Friday, August 24, 2012

Pre WWII Vancouver Jews

Now that we took a brief look at the history of Jews in Canada, I want to get back to the history of Jews in Vancouver.

Since the early 20th century, Vancouver has seen the formation of Jewish communities. These include Young Mens Hebrew Association (1909), the Ladies Aid Society (1907; later Schara Tzedeck Ladies' Auxiliary and the Sisterhood), B'nai B'rith(1910), the Hebrew Aid and Immigrant Society (1910), the Zionist and Social Society (1913), and the Hebrew Free Loan Association (1915).

Samuel Davies Schultz was Canada's first Jewish judge; appointed to the Vancouver County Court in 1914. In 1917, Max Grossman became Vancouver's first Jew appointed King's Counsel (a lawyer).
Involved in many community organizations, Grossman was a major force in the Schara Tzedeck Synagogue, the Vancouver Hebrew School, and the first Jewish Community Centre.

Also in the early 20th century, more affluent Jewish families began to settle in the West End, around the Congregation Temple Emanu-El. In 1911, this congregation started raising funds for a semi-reform synagogue.

Unfortunately, due to World War I and an economic depression stopped the fund raising efforts. In 1917, the congregation stopped services.

Not long after that, as a result of the Russian Revolution and the Treaty of Versailles, European boundaries were reorganized. This brought a wave of Eastern European Orthodox Jewish immigrants.

Vancouver's Jewish population was still too small to support multiple synagogues. In 1919-1921, what was left of the Reform Congregation joined with the Orthodox Schara Tzedeck to build a temple in East Vancouver for all Vancouver Jews. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Temple Emanu-El continued to hold separate charitable events and social gatherings in the West End, as well as a children's Sabbath school until 1932 when the congregation dissolved entirely.

The 1920s was a good decade and one of further growth for the Jewish community. The Orthodox Schara Tzedeck was built in 1920 on the site of the old B'nai Yehudah. The old synagogue wasn't wasted though, it was put to use as a community hall and used by the Hebrew School.

A Hadassah chapter was founded in 1920, Jewish Community Chest and Vancouver Council of Jewish Women in 1924, the Hebrew Athletic Club and early meetings for Congregation Beth Israek(Conservative) in 1925.

The Vancouver Jewish Community Centre, the first Jewish regular newspaper, started in 1923. It became the Jewish Western Bulletin and ran from 1930-2001.The Schara Tzedeck congregation had hosted and the Talmud Torah Hebrew School and in 1928, the congregation took over the school's governance until 1943.

In 1919, Samuel Joseph Cohen opened a surplus and liquidation store called Army and Navy. The location for the store was on Hastings Street. (It is still there, I was shopping in that store last weekend) Sam also developed a mail order catalogue that ran from 1925 to 1986, making it one of Canada's longest running department store catalogues.

Other prominent businessmen, Ben and Morris Wosk started an appliance store called Wosk's in 1923. It later grew into a major publicly traded chain of furniture and appliance stores. The Wosks were also real estate moguls and philanthropists.
In 1921, the very Reverend Joseph H. Hertz - Chief Rabbi of the United Congregation of the British Empire - visited Vancouver July 6-7. A year later, in 1922, the vaudeville performer, Jack Benny, happened to visit Vancouver. During a Passover Seder in the West End, Benny met Sayde Marks. The two were married in 1927 and she went on to vaudeville, radio and movie stardom as Mary Livingstone.

Thank you to Wikipedia for the information. I never thought when I started this series last week that there was so much information! I have enough for at least one more entry.

Have a great weekend and I hope you find the beauty around you.

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