Summer 2022

Over the past 12 months the number of onsite researchers at the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives has returned to pre-pandemic levels or higher, with a total of 240 scholars, students and private researchers consulting materials in person between July 2021 and June 2022. Remote requests continue at high levels as well, drawing on the high visibility of our web-based catalogue The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network at as well as referrals from other Archives and previous clients. With the increased workflow brought on by this remote and onsite traffic, for the first six months of 2022 the Archives added a part time third person to the staff in order to assist with reference and enhance the content of the web-based catalogue.

As in pre-pandemic times, the CJArchives has maintained its commitment to mentoring interns in Canadian Jewish Studies and Information Sciences. From Fall 2021 through to Summer 2022 we accepted practicum students from Concordia University's Department of Religion, the EXCELR program of the Department of History at McGill University, and the Archives program of John Abbott College. With their help important progress was made in cataloguing large recently-received collections such as that of Dr. Jim Torczyner, the sisterhood of the Beth El synagogue, and Rabbi Wilfred Shuchat of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, as well as numerous smaller acquisitions.

A major portion of our audiovisual archives in Betamax and 16 mm format was digitized this spring under the auspices of a Quebec project aimed at increasing the online presence of Quebec audiovisual materials, funded by the Digital Ambition ("Ambition numérique") initiative of the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications. Meanwhile, Archives assistant Hélène Vallée has now completed the in-house digitization from microfilm of Canadian Jewish Congress' immensely useful weekly newsletter "Inter Office Information", thus allowing a detailed indexation of the entire run of the publication.

Over the course of the past year we participated in significant joint projects with several Canadian Jewish archives and other organizations; notably, in cooperation with the Ontario Jewish Archives we submitted a proposal through CCUNESCO asking that the Canadian Jewish Congress fonds, housed at both our institutions, be included in the UNESCO World Memory Register. This would be the first Canadian Jewish contribution to the Register.

The CJArchives staff have met several times with the Azrieli-grant-funded contract personnel at the Jewish Public Library Archives with the objective of helping orient these new additions to the staff and to participate in cooperative projects such as an upcoming "Archives Roadshow." Janice Rosen continues to serve as editor for the "Archives Matter" section of the Canadian Jewish Studies Journal, overseeing contributions from archivists in Jewish repositories across Canada. We have also been assisting with commemorative projects of national and local organizations; one example being the JIAS 100 year anniversary celebrations.

Outreach to university classes and other groups has continued virtually and has resumed onsite.  In June Archives Director Janice Rosen spoke about recent research trends and changes brought about by the pandemic at a round table on Canadian Jewish Studies organized by the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies, and on March 1 she presented a general talk about the Canadian Jewish Archives to the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN). The latter presentation was one of the most highly-attended of their Heritage Talks series and continues to be viewed on Youtube at Other virtual presentations of the 2021-2022 period included an orientation session for a Public History class at Concordia University in October 2021 and one for a Quebec history class at McGill in January 2022. In May 2022, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, a group of research fellows from the Jewish Museum of Montreal was welcomed onsite for an introduction to archival materials.

Shelley Mellor & David Maerzohn, circa 1900
from the Maerzohn-Marks collection 

Newly acquired collections of note in 2021-2022 include: a fascinating group of family immigration and Montreal-related documents from Karin Marks, the former mayor of Westmount Quebec; notable original materials about the YMHA Minstrels and other Montreal Jewish leisure activities of the 1930s through 1970s, from Gloria and Joseph Gilbert of London Ontario; human-rights activity and biographical materials from Professor Jean-Claude Bernheim, and rare family history documents about early 20th century Minister of Parliament / lawyer Samuel W. Jacobs, donated by a grandson. We are currently in the process of acquiring a major collection of documents from the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation.

In order to better process and disseminate collection information, in December 2021 the Archives implemented significant improvements to its core database structure. Upgrading to Claris Filemaker Pro 19 entailed the installation of a dedicated Mac server, an enhancement that has allowed for more effective and secure access for staff working both on and offsite.

The period from summer 2021 to summer 2022 was also characterized by an administrative transition which in September 2021 saw the financial and human resources management of the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives move from the responsibility of United Israel Appeal Canada to that of Federation CJA in Montreal. However, ownership of the Canadian Jewish Archives' assets and collections remains with UIA-Canada.