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Not Written in Stone

Daniel J. Elazar
Michael Brown
Ira Robinson

Part III: Selected Documents (Excerpts)

Cultural and Educational Organizations

Texte intégral

Jewish People’s Library1

LETTERS PATENT (Montreal, July 5,1929)

1... purposes and objects...

  1. To establish a public library, museum and gallery to be opened to all honest and respectable persons whomsoever of every rank in life for the purpose intended, namely for the diffusion of useful knowledge by affording access to all desiring it, to books, to scientific objects and works of art, making always the acquisition and maintenance of a library the leading object to be kept in view;
  2. To provide for the study of Jewish,2 French, English and other languages and to educate its members in Jewish history, literature and general culture....

REVISED STATUTES (Montreal, 1930) [original in Yiddish]3

  • 3 Translated by Ira Robinson.

2Paragraph 1. The People’s Library is a people’s institution, founded by the people for the people.

3Paragraph 2. The goal of this Library is to collect all the literature of the Jewish people, in all its branches, from all eras and in all languages, especially in Yiddish and Hebrew. The Library also collects the literatures of other peoples in their languages, and collects everything that non-Jews have written about Jews or on Jewish themes.

4Paragraph 3. The Jewish People’s Library does not identify itself with any party and covers without distinction each current in belles lettres and science. It collects with the same interest and the same love books of all parties, social and intellectual currents.

5Paragraph 4. All sorts of trashy and cheap literature will be collected for their cultural and historical value. They will be given only to the researchers of literature, or to students of the history of literature, but not to the general public.

6Library Rules

7Paragraph 5. The Jewish People’s Library is open daily, other than Yom Kippur and the Seder Nights. The hours will be regulated by the administration.

8Paragraph 6. Books can be taken out daily, except Sabbaths and holidays....

9Paragraph 7. The Library is open and free for all. Everything the Library owns will be given to the reader....

Downtown Jewish Community School (Toronto, 1981)4


10The name of this Association is the Downtown Jewish Community School. The Downtown Jewish Community School is referred to in this constitution as ‘the Association’ or ‘D.J.C.S.’


11a) To create and maintain a community organization in order to develop a pleasurable and satisfying orientation to Jewish group life – a sense of community.

12b) This objective is to be achieved by operating a school for the children of the members of the D.J.C.S. and providing other activities open to the members which have the following goals:

  1. To promote participation in D.J.C.S. sponsored holiday celebrations.
  2. To develop understanding of the Bible, biblical history and modern history-the Holocaust, current events.
  3. To develop knowledge of Jewish traditions, rituals, and the arts-and their historical and contemporary significance.
  4. To promote positive values through Jewish ethical teaching.
  5. To provide a basis for self-awareness as a Jew in a pluralistic community.
  6. To present traditional religious concepts with explanations of alternatives-indicating that there are many ways to be a Jew.
  7. To develop a Hebrew vocabulary of key words and phrases within the context of studying Jewish heritage, culture and values.
  8. To introduce modern Hebrew through simple conversation, reading and understanding simple texts, and writing.


13a) Criteria, conditions and privileges for membership may be set by the membership by by-law.

14b) Members shall be those whose applications for membership are approved by the Board of Directors and who have paid the fees from time to time set by the Board.

15c) Only members are eligible to apply to enroll their children in the school operated by the Association....

Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools (Montreal)5



161.01 The Jewish People’s Schools and Peretz Schools Inc. (the “ASSOCIATION”) shall operate the School System for instruction to Jewish children in a combined course of the general studies curriculum as prescribed and approved by the Ministry of Education of the Province of Quebec, from pre-school 4-year olds and from kindergarden [sic] through 5th year of secondary school, inclusive, and a specific Jewish studies curriculum which shall seek to educate the young generation towards an extensive knowledge of Jewish culture, tradition and the Jewish way of life, from earliest times to the modern era, and shall prepare the young person for his life as a Jew and as a productive member of the larger society of which he is a part.

171.02 Primary importance shall be given to the teaching of the Hebrew and Yiddish languages and literature. English and French shall be used extensively in order to better conceptualize ideas and strengthen the sense of belonging to the Jewish people, its values and its culture.

  • 6 The land of Israel.

181.03 The schools shall seek to effect a positive attitude towards, a reverence for and a degree of intimacy with Jewish values encompassing religion, ethics, traditions, holidays, ceremonies and customs. The ideal of Eretz Israel,6 the centrality of the State of Israel and the unity of Jewish people throughout the world shall be at the very essence of the Schools’ philosophy.

191.04 Furthermore, the Schools shall seek to imbue its [sic] pupils with a conscious search for social justice, a sense of individual and communal responsibility, the readiness and desire for active participation in Jewish communal life, a striving for a world of peace and brotherhood and a knowledge of and sensitivity to the problems and practices of progressive democracy in a pluralistic society.

201.05 The schools shall foster a knowledge of and a sense of loyalty to Canada, its people, its history and culture, 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....


1 A Montreal organization founded in 1914. It is now known as the Jewish Public Library.

2 i.e. Yiddish.

3 Translated by Ira Robinson.

4 An example of an afternoon, supplementary school.

5 An example of a community day school.

6 The land of Israel.

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 2003

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