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Entidad colectiva

Congregation Beth Israel

  • Congregation Beth Israel
  • Entidad colectiva
  • 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.

Jewish Western Bulletin

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 1925 -

The Jewish Western Bulletin, which changed its name to the Jewish Independent in 2005, has been the British Columbia Jewish community’s newspaper since 1930. Currently, the paper is published 49 weeks of the year. Originally labeled “The Organ of the Jewish Community Centre,” the Jewish Western Bulletin was first published as a newspaper October 9, 1930. It superseded the Jewish Centre News, a publication that had existed under a series of names since 1925.

The Jewish Western Bulletin was originally published at the Jewish Community Centre and was run by the Vancouver Jewish Community Council until 1960 when it was taken over by Samuel and Mona Kaplan who were its publishers and editors from 1960 until they sold it in 1999 to then-staff members Pat Johnson, Kyle Berger and Cynthia Ramsay. Since 1999 it has been owned and operated by Western Sky Communications Ltd., which also provides a diverse range of writing, editing, public relations and distribution services.

In serving the community, the English-language Bulletin focused on supporting Zionism, alerting the community to anti-Semitic incidents and reporting on immigration issues. In addition to weighty international concerns, the Bulletin also focused continually on local news, including meetings and news of local and international figures; coverage of the arts and local cultural festivals; birth, b’nai mitzvah, wedding and other lifecycle milestones; obituaries and death announcements; and community gossip.

The Jewish Western Bulletin provided a consistent record of Jewish life in British Columbia and around the world and, as the Jewish Independent, it has continued to work towards its goal to “cover the broad spectrum of Jewish life and advance the community, its individuals and organizations and, of course, Israel and world Jewry” (former assistant editor Bob Markin).

Today the Jewish Independent is a multiple-award-winning Jewish Independent newspaper and is one of Vancouver’s oldest and most respected Jewish community institutions. The newspaper provides a place for the entire community, regardless of affiliation, politics, gender, orientation, ability, denomination or age, to find out what their Jewish community has to offer. The newspaper carries articles on an incredibly diverse range of topics, from the next seniors home tea to the next beat box concert, from interviews with the transgendered artist to the Chabadnik, from financial planning advice to home renovation ideas, from book and movie reviews to commentary on issues related to Judaism and living a Jewish life.

Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver, Gallery

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 1962-

Under the leadership of the JCC’s Cultural Arts Director at the time, Dvori Balshine, a committee of the JCC was first set up in February 1982 to carry out the policies of the JCC and the Shalom Gallery. This committee was led by Sivi Krisman, and the Shalom Gallery was opened. The Shalom Gallery was under the direction and administration of the Jewish Community Centre, which continues to be the case today.

In 1984 the Board of the JCC endorsed the goals of the Shalom Gallery committee. From 1982 to 1988 the Shalom Gallery put on 6 exhibits/events a year, with exhibition openings bringing in up to 400 people. Throughout this time period, Gertrude and Sidney Zack were contacted to see if they could provide funds for the building of a new larger space at the JCC. They agreed and work began on phase II of the development plan. Jack Lutsky was the architect. In 1988, the new space was opened and the name change was officially announced at its inauguration: The Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery. The opening gala reception of the Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery was held June 29, 1988 with the exhibition titled “Metamorphosis” which was an exhibit of new works by BC artists who had exhibited at the JCC over the previous 5 years when the gallery was known as the Shalom Gallery. Over 350 people attended this event. Article and photos in the Jewish Western Bulletin, July 21, 1988: (http://www.multiculturalcanada.ca/node/688758).

Today, The Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery is located in the centre of the active, bustling Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver on 41st near Oak. The mandate for this not-for-profit gallery is to enrich the lives of community members by exposing them to a diversity of art; to educate and develop an awareness, knowledge and appreciation of visual art; and to build a sense of community.
With a primary focus on art created by visual artists in the local Jewish community or art which emulates Jewish life and culture, the gallery also serves as a venue for national and international artists. The exhibits vary in theme and medium from classical still life to contemporary abstracts. Paintings, drawings, photography, tapestry and sculpture have graced the walls and space. Gallery programs include evenings of poetry, music and art lectures. Visual art workshops and classes are offered.

Congregation Har El

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 1962-

The origins of what would become Congregation Har El can be traced to the determined efforts of a number of Jewish residents of the North Shore, led by Horst Sachs z”l, during the middle of the last century. The official incorporation took place in 1962 and meetings were held in private homes. In 1974, with the influx of South African Jews into the community, space was rented in the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on 2158 Fulton Avenue, West Vancouver and regular religious services were established in the conservative tradition, including community social events. The Congregation, at this time went by the name of Sha’ar Harim, Gateway to the mountains. In 1981 the landmark figure of 100 member families was reached and a permanent rabbi, Rabbi Imre Balla was hired who guided the Congregation until 1999. In 1984 the Congregation changed its name to Har El, Mountain of God, when it moved into its own premises, renting temporary army barracks owned by the North Shore school board, at 1735 Inglewood, West Vancouver. These were renovated and greatly improved and became home for the next 13 years. In 1993, land was purchased from the British Properties on 1305 Taylor Way, West Vancouver and plans were underway to build a permanent home. On September 7, 1997 the dedication of the new synagogue took place.

Rabbi Shmuel and Sara Birnham and their son David Shalom moved to West Vancouver and joined the Har El community in the summer of 2000. The Congregation joined the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in 2002.

The building, which was designed by Mark Ostry of the architectural firm of Acton Johnson Ostry, won the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Award of Excellence and the Ron Thom Wood Design Award. The facilities include a beautiful sanctuary, community centre, fully-equipped kitchen, library, meeting rooms and social halls. Congregation Har El’s classroom wing is also home to the North Shore Hebrew School.

A major renovation took place in 2008 which greatly improved the acoustics and warm ambiance of the sanctuary and main social hall.

In the summer of 2010, Cantor Teron Cohen was engaged as the first full-time professional Cantor of the Congregation.

The North Shore Jewish Community/Congregation Har El is an egalitarian Conservative congregation combining spirituality with a deep sense of tradition. Har El is a member of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and follows its guidelines. The North Shore Jewish Community/Congregation Har El is committed to promoting Jewish identity, worship, education, culture, and values to the surrounding community and beyond.

Congregation Emanu-El

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 1863-

Congregation Emanu-El is a progressive Conservative synagogue in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Congregation Emanu-El is composed of an eclectic group of 200 families who come together to create a dynamic and spiritual expression of Jewish life. It is a place of love and growth where deep friendships are forged and nourished. Congregation Emanu-El believes in connecting people to one another and to their Jewish roots and traditions, as well as nourishing feelings of community, security and belonging. In 2013 Congregation Emanu-El celebrated its 150th anniversary as the oldest continuously active synagogue in Canada and western North America. Since 1863, the congregation has grown from about 50 families to nearly 200 families, despite the advent of three new congregations in the city over the last 10 or so years: Aish HaTorah (modern Orthodox), Kolot Mayim (Reform) and Chabad of Vancouver Island. It is popularly believed that there are now 2,500-3,500 Jews on Vancouver Island, although many of them are unaffiliated.

In the 1850's, during the time of gold prospectors, fur traders, and steamships, the Jewish community of Victoria began. The first Jews came in 1858, mostly from San Francisco. Gold prospectors had to stop in Victoria, the capital, to obtain mining licenses, and then go on to the mainland where gold was discovered. The first Jews came with these prospectors, and supplied the mining camps with food, clothing, household goods, and tools. In the 1850's, there were about 200 Jews in Victoria.

The first need of the community was a cemetery. The Victoria Hebrew Benevolent Society (the first Jewish organization in Western Canada) purchased a burial site on Cedar Hill Road which at that time was on the edge of town. On Feb. 5, 1860, the cemetery was founded. That same cemetery still serves the Jewish community today.

The congregation “Emanu-El of Victoria, Vancouver Island” came into being in 1862, and members purchased the present site of the synagogue for $730. The building was designed by principal architect John Wright, from the firm Wright & Sanders, the first professional architect in Victoria.

The cornerstone-laying ceremony took place June 2, 1863. This was a gala celebration and was attended by the mayor, town council, Chief Justice, the Freemasons, Hebrew Benevolent, French Benevolent and St. Andrews Societies, bands and choirs. The congregation was incorporated by an act of the Legislature of the Colony of Vancouver Island that received assent on July 7, 1864, as “The Emanuel of Victoria, Vancouver Island.”

In approximately 1893 the congregation purchased, for $350, a parcel of land to the south of the sanctuary and erected a wooden structure measuring 50 by 70 feet, called the Hebrew Ladies’ Hall, so named because it could not have been built without the Hebrew Ladies’ Association having raised a large part of the construction funds and because it was intended to facilitate the association in their further fundraising activities. This building functioned in many different roles: as a ballroom, space for bazaars, a school, a church and even a judo club. Later renamed Victoria Hall, by the 1970s, the then 80-year-old structure had deteriorated and was demolished in favour of a used car lot. The land was later used for the portable classrooms of Emanu-El’s Hebrew school, until the construction of the present Fisher Building (Congregation Emanu-El Education and Culture Centre).

In approximately 1900, another structure, a single-storey addition referred to as a “lean to,” was built onto the southeast corner of the sanctuary. The structure was extended to the street in the late 1940s, when the synagogue was “modernized.” This space, still very much in use today, has served multiple purposes over the last 100 years: from kitchen to classroom to meeting space to children’s play area.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Jewish population in Victoria declined as Vancouver took on more global importance. By the mid-1940′s, there were only 10-15 families at Congregation Emanu-El. The synagogue was 80 years old by then, and was badly deteriorated. In an effort to save it from being condemned, the original brick exterior was covered with stucco, the windows were blocked in and a false ceiling was installed to allow for adequate heating. A rededication ceremony at the Emanu‐El Synagogue was held on March 17, 1948.

This preserved the synagogue until 1978, when a group of volunteers decided to restore the synagogue to its original condition. This was a time when there was a new public appreciation of heritage. In 1977, the provincial Heritage Conservation Branch was founded, responsible for the planning and management of provincial heritage resources. The Branch's Restoration Services Division would play a crucial role in the synagogue restoration. In 1978, "The Committee to Restore Canada's Oldest Synagogue" was organized and consisted of Martin Levin as Chairman with a membership of Harry Brown, Neil Gold, Michael Goldberg, Alan Klenman, Ben Levinson, Gene Miller, Felix Reuben and later Martin Bernstein. The Committee enlists the aid and expertise of the Heritage Conservation Branch of the Provincial Government which is to prove invaluable throughout the four year restoration project.

The project of revitalizing the Synagogue included: removing old paint and stucco; duplicating antique bricks of irregular shapes; recreating doors; shipping stained glass from Europe; remaking hundreds of elaborate spindles for the gallery railing and restoring a rose window that could not be removed from the wall. Although some of the fabric of the building, such as the doors, was lost forever, the blocked‐off windows were not lost, and much of the interior that was shut away by the false ceiling survived.

The restoration was made possible by the support of various organizations including the British Columbia Heritage Trust. Every effort was made to restore the Synagogue as authentically as possible, for example: new bricks, to replace those defaced in preparation for the stucco, were hand made by the Hidden Brick Company in Vancouver, Washington; hundreds of new spindles for the balcony were hand turned by David’s Classic Wood‐Works, of Victoria; and local stained‐glass artist, Andrew Leone, repaired and recreated the windows and dome. The new stained glass in the ceiling was supported on Plexiglas, with a rectangular glass structure on top to protect it, and allow for inspection. The wooden floor was dug out and a skim coat of concrete placed on the exposed ground before the new floor was installed. Commitment to authenticity led the Heritage Branch to petition the Fire Marshall to make concessions concerning the provision of facilities in compliance with the current code. Both the interior and exterior of the synagogue today would, it seems, be instantly recognisable to the Jewish citizens of Victoria who worshipped there one hundred and fifty years ago. In the end the cost of this restoration was $370,000.00, more than half of which came from the Victoria Jewish community. This restoration was completed in 1982 with a multicultural and multi-ethnic celebration similar to the original dedication in 1863.

On June 26, 1983, the Government of Canada mounted a plaque recognizing the "national historical and architectural significance of Congregation Emanu‐El Temple."

The Victoria Jewish Community kept growing and in 1994, the Board of the Congregation Emanu‐El established a Task Force to examine the possibility of expanding the Synagogue. A Building Committee was formed upon the vote of the Board, tasked with the responsibility of securing conceptual drawings and any technical studies or surveys required to assess the options of constructing an addition to the Synagogue. The addition to the Synagogue became the Matanah G’Dolah Project and was the Capital Building and Fundraising Campaign of Congregation Emanu‐El. In 2003, the project was realized when the addition, the Al and Sylvia Fisher Building, the Congregation Emanu-El Educational and Cultural Centre opened. By 2004, the congregation had grown to about 215 families.

On June 2, 2013 Victoria’s Congregation Emanu-El celebrated its 150th anniversary with a day of festivities, including a reenactment of the original parade that marked the laying of the synagogue’s cornerstone on June 2, 1863. The parade formed at the corner of Fisgard and Douglas (the Freemason temple) and set off at noon with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Naden Band leading. The parade paused at City Hall to pick up Mayor Dean Fortin and some city councilors before arriving at the intersection of Pandora and Blanshard streets. There, the commemoration of the laying of the cornerstone took place – Fortin, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada Miriam Ziv, the grand master of Freemasons in British Columbia and other dignitaries marked this historic occasion and welcomed the 150th year of Congregation Emanu-El, the oldest synagogue in Canada in continuous use.

As Congregation Emanu-El was preparing for a 150th anniversary commemoration and celebration, including festivities and events held throughout 2013, it was also time to restore and maintain the building so that it will last another 150 years. The congregation’s focus then, are twofold: joy for the present, and care for the future. Donald Luxton and Associates (Vancouver) was selected as the heritage conservation consultant. The scope of work included, in approximate order of priority, the need to repair and reinforce the roof structure; restore the windows and increase the R-value, the degree of resistance to the passage of heat through a material, in order to reduce heat loss; replace the outmoded electro-mechanical heating controls with a programmable electronic system; upgrade the fire/smoke detection system to promote early warning; replace the front entrance and modify it to provide universal access; enhance the security of the aron kodesh to provide fire, theft, flood and earthquake protection for the sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls); and renew the well-worn wooden floor. Compared to the 1982-era restoration, these projects are mostly out of sight and out of mind. In the end, the cost of this restoration will be approximately $950,000.
Once these projects have been completed, thus ensuring the integrity of the building envelope, it is believed that the Emanu-El sanctuary will be in a sufficient state of repair that a 20-year cycle of periodic preventive maintenance inspections and repairs should see the building through its next 150 years.

Chelm Cultural Club

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 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.

Canadian Zionist Federation. Pacific Region

  • Entidad colectiva

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 Jewish Congress. Pacific Region

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 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 Histadrut

  • Entidad colectiva
  • 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.

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