July 2013

A piece of CJC history comes home

CJCJ1919medalWe recently received an exciting donation in the form of a medallion that had been worn by a delegate to the Founding Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1919. Despite the importance of this item to the core collection of CJCCCNA, the Archives has never owned one of these medals until now.

Measuring 3.5 centimetres (1 and 3/4 inches) in diameter, the small, tarnished item shows a draped female figure holding the scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other, with a bell at the bottom of the design. "Canadian Jewish Congress" is written on a scroll above her and "Montreal / March 16, 1919" at the level of her hips. The scroll on the bottom is in Hebrew characters, indicating the date as "Purim" followed by the Hebrew calendar year.

The medal belonged to Rivke Belansman (later Rivke Pascal) who was the delegate representing the Peretz School, formerly known as the National Radical School. It was donated by her daughter Naomi Pascal Freeman, who also provided information pointing out her mother in the famous group photograph of the event. She can be seen highlighted in the image below.

In this detail of the group of 209 delegates gathered on the steps of the Baron de Hirsch Institute, we can see that most of the delegates are wearing their medalliions. The highlighted one below is worn by General Secretary H. M. Caiserman. Caiserman is flanked on one side by CJC's first President Lyon Cohen (in a bowler hat and also wearing his medallion) and by newspaper publisher Hirsch Wolofsky.


From 1919 to 2011 the Canadian Jewish Congress was the democratic voice of Canadian Jewry for issues within Canada and abroad.