A Storied Timeline of Jewish Life in BC

Posted by kmintzberg

Throughout the history of Jewish life in BC there have been many significant challenges, milestones, and much growth and dispersion throughout the province. From a small original group of Jewish settlers a vibrant and diverse community of Jewish people in British Columbia has grown. As citizens of this province, and bearers of our culture and heritage, we look back on our history to understand and appreciate Jewish life in BC and how that history has shaped Jewish communities, organizations, and people today.

Missions and Traditions
Time Periods
What is an Archives?
Holidays and Life Cycle Events
Sources
Missions and Traditions

Missions and Traditions



Throughout the history of Jewish life in BC there have been many significant challenges, milestones, and much growth and dispersion throughout the province. From a small original group of Jewish settlers a vibrant and diverse community of Jewish people in British Columbia has grown. As citizens of this province, and bearers of our culture and heritage, we look back on our history to understand and appreciate Jewish life in BC and how that history has shaped Jewish communities, organizations, and people today.
 
The purpose of this online community collection is to document and highlight Jewish life in the current era in order to preserve a snapshot record of the intricacies of BC’s Jewish history. With the generous donations of archival material, personal time, and interviews from community members, the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC has been able to pursue this new project that will be a resource and an asset for anyone and everyone who is interested in learning about the BC Jewish community.
 
This online community collection is the first installment of an ongoing project that will be worked on in stages as funding for the JMABC allows. By no means is this an exhaustive account; it will continue to grow as new installments are added.
  
This collection was compiled and curated by Emma Moss, Education Assistant (summer 2012), under the supervision and guidance of Kara Mintzberg.

Time Periods

Time Periods



Each era in BC Jewish history has unique characteristics and presents unique challenges and opportunities to members of the BC Jewish community. The timeline of BC Jewish history can be divided into four broad sections to allow for a more comprehensive look at the people and organizations that shaped our lives:
 
1)      Gold Rush: 1858 – 1890 (pending sponsorship)
2)      Strathcona Saplings: 1894 – 1940 (pending sponsorship)
3)      Oak Street Blossoming: 1941 – 1969 (pending sponsorship)
4)     Post Oak Orchards: 1970 – Present
 
The first installment of this online community collection – Post Oak Orchards – will focus on BC Jewish history, from the 1970’s until present day.
 
In this era, change and progress within the Jewish community are consistent themes. Younger generations demand more tolerance of diversity in their synagogues and seek a wider range of programming to suit the needs of their modern Jewish lives. Jews in the modern era want their particular brand of Judaism to work for them and to custom fit their community – a departure from previous decades.  
 
Since 1970 much has changed in the BC Jewish community. Between 1971 and 2001 the Jewish population in Greater Vancouver has more than doubled in size.1 Along with this, the community has seen changes in the organizations throughout BC, with new leadership and growth within organizations, as well as an increase in the number of Jewish organizations over all.

What is an Archives?

What is an Archives?



An archives is an institution responsible for the appraisal, acquisition, preservation, and provisions of access to archival documents. An archives is a collection of historical records, ie: primary source documents, that have accumulated over the course of an individual’s or an organization’s lifetime and are kept to show the function of an organization. In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records are normally unpublished and are almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many identical copies exist. This means that Archives are quite distinct from libraries with regard to their functions and organization.
 
The Nemetz Jewish Community Archives of the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia has, since 1971, been acquiring the artifacts, original records, photographs and oral histories of individuals, organizations and businesses of the Jewish people of British Columbia. Today the collection (inclusive dates: 1860-2012) includes approximately 1,000 linear metres of textual records, 300,000 photographs  and 700 oral history interviews. The Jewish Museum and Archives are named after the Nemetz family, which include Abraham and Toby Nemetz and their children Charlie, Samuel, Sarah, David, Harry, Chava, William, Leo and Esther. Over the years, each member of the Nemetz family has made a lasting contribution to the city of Vancouver and the Jewish community.

Holidays and Life Cycle Events

Holidays and Life Cycle Events



The Jewish calendar is filled with annual holidays and life cycle events that are central to maintaining Jewish traditions and preserving Jewish culture – no matter the location. Across individual groups and people, Jewish events are celebrated for religious, spiritual, family, and personal reasons. They also centre communities around the long standing, historically significant traditions that have been celebrated for thousands of years across the globe.
 
Jewish culture is rooted in traditions that have been practiced for thousands of years by varying and distant Jewish communities. For many Jews, part of what it means to be Jewish is keeping up traditions and preserving cultural practices. Such practices as affixing a mezuzah to a doorpost or keeping a kosher diet are common and important practices in maintaining Jewish culture and identity. From bris to bar mitzvah, weddings to death, Jewish culture emphasizes and celebrates significant milestones throughout a person’s life – and community plays an integral role in it. In hard times and at times of celebration, people often seek connection with the community for support or to share in the celebration.
 
In modern societies maintaining Jewish traditions can often take personal commitment and initiative, as most modern Jews live in mixed ethnic and religious communities where many of their neighbours and friends may not be practicing the same cultural traditions. Leaders in the Jewish community play an important role in organizing and connecting members of the community and in maintaining such traditions.

Sources

Sources



“A Storied Timeline of Jewish Life in BC” Sources

  1. 2001 census analysis survey, Shahar and Gerber, 2003, p.5http://www.sfu.ca/archives/Glossary/index.html
  2.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archives
  3.    http://aabc.ca/resources/archivists-toolkit/JMABC
  4.    Jennifer Yuhasz, Archivist, Jewish Museum and Archives of BC, July 19th 2012

“Jewish Identity” Sources

  1.  Arrival and Settlement. Multicultural Canada. N.d. http://multiculturalcanada.ca/encyclopedia/a-z/j3/5
  2. The Scribe, 2007, volume xxvi, no.1, “the 19th hole at Gleneagles” Jewish Historical Society of BC.
  3.  http://www.hellovancity.com/2012/04/22/30th-anniversary-chw-pro-am-golf-tournament-at-richmond-country-club-july-9-2012/
  4. Interview with Mijael Lacher, United Synagogue Youth, Congregation Beth Israel, July 5th 2012
  5.  http://www.habonimdror.org/resources/adventures/CAMP%20MIRIAM.htm
  6.  http://www.jewishcamp.org/our-history
  7.  http://www.camphatikvah.com/who_we_are.html
  8. http://www.chw.ca/vancouver/
  9.  http://www.jewishindependent.ca/Archives/Jan10/archives10Jan08-04.html#top
  10. http://www.birthrightisrael.com/site/PageServer?pagename=about_main
  11. Interview with Dana Troster, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, August 2nd 2012
  12. Interview with Dana Troster, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, August 2nd 2012
  13.  Pre Bar/Bat Mitzvah Handbook, Congregation Beth Israel, source: Debby Fenson 2012

“Movin to the Burbs” Sources

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Vancouver
  2. http://memorybc.ca/burquest-jewish-community-association-fonds
  3. http://www.burquest.org/aboutus/history/
  4. Interview with Rabbi Baitleman, Chabad of Richmond, July 5th 2012
  5. http://btikvah.ca/
  6. Interview with Kay Abelson, Executive Director, Kehila Society of Richmond, July 9th 2012
  7. Interview with Joy Hayden, Managing Director, Congregation Har El, July 19th 2012
  8. http://www.jewishindependent.ca/archives/Oct03/archives03Oct31-05.html
  9.  http://wrssjcc.org/WR_SS_JCC/Background.html 

“Away from the Mainland” Sources

  1. Interview with Penny Tennenhouse, Avodah Social Action Group, Congregation Emanu-El, July 23rd 2012
  2. Interview with Ed Fitch, Congregation Emanu-El 150th Anniversary Organizing Committee, June 19th 2012
  3. http://jccvictoria.ca/history/info.html
  4. http://kolotmayimreformtemple.com/aboutus/
  5. Cantor Michael Zoosman, “Being a Jewish Prison Chaplain in British Columbia,” The Scribe, volume XXXI, 2011
  6. Email interview with Cantor Michael Zoosman, previous Jewish Prison Chaplain of BC for Correctional Services of Canada, August 2nd 2012
  7. Email interview with Cantor Michael Zoosman, previous Jewish Prison Chaplain of BC for Correctional Services of Canada, August 2nd 2012

“Jewish Spaces” Sources

  1. Interview with Perry Seidelman, former principle of King David Highschool, July 18th 2012
  2. http://kdhs.org/index.php?o=history
  3. Interview with Pat Johnson, Vancouver Hillel, July 19th 2012
  4. “Planting for the Future; Hillel in British Columbia,” source: Pat Johnson, Vancouver Hillel 2012
  5. Interview with Pat Johnson, Vancouver Hillel, July 19th 2012
  6. http://www.moishehouse.org/background.asp
  7. http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20120131/documents/p4.pdf
  8.  http://www.securingthefuture.ca/
  9. Email interview with Mark Gurvis, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, July 26th 2012
  10.  Email interview with Mark Gurvis, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, July 26th 2012