Museum (New York), Living Torah Museum, Yeshiva University Museum and the Jewish Children’s Museum. New York City also has many Jewish cultural centers including the JCC Manhattan, YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research), the Leo Baeck Institute, the American Jewish Historical Society and the American Sephardi Federation.

Significant Jewish immigration began in the late 1800s with major waves taking place between 1881 and 1945. Additional waves of Jewish immigration began following the establishment of the State of Israel. During the 1950s and 1960s as many as 300,000 Israelis immigrated to the United States. Israeli Immigration continued throughout the 1970s and has ever since. By 2000, approximately 30,000 Israeli Jews were living in New York City. The Israeli community is well known for its entrepreneurship, having opened many startups and branches of existing Israeli businesses. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, new waves of Jewish immigrants began arriving to New York City. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city’s Jewish population was greatly augmented by the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe and the Caucasus region. These included the Georgian and Bukharian communities as well as Ashkenazi Jews from the Baltic Republics, Moldova and the Ukraine. In 2012, the more than 350,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union in New York City were Jewish.

Over generations, Jews have developed various communities throughout New York City creating several Jewish enclaves. Boro Park in Brooklyn for example is home to the largest Orthodox community in the world. Other notable Jewish neighborhoods include Crown Heights, Flatbush, Williamsburg and Midwood Brooklyn, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows Queens, the Upper East and Upper West Side as well as Lower East Side in Manhattan, and the predominantly Hasidic neighborhoods of Willowbrook, New Springville, Eltingville and New Brighton.

Serving these neighborhoods as well as the rest of New York are several hospitals and health care facilities which were established by the Jewish community. In addition to Mount Sinai, one of New York’s oldest and largest hospitals, are several medical centers including Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, the Montefiore Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, the Sephardic Bikur Holim, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jewish Home Life Care, and the Hebrew Home for the aged. Found throughout these Jewish neighborhoods are many historic landmarks. In some cases, the neighborhoods themselves are the landmarks. The Lower East Side is a perfect example. Others include historic synagogues such as the Kehila Kedosha Janina, the only Romaniote (Greek) synagogue in the entire western hemisphere, or the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first Eastern European Orthodox synagogue. Another group of landmarks include famous restaurants like Katz’s Delicatessen and Streit’s Matzo Company.

Since early Jewish immigration, New York City’s Jewish leaders developed foundations to keep medical centers like communal organizations alive. A number of Jewish Federations are overseen by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Other funding and support come from organizations like the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, the Jewish Communal Fund, Hadassah, Yeshiva University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Being a community that numbers nearly 2 million, the Jews of New York City enjoy several Jewish media outlets, including radio and print news. Notable periodicals include the Jewish Week and the Jewish Post of New York. Others include the Manhattan Jewish Sentinel, the Long Island Jewish World and Five Towns Jewish Times. There is even a Yiddish language newspaper known as The Jewish Daily Forward.   

Vancouver

A city in the Province of British Columbia, is the third most populous city in Canada. It is home to Canada's third largest Jewish community with approximately seven percent of Canadian Jews living in the Vancouver metropolitan area.


The south-west region of the modern Province of British Columbia started to attract large numbers of immigrants after the 1850's. Among those early settlers, many driven to the region by the prospect of gold rush, others by various commercial opportunities, were several Jewish immigrants who arrived from the American West, eastern and central provinces of Canada, and from Europe. The establishment of the Jewish community of Vancouver resulted basically from the activities of a number of individuals. Their commitment to Judaism and their fellow Jewish settlers made possible the beginnings of the Jewish life on the Canadian West coast. One of the first Jewish European settlers in the region was the Polish-born Louis Gold (1835-1907), known as "Leaping" Louis, who along with his family arrived in the area of Vancouver in the early 1870's. They established a general-merchandise-grocery on Water Street. The Gold family later extended their business by purchasing additional tracts of
land. Louis's son, Edward Gold (1868-1946) developed his own successful career: already in 1892 he was the owner of the Vancouver Collateral and Securities Loan Bank and in 1914 was elected councilor in South Vancouver.


However, the early Jewish history of Vancouver is largely identified with the activities of the Oppenheimer brothers: Meyer, Godfrey, Isaac, Charles, and David Oppenheimer. Born in Bavaria, Germany, they came to the Pacific province in 1858 following the gold rush in that region. The Oppenheimer brothers settled in the Vancouver district in 1885, a year before the city was founded. In 1887 David and Isaac Oppenheimer were members of the Vancouver city council and in 1888 David Oppenheimer (1834-1897) was elected the city's second mayor, holding office for four years. The family commerce - Oppenheimer Bros. & Co. Ltd., Vancouver's oldest business, built the first wholesale grocery in the city's first brick building, still extant in the district of Gastown. The Oppenheimer brothers also purchased large pieces of land that by the end of the 19th century turned them into the third largest land-owners in Vancouver.


In 1891 there were 85 Jews in the city. At the end of the 19th century Vancouver began receiving Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Most of the Yiddish-speaking new comers settled in the East-end working class district of Strathcona, where they continued to pursue their traditional way of life. The majority were active as storekeepers and artisans practicing the professions they brought with them from Eastern Europe: tailors, shoemakers, peddlers.

The first Jewish religious leader in Vancouver was the Ukrainian-born Zebulon Franks (1864-1926) who settled in Vancouver in 1887. His store served as the first prayer house for the nascent Orthodox Jewish community. Y. Franks Appliances Ltd. Company is the continuator of the original enterprise founded by Z. Franks. Abraham David Goldstein, another Polish-born Jewish immigrant, was involved in land development: his best known project is the Sylvia Court. This first residential high-rise in the city, named after the owner's 12-year-old daughter, and still a landmark of Vancouver's West End was converted into a hotel during the Great Depression of the 1930's. The Sylvia Court Hotel has been designated a Heritage Building in 1976.

In 1887 a separate section of the newly established Mountain View Cemetery was reserved for Jewish burial. Agudas Achim ("Association of Brethren") was the first congregation established in Vancouver: it conducted the first Jewish public prayers for the High Holidays in October 1891 at the Knights of Pythias Hall on Cordova Street – currently part of the Army and Navy store. The first liberal congregation started with the arrival from Victoria, BC, of the German-born rabbi Solomon Philo in 1894. The establishment of the Temple Emanuel of Vancouver followed in 1895. The Temple Emanuel congregation's first secretary was Edward Gold. The congregation was presided for many years by the Swiss-born Samuel Gintzburger (1867-1924) who arrived in Vancouver in 1887. He eventually became a real estate, insurance and financial agent, having during his youth traded with the First Nations of Canada on the Pacific coast. S. Gintzburger served in the municipal council of West Vancouver and was
consul of Switzerland. However, a truly Reform community was established only in 1965. Justice Samuel Davies Schultz (1865-1925), born to a pioneer family of Victoria, BC, is another worth mentioning person in early Vancouver; in 1914 he was appointed to the Vancouver County Court, at that time the first Jew in Canada to be named a judge.

Growth of the Jewish Population of Vancouver Metropolitan Area:

1891 - 85

1901 - 205

1911 - 987

1921 - 1,301

1931 - 2,481

1941 - 2,969

1951 - 5,467

1961 - 7,301

1991 - 19,375

2001 - 25,000

The Jewish population of Vancouver continued to grow in the early 20th century, mostly by immigration from Europe. Already by 1914 there were a number of affluent Jewish families in Vancouver; nonetheless the great majority of the Jewish inhabitants of Vancouver earned their living as small artisans. About one quarter of all Jews in Vancouver were employed as tailors, pressers, sewing-machine operators and in other cloth-industry related occupations. Other Jews were active as watchmakers, jewelers, shopkeepers and peddlers. There was also a growing class of white collar workers, chiefly bookkeepers and other clerks. A significant part of the working force was made up of women who contributed to the family's incomes by either supporting their husbands' business or being employed outside the home.

B'nai Yehuda ("Sons of Yehuda"), the first Orthodox congregation of Vancouver, was established in 1907. It opened the B'nai Yehuda synagogue, the first synagogue in Vancouver, in the Strathcona neighborhood in 1911 with Zebulon Franks (1864-1926) acting as its first president. It served the Orthodox community that consisted mostly of immigrants from Eastern Europe. This first modest wooden structure was replaced in 1921 by the Schara Tzedeck synagogue, a large building that catered for the growing Jewish community of the city. It was incorporated as Schara Tzedeck Chevra Kadisha Bnai Brith Hebrew Aid and Immigrant Society. Rabbi Nathan Mayer Pastinsky (1918- 1948) was for 30 years the leader of the Schara Tzedeck synagogue.

The Reform congregation, whose members resided mainly in the more prosperous West End of Vancouver, gave up plans for a separate prayer house out of a desire to maintaining the unity of the Jewish community of Vancouver. Beth Israel, a Conservative congregation was founded in 1932 and Beth Midrash, a Sephardi Orthodox congregation was established in 1943.

The Jewish education started modestly with an afternoon school that functioned in conjunction with the B'nai Yehuda synagogue. In 1918 it developed into the Vancouver Hebrew School and was affiliated to the Schara Tzedeck synagogue. At the same time, the Congregation Emanu-El School was established in West Vancouver. Sholem Aleichem afternoon school was opened in 1928 as a Jewish secular school promoting the Yiddish language and culture; however, despite the efforts of the Socialist Muter Fareyn Yiddish association, this school was closed in late 1930's. It was succeeded in 1945 by the Vancouver Peretz School dedicated to the advancement of humanist and socialist ideals. The Vancouver Talmud Torah Hebrew School was opened in 1948.

During the 1920's new Jewish organizations began to function in Vancouver: among them a Council of Jewish Women started in 1926 and a Jewish Community Centre two years later in the district of Fairview. The Jewish Western Bulletin, a weekly, started publication in 1930. The establishment of mutual assistance and charity organizations was one the first concerns of the newly established community: The Hebrew Free Loan Association (1915) and the Vancouver Jewish Community Chest (1924) were among the first charity organizations that endeavored to provide for the economic and social needs of the new immigrants. The activities of those organizations were coordinated after 1932 by The Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council that was in charge of the community center too.

The Vancouver branch of Hadassah started its activity in 1920. The free Well Baby Clinic was established by the Council of Jewish Women in 1927. In 1946, with the help of a donation by the comedian Eddie Cantor (1892-1964), the first Jewish senior citizen home was opened. It was enlarged in 1968 and has since operated under the name of Louis Brier Home and Hospital, thanks to a legacy by Louis Brier (1861-1936), a Romanian-born successful pioneer. These organizations were instrumental in assisting new Jewish immigrants with money, clothes, food and shelter and facilitating their integration into the life of the community and of the Canadian society. A new Jewish cemetery was opened in 1929. The British Columbia branch of the Canadian Jewish Congress started out in Vancouver in 1941.

During the interwar period the Jewish population of Vancouver had tripled, largely by immigration. It also improved its social and economic status with more Jews becoming self employed and successful merchants. They also left the old district of Strathcona moving to newer middle class neighborhoods.

The Jews of Vancouver were among the first to join the Zionist movement and a Zionist association was founded in Vancouver already in the early 1900's. During the 1930's the Zionist movement in Vancouver was lead by Rabbi J. L. Zlotnick (1888-1962). A native of Poland and a notable activist of the Mizrachi in Poland, he immigrated to Canada where he became head of the Mizrachi Zionist Organization of Canada. J.L. Zlotnick served as rabbi of the orthodox community of Vancouver between 1934 and 1938. He eventually immigrated to Israel.

The Jewish community supported the Canadian war effort during 1939-1945. In addition to many Jews that enlisted into the Canadian Army, the community activated on behalf of the European Jews. The establishment of the State of Israel was welcome by many; not only had the Jews of Vancouver extended their financial and moral support, but twenty seven of them volunteered to fight in Israel's War of Independence. One of those volunteers, Ralph Moster (1924-1948), a pilot who previously served with the Royal Canadian Air Force, lost his life during the war.

After WWII the Jewish population of Vancouver has increased with the arrival of new Jewish refugees and immigrants from all over the world. Their successful integration contributed to the emergence of a multicultural and diverse Jewish community. The Council of Jewish Women was instrumental in assisting the various waves of refugees. In 1948, the first groups of Holocaust survivors arrived in Vancouver, including forty seven orphaned children. Other Jewish refugees included Iraqi Jews who arrived in the early 1950's, Hungarian Jews who fled the aftermaths of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, then Jews from Czechoslovakia who emigrated in 1968, and most recently Jews from the Balkans who fled the war in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990's. Vancouver has attracted many Jews from the eastern provinces of Canada, a tendency that accentuated itself during the last decades of the 20th century, as well as immigrants from United States, former Soviet Union, South Africa, Israel, and
South America.

The general move to newer residential districts and to the suburbs brought about a shift in the main centers of Jewish activities in the city. A Jewish center developed after the 1960's on Oak Street; the neighborhood shelters three synagogues, a Jewish community center, a Jewish religious school, a senior citizen home and hospital, and various stores selling Jewish food and books. Yet, the great majority of the Jewish inhabitants of Vancouver are scattered all over the city. Although rare, the Jews of Vancouver were occasionally victims of anti-Semitic incitement and attacks. During WWI and again during WWII, Jews with German-sounding surnames were sometimes treated with resentment. In the 1980's and early 1990's there were sporadic acts of vandalism against the community institutions, the worst being the burning of the Temple Shalom synagogue. In the early 2000's new acts of anti-Jewish hostility were reported among the growing local Muslim population.

In the early 2000's there were fifteen Jewish congregations in the Greater Vancouver area representing all Jewish movements with the Conservative congregations boasting the largest number of members. Reform congregations follow in the second place with the Orthodox and Chabad congregations attended by a dedicated minority. However, approximately half of the Jews living in the Vancouver metropolitan area are not affiliated to a religious congregation. The Jewish Community of Vancouver is one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the world; its vibrant Jewish life is coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. The Jewish education is served by a well developed educational system including ten preschools, three day schools - Vancouver Hebrew Academy, Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School, Vancouver Talmud Torah High School, and a number of after schools and Sunday schools: the Beth Israel Religious School, Or Shalom Religious School, Temple Sholom Religious
School, Beth Midrash Religious School, Torat Hayim in West Vancouver, Beth Tikvah Religious School, Richmond Jewish Day School, and Eitz Chaim – the last three located in Richmond, BC. The Greater Vancouver Community Kollel, located at Eitz Chaim synagogue, offers lectures and seminaries on Judaism in all districts of Greater Vancouver. Hebrew language courses are available at the Vancouver Summer Mini Ulpan. Youth and student organizations include Vancouver B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation who serves Jewish students attending the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, both in Vancouver, as well as other colleges in Greater Vancouver area. There are additional Jewish youth organizations active in Greater Vancouver area: Habonim Dror Zionist Movement, United Synagogue Youth / Kadima, Greater Vancouver Jewish Youth Council, National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), Temple Sholom Youth Group (NFTY), and B'nai B'rith Youth Organization.

The synagogues of Vancouver cater for members of all Jewish movements: Beth Hamidrash B'nai Jacob Congregation – Orthodox, the only Sephardic synagogue in Western Canada, has dedicated its new building in June 2004; Congregation Beth Israel – Conservative; Congregation Har El – located in West Vancouver is an egalitarian Conservative synagogue following the guidelines of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Lubavitch of British Columbia – Hassidic; Or Shalom – Reconstructionist, is part of the movement for Jewish Renewal; Schara Tzedeck Congregation - the largest Orthodox synagogue in Vancouver, offers daily and highly attended Shabbat services; Louis Brier Home – Orthodox; Temple Sholom - dedicated in 1976, was at that time the first Reform synagogue in Western Canada; Shaarey Tefilah Synagogue – Traditional.

Among the many Jewish organizations active in Vancouver a special mention should be made of the Canadian Jewish Congress – Pacific Region, Israel Action Committee, BC, and CIJA – Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. The links between the Jewish Community of Vancouver and Israel are maintained, among others, by local branches of the Canadian Friends associations of Israeli universities and institutions of research and higher education as well as of Israeli medical institutions and other cultural and humanitarian organizations. Community services include the Jewish Family Service Agency, the Hebrew Assistance Association, and the Shalom BC Information, Referral, and Volunteer Centre. The community has a developed program of assistance for the needy - Yad B'Yad Council on Poverty, a Non Profit Housing Society, and operates programs for senior citizens: Council on Aging and People with Special Needs (APSN), as well as other organizations, clubs, and associations for the
senior members of the community: L'Chaim Centre for Adult Day Care, Temple Sholom Seniors, West Vancouver Har-El Seniors Group, Sholem Aleichem Seniors of the Vancouver Peretz Institute and others. Teva Outdoor Club, Jewish Solos, and Kehila Jewish Singles offer dating opportunities for the single. Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) and Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada provide for the integration of Jewish immigrants to Canada. There are also a number of women community organizations: Na'amat Canada, Hadassah-WIZO Council of Vancouver, Emunah Women of Canada, National Council of Jewish Women, Ladies Auxiliary of Louis Brier Home and Hospital, and Jewish Women International.

The cultural activities are promoted by various organizations and associations including the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture, the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia and Community Archives who edits The Scribe – The Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of BC, The Jewish Genealogical Institute, and the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival founded in 1989. There are two organizations dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust victims: The Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society for Education and Remembrance that holds an audio-visual archive of testimonies and endorses educational activities and the Western Association of Holocaust Survivors – Families and Friends. The Harry & Jeanette Weiberg Jewish Community Campus houses the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver and is home to The Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library. The Jewish media includes Yachad Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver Magazine, Jewish Western Bulletin, and Guide to Jewish Life in
B.C.


Jewish Personalities of Vancouver

David (Dave) Barrett (b.1930). A social worker turned politician, he joined the British Columbia Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, later known as the New Democratic Party, and was elected to British Columbia legislature in 1960. D. Barrett's political career reached the pinnacle during 1972-1975, when he served as Premier of British Columbia. He was defeated in his attempt to become leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada in 1989, and in 1993 lost his Parliament seat.

Sam Bass (1915-1990). A graduate from University of Manitoba (1939), he served as a pharmacist with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in WWII. Having settled in Vancouver in 1945, he bought Schoff's Drug Store (Main and Union), and renamed it London Drugs. S. Bass was instrumental in developing the first modern drug store in British Columbia; he also was a major donor to various Jewish charity activities.

Samuel Joseph Cohen (1897-1966). A successful businessman, he founded the Army & Navy, a surplus store at 300 block W. Hastings (1919) that soon expanded to a chain of five stores. S.J. Cohen was a generous donor, chiefly to children's charities.

Zebulon Franks (1864-1926). A Ukrainian-born son of a rabbi, and survivor of a pogrom in which his family was killed, he arrived in Vancouver in 1887, where he made a living first as a "junk merchant" and afterward as a storekeeper. Z. Franks is remembered as the first religious leader of the Jews of Vancouver, his home and store serving as the first prayer house for the local Jews. He was President of Sons of Yehuda (B'nai Yehuda) in 1907, and later of the Schara Tzedeck Synagogue.

Simma Holt (nיe Milner) (b.1922). An outstanding journalist, she started her career with the Vancouver Sun in 1944 and continued to contribute to numerous local and national newspapers. S. Holt entered politics by joining the Liberal Party and was a member of the Canadian Parliament for Vancouver-Kingsway riding between 1974 and 1979.

Nathaniel T. Nemetz (b.1913). A Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1963 and a Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1968, N.T. Nemetz became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1973, and was also elected an executive member of the Canadian Judicial Council in the same year. From 1985 to 1988, he served as vice-chairman of the Council. In 1979, he was appointed Chief Justice of British Columbia, a position he held until 1988.

David Oppenheimer (1834-1897). Often called the "father" of Vancouver, David Oppenheimer was born in Germany and arrived to Vancouver area in 1860. D. Oppenheimer's activity as Mayor of Vancouver (1888-1892) greatly contributed to the early development of the city. During his term the basic civic services of the city were set up: water supply, the fire department, sewers, streets, sidewalks, and parks, including the Stanley Park, still one of the main landmarks of Vancouver. D. Oppenheimer was the first president and founder of the Board of Trade in Vancouver. His bronze bust was unveiled in Stanley Park in 1911 by Richard McBride, the then Premier of the Province of British Columbia.

Anne Sugarman (nיe Wodlinger) (1895-1973). Daughter of Jewish pioneers from Winnipeg, she lived in Vancouver from 1919 until 1942. She founded the Reform Jewish Sunday School (1922). A. Sugarman was the First President of the Vancouver Council of Jewish Women (1924), and along with her husband Ephraim, she founded Congregation Beth Israel (1932). During WWII, she founded and chaired the Red Cross Salvage Scheme, copied across Canada and later on was responsible for the first seeing-eye dog program in North America.

Gertrude Weinrobe (1893-1975). First Jewish child born in Vancouver. Her parents, Barney Weinrobe, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, and Sara Sarbesky, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, came to Vancouver in January 1893. Their elder son, Nathan, 8, died shortly afterwards and was the first child buried in Mountain View Jewish cemetery. Gertrude was born three months later, the first Jewish baby born in Vancouver; she spent her life in the area and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery next to her brother Nathan.

Madrid

The capital of Spain

The Jewish Community of Madrid (La Comunidad Judia de Madrid, CJM) is the major Jewish institution governing Madrid’s Jewish community. The community offers a wide range of services, from Jewish education to youth activities to cultural activities. Religious services are held in Bet Yaacov Synagogue, which follows Sephardic traditions.

The Museum of the History of the Jewish Community of Madrid opened in 2007, as part of the ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Madrid’s first synagogue. The museum is located within the Community Center, and tells the story of Spain’s Jewish community in general, and Madrid’s Jewish community in particular. The museum focuses on the return of Jews to Spain after their 400-year absence, through the 21st century.

HISTORY

A small Jewish community existed in Madrid during the 11th century; additionally, the town of Alluden, a name derived from the Arabic “Al-Yahudiyin” (“the Jews”), was located very close to Madrid, evidence of a Jewish presence in the area. Most of the local Jews worked as merchants and lived in the Jewish Quarter.

The community began to flourish during the 13th century. Nonetheless, during the 13th and 14th centuries the Jewish community of Madrid experienced a number of persecutions. In 1293 Sancho IV ratified a series of restrictions against the Jews, including barring them from holding official positions, limiting the interest rate they were permitted to charge, and forbidding them from buying property from Christians, or selling property to them. These restrictions were confirmed in 1307 by Ferdinand IV and endorsed by Alfonso XI in 1329. Later, in 1385, John I imposed a series of further restrictions; these included prohibiting Jews from holding official positions, a 15-month moratorium on debts owed to them by Christians. In 1391 a series of violent pogroms took place, during which many Jews were killed or forcibly converted, and Madrid’s synagogue was destroyed. Indeed, municipal authorities sent a report to the crown complaining of the “pueblo menudo” (“little people”) who continued rioting and pillaging for an entire year. Several of the rioters were arrested and tried, but most faced no consequences. In the wake of the riots the Jewish community of Madrid temporarily ceased to exist.

The Jews were famously expelled from Spain in 1492 by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille. On October 7, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered an investigation into reports on attacks of local Jews by people who had promised to assist them in fleeing to the Kingdoms of Fez and Tlemcen.

Jewish life in Madrid was renewed only in 1869, after the enactment of the Spanish Constitution and the subsequent arrival of Jews from North Africa and, later, Europe. Among the first Jews to settle in Madrid was the Bauer family, whose members played an important role in the organization and development of the community. A synagogue, Midras Abarbanel, was established on Calle del Principe in 1917. The official Jewish community of Madrid was established shortly thereafter, in 1920; the community’s was granted a designated area within Madrid’s civil cemetery two years later, and again in 1979. The community’s development was further stimulated by the law of 1924 granting citizenship to individuals of Spanish descent, and less than 10 years later the community also received an additional boost with the arrival of refugees from Nazi Germany.

However, in spite of this progress, with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) most of Madrid’s Jews fled and the community fragmented. The synagogue was closed, and its ritual objects were moved to the Provincial Museum of Murcia. With the rise of Francisco Franco to power in 1939, the Jewish community of Madrid once again ceased to exist.

Nonetheless, in spite of the volatile political situation, and the dissolution of Madrid’s Jewish community, there were still reminders of a Jewish presence in the city. In 1941 the Arias Montano Institute for Jewish Studies was founded, and a Department of Jewish Studies, led by Professor Francisco Cantera-Burgos (and later by Professor F. Perez Castro), was established in the University of Madrid. Madrid also gave asylum to war refugees, who were supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

After the war, the community began to reorganize. A synagogue was founded on Calle del Cardinal Cisneros. A Jewish Center, which included a synagogue, was opened in 1958. A year later, an exhibition on Jewish culture in Spain was held in the National Library of Madrid. The Institute for Jewish, Sephardi, and Near Eastern Studies was founded in 1961 by the Higher Council for Scientific Research and the World Sephardi Federation (in 1968 the Federation would merge with the Arias Montano Institute); the institute also hosted the first conference on Spanish Jewry in 1964.

Indeed, the 1960s saw Madrid’s Jewish community grow and develop in significant ways. 1964 saw the creation of the Council of Jewish Communities in Spain. The Ibn Gabirol Center, which offered Jewish education classes, was established a year later, in 1965, and in 1968 the Community Center, which included Beit Yaakov Synagogue, was built. Other community institutions included a school and a scout movement. Dr. B. Garzon was appointed as the community’s first rabbi. Leaders of the Jewish community in Madrid during the late 1960s included A. Bauer, H. Cohen, l. Blitz, and M. Mazin (the community’s president). During this decade the community numbered over 3,000 people, and served as a center for Jewish students from abroad coming to study in Madrid as well as for Jewish immigrants from North Africa.

The military coup that took place in Argentina in 1976 led to a considerable number of Jews from Argentina immigrating to Madrid. Successive economic crises in Argentina, particularly in 2001, brought more waves of Argentinian Jewish immigrants to Madrid’s Jewish community.

With the transition from dictatorship to democracy, and the implementation of the Spanish Constitution in 1978, Spain saw an increase in religious freedom and openness. Madrid’s Jewish institutions consolidated, and Spain’s Jewish communities came together with the Spanish government to sign the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain agreement. Meanwhile, arrangements were made between the Jewish Community of Madrid (CJM) and the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid) allowing for the establishment of a social and legal framework for Jewish life in the city.
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Sergiu Comissiona

Sergiu Comissiona (1928-2005), conductor and violinist, born in Bucharest, Romania. He studied at the Bucharest Music Academy. His first appearance as a conductor took place in 1948. He worked with the Romanian State Ensemble, and the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra. In 1959 he settled in Israel and conducted the Haifa Symphony Orchestra and Israel Chamber Orchestra. Later he moved to the United States and conducted the Ulster and Baltimore Opera Houses. He was the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Spanish national broadcasting network orchestra in Madrid, he conductor of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Symphony. He died in Oklahoma City. 

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Madrid
Vancouver
New York City
Baltimore
Bucharest
Madrid

The capital of Spain

The Jewish Community of Madrid (La Comunidad Judia de Madrid, CJM) is the major Jewish institution governing Madrid’s Jewish community. The community offers a wide range of services, from Jewish education to youth activities to cultural activities. Religious services are held in Bet Yaacov Synagogue, which follows Sephardic traditions.

The Museum of the History of the Jewish Community of Madrid opened in 2007, as part of the ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Madrid’s first synagogue. The museum is located within the Community Center, and tells the story of Spain’s Jewish community in general, and Madrid’s Jewish community in particular. The museum focuses on the return of Jews to Spain after their 400-year absence, through the 21st century.

HISTORY

A small Jewish community existed in Madrid during the 11th century; additionally, the town of Alluden, a name derived from the Arabic “Al-Yahudiyin” (“the Jews”), was located very close to Madrid, evidence of a Jewish presence in the area. Most of the local Jews worked as merchants and lived in the Jewish Quarter.

The community began to flourish during the 13th century. Nonetheless, during the 13th and 14th centuries the Jewish community of Madrid experienced a number of persecutions. In 1293 Sancho IV ratified a series of restrictions against the Jews, including barring them from holding official positions, limiting the interest rate they were permitted to charge, and forbidding them from buying property from Christians, or selling property to them. These restrictions were confirmed in 1307 by Ferdinand IV and endorsed by Alfonso XI in 1329. Later, in 1385, John I imposed a series of further restrictions; these included prohibiting Jews from holding official positions, a 15-month moratorium on debts owed to them by Christians. In 1391 a series of violent pogroms took place, during which many Jews were killed or forcibly converted, and Madrid’s synagogue was destroyed. Indeed, municipal authorities sent a report to the crown complaining of the “pueblo menudo” (“little people”) who continued rioting and pillaging for an entire year. Several of the rioters were arrested and tried, but most faced no consequences. In the wake of the riots the Jewish community of Madrid temporarily ceased to exist.

The Jews were famously expelled from Spain in 1492 by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castille. On October 7, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered an investigation into reports on attacks of local Jews by people who had promised to assist them in fleeing to the Kingdoms of Fez and Tlemcen.

Jewish life in Madrid was renewed only in 1869, after the enactment of the Spanish Constitution and the subsequent arrival of Jews from North Africa and, later, Europe. Among the first Jews to settle in Madrid was the Bauer family, whose members played an important role in the organization and development of the community. A synagogue, Midras Abarbanel, was established on Calle del Principe in 1917. The official Jewish community of Madrid was established shortly thereafter, in 1920; the community’s was granted a designated area within Madrid’s civil cemetery two years later, and again in 1979. The community’s development was further stimulated by the law of 1924 granting citizenship to individuals of Spanish descent, and less than 10 years later the community also received an additional boost with the arrival of refugees from Nazi Germany.

However, in spite of this progress, with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) most of Madrid’s Jews fled and the community fragmented. The synagogue was closed, and its ritual objects were moved to the Provincial Museum of Murcia. With the rise of Francisco Franco to power in 1939, the Jewish community of Madrid once again ceased to exist.

Nonetheless, in spite of the volatile political situation, and the dissolution of Madrid’s Jewish community, there were still reminders of a Jewish presence in the city. In 1941 the Arias Montano Institute for Jewish Studies was founded, and a Department of Jewish Studies, led by Professor Francisco Cantera-Burgos (and later by Professor F. Perez Castro), was established in the University of Madrid. Madrid also gave asylum to war refugees, who were supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

After the war, the community began to reorganize. A synagogue was founded on Calle del Cardinal Cisneros. A Jewish Center, which included a synagogue, was opened in 1958. A year later, an exhibition on Jewish culture in Spain was held in the National Library of Madrid. The Institute for Jewish, Sephardi, and Near Eastern Studies was founded in 1961 by the Higher Council for Scientific Research and the World Sephardi Federation (in 1968 the Federation would merge with the Arias Montano Institute); the institute also hosted the first conference on Spanish Jewry in 1964.

Indeed, the 1960s saw Madrid’s Jewish community grow and develop in significant ways. 1964 saw the creation of the Council of Jewish Communities in Spain. The Ibn Gabirol Center, which offered Jewish education classes, was established a year later, in 1965, and in 1968 the Community Center, which included Beit Yaakov Synagogue, was built. Other community institutions included a school and a scout movement. Dr. B. Garzon was appointed as the community’s first rabbi. Leaders of the Jewish community in Madrid during the late 1960s included A. Bauer, H. Cohen, l. Blitz, and M. Mazin (the community’s president). During this decade the community numbered over 3,000 people, and served as a center for Jewish students from abroad coming to study in Madrid as well as for Jewish immigrants from North Africa.

The military coup that took place in Argentina in 1976 led to a considerable number of Jews from Argentina immigrating to Madrid. Successive economic crises in Argentina, particularly in 2001, brought more waves of Argentinian Jewish immigrants to Madrid’s Jewish community.

With the transition from dictatorship to democracy, and the implementation of the Spanish Constitution in 1978, Spain saw an increase in religious freedom and openness. Madrid’s Jewish institutions consolidated, and Spain’s Jewish communities came together with the Spanish government to sign the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain agreement. Meanwhile, arrangements were made between the Jewish Community of Madrid (CJM) and the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid) allowing for the establishment of a social and legal framework for Jewish life in the city.
Vancouver

A city in the Province of British Columbia, is the third most populous city in Canada. It is home to Canada's third largest Jewish community with approximately seven percent of Canadian Jews living in the Vancouver metropolitan area.


The south-west region of the modern Province of British Columbia started to attract large numbers of immigrants after the 1850's. Among those early settlers, many driven to the region by the prospect of gold rush, others by various commercial opportunities, were several Jewish immigrants who arrived from the American West, eastern and central provinces of Canada, and from Europe. The establishment of the Jewish community of Vancouver resulted basically from the activities of a number of individuals. Their commitment to Judaism and their fellow Jewish settlers made possible the beginnings of the Jewish life on the Canadian West coast. One of the first Jewish European settlers in the region was the Polish-born Louis Gold (1835-1907), known as "Leaping" Louis, who along with his family arrived in the area of Vancouver in the early 1870's. They established a general-merchandise-grocery on Water Street. The Gold family later extended their business by purchasing additional tracts of
land. Louis's son, Edward Gold (1868-1946) developed his own successful career: already in 1892 he was the owner of the Vancouver Collateral and Securities Loan Bank and in 1914 was elected councilor in South Vancouver.


However, the early Jewish history of Vancouver is largely identified with the activities of the Oppenheimer brothers: Meyer, Godfrey, Isaac, Charles, and David Oppenheimer. Born in Bavaria, Germany, they came to the Pacific province in 1858 following the gold rush in that region. The Oppenheimer brothers settled in the Vancouver district in 1885, a year before the city was founded. In 1887 David and Isaac Oppenheimer were members of the Vancouver city council and in 1888 David Oppenheimer (1834-1897) was elected the city's second mayor, holding office for four years. The family commerce - Oppenheimer Bros. & Co. Ltd., Vancouver's oldest business, built the first wholesale grocery in the city's first brick building, still extant in the district of Gastown. The Oppenheimer brothers also purchased large pieces of land that by the end of the 19th century turned them into the third largest land-owners in Vancouver.


In 1891 there were 85 Jews in the city. At the end of the 19th century Vancouver began receiving Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Most of the Yiddish-speaking new comers settled in the East-end working class district of Strathcona, where they continued to pursue their traditional way of life. The majority were active as storekeepers and artisans practicing the professions they brought with them from Eastern Europe: tailors, shoemakers, peddlers.

The first Jewish religious leader in Vancouver was the Ukrainian-born Zebulon Franks (1864-1926) who settled in Vancouver in 1887. His store served as the first prayer house for the nascent Orthodox Jewish community. Y. Franks Appliances Ltd. Company is the continuator of the original enterprise founded by Z. Franks. Abraham David Goldstein, another Polish-born Jewish immigrant, was involved in land development: his best known project is the Sylvia Court. This first residential high-rise in the city, named after the owner's 12-year-old daughter, and still a landmark of Vancouver's West End was converted into a hotel during the Great Depression of the 1930's. The Sylvia Court Hotel has been designated a Heritage Building in 1976.

In 1887 a separate section of the newly established Mountain View Cemetery was reserved for Jewish burial. Agudas Achim ("Association of Brethren") was the first congregation established in Vancouver: it conducted the first Jewish public prayers for the High Holidays in October 1891 at the Knights of Pythias Hall on Cordova Street – currently part of the Army and Navy store. The first liberal congregation started with the arrival from Victoria, BC, of the German-born rabbi Solomon Philo in 1894. The establishment of the Temple Emanuel of Vancouver followed in 1895. The Temple Emanuel congregation's first secretary was Edward Gold. The congregation was presided for many years by the Swiss-born Samuel Gintzburger (1867-1924) who arrived in Vancouver in 1887. He eventually became a real estate, insurance and financial agent, having during his youth traded with the First Nations of Canada on the Pacific coast. S. Gintzburger served in the municipal council of West Vancouver and was
consul of Switzerland. However, a truly Reform community was established only in 1965. Justice Samuel Davies Schultz (1865-1925), born to a pioneer family of Victoria, BC, is another worth mentioning person in early Vancouver; in 1914 he was appointed to the Vancouver County Court, at that time the first Jew in Canada to be named a judge.

Growth of the Jewish Population of Vancouver Metropolitan Area:

1891 - 85

1901 - 205

1911 - 987

1921 - 1,301

1931 - 2,481

1941 - 2,969

1951 - 5,467

1961 - 7,301

1991 - 19,375

2001 - 25,000

The Jewish population of Vancouver continued to grow in the early 20th century, mostly by immigration from Europe. Already by 1914 there were a number of affluent Jewish families in Vancouver; nonetheless the great majority of the Jewish inhabitants of Vancouver earned their living as small artisans. About one quarter of all Jews in Vancouver were employed as tailors, pressers, sewing-machine operators and in other cloth-industry related occupations. Other Jews were active as watchmakers, jewelers, shopkeepers and peddlers. There was also a growing class of white collar workers, chiefly bookkeepers and other clerks. A significant part of the working force was made up of women who contributed to the family's incomes by either supporting their husbands' business or being employed outside the home.

B'nai Yehuda ("Sons of Yehuda"), the first Orthodox congregation of Vancouver, was established in 1907. It opened the B'nai Yehuda synagogue, the first synagogue in Vancouver, in the Strathcona neighborhood in 1911 with Zebulon Franks (1864-1926) acting as its first president. It served the Orthodox community that consisted mostly of immigrants from Eastern Europe. This first modest wooden structure was replaced in 1921 by the Schara Tzedeck synagogue, a large building that catered for the growing Jewish community of the city. It was incorporated as Schara Tzedeck Chevra Kadisha Bnai Brith Hebrew Aid and Immigrant Society. Rabbi Nathan Mayer Pastinsky (1918- 1948) was for 30 years the leader of the Schara Tzedeck synagogue.

The Reform congregation, whose members resided mainly in the more prosperous West End of Vancouver, gave up plans for a separate prayer house out of a desire to maintaining the unity of the Jewish community of Vancouver. Beth Israel, a Conservative congregation was founded in 1932 and Beth Midrash, a Sephardi Orthodox congregation was established in 1943.

The Jewish education started modestly with an afternoon school that functioned in conjunction with the B'nai Yehuda synagogue. In 1918 it developed into the Vancouver Hebrew School and was affiliated to the Schara Tzedeck synagogue. At the same time, the Congregation Emanu-El School was established in West Vancouver. Sholem Aleichem afternoon school was opened in 1928 as a Jewish secular school promoting the Yiddish language and culture; however, despite the efforts of the Socialist Muter Fareyn Yiddish association, this school was closed in late 1930's. It was succeeded in 1945 by the Vancouver Peretz School dedicated to the advancement of humanist and socialist ideals. The Vancouver Talmud Torah Hebrew School was opened in 1948.

During the 1920's new Jewish organizations began to function in Vancouver: among them a Council of Jewish Women started in 1926 and a Jewish Community Centre two years later in the district of Fairview. The Jewish Western Bulletin, a weekly, started publication in 1930. The establishment of mutual assistance and charity organizations was one the first concerns of the newly established community: The Hebrew Free Loan Association (1915) and the Vancouver Jewish Community Chest (1924) were among the first charity organizations that endeavored to provide for the economic and social needs of the new immigrants. The activities of those organizations were coordinated after 1932 by The Vancouver Jewish Administrative Council that was in charge of the community center too.

The Vancouver branch of Hadassah started its activity in 1920. The free Well Baby Clinic was established by the Council of Jewish Women in 1927. In 1946, with the help of a donation by the comedian Eddie Cantor (1892-1964), the first Jewish senior citizen home was opened. It was enlarged in 1968 and has since operated under the name of Louis Brier Home and Hospital, thanks to a legacy by Louis Brier (1861-1936), a Romanian-born successful pioneer. These organizations were instrumental in assisting new Jewish immigrants with money, clothes, food and shelter and facilitating their integration into the life of the community and of the Canadian society. A new Jewish cemetery was opened in 1929. The British Columbia branch of the Canadian Jewish Congress started out in Vancouver in 1941.

During the interwar period the Jewish population of Vancouver had tripled, largely by immigration. It also improved its social and economic status with more Jews becoming self employed and successful merchants. They also left the old district of Strathcona moving to newer middle class neighborhoods.

The Jews of Vancouver were among the first to join the Zionist movement and a Zionist association was founded in Vancouver already in the early 1900's. During the 1930's the Zionist movement in Vancouver was lead by Rabbi J. L. Zlotnick (1888-1962). A native of Poland and a notable activist of the Mizrachi in Poland, he immigrated to Canada where he became head of the Mizrachi Zionist Organization of Canada. J.L. Zlotnick served as rabbi of the orthodox community of Vancouver between 1934 and 1938. He eventually immigrated to Israel.

The Jewish community supported the Canadian war effort during 1939-1945. In addition to many Jews that enlisted into the Canadian Army, the community activated on behalf of the European Jews. The establishment of the State of Israel was welcome by many; not only had the Jews of Vancouver extended their financial and moral support, but twenty seven of them volunteered to fight in Israel's War of Independence. One of those volunteers, Ralph Moster (1924-1948), a pilot who previously served with the Royal Canadian Air Force, lost his life during the war.

After WWII the Jewish population of Vancouver has increased with the arrival of new Jewish refugees and immigrants from all over the world. Their successful integration contributed to the emergence of a multicultural and diverse Jewish community. The Council of Jewish Women was instrumental in assisting the various waves of refugees. In 1948, the first groups of Holocaust survivors arrived in Vancouver, including forty seven orphaned children. Other Jewish refugees included Iraqi Jews who arrived in the early 1950's, Hungarian Jews who fled the aftermaths of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, then Jews from Czechoslovakia who emigrated in 1968, and most recently Jews from the Balkans who fled the war in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990's. Vancouver has attracted many Jews from the eastern provinces of Canada, a tendency that accentuated itself during the last decades of the 20th century, as well as immigrants from United States, former Soviet Union, South Africa, Israel, and
South America.

The general move to newer residential districts and to the suburbs brought about a shift in the main centers of Jewish activities in the city. A Jewish center developed after the 1960's on Oak Street; the neighborhood shelters three synagogues, a Jewish community center, a Jewish religious school, a senior citizen home and hospital, and various stores selling Jewish food and books. Yet, the great majority of the Jewish inhabitants of Vancouver are scattered all over the city. Although rare, the Jews of Vancouver were occasionally victims of anti-Semitic incitement and attacks. During WWI and again during WWII, Jews with German-sounding surnames were sometimes treated with resentment. In the 1980's and early 1990's there were sporadic acts of vandalism against the community institutions, the worst being the burning of the Temple Shalom synagogue. In the early 2000's new acts of anti-Jewish hostility were reported among the growing local Muslim population.

In the early 2000's there were fifteen Jewish congregations in the Greater Vancouver area representing all Jewish movements with the Conservative congregations boasting the largest number of members. Reform congregations follow in the second place with the Orthodox and Chabad congregations attended by a dedicated minority. However, approximately half of the Jews living in the Vancouver metropolitan area are not affiliated to a religious congregation. The Jewish Community of Vancouver is one of the fastest growing Jewish communities in the world; its vibrant Jewish life is coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver. The Jewish education is served by a well developed educational system including ten preschools, three day schools - Vancouver Hebrew Academy, Vancouver Talmud Torah Elementary School, Vancouver Talmud Torah High School, and a number of after schools and Sunday schools: the Beth Israel Religious School, Or Shalom Religious School, Temple Sholom Religious
School, Beth Midrash Religious School, Torat Hayim in West Vancouver, Beth Tikvah Religious School, Richmond Jewish Day School, and Eitz Chaim – the last three located in Richmond, BC. The Greater Vancouver Community Kollel, located at Eitz Chaim synagogue, offers lectures and seminaries on Judaism in all districts of Greater Vancouver. Hebrew language courses are available at the Vancouver Summer Mini Ulpan. Youth and student organizations include Vancouver B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation who serves Jewish students attending the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, both in Vancouver, as well as other colleges in Greater Vancouver area. There are additional Jewish youth organizations active in Greater Vancouver area: Habonim Dror Zionist Movement, United Synagogue Youth / Kadima, Greater Vancouver Jewish Youth Council, National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), Temple Sholom Youth Group (NFTY), and B'nai B'rith Youth Organization.

The synagogues of Vancouver cater for members of all Jewish movements: Beth Hamidrash B'nai Jacob Congregation – Orthodox, the only Sephardic synagogue in Western Canada, has dedicated its new building in June 2004; Congregation Beth Israel – Conservative; Congregation Har El – located in West Vancouver is an egalitarian Conservative synagogue following the guidelines of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Lubavitch of British Columbia – Hassidic; Or Shalom – Reconstructionist, is part of the movement for Jewish Renewal; Schara Tzedeck Congregation - the largest Orthodox synagogue in Vancouver, offers daily and highly attended Shabbat services; Louis Brier Home – Orthodox; Temple Sholom - dedicated in 1976, was at that time the first Reform synagogue in Western Canada; Shaarey Tefilah Synagogue – Traditional.

Among the many Jewish organizations active in Vancouver a special mention should be made of the Canadian Jewish Congress – Pacific Region, Israel Action Committee, BC, and CIJA – Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. The links between the Jewish Community of Vancouver and Israel are maintained, among others, by local branches of the Canadian Friends associations of Israeli universities and institutions of research and higher education as well as of Israeli medical institutions and other cultural and humanitarian organizations. Community services include the Jewish Family Service Agency, the Hebrew Assistance Association, and the Shalom BC Information, Referral, and Volunteer Centre. The community has a developed program of assistance for the needy - Yad B'Yad Council on Poverty, a Non Profit Housing Society, and operates programs for senior citizens: Council on Aging and People with Special Needs (APSN), as well as other organizations, clubs, and associations for the
senior members of the community: L'Chaim Centre for Adult Day Care, Temple Sholom Seniors, West Vancouver Har-El Seniors Group, Sholem Aleichem Seniors of the Vancouver Peretz Institute and others. Teva Outdoor Club, Jewish Solos, and Kehila Jewish Singles offer dating opportunities for the single. Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) and Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada provide for the integration of Jewish immigrants to Canada. There are also a number of women community organizations: Na'amat Canada, Hadassah-WIZO Council of Vancouver, Emunah Women of Canada, National Council of Jewish Women, Ladies Auxiliary of Louis Brier Home and Hospital, and Jewish Women International.

The cultural activities are promoted by various organizations and associations including the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture, the Jewish Historical Society of British Columbia and Community Archives who edits The Scribe – The Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of BC, The Jewish Genealogical Institute, and the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival founded in 1989. There are two organizations dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust victims: The Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society for Education and Remembrance that holds an audio-visual archive of testimonies and endorses educational activities and the Western Association of Holocaust Survivors – Families and Friends. The Harry & Jeanette Weiberg Jewish Community Campus houses the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver and is home to The Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library. The Jewish media includes Yachad Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver Magazine, Jewish Western Bulletin, and Guide to Jewish Life in
B.C.


Jewish Personalities of Vancouver

David (Dave) Barrett (b.1930). A social worker turned politician, he joined the British Columbia Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, later known as the New Democratic Party, and was elected to British Columbia legislature in 1960. D. Barrett's political career reached the pinnacle during 1972-1975, when he served as Premier of British Columbia. He was defeated in his attempt to become leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada in 1989, and in 1993 lost his Parliament seat.

Sam Bass (1915-1990). A graduate from University of Manitoba (1939), he served as a pharmacist with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in WWII. Having settled in Vancouver in 1945, he bought Schoff's Drug Store (Main and Union), and renamed it London Drugs. S. Bass was instrumental in developing the first modern drug store in British Columbia; he also was a major donor to various Jewish charity activities.

Samuel Joseph Cohen (1897-1966). A successful businessman, he founded the Army & Navy, a surplus store at 300 block W. Hastings (1919) that soon expanded to a chain of five stores. S.J. Cohen was a generous donor, chiefly to children's charities.

Zebulon Franks (1864-1926). A Ukrainian-born son of a rabbi, and survivor of a pogrom in which his family was killed, he arrived in Vancouver in 1887, where he made a living first as a "junk merchant" and afterward as a storekeeper. Z. Franks is remembered as the first religious leader of the Jews of Vancouver, his home and store serving as the first prayer house for the local Jews. He was President of Sons of Yehuda (B'nai Yehuda) in 1907, and later of the Schara Tzedeck Synagogue.

Simma Holt (nיe Milner) (b.1922). An outstanding journalist, she started her career with the Vancouver Sun in 1944 and continued to contribute to numerous local and national newspapers. S. Holt entered politics by joining the Liberal Party and was a member of the Canadian Parliament for Vancouver-Kingsway riding between 1974 and 1979.

Nathaniel T. Nemetz (b.1913). A Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1963 and a Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1968, N.T. Nemetz became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1973, and was also elected an executive member of the Canadian Judicial Council in the same year. From 1985 to 1988, he served as vice-chairman of the Council. In 1979, he was appointed Chief Justice of British Columbia, a position he held until 1988.

David Oppenheimer (1834-1897). Often called the "father" of Vancouver, David Oppenheimer was born in Germany and arrived to Vancouver area in 1860. D. Oppenheimer's activity as Mayor of Vancouver (1888-1892) greatly contributed to the early development of the city. During his term the basic civic services of the city were set up: water supply, the fire department, sewers, streets, sidewalks, and parks, including the Stanley Park, still one of the main landmarks of Vancouver. D. Oppenheimer was the first president and founder of the Board of Trade in Vancouver. His bronze bust was unveiled in Stanley Park in 1911 by Richard McBride, the then Premier of the Province of British Columbia.

Anne Sugarman (nיe Wodlinger) (1895-1973). Daughter of Jewish pioneers from Winnipeg, she lived in Vancouver from 1919 until 1942. She founded the Reform Jewish Sunday School (1922). A. Sugarman was the First President of the Vancouver Council of Jewish Women (1924), and along with her husband Ephraim, she founded Congregation Beth Israel (1932). During WWII, she founded and chaired the Red Cross Salvage Scheme, copied across Canada and later on was responsible for the first seeing-eye dog program in North America.

Gertrude Weinrobe (1893-1975). First Jewish child born in Vancouver. Her parents, Barney Weinrobe, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, and Sara Sarbesky, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, came to Vancouver in January 1893. Their elder son, Nathan, 8, died shortly afterwards and was the first child buried in Mountain View Jewish cemetery. Gertrude was born three months later, the first Jewish baby born in Vancouver; she spent her life in the area and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery next to her brother Nathan.

New York City

The largest urban Jewish community in history; metropolitan area population 11,448,480 (1970), metropolitan area Jewish population 2,381,000 (1968), of which 1,836,000 live in the city itself.

The New York Jewish settlement began in 1654 with the arrival of 23 Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews from Recife, Brazil (a Dutch possession) who were defending the city from Portuguese attack. The director general of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, did not welcome the Jews. They protested to their coreligionists in the Dutch West India company and privileges were granted them. However, they were not allowed to build a synagogue.

The surrender of New Amsterdam to the British in 1664 brought a number of changes to the Jewish settlement.

Generally, civil and religious rights were widened, Jews were permitted to hold and be elected to public office, and restrictions on the building of a synagogue were lifted.

"Shearit Israel", the first congregation in New York, was probably organized in 1706. Between 1729 and 1730, the congregation erected the first synagogue. During this period, the Jewish merchant took a major interest in the business of overseas trade. Jews were the first to introduce cocoa and chocolate to England and were heavily engaged in the coral, textile, and slave trades, and at times had virtual monopolies in the ginger trade.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Jews represented between 1% and 2% of the total New York City population and in 1701, it is estimated that Jews comprised 12% of all businessmen who engaged in foreign trade.

The advent of the American revolution found the Jewish community divided. Some were supporters of the American cause, while others supported the British. The end of the revolution brought many distinct changes. Civil liberties, which were often a matter of governmental whim under the English, became part of the New York State constitution. Opportunities were expanded and new fields opened. One of the distinctive changes in post-war New York was Jewish involvement in the political life of the community, perhaps best seen in the career of Mordecai Manuel Noah, who was High Sheriff of New York in 1821.

The period after the revolutionary war also saw the proliferation of congregational organizations and divisions within the Jewish community as well as mutual aid societies and Landsmannshaften. There were also numerous fraternal orders founded, the most important being the independent order B'nai B'rith, founded in 1843. In 1852, "Jews' hospital" was founded, which later became known as Mount Sinai.

Beginning in the 1870's and continuing for half a century, great migration from Eastern Europe radically altered the demography, social structure, cultural life, and communal order of New York Jewry. During this period, more than 1,000,000 Jews settled in the city. They were overwhelmingly Yiddish speaking and impoverished. On their arrival, East European Jews found a Jewish settlement dominated by a group strikingly different in its cultural background, social standing, and communal outlook. By the 1870's, this older settlement had become middle class in outlook, mercantile in its economic base, and reform in group identity. In 1870, the less affluent and those whose occupations required it lived in the Southern Ward of the Lower East Side, while the German Jews moved half way up the East Side of Manhattan. The relocation of synagogues and the establishment of other Jewish institutions underscored this process of removal and social differentiation, thus dividing the Jewish populace into "uptown" and "downtown" Jews.

In the decade after the civil war, fathers and sons entered the dry-goods business and transformed their establishments Bloomingdale's, Altman's, Macy's, Stern's, Gimbel's, and Abraham and Strauss. A significant number of German Jews entered the field of investment banking. They also played a central role as entrepreneurs in the city's growing ready-made clothing industry. In 1888, of 241 such clothing manufacturers, 234 were Jewish. The immigrant Jews entered the apparel trade in great numbers because it was close at hand, required little training, and allowed the congeniality of working with one's own kind.

During the 1901-1909 period, the groundwork was laid for the emergence of an aggressive, responsible, and progressive Jewish labor movement. The socialist newspaper, "Forward", was developing into the most widely read Yiddish daily and became a major educational medium for the Jewish working class. The "uprising of the 20,000" - a strike of the waistmakers, mostly young women - in the fall of 1909, was followed by the "great revolt" of the cloakmakers a half year later. These strikes increased the numbers and stability of the international ladies garment workers' union (I.L.G.W.U.).

During the last third of the 19th century, the established community built - in addition to imposing temples - a number of large and progressive philanthropic institutions.

Two developments of major significance for the future course of orthodoxy in New York took place between 1910 and movement and in the year 1915 Yeshivat Etz Chaim and the Rabbi Elchanan theological seminary united.

The sharp rise in immigration after 1903 underscored the need for more rational use of the resources and communal wealth which the community possessed. Some downtown leaders recognized the ineffectualness of their own institutions.

In both sectors of the community, the alienation of the younger generation from Judaism and Jewish life was viewed with alarm. These concerns led to the development of the short-lived New York Kehillah, an attempt to create a united community structure. The immediate catalyst was the accusation of the New York police commissioner in 1908 that 50% of the criminals in the city were Jews. Led by Judah Magnus, a coalition of representative leaders established the Kehillah as a federation of Jewish organizations in 1909. Magnus served as chairman until its demise in 1922. The establishment in 1917 of the federation for the support of Jewish philanthropies proved more lasting than the Kehillah.

The Yiddish speaking masses who settled in New York created a rich and varied cultural life. Between 1872 and 1917, 150 journals in Yiddish appeared. The Yiddish theater reinforced the press.

During the 1920's, the New York Jewish unions entered areas of activity never previously known to U.S. trade unions. They conducted large scale adult education, health clinics, a bank, summer resorts, built modern urban housing, and generously subsidized struggling trade unions.

Jews constituted 51% of enrollment in the city's academic high schools in 1931, and 49.6% of the city's college and university students in 1935. Also by the 1930's, over half the city's doctors, lawyers, dentists, and public school teachers were Jews.

As the largest single ethnic group, Jews were a highly important factor in the political life of the city. In no other city could Jews as a group weigh so heavily in politics or were real or alleged Jewish political interest reckoned with so carefully.

In 1967, there were 539 orthodox, 184 conservative, 93 reform, and five unclassified synagogues known in Greater New York; all but 163 of the total were within the city's boundaries. Actual synagogue affiliation tended to be low, however. The city's conservative congregations leaned close to orthodoxy in which most of their members and leaders, at least before 1950, had been raised. The Jewish Theological Seminary is the focal institution of the conservatives and exercised broad spiritual influence in the Jewish and general community. Jewish education in New York followed nationwide trends in the slow disappearance of the Cheder, the rise and decline of the communal Talmud Torahs, and Yiddish schools in the period from 1915 to 1950.

The city of New York is home to the largest Jewish population in the entire United States. Behind the central districts of Israel, New York City has the highest number of Jews in any metropolitan area in the world. By 2013 there was approximately 1.5 – 1.7 million Jews living throughout New York City, accounting for nearly 18% of the city’s total population (8.3 million).

Serving the Jewish people of New York City are several organizations. Many of these focus on Jewish religious practice, healthcare, education and family services. Throughout the city’s five boroughs are many foundations which support local communities and advocate for Jewish and Israeli causes. Some of the major organizations include UJA Federation of New York, The Jewish Communal Fund, The World Jewish Congress, The American Jewish Congress, AJC (Global Jewish Advocacy), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and COJECO, the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations. There are additionally many local organizations that specialize in the needs of their respective communities, such as the Bensonhurst Council of Jewish Organizations, which is the oldest in New York City, the Bronx Jewish Community Council, the Crown Heights Community Council, the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, and the Boro Park Community council.

Found across New York City are hundreds of synagogues, representing nearly every movement within Judaism. While the majority of these are in permanent buildings, some are held in temporary places. Many of these are not found in directories. There is an estimated 50 Orthodox synagogues, 8 Conservative, 17 Reform, 2 Reconstructionist and 5-7 which are unaffiliated with any particular movement. Among the wide range of Jewish educational services, are more than 350 private Jewish day schools which serve over 140,000 students. These include 191 high schools, 247 elementary schools and 159 preschools. Outside of school are many programs for Jewish youth, such as the Bnei Akiva Religious Zionist Youth Movement, Friends of Israel Scouts (Tzofim) and Young Judea.

New York City is well known for its numerous cultural institutions and museums. Many are internationally known and visited by thousands every year. Among those of which are culturally focused, are several Jewish museums and Holocaust memorials, such as the Anne Frank Center (USA), Bernard Museum of Judaica, and The Center for Jewish History. Other museums include the Derfner Judaica Museum, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Jewish Museum (New York), Living Torah Museum, Yeshiva University Museum and the Jewish Children’s Museum. New York City also has many Jewish cultural centers including the JCC Manhattan, YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research), the Leo Baeck Institute, the American Jewish Historical Society and the American Sephardi Federation.

Significant Jewish immigration began in the late 1800s with major waves taking place between 1881 and 1945. Additional waves of Jewish immigration began following the establishment of the State of Israel. During the 1950s and 1960s as many as 300,000 Israelis immigrated to the United States. Israeli Immigration continued throughout the 1970s and has ever since. By 2000, approximately 30,000 Israeli Jews were living in New York City. The Israeli community is well known for its entrepreneurship, having opened many startups and branches of existing Israeli businesses. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, new waves of Jewish immigrants began arriving to New York City. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city’s Jewish population was greatly augmented by the Jews of Eastern and Central Europe and the Caucasus region. These included the Georgian and Bukharian communities as well as Ashkenazi Jews from the Baltic Republics, Moldova and the Ukraine. In 2012, the more than 350,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union in New York City were Jewish.

Over generations, Jews have developed various communities throughout New York City creating several Jewish enclaves. Boro Park in Brooklyn for example is home to the largest Orthodox community in the world. Other notable Jewish neighborhoods include Crown Heights, Flatbush, Williamsburg and Midwood Brooklyn, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows Queens, the Upper East and Upper West Side as well as Lower East Side in Manhattan, and the predominantly Hasidic neighborhoods of Willowbrook, New Springville, Eltingville and New Brighton.

Serving these neighborhoods as well as the rest of New York are several hospitals and health care facilities which were established by the Jewish community. In addition to Mount Sinai, one of New York’s oldest and largest hospitals, are several medical centers including Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, the Montefiore Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, the Sephardic Bikur Holim, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Jewish Home Life Care, and the Hebrew Home for the aged. Found throughout these Jewish neighborhoods are many historic landmarks. In some cases, the neighborhoods themselves are the landmarks. The Lower East Side is a perfect example. Others include historic synagogues such as the Kehila Kedosha Janina, the only Romaniote (Greek) synagogue in the entire western hemisphere, or the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first Eastern European Orthodox synagogue. Another group of landmarks include famous restaurants like Katz’s Delicatessen and Streit’s Matzo Company.

Since early Jewish immigration, New York City’s Jewish leaders developed foundations to keep medical centers like communal organizations alive. A number of Jewish Federations are overseen by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Other funding and support come from organizations like the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, the Jewish Communal Fund, Hadassah, Yeshiva University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Being a community that numbers nearly 2 million, the Jews of New York City enjoy several Jewish media outlets, including radio and print news. Notable periodicals include the Jewish Week and the Jewish Post of New York. Others include the Manhattan Jewish Sentinel, the Long Island Jewish World and Five Towns Jewish Times. There is even a Yiddish language newspaper known as The Jewish Daily Forward.   

Baltimore

Largest city in the state of Maryland, USA, founded in 1729

Early History

The first Jews in the city at the start of the 19th century were from Germany and Holland and by 1860 the Jewish population numbered more than 8,000, with both Orthodox and radical Reform. With the arrival of Jews from Eastern Europe many landsmannschaft synagogues were opened.

The first Jewish school was opened in 1842, and ten years later a society was formed to provide education for poor and orphaned children. At the start of the 20th century the running of the schools passed to the community, but by the 1950s it had returned to synagogal auspices. Samson Benderly was among those who worked to further Jewish education in Baltimore, and at the start of the 20th century Louis l. Kaplan served as Director of the Board of Jewish education. Several Jewish newspapers appeared in the city in English, German, and Yiddish; a monthly - "Sinai" - edited by David Einhorn, a Reform radical (1856); and the first American Hebrew weekly “Ha-Pisgah” (1891-1893).

Famous rabbis include David Einhorn, Abraham Rice, Benjamin Szold, Bernard Illowy and Jacob Agus. Outstanding in Baltimore's cultural life were the sculptor Ephraim Kaiser, the painters Saul Bernstein and Louis Rosenthal, the writer Gertrude Stein, and the poet Karl Shapiro.

There were two wealthy families, the Ettings and the Cohens, among the early settlers who came from Bavaria. These settlers were mainly peddlers and small traders until they rose to become traders in the garment industry. The German Jews did all they could to stop the influx of east European Jews to their city and employed them in harsh conditions which led to the formation of the needle trade unions after strikes and lockouts had occurred. The Sonneborn firm, one of the largest men's clothing factories in the USA, was forced into collective bargaining in 1914. The immigrants lived in overcrowded poor conditions, but they organized a rich social and cultural life - also involving the Zionists, the Bundists and Anarchists, Orthodox and Maskilim. A night school was started in 1889 by Henrietta Szold and became the prototype of night schools in the country. Many Jews opened their own enterprises and achieved wealth, including Jacob Epstein, who built a successful mail order business.
Jews have served at all levels of city, state and federal government; Etting and Cohen were members of the city council in 1826, Isidor Rayner served as a member of the US Senate 1904-1912, Philip Perlman was solicitor-general, the first Jew to hold this post, and after him Simon Sobeloff. Marvin Mandel was Governor of the State of Maryland.

Baltimore was an important Zionist center. In the 1880s one of the first Hibbat Zion groups arose in the city. The only American delegate to the first Zionist congress in Basel was R. Shepzel Schaffer from Baltimore and the ophthalmologist Harry Friederwald was the second president of the American Zionist Federation. Henrietta Szold, a native of Baltimore, began the Zionist work there, and in 1905 the founding convention of Poalei Zion in the United States took place. The local Hadassah organization had no less than 6,300 members.

In 1970 there were in Baltimore 92,000 Jews with 50 synagogues and a community center, among the largest in America. More than 90% of Jewish children went to Jewish schools. In addition to part-time schools, Baltimore had three Jewish day schools with 1,500 students - 15% of all local Jewish students, a higher percentage than the national average of 10%. Two institutions of higher learning are Hebrew college, founded by Israel Eros with 800 students, and a rabbinical college "Ner Israel" founded in 1933 by Rabbi Jacob I. Ruderman, with about 500 students. Thousands of adults attended various courses run by the Hebrew college and by large synagogues and in 1960 the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland was organized. From 1919 the weekly "Jewish Times" appeared. A central philanthropic organization was set up, also operating in educational fields. Of all the patients treated at the organization's Sinai hospital, 70% are non- Jews.

In 1997 there were 100,000 Jews in Baltimore.


Early 21st Century

In 2010, according to a study sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the city’s Jewish population was numbered at 93,400 people. By 2013, Baltimore and the surrounding metropolitan area boasted a community of nearly 100,000 Jews, approximately four percent of the city’s total population. Almost half of the Jews living in Baltimore were born in other locations in the United States.

Following the Islamic revolution in 1979, many Jews from Iran began to settle in Baltimore. In 1981, ten immigrants from Iran established the Ohr HaMizrach Congregation and Sephardic Center. By 2010, it served an estimated one hundred fifty Persian-Jewish families. During the late 1980s and 1990s, a large number of Jewish families from the former Soviet Union immigrated to the United States. By 2012, they comprised nearly four percent of Baltimore’s Jewish population.

In the Greater Baltimore area are a number of non-profit, community-based organizations which serve more than 43,000 Jewish households. These organizations work to promote Jewish values and to strengthen the Jewish community. They sponsor a variety of programs for children, families and adults. They also provide a wide range of services including healthcare, food, housing, education and financial support. Such organizations include the Hebrew Free Loan Association, Jewish Community Services, the Counseling, Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women, the Pearlstone Center and the Comprehensive Housing & Assistance Inc. Educational programs and support can be found at the Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education, the Baltimore Hebrew Institute, and Shemesh. Many of these organizations are directly sponsored by or are in partnership with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. The Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC) for example is one such program. Similar programs are organized by the Jewish Community Center and the Baltimore Jewish Council.

Providing medical care to thousands throughout Greater Baltimore is two of the city’s most prominent medical centers, the Sinai Hospital and the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital. Additional healthcare facilities include the Jewish Caring Network, the Hachnosas Orchim Program and Bikur Cholim.

By 1999, there were more than sixty synagogues, representing every branch of Judaism, from Orthodox to Reconstructionist. There are thirty-two Orthodox congregations, eight Conservative, four Reform, two Reconstructionist, and possibly sixteen or more who identify as independent. The results of the 2010 Baltimore Jewish Community Study revealed that seventy-four percent of Jewish Baltimore felt that being Jewish was important to them. According to the same study, forty-six percent of Jewish households reported to be members of a congregation, while seventy-six percent reported to attend services weekly and on High Holidays.

Since the end of the 20th century, Baltimore has seen a rise in the number of Jewish schools. The Baltimore Jewish community includes a wide range of Jewish educational programs and institutions. As of 2009, there were more than twenty preschools or daycares and over a dozen day schools for children from the elementary school to high school level. These schools are affiliated with the many branches of Judaism, particularly the Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative movements. As are the city’s fourteen Jewish children’s camps. Baltimore is also home to institutions of higher learning, such as the Ner Israel Rabbinical College and Hebrew University, which was founded by Israel Efros in 1919. The Baltimore Hebrew University was active until 2009 when it merged with Towson University, becoming the Baltimore Hebrew Institute. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Judaic studies.

As a way to promote Jewish life and values, the Jewish community of Greater Baltimore established various cultural centers for children, families and individuals. One in particular is the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. A constituent agency of The Associated (The Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore), the JCC offers a variety of cultural and social activities and programs including family events, a fitness center and a center for performing arts.

Located in downtown Baltimore is the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Founded in 1960 to restore the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the museum commemorates the history, culture and experience of the Jewish community of Baltimore. It is the largest regional Jewish museum in the United States. Another prominent cultural site is the city’s Holocaust memorial –the Holocaust Memorial Park. The center plaza was designed to resemble the two triangles which form the symbol of the Star-of-David.

Additional Jewish landmarks can be found throughout the city. Reisterstown road is home to the Jewish shopping district, a thriving area full of Judaic gift shops, book stores and several kosher restaurants.

The historic Park Circle district is a frequent attraction for walking tours as it had been the home to an early community of Jews from Eastern Europe. From the early 20th century to the 1960s, Park Circle had been a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.

An important icon of Baltimore’s Jewish history is the site of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Built in 1875, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Included on the campus of the Jewish Museum of Maryland is the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Founded in 1845, it is America’s third-oldest surviving synagogue.

At the turn of the 20th century, nearly ninety-two thousand Jews lived in Greater Baltimore. Approximately six percent of all households were Jewish. At the time, one quarter of the Jewish population lived within the city limits while seventy percent resided in suburban areas. Many Jewish households lived in predominantly Jewish areas. Major Jewish enclaves were established in Northwest Baltimore neighborhoods like Upper Park Heights, Mount Washington and Pikesville, which is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in all of Maryland.

The Jewish community of Baltimore has a long history of philanthropy and community aid. According to the 2010 Baltimore Jewish Community Study, nearly eighty-seven percent of Jewish households donate to a charity. Sixty-three percent donate to Jewish organizations, programs or causes. In the late 19th century, several charities were established by the German-Jewish community. Many of these charities developed to support the incoming waves of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, many of whom were very poor. As Eastern European Jews established themselves in Baltimore, they began to develop their own charities and communal programs. By the 20th century, two philanthropic networks existed. German Jews created the Federated Jewish Charities and Eastern European Jews established the United Hebrew Charities. In 1921, the two merged, forming the Associated Jewish Charities.

The Sinai Hospital and the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center were created by the United Benevolent Society which was founded in 1834. One of the largest and most successful philanthropic organizations in Baltimore is The Associated. Also known as the Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, they fund a variety of programs which benefit the Jewish community including financial and social services, healthcare, education, recreation and cultural activities.

Providing Baltimore’s Jewish community with news and entertainment is the Baltimore Jewish Times, a subscription-based weekly publication founded in 1919 by David Alter. It is the largest and oldest Jewish publication in Maryland and one of the premiere independent Jewish newspapers in the United States. The Baltimore Jewish Times is also the publisher of the Washington Jewish Week and Jewishtimes.com. Another source of Jewish news is the Baltimore Jewish Life, a website developed by professionals in the Orthodox Jewish community of Baltimore. Like the Baltimore Jewish Times, Baltimore Jewish Life publishes articles and content of local and international interest. Both function as educational tools and work to promote Jewish values in the Baltimore community.

Bucharest

Romanian: Bucuresti

Capital of Romania

The historic Jewish district of Bucharest used to be centered around the Choral Temple, and spread from Piata Unirii east towards Dristor. However, most of the Jewish buildings that stood there were destroyed during the 1980s in order to make way for the Bulevardul Unirii. As of 2015, there remain a handful of points of Jewish interest in Bucharest, serving the community of approximately 3,500. The Choral Temple, the Yeshua Tova Synagogue, and the Great Polish Synagogue, continue to hold services; the latter also hosts the city's Holocaust Museum. The Beit Hamidrash Synagogue, which dates back to the late 18th century, is abandoned and decaying, though the structure itself is still (barely) standing. Another abandoned synagogue whose building still stands is the Hevra Amuna (Temple of Faith).

The Jewish History Museum (Muzeul de Istorie a Evreilor din Romania) is located in what was once a synagogue called the Holy Union Temple. The synagogue building itself was constructed in 1836; it began serving as a Jewish history museum in 1978. Mozes Rosen, the chief rabbi of Romania from 1964 until his death in 1994, founded the museum and provided a number of items for its collection.

The State Jewish Theater, which is located in Bucharest, is the oldest uninterrupted Yiddish-language theater in the world. The theater features plays by Jewish playwrights, plays about Jewish topics, and Yiddish plays that run simultaneous Romanian translations through headphones. The theater is located next to the Lauder-Reut Jewish school, which has over 400 students enrolled in its kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools.

HISTORY

The Jewish community of Bucharest was formed both by Sephardic Jews who arrived from the south, chiefly from the Otooman Empire, and later by Ashkenazi Jews arriving from the north. A responsum by the rabbi of Solonika during the 16th century that mentions a Sephardic community is the first documented evidence confirming the presence of Jews in Budapest. The Jewish community began to grow and prosper; some were even the creditors of the ruling princes. This economic success, however, eventually came at a steep price (pun intended); when Prince Michael the Brave revolved against the Turks in November 1593, he ordered that his creditors be killed, among whom were a number of Jews.

Ahskenazi Jews began arriving and establishing their own community towards the middle of the 17th century, drawn there after fleeing the Khmielnitski Massacres taking place in Ukraine. Their numbers grew, and eventually the Ashkenazi community became larger than the Sephardic community. For tax purposes, the Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities were organized into a single community by the state, and were forced to pay a fixed tax to the treasury. Meanwhile, the general population, afraid of economic competition, was intensely hostile towards the Jews. In 1793 residents of the suburb Razvan petitioned Prince Alexander Moruzi to expel the Jews who had recently settled in the area and to demolish the synagogue that they had built. Though the prince ordered that the synagogue be closed, he did not remove the Jews from Razvan and, in fact, issued a decree confirming his protection of them. In 1801 there were anti-Jewish riots following blood libel accusations, and 128 Jews were killed or wounded.

In 1819 Prince Alexandru Sutu officially acknowledged both the Sephardic ("Spanish") and Ashkenazi ("Polish") communities, allowing them to operate as separate entities. This continued until 1949 when the Communist regime once again forced the two communities to join together. By 1832 there were 10 Ashkenazi and one Sephardi synagogues in Bucharest. The Great Synagogue, which was Ashkenazi, was dedicated on Rosh Hashanah, 1847.

In spite of the impressive Great Synagogue, the Ashkenazi community of Bucharest had to deal with a number of fissures and tensions during the 19th century. There were tensions between those were born in Romania, and those who immigrated to Bucharest, who were not under the same system of taxation as the native Romanians. This led the immigrants within the Jewish community, who were considered "foreign subjects" to refuse to pay the tax levied on kosher meat. This was a problem, as this tax constituted the sole income of the community council. The authorities, who were drawn into the conflict, at first upheld the traditional rights of the Jewish communal organization. However, following repeated complaints from both sides, as well as constitutional changes that took place in Romania in 1832, the community was given a new constitution that greatly curtailed its autonomy. Instead of operating autonomously, it fell under the direct authority and close supervision of the municipality. Eventually, in 1851, the Prussian and Austrian subjects (about 300 families) were officially permitted to found a separate community.

The increasing influence of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), also led to tensions within the Ashkenazi community. It is important to note that this conflict also reflected the economics of the community; those in favor of the Haskalah and who wanted the community to undertake more progressive reforms tended to be from the upper classes, while those who were more traditional tended to be further down the socioeconomic ladder. At that time, the Bucharest Ashkenazi community was torn by strife between the Orthodox and progressive factions. The controversy began to center around a school with a modern curriculum that opened in 1852, as well as the proposal in 1857, led by Ya'akov Lobel, to build a Choral Temple, that would incorporate modern ideas and principles into its services. The appointment of Rabbi Meir Leib Malbim in 1858 as the chief rabbi did not help quell the disputes. Malbim was a fierce and uncompromising opponent of the Reform movement, and he quickly made enemies among Bucharest's Jewish elite. The conflicts between Malbim and those who were in favor of the Reform Movement came to a head in 1862, when Malbim was arrested. He was freed only after Sir Moses Montefiore intervened, and on the condition that he leave Romania. The Choral Synagogue was completed in 1867, and became the center for the modernists of the community.

Among the most prominent spiritual and religious leaders of the community before World War I were Antoine Levy and Moritz (Meir) Beck, who were rabbis of the Choir Temple Congregation from 1867 to 1869 and 1873 to 1923, respectively. Other outstanding figures within the Choir Temple community were Iuliu Barasch and Yitzchak Leib Weinberg. Yitzchak Esiik Taubes was the rabbi of the Orthodox Congregation from 1894 until 1921. The most prominent lay leader was Adolf Stern. Moscu Asher led the Sephardic community, and Rabbi Hayim Bejarano was a noted scholar and poet. Later, the lawyer and politician Wilhelm Filderman would become the president of the Union of Romanian Jews, and Rabbi Jacob Isaac Niemirower would be the country's first chief rabbi. Filderman, in fact, would in 1941 work successfully to annul the decree forcing Jews to wear an identifying badge.

Between the two World Wars the Bucharest community grew in both numbers and importance. The Jewish population of the city, which had become the capital of Greater Romania and attracted immigrants from all parts of the country, increased from 44,000 in 1912 to 74,480 (12% of the total population) in 1930 and 95,072 in 1940. Most Jews worked as artisans, merchants, clerks, and bankers. Others were active in professions such as medicine and law. Several ironworks and foundries were established by the end of the 19th century. Major Jewish business leaders at that time included Leon Abramovici, Sigmund Prager, and Adolph Solomon.

There were a number of Jewish schools in Bucharest, particularly at the turn of the 20th century. Among the most influential was the abovementioned school established in 1852 by Yisrael Pick and Naftali Popper. These founders sought to imbue their school with the Haskalah principles that they believed in, and the school became extremely influential on Jewish education in Romania. There were also vocational institutions serving Jewish workers, including the Ciocanul (Hammer) school which trained Jewish craft workers.

Communal institutions included over 40 synagogues, two cemeteries, 19 schools, a library and museum, two hospitals, a clinic, two homes for the elderly, and two orphanages. There was also a B'nai B'rith, as long as a number of social and cultural organizations serving the community. A number of newspapers also served the community; the first Jewish newspaper, "Israelitul roman," was founded in 1855 and written in Romanian and French. Other publications included "Fraternitatea," "Revista Israelita," "Egalitatea," and "Curierul Israelit." Yiddish and Hebrew language publications included "Et LeDaber," "HaYoetz," and the Zionist newspapers "Mantuirea" and "Hasmonaea." A Yiddish theater was established in the late 1870s, and reached its peak during the interwar period. This theater would later be banned under Ion Antonescu.

Anti-Semitism continued to be a problem for the Jews of Bucharest. In 1866 the visit of Adolph Cremieux, a French lawyer who advocated for the political emancipation of the Jews, resulted in Jewish synagogues and shops being vandalized. The rise of prominence of nationalist leader Alexandru C. Cuza spurred the development of a number of anti-Semitic organizations, many of which were centered at Bucharest University.

In September 1940, with the rise of the Antonescu-Iron Guard coalition, Bucharest became one of the new regime's main centers of the anti-Jewish activities. This culminated in a pogrom during the rebellion of the Legionary Movement; 120 Jews were killed, thousands were arrested and tortured, synagogues were desecrated, and Jewish homes, shops, and community buildings were looted and destroyed.

Until the end of the Antonescu regime in August 1944, the Jews of Bucharest were subjected anti-Semitic legislation and persecution. Jews were legally downgraded to second-class citizens. They could no longer access state-funded education or health care, and their property was confiscated. These restrictions had major economic effects on the community: in 1942 only 27.2% of the city's Jewish population of about 100,000 were registered as employed, compared with 54.3% of the non-Jewish population. In September 1942 several hundred Jews were deported to Transnistria, where many eventually perished. Thousands of other Jews, particularly the young, were required to work as forced laborers.

The lack of access to education, combined with the growing poverty of the Jewish community, spurred the need for the community to greatly expand their own educational and social welfare activities. In 1943 the Jewish community ran 27 schools and 21 soup kitchens. Bucharest became the center of relief activities for Romanian Jews.

The Jews of Bucharest were saved after Antonescu was deposed on August 23, 1944 and German forces were not able to entering the city. Though Adolf Eichmann had begun making preparations to deport Romania's Jews, the fierce opposition on the part of the Romanian army, coupled with the entry of the Soviet Army on August 30, 1944, prevented any of these plans from being carried out.

After World War II, large numbers of Jewish refugees and concentration camp survivors began arriving in the city; by 1947 the Jewish population had grown to 150,000. The Communist regime, which came to power in 1947, gradually closed all Jewish national, cultural, and social institutions in Bucharest. The welfare institutions were nationalized and the schools were absorbed into the general educational network. A state Yiddish school was opened in 1949, but closed a few years later. A State Yiddish Theater was founded in 1948 and a Yiddish drama school was established in 1957. Two Jewish newspapers, the Romanian "Unirea," followed later by "Viata Novua" and the Yiddish "Ikuf Bleter" were published. Of the 44,202 Jews (3.6% of the total population) registered in the city in the 1956 census, 4,425 of them declared Yiddish to be their mother tongue. In spite of the difficulties in living under a Communist regime, Rabbi Mozes Rosen was able to successfully navigate the opaque policies of the Romanian government, allowing Bucharest to continue to serve as the center of Jewish communal and cultural life.

The rise of Nicolae Ceausescu, who was the dictator of Romania between 1965 and 1989, prompted mass emigrations to Israel. In 1969 it was estimated that there were 50,000 Jews living in Bucharest; by the turn of the 21st century there were only about 4,000.