Morris Saltzman: Movement of the Jewish Community in Vancouver
Date:Wednesday, December 12, 1984
ID:Digital audio recording #: 19.84-02
Interviewer: Irene Dodek & Cyril E. Leonoff
ID: At the time that you were going to Hebrew school where did most of the Jewish people live? Did they live around the Heatley Street synagogue or were they already living the West End?
MS: No, very few Jews lived in the West End and I’ll tell you about them in a moment. The concentration of Jews—I suppose there were 200, or 250, or maybe even 300 families—were in the East End. That’s in the Georgia, Pender, Keefer, Heatley, Campbell Avenue.
ID: Where Chinatown now is, is it Chinatown or Gastown?
MS: Yes, but east of Chinatown extending to what we know as Commercial Drive area.
ID: Yes, Strathcona School that’s where…
MS: That’s right, Strathcona School which was the centre of the intercultural, multicultural, the melting pot. There was also another very large, a substantial school called the Central School which is the site now of the trade school on Pender Street between Homer and Richards.
ID: The vocational school?
MS: That’s right. That was Central School and that was a, with a mixture, a very large Chinese school population, a few East Indian, a few Japanese, a few Jews. But in the West End there resided very few Jewish families. And I must mention that as a kid I got to know the Freeman family and later I married their cousin, Mildred [Rosa] Freeman. The Zlotnicks, Sid and Hal lived in the West End. Mitchell Snider whom I mentioned earlier. The [Koshevoys] who I mentioned earlier. Other than that I don’t remember people living in the West End.
ID: This was in 19—what?
MS: From the period of 1925 to the period of 1937. [Inaudible].
ID: Mort’s [Morton Dodek, Irene’s husband] father came in ’34 and through the West End. They lived in the West End. And there was Silverberg, did you know that name at all
MS: Sure. George, Silberberg. Not Silver, Silber.
ID: I thought it was Silverberg but I may be wrong. George anyhow, it’s George.
MS: Yeah, George became a furrier and a neighbour of mine in business. His business was located close to mine. There were the Lessers were there. Family by the name of Blooms. Holts lived for short while. Leon Holt, who’s father had a fur store on Granville Street, lived for a short while. And there were a number of business people who had businesses on Granville Street but didn’t live in the West End to the best of my knowledge.
ID: Where did the Jewish people mostly live?
MS: They moved from the Georgia Street area which was the immigrant area to the Mount View Pleasant…Mount Pleasant area. Main and Hastings. That was a sort of a stepping stone…
ID: Just a minute, Main and Hastings is not Mount Pleasant.
MS: Excuse me.
ID: Main and…
MS: Broadway. I’m sorry. That area there, there were a lot of Jewish families including Chaim Leib Freedman who was possibly one of the stalwarts of the community. And his son is, he had a number of children, but the best known of them is Myer Freedman who was the originator if you will and the first president of the Jewish Historical Society lived in that area. And at that time, prior to, or just about at the same time as the Jewish Community Centre was being built, the first Jewish Community Centre…
ID: On 11th Avenue.
MS: On 11th and Oak Street. The building was, the cornerstone was laid in 1925 and the building was completed in 1928. And if I recall my history Shmarya Levin laid the cornerstone, I believe. And there are pictures of pioneer families, J.P. Jaffe, Rothstein, etcetera. You know even more or as much as I do about that time. And that was the impetus, Jews then began to live from 4th Avenue right up to 25th Avenue in the corridor, bordering the corridor of, Oak Street corridor.