Talmud Torah: Vancouver’s First Jewish School

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Before 1948, formal Jewish youth education in Vancouver was confined to afternoon and evening Hebrew schools run by the community as well as various synagogues. In 1918, afterschool classes that were being taught from a home on Heatley Street in Vancouver’s East End were formalized into the Vancouver Hebrew School. This school would later be known as the Vancouver Talmud Torah.

In 1921, the school moved into two upstairs rooms in the newly built Orthodox Schara Tzedeck synagogue at 700 East Pender Street. The Talmud Torah became officially independent in 1934, allowing it to expand its reach beyond the Orthodox community to the wider Jewish community. Some early teachers in the school included Jacob H. Narod, Kiva Katznelson and Joseph Youngson.

In 1943, the school moved to an eleven-room house on West 14th Avenue, and became a full day school. It opened with kindergarten and Grade 1 classes and by 1953 offered kindergarten through Grade 6. The school’s present location opposite the Beth Israel synagogue on Oak Street was built in 1948.