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Not Written in Stone

 | 
Daniel J. Elazar
, 
Michael Brown
, 
Ira Robinson

Part II: Analysis and Discussion

They Work in Faithfulness: Studies in the Constitutional Documents of Canadian Jewish Organizations Other Than Synagogues1

Ira Robinson

Texte intégral

What Do We Mean When We Say “Canadian Jewish Organizations?”

  • 1 I would like to thank Michael Brown for his criticisms and suggestions; Daniel Elazar for his enco (...)
  • 2 See Gerald Tulchinsky, Taking Root: the Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community (Hanover, NH and (...)
  • 3 For an interesting example of a social-scientific study of modern Jewish community, see Calvin Gol (...)

1Though individual Jews may well have visited the territory that comprises Canada some time earlier, contemporary Canadian Jews look to the British occupation of Quebec in the mid-eighteenth century as the beginning of their documented, ongoing community presence.2 Thus the Canadian Jewish community had its genesis during the period when the extraordinary transformation of the social and political condition of the Jews that took place in early modern times was also beginning. Much of our investigation will involve us in examining the manifold consequences of this complex, fateful transformation. One of its major characteristics is that the focus of the general society’s perception of Jews changed radically. In ancient and medieval times, both Jews and non-Jews agreed that Jews were members of a nation, exiled from their homeland, and strangers in the lands in which they dwelled. As their status evolved, Jews were no longer being defined as members of an alien national community in exile. Instead, they were to be considered citizens like their fellow countrymen, and their differences could now legitimately be expressed only in terms of religion. As a result, the nature of Jewish identity became quite problematic, as numerous studies have shown. In this volume, where issues of Jewish identity play a large role, the goal is to gain a better understanding of the process whereby the interlocking communities which comprise Canadian Jewry construct their identity. The researchers thus hope to shed light on the dynamic of the modern Jewish experience as a whole.3 We have examined the constitutional documents of the organizations which collectively make up the entity called Canadian Jewry. The basic assumption is that, whatever else they may be, these documents constitute self-conscious expressions of group identity, a sort of signature which, no less than any other text, is subject to analysis.

  • 4 Ibid., pp. 110ff.
  • 5 See also Michael Oppenheim, “A ‘Fieldguide’ to the Study of Modern Jewish Identity,” Jewish Social (...)

2In speaking of Canadian Jewish communities, we refer to groups of people who call themselves Jews, who live in a political/social/cultural entity called Canada, and who express themselves through organizations they have created in order to sustain their Jewish identity.4 These categories are neither rigid nor unchanging. They are, moreover, susceptible to various interpretations. Thus, the question, “What is a Canadian Jewish organization?” is no less momentous and complex than the classic conundrum of the study and politics of contemporary Jewry, “Who is a Jew?”.5 It goes almost without saying that the question, “Who is Canadian?” is nearly as difficult to answer.

3As we attempt to answer these basic questions, we must also confront another issue, whether anything is distinctly Canadian about these documents apart from their general North-American Jewish character? In his essay, “The Constitutional Documents of Contemporary Jewry: An Introduction to the Field,” Daniel Elazar argues that

  • 6 Daniel J. Elazar, Jonathan Sarna, and Rela G. Monson, eds., A Double Bond: the Constitutional Docu (...)

in the Canadian Jewish community [as opposed to the United States,] constitutional documents are more likely to express and utilize traditional terminology, in part because Canadian Jewry is far closer to its immigrant roots than U.S. Jewry. (The predominant models for U.S. constitution making go back to the mid-nineteenth century, whereas in Canada the predominant models are of the post World War I period.) Moreover the founders of Canadian Jewry came more directly out of a more articulated Eastern European kehilla experience than did the founders of American Jewry.6

4We have yet to see whether a close analysis of the documents will sustain this theory.

  • 7 For most observers of the contemporary Jewish scene, the sole exception to accepting self-identifi (...)

5Definitions inevitably affect the way in which a study is organized. Any project of this type needs to establish the selection criteria of the material to be studied. The criteria will elicit certain methodological responses from critics. There are those who construe the term ‘Jewish’ in a narrow sense, tending to restrict any such study to organizations with clearly Judaic purposes, synagogues for example. They take very seriously the notion that religion is the sole distinction between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours. Others understand the term more broadly and assume the inclusion of any organizational venture with which people calling themselves Jews affiliate.7 They consider that in contemporary North-American society, both ethnicity and religion represent a legitimate differentiating factor.

  • 8 Compare Michael Brown’s article in this volume, “Signs of the Times: Changing Notions of Citizensh (...)
  • 9 Thus Congregation Agudas Israel of Saskatoon, in its 1920 constitution, asserted that it would mai (...)

6There is no question that synagogues – the original, and until the mid-nineteenth century, the only Canadian Jewish organizational presence – are crucial to any study of Jewish organizations and constitute central foci for research.8 They have also performed and, in a number of cases (especially in smaller population centres), still perform activities parallel to those of many of the non-synagogal organizations to be discussed in this chapter.9

  • 10 Goldscheider and Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews, pp. 184,225. It should be noted noneth (...)
  • 11 Goldscheider and Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews, p. 225.

7But in the large urban centres in which Jews, like other Canadians, are increasingly concentrated, the large group of other Jewish organizations is in itself significant. This organizational complexity provides insight into the multiple ways of constructing Jewish identity in contemporary Canadian society. Like other North American Jews, Canadian Jews of each succeeding generation seem less committed to participation in traditional synagogue services and religious ceremonies in the narrow sense.10 It follows that non-synagogal Jewish organizations fill an increasingly important role in the construction of Canadian Jewish identity, and are, as Goldscheider and Zuckerman say with respect to Jews in the United States, “important bases of cohesion within the community.”11

  • 12 Joel Goldenberg, “Knights of Pythias Kick Off Their Annual Campaign,” The Suburban, 26 November 19 (...)
  • 13 Canadian Jewish Congress, “Quebec Organizations-Directors, July 4, 1995,” p. 2.

8The problematic nature of this issue is exemplified in this study by the Knights of Pythias of Quebec, a fraternal organization in Montreal with a predominantly Jewish membership, that engages in the support of numerous Jewish ‘good works.’12 On the basis of its inclusion in a list of Quebec Jewish organizations provided by the Canadian Jewish Congress, we invited the Knights of Pythias to participate in this study.13 Its leadership, however, responded to a request for their constitutional documents as follows:

  • 14 David M. Sadovnick, Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Quebec, letter to Ira Robin (...)

Even though the majority of the membership of our Brethren in the Domain of Quebec, are of the Jewish faith, we do have Brethren who are not. After much discussion, Pro and Con [sic], the decision reached [at the meeting of the Cabinet] was that as our constitution is not of any religion, the content would not be of any use to you.14

9That the Canadian Jewish Congress includes the Knights in its listing of Quebec Jewish organizations, and that the organization did not wish to be included in a research project on Jewish organizations clearly indicates shifting definitional ground.

  • 15 The 1931 list of the Association’s directors includes only people with Jewish names.
  • 16 A similar issue is raised with respect to the constitutional document of Local 181, Bakery and Con (...)
  • 17 Cited in Sandra Walker-Ramisch, “Graeco-Roman Voluntary Associations and the Damascus Document: a (...)

10Another aspect of the difficulty with definitions is illustrated by the Associated Retail Grocers’ Association of Winnipeg. This organization, whose members engaged in the “grocery, meat, fruit, and/or confectionary retail business,” was active from the 1930s to the 1950s. Its by-laws did not define the group in religious or ethnic terms. Like Montreal’s Knights of Pythias, however, it was considered in Winnipeg to be a Jewish organization presumably because it had a predominantly Jewish membership.15 It was certainly defined as Jewish by the Archives of Manitoba, when they responded to our request for the constitutional documents of Jewish organizations. What was Jewish about the calling of retail grocer in an ethnically-defined Winnipeg in these years is a subject beyond the scope of this study.16 But this example, like the previous one, helps us to understand that there is no generally accepted definition of a ‘Jewish’ organization. A third example would be the Association of General Studies Teachers in Hebrew Day Schools of Toronto. Here is a group with a significant percentage of non-Jewish members. Should the constitution of this organization be included within our purview? Ultimately, living with ambiguity, and even contradiction, may afford the best possible preparation for gaining insights into the nature of the phenomenon under examination. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz argues that before we can begin to discern general patterns of social organization or behaviour, we must first determine what he calls the “local truths” from a microsociological analysis of particular social groups.17 Eliciting these local truths from the constitutional documents of Canadian Jewish organizations is yet another way of stating the primary purpose of this study. In the end, we may be provided with a different perspective from which to view the variegated web of Jewish organizational life in Canada.

The First Non-Synagogal Organization

  • 18 Tulchinsky, Taking Root, pp. 41,49.
  • 19 See also Jacques Langlais and David Rome, Jews and French Quebeckers: Two Hundred Years of Shared (...)
  • 20 The 1887 edition of the Society’s constitution states that it was founded on 23 July 1863 and inco (...)

11The earliest attempt to form a Jewish organization in Canada other than a synagogue occurred in 1847 in Montreal, then the only numerically significant Jewish community in the country. The group was the Hebrew Philanthropic Society. A year earlier, the city’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Shearith Israel, lost its monopoly as the only synagogue in Montreal.18 Previously, charitable work and, for that matter, any other public Jewish activity in Montreal happened within the confines of Shearith Israel. Now action by one congregation would necessarily exclude members of the other, and an effort at communal cooperation was needed on a different level.19 Unfortunately, no constitutional document of the Hebrew Philanthropic Society has survived. We know, however, that in 1863, the Society was folded into the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society of Montreal, the first organization in Canada other than a synagogue for which we possess a constitutional document.20

  • 21 The “Revised By-Laws” printed in this way were adopted on 13 August 1871.
  • 22 A document dated 11 December 1899 gives a history of the organization, including the founding meet (...)

12What do the constitutional documents of that Society tell us? First, like many of the organizations described here, the Society seems to have been in operation for some time prior to the writing of its first constitution, which was printed in 1872.21 We may assume that members of any organization have to agree on its raison d’être and on how to attain its goals.22 Why wait so long to publish bylaws? Apparently, the catalyst for promulgating that initial formal constitutional document was the Society’s incorporation in 1870 and the legal requirement that corporate bodies must conduct their affairs under established bylaws. In fact, were it not for the provisions of the law, there would most likely be a limited number of Canadian Jewish constitutional documents. The legal requirement also explains why, from the very beginning, the documents under review follow a relatively uniform pattern with a minimum of idiosyncracies and tend to concentrate more on issues of finance and the control of real estate than on matters closer to the organizations’ purposes. This study, then, deals with Canadian legal documents in a very fundamental sense.

  • 23 (Montreal, 1872) title page.
  • 24 In the nineteenth century, Jews often preferred either ‘Hebrew’ or ‘Israelite’ to describe themsel (...)
  • 25 Thirteen is the traditional Jewish age of majority for males.
  • 26 In the 1899 document giving the history of the organization, the restriction of membership to unma (...)
  • 27 Article III – Government, section III. This provision was omitted in later Association bylaws.

13The stated aim of the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society – “the relief of distressed or needy persons of the Hebrew Religion”23 – was entirely consonant with the overt sectarian nature of charitable, as well as social, activity in nineteenth-century Canada. Jews were organizing to provide their co-religionists with the same services that Catholics and Protestants were providing the poor of their communities. Members of the Society had to be of “the Hebrew24 faith,” over thirteen years old,25 and unmarried. That only bachelors were eligible indicates that, beyond its charitable intentions, the Society was designed to fulfil some of the social needs of Montreal’s young Jewish men.26 The ministers of the two Montreal congregations were included ex-officio among the members of the Relief Committee.27 That indicates awareness that communal power resided to a large extent with the congregations.

National Organizations

  • 28 An alternative classification is given in Daniel Elazar and Harold Waller, Maintaining Consensus: (...)

14Since the 1870s, Canadian Jewish communal organizations have proliferated in tandem with the growth of the Jewish population. In a broad sense, the organizations can be divided into three types. Some have a pan-Canadian or national mandate; others are regional in scope; a third group serves a local community or a particular constituency.28

  • 29 Elazar, “Constitutional Documents,” p. 31.
  • 30 (Toronto, 1934), p. 1. Article I. Name. The formula remained in the 1936 constitution but was chan (...)
  • 31 On the kehilla movement in New York, see Arthur A. Goren, New York Jews and the Quest for Communit (...)
  • 32 See also Elazar and Waller, Maintaining Consensus, p. 234, which notes the “kehilla-like” nature o (...)

15Historically, the most prominent national organization has been the Canadian Jewish Congress. CJC was organized and exists as the unified representative body of Canadian Jewry. Founded in 1919, CJC essentially defined the idea of Canadian Jewry on a Dominion-wide basis at a time when Canada itself was looking for its independent voice in the world. Though it lapsed shortly after its founding, the challenges to world Jewry presented by the rise of Nazism in Germany in 1933 brought about its reestablishment in 1934. Since that time, CJC has enjoyed institutional continuity and considerable renown both within Canada and on the world Jewish scene. It is widely regarded as the ‘Parliament of Canadian Jewry’ and as that community’s public face in society, politics, and beyond. Elazar notes that CJC represents a distinctly Canadian orientation towards a comprehensive organization reflecting all aspects of communal life in its constitution of 1934.29 In that document, CJC defined itself simply as a “Dominion Organization of Canadian Jews.”30 In that, it was decidedly similar to the kehilla model of communal governance attempted in New York and other North American urban centres in the early twentieth century.31 It is noteworthy that this model had more success in Canada than in the United States.32

  • 33 Objects, Section A.
  • 34 By-Laws, Membership. This echoes the account of H.M. Caiserman, reporting on the principles of the (...)
  • 35 Ibid.

16The 1951 constitution of the Congress indicated its concern with developing “the highest standards of citizenship in the Jews of Canada”33 by opening membership widely to “every Jew, eighteen years of age or over, male or female residing in Canada who makes a monetary contribution in furtherance of the aims and objectives of the organization.”34 In doing so, Congress opened itself to the widest possible participation on the part of the community. On the other hand, it hedged its bets by giving its national executive the right to exclude “persons who are members of an organization which is itself... in opposition to the aims and objectives of the Congress.”35 This attempt to define and limit its constituency is, as we shall see, typical of Canadian Jewish organizations. It is interesting to note that the organization did not receive its Letters Patent until 1952, even though by then it had been active for two decades.

17Over the years, several organizations have rivaled the Canadian Jewish Congress in its role as the comprehensive, national Jewish organization for Canadian Jewry. One is the Canadian Zionist Federation which pre-dates the CJC. Another is B’nai Brith Canada. The rivalry is immediately evident in the 1993 mission statement of B’nai Brith:

  • 36 B’nai Brith Canada District #22 (July, 1993), p. 1.

B’nai Brith Canada brings men and women of the Jewish faith together in fellowship to serve the Jewish community through combatting anti-semitism, bigotry and racism in Canada and abroad; carrying out and supporting activities which ensure the security and survival of the State of Israel and Jewish communities worldwide; community service through various volunteer activities, cultivation of leadership, charitable work, advocacy and government relations.36

  • 37 Council of Jewish Federations Canada, Constitution of the Canada-Israel Committee, Draft, May 4,19 (...)

18Of late, in a process paralleling developments among American Jews, the Council of Jewish Federations of Canada has achieved a major leadership position in the community; its power is demonstrated by the 1994 revision to the constitutional document of the Canada-Israel Committee. Originally, the Committee was sponsored by and accountable to what its constitution referred to as the “principal organizations” of the Canadian Jewish community, namely the Canadian Jewish Congress, B’nai Brith Canada, and the Canadian Zionist Federation, as well as the Federations of Montreal and Toronto and the United Israel Appeal Canada. As of 1994, however, the Canada-Israel Committee became accountable solely to the Council of Jewish Federations Canada.37

  • 38 Joseph Kage, With Faith and Thanksgiving: The Story of Two Hundred Years of Jewish Immigration and (...)

19Another Canadian Jewish organization of national scope, although geared towards a specific purpose, is the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), originally founded as a by-product of the 1919 meeting of the Canadian Jewish Congress.38 Its first Letters Patent (1922) reflect the priorities of the day and include in their objects the following:

(e) To discourage... [Jews from] settling in congested cities...
(g) To encourage them to follow agricultural pursuits.

Regional, Local, and Special-Interest Organizations

  • 39 On the Federation phenomenon in the United States, see Jonathan Woocher, Sacred Survival: The Civi (...)
  • 40 More than two-thirds of the Canadian Jewish population reside in Montreal and Toronto.
  • 41 See also Ira Robinson, “Virtual Reality Comes to Canadian Jewry: The Case of the Canadian Jewish C (...)

20Every Canadian Jewish community, even those of moderate size, has a Federation of Jewish charities.39 The Federations of the two largest Canadian Jewish communities, Montreal and Toronto, have always possessed power beyond the confines of their jurisdictions, due in part to their disproportionate size in relation to the Canadian Jewish community as a whole.40 In recent years, their power and influence – exercised largely through the United Israel Appeal/Federations Canada – have increased to the point that collectively, through its National Budgeting Committee, Federations Canada exerts control over the budget of all national Jewish organizations including CJC.41 The Federations’ power, influence, and ubiquity command attention.

21Elazar has noted that, in their development, Canadian communal organizations have remained more faithful to the traditional norms of European Jewish communities (kehillot) than their American counterparts. He observed that

  • 42 Daniel Elazar, “Constitutional Documents,” p. 17. For an explanation of the three ketarim [crowns] (...)

in Canada [as opposed to the United States] the federation or community council constitutions are more in the spirit of the traditional kehtila in that they recognize and institutionalize roles for all three ketarim, including a community council for the keter malkhut, a rabbinical Vaad Ha’Ir... for the keter Torah, and at least a Kashrut Council or the like for those functions of the keter kehunah handled by the community as a whole. The Montreal and Ottawa community constitutions are perhaps the most pronounced examples of this.42

  • 43 Ibid., p. 31.

22Elazar particularly noted the Ottawa Vaad Ha’Ir as a comprehensive organization.43 How are these observations borne out in our documents?

  • 44 Article IA-Preamble.

23First and foremost, Federations are voluntary organizations. For example, the 1981 bylaws of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton state that the Federation was conceived as having “evolved in order to bring Community interests together in voluntary association for the purpose of joint planning and action.”44 Federations strive to be the exclusive representatives of the Jewish community. The Hamilton Jewish Federation states in its 1989 bylaws:

  1. The Federation is the sole representative of and the authoritative voice for the Jewish community of the Hamilton Metropolitan Area by virtue of the power vested therein by the Jewish Community.
  2. The Federation is vested with general authority in all matters of fund raising, community relations, Jewish education, social planning and any other matters of general concern to the Jewish community of the Hamilton metropolitan area.
  • 45 Article II, section 1.

24Some smaller Federations, such as the Atlantic Jewish Council, serve an entire region. The Council was designed to carry out many of the functions of Federations in local communities where the Jewish population is sparse. Chief among these is advocacy on issues of public concern. Thus, its 1975 constitution states that the purpose of the Council is “to help perpetuate Judaic and Zionist causes” in Atlantic Canada.45

  • 46 3. (c.).
  • 47 II. – Membership 1.
  • 48 III. i.

25Membership is a key to understanding any organization. When examining the Federation documents, it is important to note the difference between smaller and larger communities. In smaller centres, Federation membership is often seen as stemming from synagogue membership. This presumably reflects a situation in which the individual congregations are relatively powerful, and the community is perceived as uniting the powers of the congregations. The 1944 constitution of the Ottawa Va’ad Ha’Ir is a case in point. While admitting representatives of organizations other than synagogues, it stipulated that “synagogues shall always constitute not less than seventy percent of the total membership.”46 Membership in Kingston’s Jewish Community Council is extended automatically to members of the city’s two congregations, although a “non-affiliated Kingston Jewish resident” must “request... to become a member.”47 The London, Ontario, Federation constitution echoes the synagogue-centred nature of communal belonging by speaking of Federation membership as inhering in families (a standard category of synagogue membership) that have contributed to the United Jewish Appeal of London.48

  • 49 I. A. 1.
  • 50 Federation of Jewish Community Services (1959), By-Law Number 1,5.
  • 51 “Any woman in Canada interested in the objects of... Hadassa-WIZO... may become a member.” Part IV (...)
  • 52 Constitution (1972) Article III, Membership.
  • 53 Section 1 – Membership 1.1. Interestingly, the National Council of YM/YWHAs lists as its first pur (...)
  • 54 Article III-Membership, section 1.

26The question of whether one has to be Jewish to belong to a Jewish Federation, or, indeed, any other Jewish organization is an important one. In the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, Jewish organizations almost always referred to their prospective members as “Jews” or “Hebrews.” This is no longer universally the case. Sometimes, as with the Toronto Jewish Congress (1975-1989)49 and the Calgary Jewish Community Council (1956-1991), members are still described as “Jewish.” In many Federation constitutions, however, as in Montreal,50 the subject is skirted. This is also true of other organizations which are not religious in nature, such as Hadassah-WIZO51 and Pioneer Women.52 Some, like Montreal’s Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (1991) state that “membership... shall be open to all.”53 Similarly, the Canadian Chapter of the Israel Medical Association (Toronto, 1975) accepts “all physicians in good standing in Canada without regard to race, colour or creed.” By the 1990s, it was more likely to be Orthodox institutions, such as Emunah Women (1988), which continue to list “Jewish” as a membership qualification.54

  • 55 See also the By-Laws of the Golden Age Association (Montreal, 1994) in which members of the Board (...)
  • 56 5.1.1. See also the 1975 constitutional document of the Jewish Public Library (Montreal) Article V (...)
  • 57 Article 5A: “if married, married according to Jewish ritual or by way of civil ceremony in accorda (...)
  • 58 Article VII, section 5.

27One could infer that this inclusiveness on the part of Federations and other organizations is not an issue in the day-to-day operations of groups which foster the welfare of the Jewish community. The constitutional documents, however, point to problems. For example, the constitution of the Jewish Vocational Service (Montreal, 1980) requires directors to be members of the corporation (for which they must be contributors to Allied Jewish Community Services)55 and also “of the Jewish faith.” The Jewish Family Services of Montreal (1993) also specifies that its board members must be “Jewish Member[s] of Federation/CJA.”56 What no constitutional document does is define ‘Jewish’ for the purposes of membership. Among social and fraternal organizations, most are unlike Hamilton’s Grand Order of Israel (1967) which recommends standards of Jewishness such as marriage within the Jewish fold.57 Even in Orthodox Jewish organizations, the issue of standards is unclear. For example, the 1984 constitution of Emunah Women of Canada requires the president and the National Administrative Board chairperson to be “Sabbath observers,” implying that many rank-and-file members are not, even though observance of the Sabbath is a normative expectation of all Orthodox Jews.58

  • 59 Bylaws of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton (1981). III/A/(l)/a. See also the bylaws of Hamilton J (...)
  • 60 By-Law No. 1, section 4.
  • 61 V.1. See also Jewish Business and Professional Women’s Group (Vancouver, 1995).

28If Jewishness – however defined – is not a universal criterion for membership in Canadian Jewish organizations, what is? In many cases, the only formal requirement for membership in Federation is making a minimum contribution, often as low as $18.00.59 The 1975 constitution of the Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal expanded the notion of membership to include “any person who has contributed financially or has rendered services of a voluntary nature to Allied Services or to any of its constituent members.”60 The 1988 constitution of the same organization, however, reverted to financial contributions as the sole membership criterion; contributing to the Jewish Federation Campaign has, in fact, become the sine qua non for active membership in the many Jewish community groups affiliated with Federations. Thus, for example, to become a member of the Board of the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto (1975-1987), one must have pledged to the United Jewish Appeal Campaign and be current with payments.61

  • 62 Article 4 – Members.
  • 63 XXIII – Suspension A.

29The amount of financial contribution is an area which serves to distinguish organizations. The Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital of Montreal stated in its 1987 bylaws that members were required “either personally or through their firms [to] contribute annually to the Combined Jewish Appeal of Montreal... the sum of $1,000.00 or more,” although another provision allowed the officers to waive this requirement.62 The 1989 constitutional document of the Toronto Jewish Congress provides for the suspension of any member of the Council or the Board of Directors whose contribution to the UJA “is in the opinion of the officers, taking into account all the circumstances, inadequate.”63 In this way, organizations get to define the nature of their “Jewish community.”

  • 64 Article III, section 4 (2).
  • 65 Jewish Federation of Edmonton (1981), III.B.(5).
  • 66 Ibid., III/B/(7)/b.

30Membership in Federations or other Jewish organizations is a fundamental norm of contemporary Jewish identity. It is important, therefore, to note that the membership of individuals and organizations in the ‘Jewish community’ can be terminated, and most Canadian Jewish organizations have included a provision for expulsion in their constitutional documents. Some organizations state clearly general criteria for expulsion, as does, for example, the Atlantic Jewish Council (“conduct which brings discredit upon the Council, the State of Israel or the Jewish community”).64 The 1981 constitution of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton allows for the expulsion of member organizations that have jeopardized “the well-being or good and welfare of the Jewish community.”65 Individuals may be expelled “for any cause which the Jewish Federation may deem reasonable.”66

What Does Canada Look Like in These Constitutional Documents?

Canadian Jewish Geography

31In trying to deal with the implications of this study’s attempt to understand Canadian Jews and their identities, we must surely ask the question, “What is Canadian about all this?” One useful approach in answering the question involves thinking about geography. What Canada looks like to Canadian Jewish organizations is sometimes surprising, yet always instructive. They can and sometimes do construct a ‘Canada’ different from the political map of the country. Standard political geography generally divides the country into the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairie Provinces, and the Western Provinces. But this division is only partly reflected in the Canadian Jewish organizational ‘map.’

32Jewish Women International of Canada (formerly B’nai Brith Women) offers a hint of the geographical complexities. The organization’s 1991 constitution defines its jurisdiction as “All of Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the border of British Columbia.” What has happened to British Columbia? It is, one presumes, attached to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, in other words, lost to ‘Canada.’

  • 67 H.M. Caiserman, in Hart, The Jew in Canada, p. 469.
  • 68 III. Constitution 1.

33Similar surprises await those who examine the regionalization of Canada as understood by other Canadian Jewish organizations. The original Jewish division of Canada was established at the 1919 meeting of the Canadian Jewish Congress at which the country was “divided into three territorial districts, namely Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg.”67 These territorial divisions were perpetuated in CJC’s 1934 constitution.68

  • 69 Schedule A – Regions.

34Other organizational documents have tended to maintain these divisions, often in modified form. The 1988 constitution of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University divides the country into an eastern region that includes the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and Ottawa and a central region that includes “all of Ontario.” Incredibly, “all of Ontario” does not include Ottawa. Finally, there are “Midwest” (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) and “Western” (Alberta, British Columbia, and the Territories) regions. The 1991 foundation document of the Jewish Students’ Network Canada is even more explicitly Ontario-centred; it established three regions: Ontario, with the exception of Ottawa; a second, consisting of all the provinces west of Ontario, and a third made up of the territory from Ottawa eastward.69 The assimilation of the Maritime Provinces with Quebec in this regionalization scheme reflects the small proportion of Canadian Jews living in the Maritimes as well as the demographic importance of Quebec’s Jewish community. In yet another variation of the map, the Canadian Jewish Congress (1951) and Hadassah-WIZO (1993) include Thunder Bay, at the western edge of Ontario, in their Manitoba region, because the city is closer to Winnipeg than to Toronto.

35National organizations often attempt to create and maintain a regional ‘balance’ that reflects the uneven distribution of the Canadian Jewish population and parallels the Canadian federal constitutional arrangement. Just as two provinces – Quebec and Ontario – exert preponderant power in the House of Commons, the Jewish communities of Montreal and Toronto, home to the majority of the country’s Jews, exert overwhelming influence on Jewish organizations.

36This effort at balancing was already evident at the 1919 organizing meeting of the Canadian Jewish Congress which determined that

  • 70 See above, n.67.

the Dominion executive for the Congress movement shall be composed of five delegates from each district and have its headquarters in Montreal. That the Montreal territory shall have the right to elect eighty delegates to the Congress; the Toronto district seventy delegates; and the Western district, fifty delegates....70

  • 71 Article 6 (g).
  • 72 Article III – Elections (1) (b) (ii), pp. 8-9.
  • 73 By-Law II, Article 1. Membership.

37The attempt to strike a balance between Montreal and Toronto is reflected in the composition of the national board of directors of the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society. Its 1992 bylaw decrees that the board is to be composed of ten members from Toronto, ten from Montreal, and a maximum of ten residing elsewhere.71 The 1993 constitution of B’nai Brith Canada tries to achieve regional “balance” by mandating that eight vice-presidents “be elected on a regional residency basis.” Of those, two are to come from Montreal, two from Toronto, two from the Maritimes, Ontario, Quebec (with the exception of Montreal and Toronto), and one each from its mid-west and western regions (the provinces west of Ontario).72 The 1965 bylaws of the Canadian Association for Labor Israel achieve balance by dividing membership into thirds: one-third from Montreal, Ottawa, and the Maritime Provinces; one-third from Toronto and other Ontario locations; one-third from Winnipeg and western Canada.73 The 1988 basic document of Emunah Women of Canada specifies that no more than two vice-presidents may come from any one city, thus ensuring representation from smaller communities.

  • 74 3.01.
  • 75 There is some evidence of a Jewish organizational presence in the Yukon. See “New Jewish Historica (...)

38Not all organizations have been successful in achieving cross-country representation. Sometimes small communities are ignored entirely. For example, the 1993 constitution of Hadassah-WIZO74 has no provision for representation from Prince Edward Island, a province whose Jewish population is no more than approximately 100, although other organizations, notably the Canadian Jewish Congress, go to great lengths to include at least minimal representation of PEI. Not one organization considers the three northern territories, presumably because of their negligible Jewish population.75

Regional Variations

  • 76 Compare the constitution of the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada (1975), II – Objects. (...)
  • 77 Article XIV, section 1.
  • 78 By-Law Four – Object.

39Jewish organizational documents reflect events in the different regions of Canada. In documents from the Maritimes, there is evidence of a shrinking community. For example, the “Rationale,” which serves as a preamble to the 1986 constitution of the St. John Jewish Historical Society, goes beyond concern for the preservation of historical material.76 The New Brunswick document states that, “because the community looks to the future with uncertainty, we feel it is imperative to record its contributions and preserve its history for posterity.” The 1975 constitution of the Halifax-based Atlantic Jewish Council states that it will not dissolve “as long as there are people of the Jewish faith living in the Atlantic region.”77 In Quebec, the troubled nature of the relationship between the Montreal Jewish community and its provincial environment is manifested in the Montreal Federation/CJA 1992 constitution; it vows to provide “the leadership and resources that will assure the continued flourishing of the Montreal Jewish community.”78

The Montreal-Toronto Rivalry

  • 79 Through a 1992 amendment to its constitution. See also Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute (...)
  • 80 By-Laws, article I.
  • 81 By-Laws (1972) III.3 (b).

40Historically, Montreal was the largest and most influential centre of the Canadian Jewish community. In the last few decades, however, Toronto has assumed this position. Accordingly, a number of Canadian Jewish organizations, such as JIAS Canada, have moved their head offices from Montreal to Toronto.79 An example of the resulting tension between the two communities can be found in the 1972 constitutional document of the Pioneer Women, which states that any proposed move of its head office from Montreal would have to be submitted to the national board for study at least six months prior to a convention.80 Nonetheless, the organization recognized the difficulty of maintaining headquarters in Montreal by mandating that, when the president does not live in Montreal, “business... shall be carried on alternately by two Metropolitan Boards, one in the President’s city and one in the National Office City [Montreal].”81

Language Questions

  • 82 Soyer, Jewish Immigrant Associations, pp. 57-58.
  • 83 Article 1, 4. See also Ottawa Hebrew Benefit Society (1923) 1.4; 12.21.
  • 84 Section 1.
  • 85 Article 14. This article was eliminated in the group’s 1994 Constitution and By-Laws.

41Both the language in which these constitutional documents are written and the language used when conducting a group’s business are revealing. A constitution written in Yiddish, for instance, reminds both members and outsiders of the organization’s link to Jewishness, even when the ubiquitous presence of the English language is acknowledged.82 The Hebrew Sick Benefit Association of Montreal, for example, stipulated in its 1892 Yiddish-language constitution, that “the business and correspondence of the organization shall be carried on in the Yiddish language. However each brother is allowed to express himself in the English language.”83 By the 1950s, Yiddish, while still spoken by a significant number of Canadian Jews, was noticeably declining. Its use was more widespread among ‘secular’ Jewish organizations, like the United Jewish Peoples’ Order (UJPO), which sought an alternative to religion as a basis for Jewishness. As late as 1990, the UJPO constitution expressed a desire to promote “a wide variety of cultural activity in both Yiddish and English.”84 Even within the most traditional layers of the community, however, the attitude towards Yiddish became ambivalent in the postwar years. In its 1958 by-laws, the Jewish Community Council (Vaad Ha’Ir) of Montreal included the following article: “The official language of the Vaad Hoir [sic] shall be Yiddish. Minutes or correspondence, wherever possible, shall be conducted in either Yiddish or English.”85 By 1994, the Vaad’s constitution omitted an “official language” clause.

  • 86 14 May 1975. By-Law No. 1 – Interpretation, section 1. It may be noted that in the French title, M (...)
  • 87 Interestingly, in the English version the entity was called the ‘Eastern Region’ whereas in French (...)
  • 88 I.1 Name.
  • 89 1.1 Name.
  • 90 Article VII, section 2. Other organizations are less concerned with the language of the newspapers (...)
  • 91 Compare, “Statuts Amendés, Fédération des Femmes de la Fédération CJA,” 1995 draft.
  • 92 I1.1, p. 2.
  • 93 4.1, p. 3.

42Another issue surfacing mainly in Montreal-based organizations, involves English/French bilingualism, an issue which did not concern the Canadian Jewish community until the 1960s. The 1959 constitution of the Montreal Federation of Jewish Community Services was an English-only document. The 1965 constitutional document of its successor organization, the Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal, also contained no French. The 1975 constitutional document of AJCS, however, proclaimed a new bilingual name for the organization: “Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal-Services Communautaires Juifs de Montréal.”86 Similarly, the bylaws of the Canadian Jewish Congress Eastern Region appeared in a bilingual format in 1975.87 In its 1979 constitution, Montreal’s Jewish Educational Council identified itself in four languages: English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and French;88 its 1993 document moved French to second place, after English.89 The 1993 constitution of B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation of Montreal stipulates that notice of its meetings “shall be inserted in a French-language newspaper and in an English-language newspaper.”90 The 1982 document of the Young People’s Federation of AJCS mandated that the president, vice-president, and director must have a working knowledge of both English and French. By the 1990s, promulgation of bilingual constitutional documents in Montreal had become common,91 though other languages were also represented within the documents. For example, in its 1993 constitution, the Association of Jewish Day Schools, whose goal is to represent the linguistic and ideological spectrum of the Jewish schools of Montreal, the four languages of the city’s educational establishment are represented, although only English and French are termed ‘official.’92 This symbolizes the Association’s desire to “encourage the growth of Jewish Day Schools... while not impinging on the sovereignty or autonomy of any Member.”93 It also serves to emphasize further the sensitivity of the Jewish educational establishment to the nuances of the politics of education and language within Montreal Jewry.

  • 94 Article 7.
  • 95 Article 8 Objectifs. See especially 8.7 “Au niveau financier.”
  • 96 In an addendum to the Federation’s “Statuts,” dated Avril, 1989, there are provisions for headquar (...)
  • 97 Federacion Sefardita Canadiense. Article 1.

43A unique aspect of Montreal’s Jewish community is its large and active population of Sephardic Jews, the majority with roots in francophone North Africa. This group has become a community unto itself, whose relationship with Ashkenazi anglophone Jews has at times been strained. The 1991 Statuts of one of its major representative organizations, the Communauté Sépharade du Québec (CSQ), state the main objective of the CSQ as improving the collective well-being of the Sephardic community through the promotion of its religion, culture, and identity.94 The constitutional document of the CSQ looks towards the creation of a comprehensive Sephardic community operating in all spheres-educational, religious, social, and political-and paralleling the activities of Federation/CJA.95 In this way, the CSQ attempts to create a distinct society within the Montreal Jewish community while at the same time maintaining contact with the majority by participating in the campaign of Federation/CJA. It behaves like the Province of Quebec, constituting a distinct society within Canada while interacting with the rest of the country. Nationally, the Sephardic community is represented by the Canadian Sephardi Federation. Based in Montreal, the Federation maintains a semi-autonomous branch in Toronto.96 Reflecting its unique origins, the Canadian Sephardi Federation has official French and Spanish names, as well as an English name.97

  • 98 Supplementary Letters Patent (1978).

44Emigrants from Israel comprise a significant proportion of Canadian Jewry. Their constitutional documents, however, show few traces of their origin. An exception to the rule is the 1984 foundation document of Beit Halochem Canada, an organization that supports disabled veterans of the Israel Defense Forces and seeks to foster understanding and personal ties between Canadians and Israelis. Its ‘Jerusalem Chapter’ is made up of Israelis living in Canada. The United Israel Appeal Canada is another organization with linguistic ties to Israel. In 1978, it added to its English name the Hebrew HAMAGBIT HAMOUCHEDET LE ISRAEL B’CANADA [sic].98

Canadian Society

45While most of the constitutional documents do not refer explicitly to Canadian society, there are some interesting exceptions. For example, the first item in the ‘Objects’ section of the 1951 constitution of the Canadian Jewish Congress dealing with the goals of the group states:

  • 99 This is in contrast to the original CJC constitution (1934), which simply spoke of safeguarding “t (...)

To develop the highest standards of citizenship in the Jews of Canada by encouraging, carrying on and participating in activities of a national, patriotic, cultural and humanitarian nature; in the furtherance of the best interests of the country and of the Jewish people.99

  • 100 Canadian Jewish Congress (1992) Annex I.

46Interestingly, in 1992, Congress altered the text. Instead of “citizenship in the Jews of Canada,” the constitution now reads, “participation in the democratic process by the Canadian Jewish community.”100 This may have been an attempt at encouraging more dynamic participation in the political process on the part of Canadian Jews. By implication, it also defined Canada as a ‘community of communities’.

  • 101 12.15.

47The Ottawa Hebrew Benefit Society (1923) expressed its loyalties to both the country and the Jewish cause by mandating that its meetings open with the Zionist anthem, ‘Hatikva,’ and close with the singing of ‘God Save the King.’101 The Bialik Hebrew Day School of Metropolitan Toronto strives for balance between Canadian and Jewish loyalties, hoping

  • 102 1977,1.05 (G)

to prepare its students for a full and creative participation in the Jewish and general communities and to foster among its students qualities of good citizenship, loyalty to Canada, respect for its laws, and a love for and a strong link with the State of Israel.102

  • 103 Article II – Objectives I. A.

48Similarly, the 1989 constitution of the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto states that its objective is to help people “achieve an affirmative identification with Jewish life and a deep appreciation of their responsibilities as citizens of Canada.”103

  • 104 See also the constitutional document of the Associated Hebrew Schools (Toronto, 1975-1987), which (...)
  • 105 1984,1.05

49The constitutional document of the Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools of Montreal reflects local realities in going beyond a statement of loyalty to Canada. It states the aim of the school as fostering in its students “a knowledge of and a sense of devotion and belonging to Canada and the Province of Quebec, its people, history and cultures.”104 This pledge, marking a desire to inculcate Quebec as well as Canadian patriotism, was expanded in the school’s 1984 document with the telling phrase: “as well as a particular awareness and appreciation for the special character of the Province of Quebec and an affinity to its language, history and culture.”105

  • 106 A similar provision is made for membership in the Jewish Vocational Service of Toronto (1993).
  • 107 II. sections 4-5. See also Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (1974) II (4).
  • 108 II.2.

50It is fair to say that all Canadian Jews are conscious of the fact that they are part of a small minority within the Canadian polity, and, not surprisingly, Canadian Jewish organizations express consciousness of living in the non-Jewish world. The Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations (1977), for example, balances Jewish and general community responsibilities by insisting that members donate to both the United Way and the UJA.106 The London, Ontario, Jewish Federation explicitly seeks, among other things, “the advancement of the welfare of the entire community” and is interested in furthering “Canadian ideals and the democratic way of life,” while developing “harmony and good will... between the Jewish and non-Jewish community.”107 The Pioneer Women (1972) strives to “develop awareness among members of their responsibilities as Canadian citizens and to cooperate with other organizations in the promotion of democratic ideals in Canada.”108

51No organization, however, has been as overt in its commitment to Canadian society as the Jewish War Veterans of Canada. The objectives stated in that organization’s 1968 Letters Patent deserve to be cited at length. The Veterans aim

to maintain true allegiance to Canada; to combat whatever tends to impair the efficiency and permanency of our free institutions; to uphold the fair name of the Jew and fight his battles wherever unjustly assailed; to encourage the doctrine of universal liberty, equal rights and full justice to all men; to combat the powers of bigotry and darkness wherever originating and whatever their target; to preserve the spirit of comradeship by mutual helpfulness... to instill love of country... in our members and our youth; to preserve the memories and records of patriotic service performed by the men and women of our faith; to honor their memory and shield from neglect the graves of our heroic dead.

  • 109 National convention, 1993.
  • 110 JIAS Mission Statement (1992), Preamble.

52In a later Manifesto (1993), the organization let it be known that it supported not only such Jewish causes as the free emigration of Soviet Jewry and the defence of the State of Israel, but also non-sectarian Canadian causes such as national unity and the conservation of energy and natural resources.109 In the 1990s, the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society – whose major purpose is “facilitating the lawful entry of Jewish refugees and immigrants into Canada” – also advocated “humanitarian immigration policies with regard to the persecuted and oppressed from all groups.”110

  • 111 In the group’s 1975 document, the corresponding passage sought merely to be “consistent with Jewis (...)
  • 112 2.
  • 113 Preamble. In the constitutional documents of the Jewish Family Services of Edmonton, the overtly J (...)
  • 114 The memorandum is dated 14 January 1964. What is unusual is that the equivalent Hebrew calendar da (...)

53Attempts to harmonize Canadian and Judaic values can be found in many recent constitutional documents. The Constitutional Bylaw of the Toronto Jewish Congress (1985-1989), for example, lists, as the first of its goals, “To contribute to the well-being of Canadian society by advancing, in a democratic manner, values that are consonant with Canadian Jewish values and traditions.”111 A similar attempt to resolve the tension between the parochial and the universal may be discerned in the successive constitutional documents of the Jewish Family Services of Calgary. In 1960, the organization defined its constituency as “Jewish residents in the City of Calgary and district.”112 The 1992 constitutional revision reaffirmed that “the primary goal of the society is to improve the quality of life for the Jewish people in the City of Calgary and District.” At the same time, it added a declaration of “the dignity and worth of human beings, irrespective of race, sex, age, national origin, religion, colour and creed, handicap or ability to pay,” leading to willingness to provide “services to anyone in need.”113 Similarly, the 1964 ‘Memorandum of Agreement’ establishing the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba stresses that the founders are “assuming [their]... duties and responsibilities as citizens of Canada and proclaiming the principles of... [their] Jewish heritage and origin.”114

  • 115 Thus the New Fraternal Jewish Association of Toronto (1960) addresses, among other things, Jews’ c (...)
  • 116 (1993) VII.1.f.

54In an increasingly multicultural Canada, Jews are seen by others and by themselves as one of many ethnic groups.115 An unusual way of addressing this dynamic may be found in the constitution of the Jewish Community Council of Kingston, Ontario. It mandates the formation of a “Folklore Committee” for the purpose of coordinating Jewish community participation in multicultural folklore activities.116

Government Support of Social Services

55Many Jewish social welfare organizations were originally established because charity distribution in Canada was overtly sectarian and excluded Jews. Furthermore, Jews did not want to be seen as a burden on society. The 1872 documents of the Montreal Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society are illustrative. Some four decades later, the Letters Patent of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of Saint John (1917) stated that aid would be given to immigrants of the Jewish faith arriving there, “so that they shall not become public charges or otherwise burdensome, a care and nuisance to others.”

  • 117 4.03.

56This orientation has shifted as the circumstances and funding of social welfare in Canada have been transferred from religious to government agencies. The denial of access to denominationally-organized social services, particularly in Quebec, largely ceased, as governments assumed responsibility for funding social and health agencies. As citizens of Canada, Canadian Jews now enjoy the benefits of universal health coverage. An organization such as Montreal’s Jewish Support Services for the Elderly can stipulate in its constitution (n.d.) that its services will complement those in the public sector.117

  • 118 See also “Preamble,” By-Laws, Baron de Hirsch Institute (1993). Also the governance of the Jewish (...)
  • 119 By-Law One – Interpretation, 1.

57In 1971, the Quebec government takeover of social services led to considerable change within Montreal’s Jewish organizational structure.118 An echo of the changes can be heard in the 1992 constitution of Federation/CJA. There the term “Jewish Public Establishment” is used to refer to “a CONSTITUENT MEMBER whose primary source of support is the government of Quebec and whose clientele is drawn from both the general community as well as the Jewish community.”119

  • 120 Jewish Family Service (Montreal, 1993), Preamble.
  • 121 Compare, Jewish General Hospital (Montreal, 1993) By-Law No. 1 Chapter IX, 85. See also Jewish Reh (...)
  • 122 Project Genesis (Montreal, 1979) Article XXXVIII 3.10-11.

58Health and welfare organizations now typically make no overt mention of Jews and Judaism in their mission statements. They do, however, refer to such things as “the basic Jewish values of social justice and assisting one’s fellow man.”120 Provision may be made for an institution’s Jewish clientele – especially with respect to kashrut121 or the recognition of ‘special holidays,’ such as Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.122 An exception is the constitutional document of the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital of Montreal, which contains the following two provisions:

  • 123 1993-1994 Annual Report, p. 1.

The Jewish General Hospital will continue to maintain an environment which respects the religious beliefs of the Jewish faith. The Jewish General Hospital will continue to play a key role in the maintenance and strengthening of the Jewish community.123

  • 124 1993,4.4 a), d).
  • 125 1993, 5,1 b) (ii).

59In a similar way, Montreal’s Association of Jewish Day Schools recognizes its responsibility to represent its members before “Federal, provincial and municipal governments, their agencies and departments” as well as to “all public school boards and departments.”124 Further, the Association stipulates that member schools must have been granted permission to operate under the Private Education Act of Quebec.125

What Areas of Concern Are Expressed in the Constitutional Documents?

Youth

  • 126 Article VIII – Board of Directors 1.08.
  • 127 Article IV – Membership. Note that thirteen is the usual age of entry to secondary school (grade 7 (...)
  • 128 Article III – Purpose c).
  • 129 8.5.11.2.
  • 130 4.

60An ongoing issue preoccupying Canadian Jews is how to attract young people into Jewish organizational life. That goal is fundamental to the community’s conception of continuity. Already in 1847, the Young Men’s Hebrew Benevolent Society of Montreal was established in part to involve young Jewish men in communal activity. More recently, this issue has become a central concern. The 1993 constitutional document of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation of Montreal responded to the fear that the mainstream community was out of touch with the needs of youth. It included a provision mandating that “to the extent possible, the President, the Executive Committee and the Nominating Committee shall nominate as Directors individuals who are active in other Jewish community agencies and organizations.”126 An earlier example of an attempt to harness the loyalty and energies of young people was the establishment in 1982 by the Montreal Federation of a “Young People’s Federation” for those between the ages of thirteen and thirty.127 Its purpose was to “instill a sense of pride in Jewish identity and commitment to the continued growth of the Montreal Jewish community and of Israel.”128 In 1988, the Young People’s Federation was renamed the “Young Adult Division” and given the mission “to promote greater Young Adult awareness of and involvement in the community.”129 At least one organization, the Jewish Students’ Network Canada, has expressed the feeling of some young people that efforts to satisfy their aspirations have been insufficient. In its 1991 fundamental document, the Network arrogated to itself the special mandate “to act as a catalyst in the Jewish community by confronting those issues that the established organizations at times ignore or do not adequately address.”130

Israel

  • 131 1994,2.1.
  • 132 See also Canadian Zionist Federation (1993) 4.1 (c): “to assist in maintaining friendly relations (...)
  • 133 3.1 (e) (4).

61One of the most momentous events for Jews in the twentieth century was the creation of the State of Israel. Not surprisingly, since 1948, a major portion of the time and efforts of Canadian Jewish organizations has been invested in support of the state and its institutions. This concern is embodied by the Canada-Israel Committee (CIC), a group that stands at the peak of the Canadian-Jewish organizational structure. The Committee was set up by the most powerful national Jewish organizations in order to coordinate their positions on Israel and to serve as the community’s voice to government and the media on Canada-Israel relations.131 This coordination is designed to eliminate multiple public statements by organizations that consider themselves responsible for protecting and defending Israel in Canada.132 The desire to speak with one voice indicates both Israel’s importance to the Canadian Jewish community and the delicacy of issues relating to the Middle East. An interesting provision of the CIC foundation document deals with the independence of Canadian Jews with respect to the State of Israel. The document anticipates the possibility of taking a stand in opposition to that of Israel’s government. But it recognizes the gravity of such divergence by providing for a larger quorum and a seven-eighths vote for acceptance of any resolution “not compatible with an enunciated policy of the then government of the State of Israel.”133

  • 134 Sections I and II.
  • 135 Section III.
  • 136 4.1 (c).

62The importance of Israel in the construction of contemporary diaspora Jewish identity is recognized most unambiguously in the constitution of an Israel-oriented youth organization, Canadian Young Judaea. Noteworthy is the fact that the group’s Hebrew name, “Yehuda Hatzair B’Canada,” is listed before its English name and that it prominently displays an untranslated Hebrew term, hagshama atzmit (self-fulfilment), in its purposes clause.134 The main goals of Canadian Young Judaea are the (perhaps) mutually exclusive ones of “assisting members to go to Israel [and]... assisting the development of members for active leadership in the Canadian Jewish community.”135 In a similar way, the Canadian Zionist Federation (1993) seeks to utilize its Israel connection in order to promote and enlarge the scope of Jewish culture in Canada.136

  • 137 1982 Article VI – Standing Committees c).

63Travel to Israel by Canadian Jews, particularly youth, has been widely seen as a major educational tool in the promotion of Jewish identity. Montreal’s Young People’s Federation states as one of its goals, “send[ing] an annual leadership mission to Israel, the purpose of which shall be to educate, to increase awareness of the issues affecting Israel, and to increase commitment to community work.”137

  • 138 Though the institutions in this category are mostly for the support of Israeli institutions, there (...)

64It would not be an exaggeration to say that many, if not most, Israeli138 educational, religious, and social welfare organizations receive a significant part of their financial support from diaspora communities, and Canada is one of the most important in that respect. Canadian tax laws do not allow Canadians an exemption for charitable donations made directly to a non-Canadian institution. As a result, various Israeli institutions have established organizations known as “Canadian Friends.”

65The Canadian Friends groups indicate clearly in their constitutional documents that they do not exist merely to support the needs of an Israeli institution. As stated, their support is intended to foster the social, educational, and religious needs of Canadians. For example, the “Canadian Friends of Haifa University” (1973) specifies among its objectives:

  • 139 This particular point is emphasized in great detail in the Letters Patent of the Canadian Friends (...)

To identify and maintain the interest of Canadian Jewish communities in Jewish and Hebrew studies, traditions and culture... To create and serve as an intellectual centre for Canadians of the Jewish faith... To promote the training of teachers to serve Canadian Jewry139... to publish... for the benefit of Canadian Jewish communities... books, pamphlets, articles, monographs and other literature dealing with and relating to Hebrew and Jewish culture, the tenets of Jewish religion and the cultivation of Hebrew literature.

  • 140 The 1961 document of the Canadian Friends of Bar-Ilan University, representing Israel’s Orthodox U (...)
  • 141 It can be argued as well that the Canadian Friends engage in local cultural programming at least i (...)
  • 142 II.l.

66Notable is the emphasis placed on Jewish religion on the part of one of Israel’s most secular universities.140 Thus, largely because of tax law considerations – though not exclusively141 – a cultural force in the Canadian Jewish community has been created. Similarly, Canadian Magen David Adorn, an organization created to help Israel’s medical infrastructure, asserts its interest in the medical care of Canadian citizens residing in or visiting Israel.142

Women143

  • 143 See also Michael Brown’s discussion of women in the synagogue in his essay, “Signs of the limes,” (...)
  • 144 3. (d.).
  • 145 Article II – Purpose.
  • 146 This point is echoed in the Constitution of the Jewish Women’s Federation of the Toronto Jewish Co (...)
  • 147 Guideline 5.

67Canadian Jewish women are strongly represented both in general purpose organizations, which seek to attract both men and women to their cause, and in women’s organizations. In the earlier documents, however, the position of women in Jewish communal life was not so clear. In order to guarantee the presence of women representatives, the 1944 constitution of Ottawa’s Vaad Ha’Ir, stipulated explicitly that “women be represented on the Council, [and that] the various Congregations and organizations are empowered to appoint women as well as men in their quota of delegates.”144 As late as the 1960s, women were often viewed as auxiliaries in general organizations and peripheral to the male power base. This fact is manifested in subtle and less subtle ways. For example, the stated “purpose” for the Women’s Federation of Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal (1968) is “to provide the Jewish community of greater Montreal [with] a group of volunteers who will bring the aims and purposes of the constituent members of Allied Jewish Community Services before the Jewish women of Montreal.”145 Perhaps having sensed the ambiguity of this message, the AJCS adopted Terms of Reference in May 1968, stating that “the function of Women’s Federation shall be to develop knowledgeable leadership and to encourage involvement in total community endeavors.”146 The Terms of Reference directed the president of Women’s Federation “to present [its] needs and aims... to Allied Jewish Community Services.”147

  • 148 Article II.5.
  • 149 Article III – Mission Statement.

68By 1995, Women’s Federation had completely revamped its mission, putting the needs of women front and centre, promoting “the growth and vitality of all Jewish women. We ensure that the issues affecting Jewish women are part of the community agenda and are the basis of action.”148 In a similar way, the 1972 constitution of the Pioneer Women had already shown a growing awareness of the change in women’s societal roles, setting forth as an objective “to cooperate with women’s organizations in programmes for women’s social and economic equality.”149

  • 150 Part VI Schedule of Fees.

69A curious reversal illustrates the extent to which times have changed with regard to women’s issues. Some women’s organizations have begun to attract male auxiliary members. For example, the 1993 constitutional document of Hadassah-WIZO of Canada establishes a membership category of “Male Life Associate.”150

Education

  • 151 See also Toronto Jewish Congress (1991), which states as its second object, “To foster high commun (...)
  • 152 2.2 a.
  • 153 2.2 a.
  • 154 3.1.3.
  • 155 1.2.

70The Canadian Jewish community has come to recognize education as one of the key factors in its continuity programme. Whatever their personal beliefs and ideas, those who are serious about the future of Jewish life in Canada and elsewhere are united in support of education.151 It is useful to view the development of formal communal involvement in education as an aspect of growing Federation involvement in community life. The 1979 constitution of the Jewish Educational Council of Montreal provided for only two representatives from Allied Jewish Community Services on its thirty-two-member board of directors.152 By 1984, the number had been reduced to one of twenty-seven.153 The Council’s 1993 constitutional document, however, raised the number of Federation/CJA representatives to five of thirty-six.154 That document also contained a “Mission Statement” defining the Council as the “educational arm” of Federation/CJA and expressing support of the “Combined Jewish Appeal as the community’s central fundraising arm.”155

  • 156 Aims, section b., p. 1.

71Jewish education in Canada has seen a shift in emphasis. Originally, the community relied on afternoon schools as a Jewish supplement to the general education curriculum of the Protestant (Montreal) or public (elsewhere) school system. Since the 1960s, there has been a decided focus on intensive Jewish education in all-day schools, with afternoon schools becoming increasingly peripheral. This change can be seen in the constitutions of the Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools of Montreal. In the 1958 constitution, the school’s mandate was to provide “the Jewish curriculum of the Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools outside of the regular school hours for pupils who attend the Quebec school system for their general studies.”156 By 1984, this provision had been completely eliminated from the constitution.

  • 157 (1981) 2 a, p. 1.

72The movement away from supplementary schools is not universal. The Downtown Jewish Community School of Toronto, for example, represents a counter-thrust. Its overall objective is to “develop a pleasurable and satisfying orientation to Jewish group life – a sense of community,”157 through activities such as school-sponsored holiday celebrations and after-school and Sunday classes.

  • 158 See David Roskies, “A City, a School, and a Utopian Experiment,” in The Jewish Search for a Usable (...)
  • 159 I.L. Peretz School Association, Calgary (2) (A)-(B).
  • 160 Aims, section e.
  • 161 Ibid.

73For many years, language divided Canadian Jewish educators. Hebrew was the language of the classical Judaic tradition as well as the language of the Jewish community (Yishuv) of Palestine under the British mandate and then of the state of Israel. Yiddish, on the other hand, was the language of eastern-European Jews. It was adopted as a language of instruction by ‘progressive’ or radical elements of the Jewish community and by the ultra-Orthodox. Language and ideology went hand-in-hand, and schools were created to propagate various approaches to Jewish life.158 The I. L. Peretz School Association of Calgary, for example, on the basis of “Yiddish language, literature and history” wished to “elevate the cultural status of the Jewish people of Calgary” and to bring Jewish youth closer “to the humane-progressive ideals of modern Judaism.”159 The same ‘progressive’ ideal motivated Montreal’s Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools. According to its 1958 constitution, it sought “to imbue the pupils of its school with a sympathetic and constructive understanding of the problems and practices of a progressive democracy and of a pluralistic society.” It aimed to inculcate “a high sense of social justice and social responsibility”160 and “to foster in the young an identification with and an attachment to the progressive, social and cultural ideals of the Jewish people.”161

  • 162 1.05 D).
  • 163 2 b) vii-viii.
  • 164 1.02.

74Over the years, the influence of Yiddish waned, and that of Hebrew grew. One reason is the centrality of Israel in Jewish life since 1948. Another is the difficulty of teaching children two languages in addition to English and French. The shift is mirrored in the constitutions of Toronto’s Bialik Hebrew Day School (1977, 1989). They express a commitment to give students “a thorough grounding in the Hebrew language,” but only “a basic understanding of the Yiddish language.”162 The limitations inherent in the curriculum of a supplementary school make any language learning difficult and learning two languages all but impossible. The constitution of Toronto’s Downtown Jewish Community School states that the school aims only to “develop a Hebrew vocabulary of key words and phrases... [and to] introduce modern Hebrew through simple conversation, reading and understanding simple texts, and writing.”163 Even day schools recognize the difficulties of imparting a thorough knowledge of Hebrew and/or Yiddish. Originally, the Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools of Montreal was a Yiddishist school. Its 1958 constitution expressed the desire to give “the young generation extensive knowledge of Jewish culture, ancient and modern, in the Hebrew and Yiddish languages, as well as when necessary in the official languages of the country and the province.” In the school’s 1984 document, however, there is clear recognition of the growing necessity of English and French in the Judaic curriculum: those languages will be “used extensively in order to better conceptualize ideas and strengthen the sense of belonging to the Jewish people, its values and its culture.”164

  • 165 2 a) v-vi.
  • 166 I.– Mission Statement.

75Many schools articulate their educational philosophy in their constitutional documents. Especially schools espousing a liberal Judaic philosophy see such statements as necessary. For example, the Downtown Jewish Community School of Toronto states as its objectives “to provide a basis for self awareness as a Jew in a pluralistic community. To present traditional religious concepts with explanations of alternatives – indicating that there are many ways to be a Jew.”165 A similarly open stance is taken by the Leo Baeck Day School of Toronto (1990), sponsored by the Reform movement; it encourages its students to “appreciate and participate in the richness and strengths of a multicultural society.”166

  • 167 1977, 1.04.
  • 168 Camp Massad (Winnipeg, 1984).
  • 169 2. b).

76A sensitive issue in contemporary Jewish schools is the Jewishness of potential students – some of whom will likely not fulfil strict halakhic standards of Jewish identity. That the constitutions of Jewish schools do not, by and large, specify standards of admission serves as recognition of how troublesome this issue can be. A typical example of avoiding the question is the article, “Admission of Pupils,” found in the 1977 constitution of Toronto’s Bialik Hebrew Day School. It states that “All children conforming with the rules, regulations and conditions that may be, from time to time, set by the Board of Directors, shall be admitted as pupils.”167 The 1988 constitution of the Hebrew Academy, an Orthodox day school in the Montreal suburb of Côte St. Luc, relegates Judaic aspects of the school’s activities to the preamble. In that school, all religious questions, including presumably, the Jewish status of potential students, are referred to the school’s educational director. It is his “responsibility... to consult with outside halakhic authorities” when necessary. Jewish education is not only a matter for schools, but also for summer camps. Manitoba’s Camp Massad, for example, was designed as a “total Jewish learning experience.”168 Many adult organizations also see their role, at least in part, as educational. The 1959 foundation document of the Zionist Men’s Association of Canada states as one of its objectives the fostering of “Jewish consciousness through the study, appreciation and dissemination of Hebrew language, culture, history of the Jewish people and public celebration of national festivals and historic occurrences.”169

Religion

  • 170 (New Westminster, 1976). It is perhaps noteworthy that the “religious needs” clause, 2 (f), is the (...)

77In a survey of organizations other than synagogues, it comes as no surprise that there are not many societies dealing with the provision of ‘religious’ services. A few, however, do. One, which might be classified as a ‘para-synagogue,’ is the Burquest Jewish Community Association of British Columbia. Among other things, it was established “to serve the religious needs of the Jewish community of Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, New Westmister and Surrey,” as well as its educational, cultural, athletic, and social needs.170

  • 171 Ira Robinson, “The Foundation Documents of the Jewish Community Council of Montreal,” Jewish Polit (...)
  • 172 Article 2 – Purposes.
  • 173 Articles 3 and 11 (f).

78Taking a somewhat broader view of religion will bring us to the case of the Montreal Jewish Community Council. Founded in 1922 in an attempt to create an all-embracing kehila for Montreal,171 it ultimately emerged as an organization espousing Orthodoxy and specializing in the ritual certification of meat and other kosher products in the Montreal area.172 A barometer of the internal structure and progressive ‘haredization’ (that is, the move towards ultra-Orthodoxy) of the Orthodox Jewish community of Montreal is the balance the Council attempts to achieve on its board. In its 1958 foundation document, the nominations committee is instructed to “endeavour to maintain equitable representation of... synagogues, Educational Institutions and Fraternal and other Organizations.”173 In its 1994 constitution, the instructions to the nominating committee with respect to balance are that

  • 174 Article 11 (h). It should be noted that the kashrut supervising body in Ottawa has not gone in thi (...)

[E]very Council member would receive a list of the nominees broken down into four (4) distinct groups, namely 1) Sephardi Community; 2) Chassidic Community; 3) Yeshiva Community; and 4) Greater Montreal Synagogue Communities, unaffliated with any of the three (3) above. Each Council member would cast a secret ballot listing his choices for the three (3) representatives to each distinct group.174

Social Life

  • 175 Goldscheider and Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews, p. 225.
  • 176 Objects 2 (a).
  • 177 Article 3, Section 1. This provision was stricken from the constitution at some point.

79One of the major points made by Goldscheider and Zuckerman in The Transformation of the Jews is that Jews are Jews in the modern age largely because of their associative patterns.175 In Canada, Jews have historically socialized together both because they wished to do so and because they were often excluded from social contact with their Christian peers. Social clubs for Jews, particularly for youth, came into being in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. An example is the Concordia Club of Vancouver, founded in the 1920s. The club aimed “to provide a meeting place for the young Jewish men of the City of Vancouver [where they] may meet and become better acquainted with each other on the common ground of good fellowship.”176 Another example is the Jewish Community Players of Saint John, New Brunswick in which membership is open only to those of “the Jewish faith.” That organization’s original constitution had also mandated that membership was conditional upon the prospective member’s “acceptability” to the executive.177 The constitutional document of the Grand Order of Israel (Hamilton, 1943) states that its purpose is “to unite in bonds of fraternity all acceptable persons of good moral character of sound bodily health and of Jewish faith and origin who are socially acceptable.”

Landsmannshaftn

  • 178 For an analysis of the American landsmannschaftn scene, see Hannah Kliger,“‘That Will Make You a G (...)
  • 179 Article 3, 1. A similar organization was the Hebrew Sick Benefit Association (Winnipeg, 1906?).
  • 180 Compare, Chenstochover Aid Society (Toronto, 1934-1980), 4.
  • 181 Compare, Independent Workers Circle (1938). See also Daniel Soyer, Jewish Immigrant Associations a (...)
  • 182 See also the Canadian Hebrew Benevolant [sic] Society (Toronto, 1980), which does not specify Jewi (...)
  • 183 IV.2.
  • 184 This is a small indication of the tension between the concept of Jews as members of a religious or (...)
  • 185 On this phenomenon in general, see Shelley Tennenbaum, A Credit to Their Community; Jewish Loan So (...)
  • 186 February 1995, 16.

80The vast majority of Canadian Jews is of eastern-European origin. This fact helps us to understand the great importance of landsmannshaftn in Canadian Jewish life in the first half of the twentieth century. These associations of people coming from the same European town or area proved very useful in creating a safe space where immigrants could acclimate to their new country.178 Once established in their new homes, immigrants organized for the purposes of health insurance, death benefits, sociability, and a variety of other activities. The Hebrew Sick Benefit Association of Montreal was a pioneer organization of this sort. According to its 1892 foundation document, its membership consisted of men from sixteen to forty-five, of the “Mosaic faith,” sound in body and mind, and six months in the country.179 Membership in a landsmannshaft offered immigrants a unique and secure Jewish venue. While the requirements for membership in some landsmannshaftn included being Jewish,180 in others identity was considered self-evident.181 For example, Toronto’s Apter Friendly Society (1957) offered membership to “all persons born in Apt” without worrying that a nonJew from the town of Opatów might apply. Jewishness, however, was ethnic for the most part, not religious.182 While the Jewish faith is mentioned in many landsmannshaft documents, the 1931 bylaws of Toronto’s Ostrowetz Independent Mutual Benefit Society speak of applicants being members of “the Jewish nation.”183 Originally, the Calgary Jewish Family Loan Association, founded in 1931 as the Polish Jewish Family Loan Association, referred to “persons of the Jewish race” in its eligibility clause. Later, the term “race” was changed to “faith.”184 The Loan Association and others like it were mechanisms used to exploit and strengthen an internal Jewish economy.185 This can be seen in the documents of the Hebrew Assistance Association (Vancouver, 1979, 1995), which mandate “that both [loan] guarantors wherever possible should be members of the Jewish community.”186

  • 187 I.4.

81Often the documents express awareness that members of the landsmannshaft had ideological differences. The Ostrowetz Independent Mutual Benefit Society mandated that “questions related to Religion and Politics shall not be discussed at any meeting of the Society.”187

82Many of these organizations attempted to facilitate the observance of traditional Jewish mourning practices, although members might not be particularly observant of other aspects of the tradition. Winnipeg’s Linat ha-Zedek and Bikur Cholim Society (1923?) stipulated that when

  • 188 A quorum for prayer of ten male Jews over the age of thirteen.
  • 189 The seven-day period of mourning for relatives.

a member will be deceased (May the Merciful One save us!) the Society must provide a proper funeral. In the house of mourning there must be a minyan188 all the days of the shiva189 (may the Merciful One save us!)....

  • 190 See also Judean Benevolent and Friendly Society (Toronto, 1953), which refers to a benefit for “co (...)

83A provision in the statutes of the Independent Bnei Avrohom Sick Benefit Association of Winnipeg indicates, however, a decline in the observance of the mourning customs. Among the sick and death benefits available to members is the “Shiva Benefit. In case a brother sits shiva he collects five dollars. If he does not sit the entire week he will not be compensated.”190

  • 191 p. 14, (f). See also Lagover Mutual Benefit Society (Toronto, 1938) IV.2. The 1994 statutes of the (...)
  • 192 p. 19. See also Ottawa Hebrew Benefit Association (1923) 3.1. This concern is echoed in the 1994 c (...)

84In many cases, the landsmannshaftn provide burial plots. The sometimes problematic nature of Jewish identity is addressed in the 1958 regulations of the Iwanshe Mutual Benefit Society of Toronto. Anyone buried in the society’s cemetery must be “of the Jewish faith” and “willing to abide by all rituals and ceremonies which are conducted in accordance with the Jewish religion.”191 The regulations (1950s?) of the Zaglembier Society of Toronto are even blunter. They state that “members and their families who are Jews, but not according to the Jewish law have no right to a [cemetery] plot.” Toronto’s Judean Benevolent and Friendly Society (1953) is also concerned that married applicants for membership “should be legally married and according to the Jewish rites and ceremonies.”192 Its 1974 statutes warn that eligibility for continuing membership is contingent upon retention of “the Hebrew faith.”

85An interesting oddity relating to Judaic customs appears in the 1937 constitution of the Chessed Shel Ernes burial society of Winnipeg. Article nine of the Yiddish-language document states:

Parshat va-Yehi [the last Torah portion in Genesis, beginning with the words, ‘And he lived.’]: 1. The week of Parshat va-Yehi shall be celebrated by the members... and this will remain forever. 2. It will be celebrated in a Jewish hall, in a beautiful Jewish manner, with an obligatory feast.

Conclusion

86In looking at the constitutional documents of Canadian Jewish organizations other than synagogues, numerous facets of many different organizations have been examined. What common threads can be perceived?

  • 193 For example, Canadian Jewish Congress (1936), III. 20; Canada-Israel Committee (1994) 3.1 (d) (5).

87For many of the organizations, the Judaic nature of their activities was, in and of itself, a major part of the organization’s raison d’être. On the other hand, there is a reasonably large number of organizations for which this is not the case. With the possible exception of a few of the early landsmannshaftn, there are no constitutional documents with overtly Judaic language or concepts. In some, there can be found a trace of Judaic notions, such as a requirement of ten directors for a quorum, which may recall the minyan or prayer quorum of adult Jews.193 Nonetheless, almost all Canadian Jewish organizations see their main goal as the strengthening of Jewish life and community.

88In recent decades, there has been a retreat from the uniquely Canadian, national organizational model, the Canadian Jewish Congress, based on democratic, universal representation. Supplanting it is the American federation model, based on wealth and status. There is also ample evidence that the map of Canada created by Canadian Jewish organizations, as well as their approaches to the problematics of Jewish identity, show a number of distinctively Canadian traits. Reflecting Jewish settlement patterns in Canada, such organizations must be considered idiosyncratically Canadian. The constitutional documents of Canadian Jewry, which give voice to these social and political elements are, then, valuable evidence of the dynamics of Canadian Jewish life. As self-conscious expressions of identity, the documents present a window onto the re-invention and the constantly evolving process of selfdefinition that characterize the Canadian Jewish community.

Notes

1 I would like to thank Michael Brown for his criticisms and suggestions; Daniel Elazar for his encouragement; and my research assistant, Paulana Layman, for her efforts and ideas. All of them helped bring this project to fruition. I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of my father, Jacob Robinson (1917-98). His memory is a continual blessing.

2 See Gerald Tulchinsky, Taking Root: the Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community (Hanover, NH and London: Brandeis University Press, 1993), pp. 8ff.

3 For an interesting example of a social-scientific study of modern Jewish community, see Calvin Goldscheider and Alan S. Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

4 Ibid., pp. 110ff.

5 See also Michael Oppenheim, “A ‘Fieldguide’ to the Study of Modern Jewish Identity,” Jewish Social Studies 46 (1984): 215-30.

6 Daniel J. Elazar, Jonathan Sarna, and Rela G. Monson, eds., A Double Bond: the Constitutional Documents of American Jewry (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992), p. 16.

7 For most observers of the contemporary Jewish scene, the sole exception to accepting self-identification has to do with the so-called Messianic or Christian Jews, whose self-proclaimed Jewish identity is vigorously disputed by the mainstream Jewish community. The rule of thumb of observers of North American Jewry seems to be that ethnic identification as Jewish is sufficient only when a non-Judaic religious affiliation is absent. Thus one can be a Jewish atheist but not a Jewish Methodist.

8 Compare Michael Brown’s article in this volume, “Signs of the Times: Changing Notions of Citizenship, Governance, and Authority as Reflected in Synagogue Constitutions.”

9 Thus Congregation Agudas Israel of Saskatoon, in its 1920 constitution, asserted that it would maintain not merely a synagogue but other Jewish institutions, including a ritual bath, Hebrew school, and Free Loan Association, and “do everything possible, generally, to strengthen the Jewish spirit.”

10 Goldscheider and Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews, pp. 184,225. It should be noted nonetheless that, relative to Jews in the United States, Canadian Jews have a clear tendency to retain elements of the Jewish tradition. Compare Charles Shahar and Randal Schnoor, A Survey of Jewish Life in Montreal, Part 2 (Montreal: Federation of Jewish Community Services of Montreal, 1997), pp. 4–23.

11 Goldscheider and Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews, p. 225.

12 Joel Goldenberg, “Knights of Pythias Kick Off Their Annual Campaign,” The Suburban, 26 November 1997, p. a–19. Among the charities supported by the Knights are: Chabad House, Hillcrest Academy’s Jewish Heritage program, Montreal Holocaust Memorial Foundation, Na’amat Canada, and Free Hebrew for Juniors, not to mention a number of ‘Jewish’ hospitals in the Montreal area.

13 Canadian Jewish Congress, “Quebec Organizations-Directors, July 4, 1995,” p. 2.

14 David M. Sadovnick, Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias of Quebec, letter to Ira Robinson, 11 September 1995.

15 The 1931 list of the Association’s directors includes only people with Jewish names.

16 A similar issue is raised with respect to the constitutional document of Local 181, Bakery and Confectionary Workers International Union of Toronto. Though the document speaks of the workers making traditional Jewish baked goods, such as bagels and matzos, there is nothing in the document pointing to their ethno-religious identity.

17 Cited in Sandra Walker-Ramisch, “Graeco-Roman Voluntary Associations and the Damascus Document: a Sociological Analysis,” Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World, Johns S. Kloppenborg and Stephen G. Wilson, eds. (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), p. 142.

18 Tulchinsky, Taking Root, pp. 41,49.

19 See also Jacques Langlais and David Rome, Jews and French Quebeckers: Two Hundred Years of Shared History (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1991), p. 24: “The Founding of the YMHBS seems to have changed the way Canadian Jewry perceived itself. For the first time Canadian Judaism was defined by something other than religion. Its members now had a new frame of reference for belonging to the Jewish community and it went beyond their political and ideological differences. No organization or structure, even the synagogue, had priority over the others. Each represented one aspect of Jewish reality and a way of identifying with Jewry as a whole. From then on, Judaism was the sum of all these disparate groups.”

20 The 1887 edition of the Society’s constitution states that it was founded on 23 July 1863 and incorporated on 16 November 1870.

21 The “Revised By-Laws” printed in this way were adopted on 13 August 1871.

22 A document dated 11 December 1899 gives a history of the organization, including the founding meeting in 1863. CJC Archives.

23 (Montreal, 1872) title page.

24 In the nineteenth century, Jews often preferred either ‘Hebrew’ or ‘Israelite’ to describe themselves and their institutions, because of the often opprobrious ways in which the term ‘Jew’ was commonly used in English and other languages.

25 Thirteen is the traditional Jewish age of majority for males.

26 In the 1899 document giving the history of the organization, the restriction of membership to unmarried men was explained in part by the consideration “that the Society would be the means of making the Jewish young men of Montreal better known to one another.”

27 Article III – Government, section III. This provision was omitted in later Association bylaws.

28 An alternative classification is given in Daniel Elazar and Harold Waller, Maintaining Consensus: the Canadian Jewish Polity in the Postwar World (Lanham: University Press of America, 1990), p. 21, in which organizations are divided between “territorially and non-territorially-based.”

29 Elazar, “Constitutional Documents,” p. 31.

30 (Toronto, 1934), p. 1. Article I. Name. The formula remained in the 1936 constitution but was changed in 1939 to read simply, “the name of this organization is the Canadian Jewish Congress.”

31 On the kehilla movement in New York, see Arthur A. Goren, New York Jews and the Quest for Community: The Kehilla Experiment, 1908-1922 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970). For the experience of two other communities, see Ira Robinson, “Two North American Kehillot and Their Structure: Philadelphia and Montreal,” Proceedings of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies, Division B, The History of the Jewish People, Volume 3, Modern Times (Jerusalem: World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1994), pp. 139-46.

32 See also Elazar and Waller, Maintaining Consensus, p. 234, which notes the “kehilla-like” nature of the Ottawa Jewish community.

33 Objects, Section A.

34 By-Laws, Membership. This echoes the account of H.M. Caiserman, reporting on the principles of the 1919 Canadian Jewish Congress Plenary. Caiserman stated that “Every Jew and Jewess of respectable character eighteen years of age and older, without further qualifications upon payment of a tax of ten cents had the right to elect and be elected.” Arthur Daniel Hart, ed., The Jew in Canada (Montreal and Toronto: Jewish Publications, 1926), p. 469.

35 Ibid.

36 B’nai Brith Canada District #22 (July, 1993), p. 1.

37 Council of Jewish Federations Canada, Constitution of the Canada-Israel Committee, Draft, May 4,1994,1, “Composition.”

38 Joseph Kage, With Faith and Thanksgiving: The Story of Two Hundred Years of Jewish Immigration and Immigrant Aid Effort in Canada (1760-1960) (Montreal: Eagle Publishing Company, 1962), pp. 65ff.

39 On the Federation phenomenon in the United States, see Jonathan Woocher, Sacred Survival: The Civil Religion of American Jews (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986).

40 More than two-thirds of the Canadian Jewish population reside in Montreal and Toronto.

41 See also Ira Robinson, “Virtual Reality Comes to Canadian Jewry: The Case of the Canadian Jewish Congress Plenary,” Jewish Political Studies Review 11 (spring 1999): 65-66.

42 Daniel Elazar, “Constitutional Documents,” p. 17. For an explanation of the three ketarim [crowns], see Elazar’s article, “Using Foundation Documents in the Study of Jewish Public Affairs,” in this volume, p. 21; and Stuart A. Cohen, “The Concept of the Three Ketarim: Its Place in Jewish Political Thought,” AJS Review 9 (1984): 27-54.

43 Ibid., p. 31.

44 Article IA-Preamble.

45 Article II, section 1.

46 3. (c.).

47 II. – Membership 1.

48 III. i.

49 I. A. 1.

50 Federation of Jewish Community Services (1959), By-Law Number 1,5.

51 “Any woman in Canada interested in the objects of... Hadassa-WIZO... may become a member.” Part IV, Article I, Section 1.01.

52 Constitution (1972) Article III, Membership.

53 Section 1 – Membership 1.1. Interestingly, the National Council of YM/YWHAs lists as its first purpose to “promote religious, cultural, physical, social, civic well-being of Jewish young men and women.”

54 Article III-Membership, section 1.

55 See also the By-Laws of the Golden Age Association (Montreal, 1994) in which members of the Board of Directors must be “contributors of the Combined Jewish Appeal of Greater Montreal to the extent possible.” Article IV/I/B) 2) iii).

56 5.1.1. See also the 1975 constitutional document of the Jewish Public Library (Montreal) Article VII, Section II a, which restricts membership on the Board to Jewish members of the Library. This provision was changed in the Library’s later constitution.

57 Article 5A: “if married, married according to Jewish ritual or by way of civil ceremony in accordance with the law.” This provision was eliminated in the 1976 constitution.

58 Article VII, section 5.

59 Bylaws of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton (1981). III/A/(l)/a. See also the bylaws of Hamilton Jewish Federation (1989) and Hamilton Jewish Communal Projects (1949-1978). Note that the number 18 has a Jewish resonance. Its numeric equivalent in the Hebrew alphabet [gematria] spells ‘life.’ Both traditionally observant and secular Jews often give charitable donations of $18 or multiples thereof. Another possible echo of Judaic tradition is the setting of ten as a quorum for meetings, as does, for example, Jewish Family Services (Montreal, 1993, Bylaw 5.4.4).

60 By-Law No. 1, section 4.

61 V.1. See also Jewish Business and Professional Women’s Group (Vancouver, 1995).

62 Article 4 – Members.

63 XXIII – Suspension A.

64 Article III, section 4 (2).

65 Jewish Federation of Edmonton (1981), III.B.(5).

66 Ibid., III/B/(7)/b.

67 H.M. Caiserman, in Hart, The Jew in Canada, p. 469.

68 III. Constitution 1.

69 Schedule A – Regions.

70 See above, n.67.

71 Article 6 (g).

72 Article III – Elections (1) (b) (ii), pp. 8-9.

73 By-Law II, Article 1. Membership.

74 3.01.

75 There is some evidence of a Jewish organizational presence in the Yukon. See “New Jewish Historical Society Founded in the Yukon,” Association for Canadian Jewish Studies Bulletin (spring-summer, 1998).

76 Compare the constitution of the Jewish Historical Society of Western Canada (1975), II – Objects. A.

77 Article XIV, section 1.

78 By-Law Four – Object.

79 Through a 1992 amendment to its constitution. See also Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute, By-Law 15, amending By-Law 12, paragraph 2, which also moved its head office from Montreal to Toronto.

80 By-Laws, article I.

81 By-Laws (1972) III.3 (b).

82 Soyer, Jewish Immigrant Associations, pp. 57-58.

83 Article 1, 4. See also Ottawa Hebrew Benefit Society (1923) 1.4; 12.21.

84 Section 1.

85 Article 14. This article was eliminated in the group’s 1994 Constitution and By-Laws.

86 14 May 1975. By-Law No. 1 – Interpretation, section 1. It may be noted that in the French title, Montreal was spelled in the English manner without an é. The change may be dated to 1970, when the AJCS Comité sur le fait français recommended that bilingualism be adopted with regard to publications and publicity. Elazar and Waller, Maintaining Consensus, p. 123.

87 Interestingly, in the English version the entity was called the ‘Eastern Region’ whereas in French it was referred to as the ‘Région du Québec,’ though its territory included the four Maritime Provinces.

88 I.1 Name.

89 1.1 Name.

90 Article VII, section 2. Other organizations are less concerned with the language of the newspapers where notices are placed and more concerned that they be ‘Jewish’ papers. See also Jewish Family Services (Montreal, 1993, 6.3)

91 Compare, “Statuts Amendés, Fédération des Femmes de la Fédération CJA,” 1995 draft.

92 I1.1, p. 2.

93 4.1, p. 3.

94 Article 7.

95 Article 8 Objectifs. See especially 8.7 “Au niveau financier.”

96 In an addendum to the Federation’s “Statuts,” dated Avril, 1989, there are provisions for headquarters in Montreal and a regional office in Toronto. Two bank accounts – one in Montreal and one in Toronto – are specified.

97 Federacion Sefardita Canadiense. Article 1.

98 Supplementary Letters Patent (1978).

99 This is in contrast to the original CJC constitution (1934), which simply spoke of safeguarding “the social, political, economic and religious rights of the Jews.” Article II. – Aims (a).

100 Canadian Jewish Congress (1992) Annex I.

101 12.15.

102 1977,1.05 (G)

103 Article II – Objectives I. A.

104 See also the constitutional document of the Associated Hebrew Schools (Toronto, 1975-1987), which speaks, in section I.4.e, of instilling in the students “the values, ideals, principles and standards of ethical conduct consistent with good citizenship and respect for the laws of Canada.”

105 1984,1.05

106 A similar provision is made for membership in the Jewish Vocational Service of Toronto (1993).

107 II. sections 4-5. See also Winnipeg Jewish Community Council (1974) II (4).

108 II.2.

109 National convention, 1993.

110 JIAS Mission Statement (1992), Preamble.

111 In the group’s 1975 document, the corresponding passage sought merely to be “consistent with Jewish values and traditions.”

112 2.

113 Preamble. In the constitutional documents of the Jewish Family Services of Edmonton, the overtly Jewish references in the 1955 constitution were eliminated in the 1986 update. Similarly, the Vancouver Jewish Family Service Agency made no mention of specifically Jewish concerns in its “Purposes.”

114 The memorandum is dated 14 January 1964. What is unusual is that the equivalent Hebrew calendar date, 29 Tevet, is also given.

115 Thus the New Fraternal Jewish Association of Toronto (1960) addresses, among other things, Jews’ contribution to “Canada’s ethnic culture.”

116 (1993) VII.1.f.

117 4.03.

118 See also “Preamble,” By-Laws, Baron de Hirsch Institute (1993). Also the governance of the Jewish General Hospital of Montreal is determined by Quebec’s Act Respecting Health Services and Social Services, By-Law No. 1, Governance, Chapter II, section 1, par. 5.

119 By-Law One – Interpretation, 1.

120 Jewish Family Service (Montreal, 1993), Preamble.

121 Compare, Jewish General Hospital (Montreal, 1993) By-Law No. 1 Chapter IX, 85. See also Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, Laval, Quebec By-Law 3 (1990); “Administration Policies (1992), Role of the JRH.” Other Jewish organizations similarly wish to maintain the observance of kashrut either on principle or for the convenience of members who eat only kosher food. See B’nai Brith Upper Canada Lodge #1615 (Toronto, 1995) IV. 20.

122 Project Genesis (Montreal, 1979) Article XXXVIII 3.10-11.

123 1993-1994 Annual Report, p. 1.

124 1993,4.4 a), d).

125 1993, 5,1 b) (ii).

126 Article VIII – Board of Directors 1.08.

127 Article IV – Membership. Note that thirteen is the usual age of entry to secondary school (grade 7) in Quebec. It may, however, also echo the traditional age of Jewish male adulthood, a passage marked by the bar mitzvah ceremony.

128 Article III – Purpose c).

129 8.5.11.2.

130 4.

131 1994,2.1.

132 See also Canadian Zionist Federation (1993) 4.1 (c): “to assist in maintaining friendly relations between Canada and the State of Israel and to safeguard Israel’s good name in Canadian public opinion.”

133 3.1 (e) (4).

134 Sections I and II.

135 Section III.

136 4.1 (c).

137 1982 Article VI – Standing Committees c).

138 Though the institutions in this category are mostly for the support of Israeli institutions, there are exceptions to the rule. Prominent examples include Canadian Friends of Yeshiva University and of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, both New York institutions.

139 This particular point is emphasized in great detail in the Letters Patent of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University (1966): “to promote the training of teachers to serve Canadian Jewry and in particular its Talmud Torah schools, congregational, communal, parochial and neutral schools; to aid the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in its program of teacher training to the end that the Hebrew schools in the many communities of Canada will benefit and profit from the modern techniques and educational methods of the Hebrew University,” (p. 3). See also the 1993 Constitution, object 4, which speaks of “quality educational programmes in Jewish communities across Canada.”

140 The 1961 document of the Canadian Friends of Bar-Ilan University, representing Israel’s Orthodox University, goes beyond this provision for cultural activities for the benefit of Canadian Jews. In By-Law 3, it speaks of founding an institute to prepare prospective Canadian students for admission at Bar-Ilan.

141 It can be argued as well that the Canadian Friends engage in local cultural programming at least in part as an expression of the Zionist conception of gegenwartsarbeit – spreading the Zionist message in the Diaspora.

142 II.l.

143 See also Michael Brown’s discussion of women in the synagogue in his essay, “Signs of the limes,” which appears elsewhere in this volume.

144 3. (d.).

145 Article II – Purpose.

146 This point is echoed in the Constitution of the Jewish Women’s Federation of the Toronto Jewish Congress (1984), III.3.

147 Guideline 5.

148 Article II.5.

149 Article III – Mission Statement.

150 Part VI Schedule of Fees.

151 See also Toronto Jewish Congress (1991), which states as its second object, “To foster high communal standards of formal Jewish education and culture as well as religious identification, all directed to the strengthening and enhancement of personal and community Jewish identity.”

152 2.2 a.

153 2.2 a.

154 3.1.3.

155 1.2.

156 Aims, section b., p. 1.

157 (1981) 2 a, p. 1.

158 See David Roskies, “A City, a School, and a Utopian Experiment,” in The Jewish Search for a Usable Past (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), pp. 146-57.

159 I.L. Peretz School Association, Calgary (2) (A)-(B).

160 Aims, section e.

161 Ibid.

162 1.05 D).

163 2 b) vii-viii.

164 1.02.

165 2 a) v-vi.

166 I.– Mission Statement.

167 1977, 1.04.

168 Camp Massad (Winnipeg, 1984).

169 2. b).

170 (New Westminster, 1976). It is perhaps noteworthy that the “religious needs” clause, 2 (f), is the sixth of eight objectives listed.

171 Ira Robinson, “The Foundation Documents of the Jewish Community Council of Montreal,” Jewish Political Studies Review 8 (1996): 69-86.

172 Article 2 – Purposes.

173 Articles 3 and 11 (f).

174 Article 11 (h). It should be noted that the kashrut supervising body in Ottawa has not gone in this direction and continues to include broad representation.

175 Goldscheider and Zuckerman, The Transformation of the Jews, p. 225.

176 Objects 2 (a).

177 Article 3, Section 1. This provision was stricken from the constitution at some point.

178 For an analysis of the American landsmannschaftn scene, see Hannah Kliger,“‘That Will Make You a Good Member’: the Rewards of Reading the Constitutions of Jewish Immigrant Associations,” in Elazar, Sarna, and Monson, A Double Bond, pp. 75-92.

179 Article 3, 1. A similar organization was the Hebrew Sick Benefit Association (Winnipeg, 1906?).

180 Compare, Chenstochover Aid Society (Toronto, 1934-1980), 4.

181 Compare, Independent Workers Circle (1938). See also Daniel Soyer, Jewish Immigrant Associations and American Identity in New York, 1880-1939 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), p. 74.

182 See also the Canadian Hebrew Benevolant [sic] Society (Toronto, 1980), which does not specify Jewishness in its membership criteria.

183 IV.2.

184 This is a small indication of the tension between the concept of Jews as members of a religious or an ethnic group.

185 On this phenomenon in general, see Shelley Tennenbaum, A Credit to Their Community; Jewish Loan Societies in the United States, 1880-1950 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1993).

186 February 1995, 16.

187 I.4.

188 A quorum for prayer of ten male Jews over the age of thirteen.

189 The seven-day period of mourning for relatives.

190 See also Judean Benevolent and Friendly Society (Toronto, 1953), which refers to a benefit for “confined mourning” (i.e., shiva) pp. 32-33.

191 p. 14, (f). See also Lagover Mutual Benefit Society (Toronto, 1938) IV.2. The 1994 statutes of the Linitzer Sick Benefit Society (Toronto) forbid the burial of “one who is not of the Jewish religion” in the society’s burial plot. (no. 6, p. 11.).

192 p. 19. See also Ottawa Hebrew Benefit Association (1923) 3.1. This concern is echoed in the 1994 constitutional document of the Linitzer Sick Benefit Society (Toronto) which requires proof from members that the marriage was “according to Jewish custom and rights [sic] 2.2.

193 For example, Canadian Jewish Congress (1936), III. 20; Canada-Israel Committee (1994) 3.1 (d) (5).

Auteur

Professor of Judaic Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. He is a former president of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies and has written extensively about Canadian Jewry, including the book, Renewing Our Days: Montreal Jews in the Twentieth Century (1995), written with Mervin Butovsky

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