December 2013

Summing up the year

A major theme this year, as in the previous one, has been "student assistants". We are proud to have been chosen again as a practicum site for both McGill University and John Abbott College's archival studies programs, and to have also benefited from a Canadian Heritage grant under the program Young Canada Works in Heritage Institutions. Our student assistants from McGill, Casey Lees and Steven Daley, both worked on our CJC and JIAS records backlog, while Daniel Lavigne of JAC was responsible for putting online our fascinating new WWII collection of Joe Jacobson letters and diaries (

MartyPennIn addition, the students helped to create Youtube clips showcasing some of our audio interviews done by Leslie Lutsky and Eiran Harris. For example, see Rabbi Martin Penn speaking about his 1979 trip to the Soviet Union at, Ruth Colton Lehman speaking about the Ste. Sophie Jewish Community at, Dr. Joseph Leavitt speaking about bringing Polish orphans to Canada in 1921 at, and an excerpt from labour activist Lea Roback's autobiography at Meanwhile Keltie MacPhail, our Young Canada Works student, digitized many documents from CJC's Chronological and Community files, which can now be seen here: A sampling of documents from Jewish communities across Canada and Glimpses into the Canadian Jewish Congress Chronological Files.

KeltieP-and-JaniceR-boxmaking2013We continue to be assisted by our wonderful team of long-time volunteers; Willie Glaser, Shirley Sibalis and Eunice Seligson. In addition, Keltie returned to us as a volunteer after her YCW job ended, and McGill Library Studies graduate Amara Schaffer helped out with a variety of tasks towards the close of the year. Our seasoned volunteers work with us to improve the cataloguing and condition of our older holdings and sometimes tackle our new collections as well. For example, over the past months Eunice has been working on the Zionist organization records we recently received from the Bloomfield family, which highlight the many contributions of Bernard and Neri Bloomfield and their daughter Evelyn Bloomfield Schachter to the development of Israel.

The majority of our efforts continue to be sustained by the generosity of the Alex Dworkin Foundation for Jewish Archives, through Federation CJA, and by our Partnership status with the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. However the work we do to make collections available for research is also facilitated by the financial contributions we receive from individuals in appreciation of the information they have gleaned through using archival resources. This year we gratefully acknowledge contributions from Shepsel Shell and Beatrice Freder.

Last May we participated in the first Jewish Montreal Heritage Week, along with several partner organizations. The results of this collaborative effort can still be viewed at In the context of this week's events we produced a bilingual video showcasing one of our oldest groups of documents. This film, featuring the "Blue Book" newsletter of the Joseph family, can be seen at in English and in French.

Monument2013Our other Outreach activities over the past year included serving as hosts for the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Aberdeen Student strike of 1913. We were also proud to be present at the unveiling of an enhanced memorial monument at Montreal's Baron de Hirsch cemetery, which now lists the names of all the Canadian Jewish servicemen who were killed while serving their country. Project organizer Larry Rosenthal provided these names to the cemetery using the Canadian Jewish Casualties in the Canadian Armed Forces database maintained at the CJCCC Archives by Assistant Archivist Hélène Vallée.

In June, Archives Director Janice Rosen chaired an Association of Canadian Archivists annual conference panel session about Jewish cultural archives in Canada. She also coordinated a special section of the Association of Canadian Jewish Studies' journal Canadian Jewish Studies, called "The Archives Matter". The 2012 issue of the Journal which features this new section will be available in January 2014.