December 2017

A major refrain running through our heads in 2017 has been: the Canadian Jewish Archives is losing weight! In an initiative led by Archives Assistant Hélène Vallée, more than ever before we have been making efforts to lighten boxes and reduce unnecessary bulk, through removing nests of aging staples, replacing heavy metal clips and bulky binders with streamlined file folders, and separating out superfluous duplicate or otherwise non-preservation-worthy materials.

Through refining our scanning techniques and technology we note that we are more quickly and economically answering researcher and media requests. However increasing our digitization output has not resulted in a reduction of our paper footprint, as unlike offices which can make the decision to "go paperless", Archives do not discard original historical materials after creating a digital copy.  (For anyone interested in reading many compelling reasons why this is the case, I recommend this article posted by the Peel Archives Blog:

Of course we could not resist the lure of some new collections over the course of 2017, such as papers from Gertrude Katz about her work with Dr. Henry Morgentaler and her own career as a writer and social activist, and information from Myra Giberovitch about the Canadian Jewish community involvements of Holocaust Survivors. We also acquired a diverse selection of family papers, ranging from the Yiddish writings of Harry Sarlin donated by his daughter Gladys Rose of Saskatoon, to additional papers about the life and work of Rabbi Daivd Feuerwerker and his wife Antoinette Feurwerker of Montreal.  

As always, we would not have accomplished what we did over the past year without the help of our energetic and savvy student interns from McGill and Concordia Universities and John Abbott College.  As part of their internships, Tetyana Stadko (JAC) created a video featuring a 1995 interview with Wendy Eisen speaking about Soviet Jewry activist women in the Group of 35 (, Michelle Savard (McGill) created a video about Jewish community life in Rouyn-Noranda from the 1930s to 1950s ( ), Robert Citrom (JAC) developed and implemented a template system for improved archival box labels, and Claire English (Concordia) completed a much-needed catalogue for our Congregation  Shaar Hashomayim administrative records.

We also continue to rely on our amazing trio of dedicated Archives volunteers. At over 96 years of age Willie Glaser, who has sorted and categorized papers at the Archives for over 30 years, must surely be one of our community's oldest donators of time and skills. Handling all those lightened up and streamlined old documents must be helping to keep him young!