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2 records – page 1 of 1.
Part Of
Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region fonds
Fonds 17
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region fonds
Material Format
multiple media
Physical Description
47 m of textual records and other material
Admin History/Bio
By 1919 the plight of post-war eastern European Jewry and the need for a united community voice for Canadian Jewry led to the creation of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Its founding meeting was held on March 16, 1919 in Montreal. Though it briefly maintained a tiny regional office in Toronto, the CJC remained inactive until 1933, when it fully reconvened by opening offices in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Toronto. Egmont L. Frankel was the first president of the new central division in Toronto. While the national office in Montreal focused on the overarching issues of the social and economic rights of European Jewry, assistance for Jewish immigrants, and combating prejudice in Canada, the Toronto office dealt with local, violent anti-Jewish demonstrations as well as continuing discrimination both in employment and in access to public recreational facilities. The structure was based on regular national biennial plenary conferences, at which policies were delineated and national and regional executives were elected. Between plenary sessions, national and regional councils were in charge. These were augmented by the following standing committees: administrative, officers, fersonnel, financial, publications, and educational and cultural. Special committees were created to deal with issues such as: youth, community loans, kashruth, fundraising, Israel, Russian Jewry, and various emergency issues such as refugees, immigration, and housing.
During the 1930s the central division office moved several times and occupied offices in the following locations: Yonge Street, the Bond Street Synagogue, Scheuer House, the Zionist Building, and its long-term home at 150-152 Beverley Street, where it remained until its July 1983 move to the Lipa Green Building in North York.
The CJC's activities expanded to include taking responsibility for Jewish educational standards, but by 1941 its main efforts shifted to support for Canada’s war effort. Immediately after the end of the war, the focus again shifted to Jewish immigration projects and the maintenance of Jewish identity in small communities. By 1950, the CJC’s use of the title “division” was changed to “region” to accommodate internal operational divisions within each region. Also, by then, the central region was busy expanding its programs for all Ontario Jewish communities, creating a province-wide council of youth groups, and working with the newly-created Bureau of Jewish Education (later Board of Jewish Education, now Mercaz). Standardization of kashruth rules in Ontario was implemented. As well, regular educational conferences and cultural events were held throughout the province, while province-wide fundraising efforts in support of Moess Chittin for relief projects in Israel and for local Congress activities were expanded. Many of its educational and cultural responsibilities necessitated working with other Jewish organizations such as the United Jewish Welfare Fund, Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), Hadassah, the Canadian Legion, B’nai Brith, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress, and the many landsmenshaften (Jewish mutual benefit societies, each formed by immigrants originating from the same Eastern European community).
During the 1960s, the central region began sending Moess Chittin relief shipments to Cuban Jews unable to acquire kosher foods for Passover. Its lobbying efforts included participation in the Royal Commissions on Hate Propaganda, and its greatest success came with the introduction and implementation of Ontario’s fair employment and fair accommodation practices legislation, an achievement in which Congress played a pivotal role.
From 1971 to 1989 the major focus became international and national lobbying for, and providing support to, Soviet Jewry. Virtually all local and Canadian efforts to assist the Soviet Jewish “refusniks” were organized and coordinated in Toronto by the Ontario region office, which provided staff and funding for the many lobbying activities and public demonstrations that characterized this successful effort.
As of November 1975, the central region’s responsibilities in Toronto were radically altered. To improve cost efficiency in Toronto, CJC educational and social service program activities were merged with similar programs already provided by Toronto’s United Jewish Appeal. The UJA assumed sole responsibility for these amalgamated programs in Toronto and was renamed Toronto Jewish Congress. The central region still retained province-wide responsibilities for Ontario’s smaller Jewish communities, and its office remained in Toronto. Also, following this reorganization, its name was changed to Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region. Although CJC no longer provided direct social and educational programs to Toronto, the TJC’s senior executive was, at the time, still obliged to continue to keep it notified about developments concerning previous Congress responsibilities.
From 1983, the Ontario Region's offices were located in the Lipa Green Building at 4600 Bathurst Street. It continued its work of financially supporting various Israeli institutions and fostering Canada-Israel relations. It also spearheaded the movement to support and protect Jews in Arab lands, especially in Syria. Funding for the CJC came from the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, which restributed a portion of the funds raised by the local Jewish federations across Canada.
The CJC dissolved in 2011. Today, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) acts as the Jewish community's primary lobby group.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of the records of the Ontario Region office of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Of primary importance in documenting this organization’s history are its minutes of the Executive and Administrative Committees and the various standing, and short-term committees such as Community Organization, Finance, Fund Raising, Educational and Cultural, Research, Immigration, War Efforts, and Jewish Education. Most of these records are still managed all together within Fonds 17, Series 1. Fonds 17, Series 2 contains the general subject and correspondence files of these committees. Records in both series require further processing.
Records now found in Series 3 document the efforts of the Committee for Soviet Jewry in coordinating the activities of the many Toronto and Ontario organizations involved in assisting Soviet Jewry during the 1971 to 1989 period.
Series 4 consists of administrative and committee records of the United Jewish Refugee and War Relief Agencies in Toronto from 1938 through 1967. These document its work rescuing the survivors of European Jewish communities, settling as many as possible in Ontario, and providing assistance to those attempting to obtain restitution payments.
Series 5 consists of the records of the Community Relations Committee (1938-1976). Responding to depression-era anti-Semitism in Canada, the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith together established in 1938 a new joint committee. Since then this Committee has documented racist threats in Canada; initiated advocacy activities to work for improved civil rights; promoted legislation combating hate; worked to ensure equality of access to employment, education and accommodation; and investigated specific incidents of discrimination. The Committee, for example, played a key role in achieving the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1944, and the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1951, key steps leading to Canada’s current Human Rights Code. Although originally named Joint Public Relations Committee in 1938, a series of name changes later occurred; s follows: Joint Community Relations Committee, Central Region (1962-1978), Joint Community Relations Committee, CJC, Ontario Region (ca. 1978-ca. 1991) Community Relations Committee, CJC, Ontario Region (ca. 1991-present) Records in this series were reorganized into 5 sub-series and a further 9 sub-sub-series during the 2009 to 2011 period. For further details please view the database records for Fonds 17, Series 5. Although this series will eventually hold all CRC records up to 1992, only those prior to 1979 are currently fully processed.
Physical description note: Includes 1839 photographs, 89 audio cassettes, 11 videocassettes, 4 drawings, and 6 microfilm reels (16 mm).
Processing note: Processing of this fonds is ongoing. Additional descriptive entries will be added in future.
Name Access
Canadian Jewish Congress. Ontario Region
Pressure groups
Access Restriction
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the Archivist prior to accessing some of the records
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the Archivist prior to accessing some of the records.
Canadian Jewish Congress. Ontario Region (1919-2011)
Archival Descriptions
Brenda and Colin Baskind
Material Format
moving images
Interview Date
16 Jul. 2015
Oral Histories
Brenda and Colin Baskind
OH 423
Canada--Emigration and immigration
Jews--South Africa
South Africa--Emigration and immigration
Interview Date
16 Jul. 2015
Lisa Newman
Total Running Time
1 hr. 52 min.
Brenda met Colin on a blind date while attending teacher’s college in Johannesburg. The two dated for one year before getting married at the Pine Street Shul in 1967. Together, they raised three children—Stacey, Alana, and Cliff—and helped bring up the nephew of their maid, whom they regarded as family.
Around 1976, Colin and Brenda began thinking about emigrating as a result of the country’s worsening political situation. At first, their daughter was unwilling to move, but after a riot broke out at her university, she declared she had had enough. Initially, the family considered moving to Australia, but soon settled upon Canada, immigrating in 1987. Although they found the prospect of starting over intimidating, they received a warm welcome from both the South African Jewish community and the larger community.
Brenda and Colin purchased a khaloupe (a fixer-upper) that they transformed into a beautiful home, planting trees in its large garden. Brenda found employment with Holy Blossom Synagogue while Colin became president of the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada. In their free time, they took up running, a hobby that introduced them to many friends. By 2015, they had participated in eleven marathons.
Material Format
moving images
Name Access
Baskind, Brenda, 1944-
Baskind, Colin, 1941-
Geographic Access
Johannesburg (South Africa)
Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
Toronto (Ont.)
Original Format
Digital file
00:13 Brenda (née Bebrow?) was born 29 October 1944 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Brenda discusses her parents’ divorce and the death of her brother from polio in 1956.
01:25 Brenda explains the reasons her mother sent her to boarding school in Grahamstown.
02:12 Brenda’s father drowned in the ocean in Port Elizabeth at age eleven.
03:41 Brenda’s mother worked as a bookkeeper in Johannesburg.
03:50 Brenda discusses her limited Jewish education and practice while living in Grahamstown.
05:40 Brenda reminisces about her experience at boarding school.
06:43 Brenda discusses how she was able to cope while dealing with her parents’ divorce, followed by the deaths of her brother, father, and grandmother.
07:36 Brenda’s maternal grandparents and great-grandmother were from Russia. They were observant Jews.
09:12 Brenda moved to Johannesburg at age eighteen to attend teacher’s college. She describes living with her great-aunt, great-uncle, and cousin.
10:21 Brenda describes how she met her husband, Colin.
11:37 Colin was born on 20 April 1941 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He lived with his parents and younger sister.
12:03 Colin reminisces about his early years. He discusses his friends and interest in sports.
13:50 Colin’s father was a butcher. His mother assisted his father.
14:18 Colin discusses the high quality of his education.
15:32 Colin’s father practiced Orthodox Judaism.
16:26 Colin discusses his Jewish education. He reminisces about his bar mitzvah.
18:43 Colin describes how he helped with his father’s business.
20:21 Colin’s father was born in Lithuania at age 11. His mother was born in Latvia. Both came to South Africa in the 1920s.
21:39 Colin attended university in Johannesburg.
23:21 Colin discusses work experience.
25:12 Colin and Brenda reminisce about their initial meeting, courtship, and marriage.
29:30 Colin and Brenda’s eldest daughter Alana was born.
29:36 Colin and Brenda discuss their close relationship with their nanny and her family. They describe the living conditions for nannies in general.
33:23 Colin and Brenda recount how they helped raise the baby of their nanny’s sister.
36:50 Brenda’s mother remarried a third time.
39:18 Brenda discusses her work as a nursery school teacher in Johannesburg and Toronto.
41:06 Colin and Brenda explain the reasons that triggered their decision to emigrate. They describe the Soweto riots in 1976.
45:08 Colin explains how they chose and were accepted to immigrate to Canada. Colin and Brenda discuss the distinct advantages of living in Canada relative to South Africa and Australia.
52:33 Colin only considered leaving South Africa after his parents passed away.
53:10 Colin and Brenda discuss their children’s points of view about leaving South Africa.
55:23 Colin and Brenda describe how they got ready for the move to Canada. They discuss what they were and were not allowed to bring out of South Africa.
57:27 Colin explains how some South Africans left the country without going through the steps of formal immigration.
57:26 Brenda describes her fears concerning the move and explains the reasons some of her friends have remained in South Africa.
1:00:04 Brenda shares early memories of moving to Toronto: buying a house and a car.
1:03:09 Colin and Brenda contrast the quality of living between Johannesburg and Toronto.
1:05:04 Colin and Brenda discuss how they formed their early social connections.
1:07:46 Colin discusses how he maintained interest in sport, both as a participant and as a spectator. Sport was another means of making friends.
1:10:0 Colin volunteered with the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS) for five years and became involved with the Southern African Jewish Association of Canada (SAJAC).
1:10:40 Colin discusses his involvement with SAJAC.
1:12:44 Brenda and Colin discuss some of the language and cultural challenges they encountered when they arrived in Canada.
1:16:17 Colin and Brenda discuss the achievements of their children.
1:20:42 Colin and Brenda discuss their daughter Stacy’s decision to be a single mother. Brenda discusses their involvement with baby Lily’s care and their decision to buy a house with private quarters to share with Stacy and Lily.
1:28:18 Brenda discusses two trips back to South Africa to care for her mother in 1998.
1:32:28 Brenda discusses the changes she noted in South Africa during her visit.
1:34:43 Colin discusses his volunteer work with JIAS, SAJAC, Jewish Family & Child (JF&CS) and JVC. He explains his desire to enable others to prepare themselves for and find work.
1:43:33 Colin discusses some of the challenges faced by his sister.
1:46:50 Colin and Brenda share their views on the current and future situation in South Africa.
Oral Histories

The Way Things Were

A khaloupe!

A Scholarship Based on Need