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B'nai B'rith

  • Corporate body
  • 1843-

The Independent Order of B’nai B’rith (Sons of the Covenant) (IOBB) is an international fraternal organization which aims to unite Jews in service to their community and the world at large (1). The organization does not aim to support or draw its membership from any particular Jewish congregation (i.e. reform, conservative) or group of national origin (i.e. Russian Jews, German Jews). It was established in 1843 in New York by twelve German-Jewish immigrants, led by Henry Jones. The Preamble to the first B’nai B’rith Constitution is as follows:

B’nai B’rith has taken upon itself the mission of uniting Israelites in the work of promoting their highest interests and those of humanity; of developing and elevating the mental and moral character of the people of our faith; of inculcating the purest principles of philanthropy, honor and patriotism; of supporting science and art; alleviating the wants of the poor and needy; visiting and attending the sick; coming to the rescue of persecution; providing for, protecting an assisting the widow and orphan on the broadest principles of humanity (2).

Since its inception this statement of principles has guided the work of B’nai B’rith which takes as its motto Benevolence, Brotherly Love and Harmony.

The Constitution also set up a central power, the Supreme Lodge, responsible for issuing charters to new lodges, and enforcing the laws and ordinances of the Order. In the first twenty-five years of operations, several hundred lodges were established with membership in the thousands. Geographic districts were then set up to organize the work of lodges in the regions. District 4 included the U.S. states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington, and the province of British Columbia.

In 1895, as a result of a recommendation by the delegates at the Constitution Grand Lodge Convention, the District Grand Lodges were authorized to establish auxiliary groups for women, these women’s organizations to be known as ‘Daughters of Judah.’ Membership generally was drawn from the wives and daughters of the members of the men’s lodges. As the number of groups grew, Women’s Districts were organized following the same geographical divisions as the Men’s District Lodges, with the first Women’s District formally recognized in 1922. In 1938 the B’nai B’rith Convention delegates agreed to allow women representatives to attend the Supreme Lodge Convention. In 1940 the next step was taken when representatives of the then existing six Women’s Districts met in Washington D.C. to formally organize the Women’s Supreme Council as a coordinating body. In 1956 the Supreme Lodge officially created the National Organization of B’nai B’rith Women.

The men’s and women’s groups take on both separate and joint program work. These programs include work to preserve Jewish culture, encourage positive interfaith relations, defend human rights, combat discrimination, support scholarship, assist veterans, contribute to institutions that care for the sick, needy, orphaned, and aged, and raise funds for both the Jewish and general community.

A significant segment of B’nai B’rith program work focuses on Jewish youth services. One of these programs starting in 1923 has been the Hillel Foundation, named after an outstanding scholar and teacher in Jewish history. This organization serves the needs of Jewish college and university students. Each Foundation operates through a Hillel House building located on campus, from which a program divided into six main categories: cultural, religious, fellowship, community service, personal guidance, and inter-faith activities is run. The first Hillel House was located on the campus of University of Illinois.

Concurrent with the beginnings of the Hillel Foundation program, another program developed in Omaha Nebraska to give Jewish youth, in grades nine through twelve in particular, an understanding of Jewish history and Judaism and a sense of belonging in the community. The first chapter of Aleph Zadik Aleph, or AZA, was organized in 1924 and within months several more chapters were established in other U.S. cities in the mid- West.

On an informal basis, girls groups have also been organized since 1927 through sponsorship by B’nai B’rith Women’s chapters. In 1944 these groups were joined into a national B’nai B’rith Girls organization.

Alongside these two groups for teens, Young Men’s and Young Women’s groups were also organized to accommodate the more mature youth. Consequently, also in 1944, B’nai B’rith authorized the creation of a Youth Commission with jurisdiction over all four youth agencies. In 1949 the Young Men’s and Young Women’s group merged to form the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO)

The declared aims of these three youth groups; AZA, B’nai B’rith Girls, and the BBYO are as follows:

  1. To help their members feel at home in the Jewish community, identify themselves with the common aspirations of the Jewish People, and make contributions of distinctive Jewish values to the mosaic of their country’s culture,
  2. To afford their members group life experiences which give them an understanding of and loyalty to our democratic heritage.
  3. To offer supervised leisure-time activities in which youth make happy adjustments to real life situations by making friends, exploring and expressing individual interests and developing skills.
  4. To provide learning experiences whereby youth become ethical and altruistic in human relationships, devoted and competent in the fulfillment of family and community responsibilities (3).

B’nai B’rith in British Columbia

  1. Victoria Lodge #365
    Victoria Lodge #365 was instituted September 8, 1886. It was the first B’nai B’rith organization in B.C., and the third Lodge to be formed in all of Canada. In the first year of its operation, the Lodge had difficulty in recruiting members, collecting dues, and there was poor turnout at meetings. The last record of a regular meeting is in August of 1887. At this meeting a new panel of officers was installed. There is evidence (penciled notes upside down at the back of the minute book) of a Lodge meeting taking place more than four years later, on Feb. 7, 1892.

  2. Victoria Lodge #758
    Victoria Lodge #758 was instituted July 19, 1914. Last record of activities is an entry of minutes for Sept. 15, 1925.

  3. Vancouver Lions’ Gate Vancouver Lodge #668 (Samuel Lodge #668 ; Vancouver Lodge #668)
    Lodge #668 was inaugurated as Samuel Lodge on June 26, 1910, with 56 charter members, named in memory of the son of Solomon Weaver, a pioneer member of the Vancouver Jewish community. In appreciation of this honour, Mr. Weaver donated a substantial sum to help fund the startup of the Lodge. Samuel Schultz was the first president.

Samuel Lodge was the fifth B’nai B’rith Lodge to be formed in Canada. In June of 1924 it hosted the first District Convention to be held in Canada. The event was the 61st Annual IOBB District Grand Lodge Convention.

To provide athletic activities for Lodge members, the B’nai B’rith Athletic Association was organized in May 1925. The Association formed a bowling league which was later amalgamated with the Hebrew Athletic Club league. Particularly up to World War II, the annual B'nai B’rith picnic, held at various locations such as Grantham’s Landing, Howe Sound, were important community events.

In 1939 the Lodge officially changed its name from Samuel Lodge #668 to Vancouver Lodge #668.

The Lodge participated financially in building the old Jewish Community Centre in the late 1920s and the new Centre in the late 1950s. It was a major permanent tenant of the old facility at 11th and Oak.and assisted financially in its maintenance. The men held bimonthly meetings there.

Vancouver Lodge #668 changed its name to Vancouver Lions’ Gate Lodge #668 in 1985, with amalgamation of membership from Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716. In 1992 the Lodge opened a senior’s facility, the Haro Park Lodge, in downtown Vancouver.

  1. B’nai B’rith Auxiliary Chapter; Vancouver Chapter B’nai B’rith Women #77; Jewish Women’s International
    The Ladies Auxiliary of B’nai B’rith was instituted on December 7, 1926 with 53 names listed on the charter, including six members of the Samuel Lodge #668. Among the early projects adopted by the group was fundraising for the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre built in 1928, and starting in 1930 scholarships to be awarded to needy Jewish students. Fund-raising projects included an annual garden party and in the early 1930s the group worked with the Hebrew Aid Society to establish a clothing depot, providing used clothing to needy members of the Jewish community. The chapter also provided equipment for a Boy Scout kitchen at Crescent Beach, raised funds for flood victims in the Vancouver suburbs, and furnished a four bed ward at Vancouver General Hospital, a room at the TB hospital, four wheel chairs for Shaughnessy hospital and a transport bus for the armed forces. During World War II, the group raised $6000 for an RCAF training plane. In 1947 the auxiliary became a B’nai B’rith Women chapter, founded as the Louise Mayer Chapter.

  2. B’nai B’rith Youth Organization:
    a. AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) - Chapter 119
    AZA Chapter #119 was installed on 11 November 1929. Dr. Jacob Gorosh, president at the time of Samuel Lodge, was a founder of the Chapter.

b. AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) – Totem #646
No information available.

c. AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph) – Churchill
No information available.

d. BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) – Tamar #269
No information available.

e. BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) - Elana #668
No information available.

f. BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) – Exodus
No information available.

g. BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) – Chapter 229
No information available.

h. BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) - Aviva Girls Chapter
No information available.

i. BBG (B’nai B’rith Girls) - Rishona Girls Chapter
No information available.

j. BBYW (B’nai B’rith Young Women)
No information available.

k. BBYM (B’nai B’rith Young Men)
No information available.

l. BBYA (B’nai B’rith Young Adults)
No information available.

  1. Vancouver B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation
    On November 20, 1946, Vancouver Lodge #668 and Vancouver Chapter #77 unanimously endorsed a petition proposing a Vancouver Hillel program at U.B.C. The next month the petition was granted by the National Hillel Commission. The Vancouver B'nai B’rith Hillel Foundation was then registered as a Society in July of the next year. As a result of efforts led by Lodge #668 member Max Waterman, U.B.C. agreed to sign a contract allowing Hillel the free use of land for a Hillel building on the campus. With fundraising underway construction began behind Brock Hall of a Hillel House, the first in the Hillel network to be purpose built rather than adapted from an existing campus structure. Construction was soon completed and the House dedicated on November 5, 1947. In January of 1948 the first Hillel Night was held at the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre. This event continues as an annual fundraiser for Hillel programs. (Local to the Vancouver Jewish Community, the Menorah Club of B.C., organized in 1925, was a forerunner to the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation. The Menorah Club was established for the express purpose of “keeping the younger element of the community together and giving them advanced study on Jewish history and affairs.”)

  2. Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716
    The Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716 was formed in 1947 as a ‘Young Men’s B’nai B’rith.’ Its membership was comprised by a group of young men in the Vancouver Jewish community, many of them soldiers returned from World War II service. For the first two years of its operation the Lodge maintained an age restriction on its membership, with an upper limit of 35. The Charter, granted by District Four of the B’nai B'rith International was presented to the inaugural executive, with Ed Friedman president, by Executive of the long-established Vancouver Lodge #668. The by-laws of the older Lodge were adopted temporarily by the newly-formed Lodge, and a meeting schedule set up for the first and third Mondays of the month in a room at the Jewish Community Centre at 11th and Oak Streets in Vancouver.

In an effort to ensure that there would be no conflict between its service work and that of other organizations in the community, the Lions’ Gate Lodge decided that its first service project would be to take over a non-sectarian scout troop in the process of being formed. As well, the new Lodge helped to support other B’nai B’rith projects such as Hillel House at U.B.C. and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), and to establish a non-sectarian Lions’ Gate Boxing Club for young men of BBYO age.

Planning work done by the Lodge and its committees was divided between service projects and organizing events for the membership, such as stag nights, dinner and dance parties, ‘Monte Carlo nights,’ picnic outings, and sports leagues (golfing, bowling). These were fund-raising events, with the service work of the Lodge being financed primarily by such efforts and secondarily by membership dues.

The membership formed a men’s baseball team, which won the international Softball Championship in the 1955 Tournament of B’nai B’rith Northwest Lodges. In 1966 the Lodge was instrumental in organizing and forming the Brotherhood Interfaith Society of B.C., with the aim of developing and promoting interfaith relations with all organization in the province. (The Society was registered in B.C. in 1990.) In liaison with a number of other groups, such as the Knights of Columbus (a Catholic organization), the Vancouver Chinatown Lions’ Club, the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese (Italian Association), and the Kiwanis Club of the Pacific, the central activity of the Society was an annual dinner honouring a member of the community with a “Man of the Year” award.

The charter of Lodge #1716 was retired in 1985, when the membership amalgamated with Vancouver Lodge #668, which then was renamed Lions’ Gate Vancouver Lodge #668.

  1. Vancouver Pacific Chapter B’nai B’rith Women, Lions’ Gate Chapter #763
    This women’s group was established in September 1951, primarily from the membership of the Women’s auxiliary assisting the project work of Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716. In 1954 the Chapter began sponsoring a Brownie Pack.

  2. B’nai B’rith Women’s Council
    The B’nai B’rith Women’s Council was inaugurated in 1952 to coordinate the activities of the three local Women’s chapters. Starting in 1953 the group coordinated participation by these chapters in an annual B’nai B’rith Women’s Brotherhood Night. The Council also organized visits from district and national B’nai B'rith women officers and encouraged support of the various B’nai B’rith youth groups, including the Hillel Foundation at U.B.C. Starting the late 1950s, the Council sponsored a booth at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver and worked with the Fairview Branch of the Canadian Legion to co-sponsor annual outings for veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital.

  3. Centennial Chapter B’nai B’rith Women
    This chapter of the Women’s group was organized in 1958. It provided parties and needed equipment for a ward of boys at Woodland’s School, a facility for mentally challenged children. This work earned them a Sydney G. Kusworm Award from B’nai B’rith International. Members of this chapter also worked with deaf and blind children at Jericho School.

  4. Evergreen Lodge
    Evergreen Lodge was proposed as a young men’s B’nai B’rith Lodge, circa 1960. There is no information yet available as to whether or not it received a charter. It was disbanded soon after first efforts were made at establishing prospective membership.

  5. Regina Philo Chapter B’nai B’rith Women
    Regina Philo Chapter B’nai B’rith Women was a Victoria Chapter named after the mother of Louis Mahrer. Not much information is available. Dates are likely early 1900s.

  6. Shari Chapter B’nai B’rith Women
    Shari Chapter B’nai B’rith Women was established in the 1970s (exact date not known) in Richmond. The Shari Chapter B’nai B’rith Women contributed to the community of Richmond by founding a ‘Family Place’ in Minoru Park through a grant from the Provincial lottery fund.

  7. Vancouver B’nai B’rith Women's Council #57
    The Vancouver B’nai B’rith Women’s Council #57 was established in the 1980s (exact date not known) in Vancouver. It was established as a coordination body for the chapters. Project work included Soviet Jewry Rally, Red Cross Mobile Blood Bank, and the Kosher Food Bank. Members were involved with B’nai B’rith Oakridge Bingo which donated $10,000 towards a Sunshine Bus for Pearson Hospital. They won the Sydney Kusworm Award for best community service.

  8. Lions’ Gate B’nai B’rith Building Society
    In July of 1974 the Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716 established the Lions’ Gate B’nai B’rith Building Society as a B.C. non-profit organization, with the use of the B'nai B’rith name sanctioned by District Four of B’nai B’rith and International B’nai B’rith. The work of this Society focused on two major seniors’ projects offering subsidized housing. The first was a thirteen story high rise residence, Haro Park, in the downtown area of Vancouver. Completed in 1980 the facility includes three floors of Long Term Care.

The second project was a nine story 65 suite residential building for seniors, B’nai B’rith Manor, completed in 1988.

(1) Secondary sources: A.J. Arnold, B’nai B’rith Family in British Columbia is 48 Years Old, Jewish Western Bulletin Centenary Issue, June 30, 1958, pp. 30-38; Rebecca Becker, The B’nai B’rith Family, B’nai B’rith Women, 1985; Maurice Bisgyer, ed., This is B’nai B’rith: A Story of Service, Supreme Lodge of B’nai B’rith, Washington, D.C. 1955; Arthur Daniel Hart, comp. and ed., The Jew in Canada: A Complete Records of Canadian Jewry From the Days of the French Regime to Present Times, Jewish Publications Limited, Toronto and Montreal, 1926; Cyril E. Leonoff, Pioneers, Pedlars, and Prayer Shawls, Sono Nis Press, Victoria, 1978; B’nai B’rith, Celebrating 150 Years of Service: Honoring the Past, Building the Future - Commemorative Journal, Lions’ Gate Vancouver Lodge No. 668, Vancouver, 1993; B’nai B’rith Manor, Lions’ Gate Vancouver Lodge No. 668, Vancouver, 1989.

(2) This is B’nai B’rith: A Story of Service, p. 28.

(3) This is B’nai B’rith: A Story of Service, p. 83.

Burquest Jewish Community Association

  • Corporate body
  • 1972-

Burquest is a non-profit organization dedicated to the religious, social, cultural and educational needs of the Jewish population of Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and as far east as Mission. Founded in 1972, Burquest has a diverse and growing membership. From infants to grandparents, representing 5 continents, Burquest members come from a wide variety of Jewish backgrounds and exhibit a range of current interests and needs.

Burquest’s Hebrew School is the oldest “institution” within the organization, reflecting the high priority its members have always put on Jewish education. Burquest is also rich in adult programming. Other programming includes: monthly Shabbat services; High Holiday services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; other holiday observances, such as Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, and Hanukah; Bar/Bat Mitzvah training; adult education, including Hebrew classes, adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah training; discussion groups; social activities such as picnics, parties and seniors programs.

The roots of the Burquest Jewish community can be found in New Westminster in the 1950s where there was a Hadassah Chapter, a small Talmud Torah, and several Jewish businesses. By the early 1970s there were 8 families from Burnaby, Coquitlam and New Westminster, meeting to discuss and promote the cultural and religious aspects of Judaism. On a monthly basis the group met in various members’ rec rooms. In February of 1974, the name Burquest Jewish Community Association was adopted, combining the names of the members’ cities: Burnaby, New Westminster, and Coquitlam. In 1976 society status was obtained, and by that year there was a regular Hebrew School and social events, including 75 people attending the Purim party. In the early 1990s, the current membership began to solidify. There were regular Oneg Shabbat services, though still held in members’ houses, and other formal religious activities. Using a borrowed Torah, High Holiday services were held at a Coquitlam church. As the religious program was expanded, membership grew steadily. In December of 1995, one of the community’s proudest moments came at the dedication of its own Torah, an event attended by a number of local political and religious leaders. This occasion recognized Burquest’s coming of age as a religious community. The Torah allowed more in-depth services to be held on a regular basis, including Simchat Torah and the High Holidays, as well as the beginning of a Bar and Bat Mitzvah program. Hanukah parties, Sukkot and Purim programs, and an adult study group all became part of the calendar.

In the 1990s it became apparent that a building was needed to house the Burquest Jewish community. Burquest had outgrown meeting in members' homes and community halls and churches. Religious services were being held at Saint Laurence Church, the Hebrew school was meeting at Douglas College in New Westminster, and social events often required ad-hoc arrangements at other locations. There were no offices, no library, no centralized records, and no place to call a Jewish centre. It was determined that Burquest needed a single, permanent location. By the mid-1990s a building capital campaign was begun and by 1999 enough funds had been raised to purchase an acreage in Port Coquitlam. In 2001 the acreage was sold to purchase a building at the corner of Dewdney Truck Road and Mariner Way on June 27, 2001 and renovations were undertaken to add a kitchen, elevator and classrooms. On October 6, 2002/ 30 Tishri 5763 the building was officially opened. Today Burquest is located at 2860 Dewdney Trunk Road, Coquitlam, BC.

Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) Vancouver

  • Corporate body
  • 1918-

The organization known as Hadassah was first formed in 1912 in New York by American Henrietta Szold and the Daughters of Zion. The goal of the organization was to promote the Zionist ideal through education, public health initiatives, and the training of nurses in what was then Palestine, a region of the Ottoman Empire. As the founding of the organization coincided with the holiday of Purim, the group took the name Hadassah, the Hebrew name of Esther, one of the central figures in the celebration of that holiday.

1917 was a significant year in Hadassah and in Canadian Hadassah history. It was the year of the Balfour Declaration, the British Parliament’s recognition of Palestine as the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. It pledged that Palestine would once again become the Jewish national home. It was also the year in which the first official chapter of Canadian Hadassah was established, with a chapter opening in Toronto. The first Vancouver Chapter, the Lillian Freiman Chapter, was officially recognized in 1918. Mrs. J.B. Jaffe was named first president of the Vancouver Chapter of Hadassah.

In 1920, Dr. Vera Weizmann, wife of Israel’s first president Dr. Chaim Weizmann, founded the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), an internationally recognized organization dedicated to the social welfare of women and children in Israel/Palestine, advancement of the status of women, and Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora. In 1921, she visited Toronto and persuaded National President of Hadassah, Lillian Freiman, to affiliate with WIZO. Thus, in 1921, the Canadian chapter of Hadassah changed its name to Hadassah-WIZO.

The Vancouver Chapter of Hadassah-WIZO was popular from the start. Hadassah-WIZO was one of the first feminist organizations to appear on the Canadian scene as the organization allowed women to organize and participate in events and activities outside of the home. After the Lillian Freiman Chapter was recognized in 1918, a second Chapter, the Rachel Goldbloom Chapter, was formed in 1924. However, Vancouver was unable to sustain two chapters, and the Rachel Goldbloom Chapter merged with the Lillian Freiman Chapter in 1927.

In the early 1930s, in order to accommodate growing membership of Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO, Jessie Allman formed the Menorah, Henrietta Szold and Junior Hadassah Chapters. Over the next few decades, more chapters were formed, including the following: Atid Chapter; Aviva Chapter; Ben Zvi Chapter; Deborah Chapter; Eilat Chapter; Elana Chapter; Hadassim Chapter; Hatikvah Chapter; Herzlia Capter; Kadima Chapter; Maccabian Chapter; Marchar Chapter; Massada Chapter; Naomi Chapter; Nordau Chapter; Royal City Chapter; Ruth Chapter; Sabra Chapter; Shalom Chapter; Tel- Aviv Chapter; Tel-Hai Chapter; Tssabar Chapter; Weizmann Chapter; and the Ziona Chapter.

In 1933, the Youth Aliyah Chapter was founded. Although considered a Chapter of Hadassah-WIZO, it has a slightly different history than the other chapters founded in Vancouver and in Canada. During that same year, Recha Freier, the wife of Rabbi Freier in Berlin, Germany, recognized Hitler’s and the Nazi Party’s malevolent intentions towards the Jewish people of Germany. She organized a movement to send Jewish children, first from Germany, and later from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Russia, to Palestine in order to protect them from Nazi persecution. After World War II, 10,000 child immigrants, mostly Holocaust survivors, arrived in Israel and settled in various Youth Villages. It is estimated that since its creation in 1933, approximately 400,000 children and youth have been rehabilitated and educated within the Youth Aliyah framework. Today, it is estimated that 1 in 20 Israelis are a graduate of Youth Aliyah.

The Youth Aliyah Chapter in Vancouver has been active since its inception in 1933. As early as 1937, the Chapter held their first Men’s Youth Aliyah Drive. They have held many fundraising events over the decades, including events such as fashion shows, canvassing drives, talent shows, and dinners/luncheons.

Membership to Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO reached its peak during the 1950s through to the 1980s, but has been in decline since the 1990s. Many Chapters were forced to close as membership dwindled. In order to attract new members, Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO has attempted to reinvent themselves while maintaining the organization’s original objectives and vision. In 2012, two new chapters were formed in Vancouver: the Kehillah Chapter, a chapter for women in their 20s to mid 30s, and the Gilad Chapter, a Chapter organized by Mimi Grad.

The aims and purpose of Hadassah-WIZO, even from the beginning, has been to promote the education, health and welfare of women and Children in Israel/Palestine, and to promote the welfare of Jewish women and awareness of women’s issues in Canada. Vancouver Chapters of Hadassah-WIZO have been achieving these objectives since the year they were founded. As early as 1918, women from Vancouver Hadassah met regularly to sew clothes for the chalutizm in Palestine. Some of the projects in Israel and Palestine supported and/or created by the Vancouver Chapters of Hadassah-WIZO include the following:

• Sponsorship of the Agricultural and Secondary School in Nahalal in 1926;
• Youth Aliyah: Canada Hadassah-WIZO becomes the official representative of Youth Aliyah in 1933;
• Hadassim Children and Youth Village, east of Natanya in 1947;
• Hebrew University of Jerusalem, starting in 1948. Some of the projects Vancouver Hadassah WIZO has contributed to include the establishment of the Chaim Weizmann Memorial Biological Laboratories; Canada Hall; Vincent Massey Hall; Canada Research Centre; Canada House Student Dorms; the Rose and Abe Schachter Student Centre; the Library Reading Hall, School of Education, plus more;
• Asaf Harofe Hospital in Sarafond in 1953;
• Child Guidance Clinic and Research Institute in Jerusalem in 1965;
• Magdiel Comprehensive Secondary School and Youth Village in 1968;
• Acco Educational and Vocational Youth Village in 1970;
• Neri Bloomfield Community College, in Haifa in 1971;
• 12 creches, 2 kindergartens, 4 women’s clubs, and various youth clubs.

In addition, Hadassah-WIZO has undertaken projects in cooperation with Magen David Adom, the Jewish Fund of Canada, and various projects in Vancouver and Canada.

In order to raise funds for projects for Israel/Palestine, as well as Canada, an annual Bazaar was organized and held. The first Hadassah-WIZO Bazaar was held in Toronto in 1924. The first Bazaar in Vancouver was held in 1935, but it was a much smaller affair than it would later become. The first Vancouver Bazaar was organized by the Lillian Freiman Chapter, and was held on April 25, 1935 at the Jewish Community Centre. Admission was 10 cents, and the event ran only from 8pm to midnight.

Although annual Bazaars were held, it was not until 1952 that it grew to city wide, multi-day event. Marjorie Groberman, inspired by magnitude of the Toronto Hadassah-WIZO Bazaar, wanted something similar in Vancouver. She moved the location of the Bazaar from the Jewish Community Centre to the Seaforth Armouries, and organized all the Hadassah-WIZO Chapters in the Lower Mainland to contribute to the Bazaar in some way, either by providing baked goods, pickles or preserves, cooking at the cafe, sewing/knitting clothing, donating gently used clothing, shoes or household items, and/or contacting commercial exhibitors and merchants for further merchandise. All Chapters were expected to volunteer their services at the Bazaar. The Bazaar became a day long event, and visitors had a chance to win a new car through a raffle. The new “Big” Bazaar was a success as it netted approximately $10,000.

In 1955, under Anita Waterman, the Bazaar moved to the PNE grounds, where it remained until the 1990s. By 1955, the Bazaar had grown to a day and half event, and also featured an auction and a fashion show. By 1976, the Bazaar grew to be a two day event, and occupied two and a half buildings of the PNE Ground.

The Bazaar remained a popular event throughout the 1970s to the 1990s. However, in the early 2000s, due to the aging population of Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO and a declining membership, the Bazaar became increasingly difficult to organize and run. The Bazaar was downsized in the early 2000s, moving from the PNE Grounds to the Italian Community Centre. By the mid to late 2000s, it was downsized once again, moving to the Hellenic Community Centre. The last Bazaar was held in 2007. Today, Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO’s major fundraising event is the annual Pro-Am Golf Tournament.

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3379, which, in essence, decreed that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination ”(United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379: Wikipedia The resolution was instantly contested, and was condemned by many western nations, including Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe. In 1991, Israel made a revocation of Resolution 3379 as a condition of its participation in the Madrid Peace Conference, and it was officially revoked in 1991 by UN General Assembly Resolution 4866.

Partially in response to these events, and in order to educate the public about Judaism, Zionism, and the State of Israel, the Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO established a Public Affairs Department who dedicated themselves to this task. From the 1970s through to the early 1990s, they held many seminars and luncheons on interfaith dialogues, and on issues pertaining to Judaism, Zionism, and Israel in the media.

Many women from Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO have held high ranking positions within Canadian Hadassah-WIZO Executive Council. Many of these women have been recognized both nationally and internationally. Some of those women include Lily Frank, who was appointed as National Executive Director of Canada Hadassah-WIZO in 1967, and was also appointed as National Executive Vice President in 1979; Naomi Frankenberg who became National President of Canada Hadassah-WIZO in 1987, and was honoured by the CHW when they named a cultural centre in Hadassim after her; and Judy Mandleman who became National President in 1993 and was honoured by the Canadian Hadassah-WIZO when they named a daycare centre at Kiryat Sharett after her. Other prominent Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO women include Blossom Wine, the first life long member of Vancouver Hadassah-WIZO, Lil Shaperio, the first Council President of Vancouver Hadassah WIZO, Marjorie Groberman, visionary of the Hadassah-WIZO Bazaar in Vancouver, and many other women who contributed tirelessly and selflessly to their community, their country, and to Israel.

Around 2013, Hadassah-WIZO changed their name to CHW (Canadian Hadassah-WIZO).

Canadian Histadrut

  • Corporate body
  • 1924-

The Canadian Histadrut campaign started its activities in 1924 as an affiliate of the National Committee for Labor Israel (American Histadrut Campaign). In February 1942, the National Canadian Histadrut Convention took place in Montreal, at which time application was made for a charter from the Canadian government. In February 1943, the charter was granted. In recent years, the main objective of the Canadian Association for Labor Israel has been the raising of funds to assist Histadrut in Israel in its rehabilitation programs and the settling and integration of the newly arrived immigrants in Israel. The funds collected meet the needs of the many newcomers to Israel, from Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union. As the majority of the immigrants to Israel since 1945 have arrived with little or no material assets, it devolves upon the people of Israel to see that they are properly received; that their medical needs are looked after; that suitable occupations and trades are found for all able-bodied males and females; that they receive the necessary training and schooling to become absorbed into the economy of the country; and that education and training be provided for growing adolescents and skilled adults. A vital component of Histadrut is the Canadian Friends of AMAL. Its sole aim is to encourage and develop vocational education in the numerous school devoted to that purpose in Israel. This is done by the raising of funds to provide scholarships for poor children. The AMAL schools, dotted throughout Israel, provide an opportunity for needy children to obtain a comprehensive vocational and high school education, whereby on graduation they are skilled in one of over one hundred different trades. The Histadrut (Israel's trade union) movement has assumed a large responsibility for housing, health, vocational training, old-age security, as well as cultural activities and the financing of industrial and agricultural developments.

Canadian Jewish Congress. Pacific Region

  • Corporate body
  • ca. 1935-

The Pacific Region Branch of this national organization was established in the late 1930s to act on behalf of the Jewish community on issues such as interfaith, multicultural, and media relations, local, Israel and world Jewish affairs.

Canadian Zionist Federation. Pacific Region

  • Corporate body

Now operating as a program under the administration of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, CZF is an umbrella organization for all Zionist groups in the community. It also provides information for Israel tourism and trade.

Canadian Zionist Federation. Pacific Region

  • Corporate body

Now operating as a program under the administration of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, CZF is an umbrella organization for all Zionist groups in the community. It also provides information for Israel tourism and trade.

Chelm Cultural Club

  • Corporate body
  • 1978-1986

The Chelm Cultural Club initiated a Jewish film festival in Vancouver and maintained it for nine years (1978-1986), with screenings at Langara Community College and Pacific Cinematheque.

The Chelm Cultural Club was created by a group of Jewish friends who wanted to fill what they experienced as a cultural void in Vancouver, both for themselves and for the community at large. Primarily they wanted to see Jewish and Israeli films, and to that end they formed the club in 1978. In addition to films, they also organized other cultural events (ex. "Megila Lider," a Yiddish musical event and a number of lectures), but above all the Chelm Cultural Club was a Jewish film society. In 1980 they incorporated as a non-profit society (see constitution of 1980). The society disbanded in 1986.

From the point of view of their internal organization, all members of the Chelm Cultural Club participated equally and democratically. There was no bureaucracy or hierarchy. Hence the name "Chelm." Amusing as this may sound, it was basic and important because it assured the vitality of the society. In this way, the Chelm Cultural Club was an ideal model of a democratic community organization.

They chose to be independent and not to be restricted by official agencies of the Jewish community, though they did network with some Jewish (ex. Canadian Jewish Congress, Hillel, Louis Brier Home and Hospital) and non-Jewish (ex. Vancouver Community College/Langara, Pacific Cinematheque) agencies.

The Chelm Cultural Club was a volunteer-run enterprise whose operating budget came from donations at the door at film screenings and other events, occasional membership donations, as well as small contributions from other organizations when they co-sponsored a film.

The founding and core members of the Chelm Cultural Club included: Avi Dolgin, Ruth Hess-Dolgin, Shaya Kirman, Shanie Levin, and Seymour Levitan. Other active participants over the years included: Ned Glick, Alex Kliner, Edna Oberman, Barry Rabinowitz, Abe Schwartzman.

Chelm Cultural Club - list of films screened:
• Fall 1978: Miraleh Efros, Salah, Got, Mentsch un Tayvl, House on Cherrlouche Street, Let My People Go, This is Sholem Aleychem, The Dybbuk, Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
• Fall 1979: Grine Felder, The Big Day, The Martyr, Jacob the Liar, Jew of Winnipeg, A People Chosen/Who is a Jew?, The Falashas.
• Fall 1980: Yidl Mitn Fidl, Daughters Daughters, Number Our Days, The Fifth Horseman is Fear, Free Voice of Labor, Music of Auschwitz.
• Fall 1981: Der Purimshpiler, The Dreamer, Bye Bye Braverman, Jerusalem File, Journey to Heritage, 20 Years Later, A Brivele Der Mamen.
• Fall 1982: Mamele, Image Before Our Eyes, Kazablan, The Dybbuk.
• Fall 1983: One Hundred and Two Mature, The Golden Age of Second Avenue, Memorandum, 20 Years Later, Routes of Exile: A Moroccan Jewish Odyssey, The Wooden Gun/Rove Huliot.
• Fall 1984: Tevye, Jacob the Liar, Kaddish, Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?.
• Fall 1985: Routes of Exile, Catskill Honeymoon, Ra'ananah, Dark Lullabies.

Chelm Cultural Club - other activities:
• January 1979: Professor Eugene Orenstein, Moshe Leib Halpern: A Great American Yiddish Writer and His Times.
• March 1979: A Purim Celebration.
• Fall 1985: Concert with Michael Alpert.

Congregation Beth Israel

  • Congregation Beth Israel
  • Corporate body
  • 1932-

Congregation Beth Israel was formed August 2, 1932 as a Conservative synagogue in cooperation with United Synagogue of America. It was first housed in the then existing Jewish Community Centre at 11th and Oak Street. Services were held there from 1932 to 1948. Mr. Nathan Bell was the first President of the Congregation, Mrs. Etta Koenisberg the first Sisterhood President. Rabbi Benzion Bokser was hired September 1, 1932 as the Congregation’s first Rabbi. The School was established in 1933, and the choir was formed shortly thereafter. As the Congregation grew, it required more space, especially for High Holyday series, bar mitzvahs, and weddings. A building fund was established in 1937. Land at the present site was purchased in 1944 and consecrated in 1946. The first High Holyday services were held in the present sanctuary in 1948 and the synagogue dedication was held September 11, 1949. In 1945 the cemetery grounds were purchased.

In 1965 Congregation Beth Israel’s constitution was amended to give women membership and voting rights with two women elected to the Board of Directors. The role of women’s participation was first raised in 1969, while the issue of aliyot for women began in the early 1980’s, gained momentum after Yom Kippur 1986 and settled in its present form in 1995. Today women are full participants at all services and in all roles.

Today the mission of Congregation Beth Israel, member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, is dedicated to the strengthening of all aspects of Jewish life, including worship and Torah study, religious, educational and social activities for all ages, and the observance of life cycle events.

Further Dates of Note:
• In 1970 the Groberman Chapel was renovated and refurnished.
• In 1982 the Koch Memorial Chapel at the Beth Israel Cemetery was dedicated.
• In 1992 the Beth Israel Cemetery Refurbishment project was completed.
• In 1993 the renovation of the entire synagogue was completed.
• 2007 was the 75th anniversary.
• 2012 was the 80th anniversary.
• In 2012 a major renovation and expansion was undertaken which was completed in 2014.

For a more in-depth history on Beth Israel, please see the "Beth Israel 80th Anniversary History Presentation", written by Yale M. Chernoff December 15, 2012.

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