The “Shuls Project” was the work of three University of Toronto architecture students, who in 1977 wrote a research paper on the eight Toronto synagogues built before World War II. Concerned at the lack of resources on these synagogues, Sidney Tenenbaum, Lynn Milstone and Sheldon Levitt foresaw the loss of communities’ recorded history as membership dwindled and elders passed on. The students conceived a project that would photograph and document every synagogue in Canada, gathering visual evidence, memorabilia, plaques and stories before they disappeared and history was lost. The students’ goal was to document synagogues’ architecture, art, and historical development through research, interviews and site visits.
The students secured a large portion of the required funding for the project from the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation in Montreal, funding which was matched by the Canadian Jewish Congress. This financial support enabled Levitt, Milstone and Tenenbaum to begin their study, named “Shuls… A Study of Canadian Synagogue Architecture.” They began in the summer of 1977, traveling through the Western provinces. The next summer, they visited eight Maritime cities, Montreal and other Quebec communities. Financial support in the project’s second year was again provided by the Bronfman Family Foundation, along with the Canadian government and donations in kind from businesses, including Benjamin Photo Finishers in Toronto, and Polaroid. The summer of 1979 was spent in Ontario, with an added grant from Wintario. In total, the Shuls project team traveled over 24,000 kilometres, taking thousands of photographs and conducting several hundred interviews. Photographs were taken by Tenenbaum, with Levitt and Milstone assuming primary responsibility for researching synagogues’ history and gathering historic records. Interviews were conducted by all three researchers, in both English and Yiddish.
With no handy index of every shul in Canada, the researchers located small shuls by word of mouth. They spread word of their project and solicited assistance using press releases, letters to known communities, and slideshow presentations as they traveled. They would first examine a building to get an idea of a community’s character and heritage, then conduct interviews with designers, architects, rabbis and other prominent community members.
With the research and photographs created, the team compiled three catalogues of the Western, Eastern/Quebec, and Ontario phases of the project. These catalogues have entries on each synagogue that include historical summaries highlighting the founding, growth, mergers and decline of Jewish communities, their changing needs, changing architectural expressions and trends, and the evolving uses of synagogues over the course of the twentieth century. There are also building descriptions, some with critical comments by the authors, and lists of the photographs and slides produced.
The compilation of materials and preparation of these catalogues took place at the Project’s offices at 26 Ava Road in Toronto, and continued through the summer of 1980 when the Ontario catalogue was completed. In 1985, Tenenbaum, Milstone and Levitt published a book highlighting their work, called Treasures of a People: The Synagogues of Canada.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of the records created and collected by the team of students conducting the Shuls study from 1977 to 1980. The majority of the fonds is made up of graphic material, in the form of 35mm colour slides and black-and-white Polaroid prints and (print-size) negatives. There are approximately 5110 photographs in the fonds. Fonds also consists of notes and inventory forms of buildings' architectural features. There are no interview transcripts, but the fonds does include three audio cassettes with recorded interviews and shul tours. Reference materials used in researching the history of the shuls include dedication and anniversary commemorative books and programmes, newsletters, articles and newspaper clippings. In addition the fonds contains 47 blueprints, the majority from Montreal synagogues. The fonds is arranged in the following series: 1. Quebec synagogues; 2. Ontario synagogues; 3. Western Canada synagogues; 4. Eastern Canada synagogues; 5. Reference.
Physical description note: includes 92 cm of textual records, 42 architectural drawings, 3 audio cassettes, and 1 drawing.
Physical extent note: many of the slides were culled because they were felt to be reproductions. Some of the synagogue images in the research book may therefore not be included in the fonds.
Copyright is not held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission prior to use.
File consists of newspaper clippings documenting the activities of the Edell family. Included are articles regarding Clanton Park Synagogue, Belle Ewart, and Oshawa's B'nai Brith Lodge. Also included is a death notice for Malka Edell.
Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch was spiritual leader of Clanton Park from 1964 until 1971.
Scope and Content
File consists of invitations, programmes and the souvenir book for the installation dinner in honour of Rabbi Rabinovitch. Also included is a list of sponsors for the event and the amount they donated.
File consists of marriage certificate receipts for marriages performed by Rabbi Weinreb at 26 Henry Street as well as a photograph of Rabbi Weinreb leading a march in commemoration of the proclamation of the Balfour Declaration. Also included is a certificate that Rabbi Weinreb received for collecting money to help people make aliyah in their old age (4 Oct. 1923).
Copyright is in the public domain and permission for use is not required. Please credit the Ontario Jewish Archives as the source of the photograph.
The certificate is in fragile condition and is starting to tear across the centre. Tape is adhered to sections on the back of the document.
File consists of appeals for donations to Shomrai Shabbos synagogue funds including the Book Fund, the Yizkor Fund, the Building Fund and the Charity Fund as well as receipts for donations given to these funds.
Sol Edell (1919-2000) was a prominant member of the Toronto Jewish community who initially pursued a career as a pharmacist and was later founder and president of the property development company, Elmdale Investments. He held positions as board member or chair in a wide variety of religious, educational and social service organizations and institutions both in Canada and Israel. In Toronto, these included: Clanton Park Synagogue, Adas Israel Synagogue, Jones Avenue Cemetery, Canadian Jewish Congress and the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto (formerly Toronto Jewish Congress, and now the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto).
Edell was born in Toronto on 5 March 1919, the son of Pesach and Molly Edell. He attended Harbord Collegiate and graduated from the Toronto College of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, in 1943 while on leave of absence from the army. He was enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War and served in the signal corps.
After he completed his army service, he opened Edell’s Drug Store at 1978 Queen Street in Etobicoke in 1948, the first shomer Shabbat drug store in the city. He operated a second store at 494 Spadina Avenue in the late 1940s. In 1955 the Queen Street location was expropriated by the City of Toronto. Subsequently, Edell founded Elmdale Investments, the company which built and managed the Elmhurst Plaza in Etobicoke. He reopened the drug store, which was renamed Elmhurst Drugs in the plaza. He also invested in two retail textile stores, Deltex Drapery and Dodd’s Drapery which had been founded by group of businessmen including his cousin Israel Edell.
In 1952 he married Dolly Weinstock, the daughter of Moishe and Sylvia Weinstock. They lived in the newly developed suburb of North York with their four children: Ethel, Simcha, Malka and Joseph. After 10 years of marriage, Dolly died and in 1966, he married Celia Rogen Hoffman.
Sol Edell was a founding member and first president of the Clanton Park Congregation. He was actively involved in the construction of the synagogue and its development. He continued to be affiliated with Shomrai Shabbos where his grandfather Rabbi Yosef Weinreb had been the rabbi. He was also involved with Adas Israel, the synagogue in Hamilton where his wife Celia had been an active member.
He was chair of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region -- Toronto Jewish Congress Archives Committee, which subsequently became the Ontario Jewish Archives. During his tenure, the archives was responsible for the reconstruction of the Kiever Synagogue which had been built in the early 1900s but had fallen into a state of disrepair by the 1960s.
Sol Edell was also involved in a number of Zionist organizations. He was the founding chair of the Aliyah Support Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, whose mandate was to assist Torontonians who had moved to Israel and ease their transition into Israeli society. He was also an active member of the Mizrachi organization and its affiliated institutions. Another one of Sol Edell’s interests was ensuring the preservation of local cemeteries. He was president of the Jones Avenue Cemetery and on the board of Pardes Shalom and the Bathurst Lawn Cemetery, Clanton Park section.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting Sol Edell's business activities, community involvement and personal life. Included is correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, financial records, legal records, publications, audio-visual material, invitations, newspaper clippings, artifacts, lists, reports, speeches, and architectural drawings.
The fonds is organized into the following eleven series: Personal; Edell's Drug Store and Elmhurst Pharmacy; Elmdale Investments; Deltex Drapery and Dodd's Drapery; Adas Israel Synagogue; Clanton Park Synagogue; Shomrai Shabbos; Aliyah; Cemetery and funeral home; Historical materials; and, Activities and organizations.
Physical description note: includes 739 photographs, 232 architectural drawings, 11 audio cassettes, 9 audio reels, 13 film reels, 7 videocassettes, 4 slides, 1 plaque, 4 badges, and 1 key.
Edell Solomon, 1919-2000
Clanton Park Synagogue (Toronto, Ont.)
Edell's Drug Store
Jones Avenue Cemetery
Canadian Jewish Congress/ Toronto Jewish Congress Archives
Aliyah Support Committee
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
The bulk of the architectural drawings are currently being stored rolled up. They should be flattened and encapsulated in melinex.
Film and sound reels should be digitized.
See fonds #5 for material related to Paul Edell.
See accession #2012-10/9 for material related to the Edell family.
Sol Edell, the son of Paul and Mollie Edell, was one of five siblings. He and Dolly Weinstock, the daughter of Moishe and Sylvia Weinstock, had two daughters and two sons and lived in Toronto. After Dolly died in 1961, he married Celia (nee Rogen) Hoffman, a widow, in 1966. He became the stepfather to the two sons of Max and Celia Hoffman who had been residents of Hamilton. Some members of the family remained in Toronto while others moved to other parts of Canada, the United States and Israel. Sol Edell was actively involved in or provided financial support to many educational, professional and religious organizations.
Scope and Content
Series includes correspondence, invitations, publications, photographs, family films and a sound recording. The series is made up of seven sub-series: Associations, Charities, Community Activities, Education and Extra-Curricular Activities, Life Cycle and Family Events, Religious, and Residence.
Physical description note: includes 12 photographs, 7 film reels, 1 audio reel, 1 plaque, 4 badges, and 47 architectural drawings.
Shomrai Shabbos is an orthodox congregation which was founded in 1896. Sol Edell’s grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Weinreb, served as rabbi of the congregation from 1900 until 1942. The synagogue was in several downtown locations until it moved to its present location on Glengrove Avenue in North York in 1966. The congregation has grown steadily over the years and now has a membership of over 350 families. Sol Edell’s family were members of the congregation when he was a child. Although he retained his membership in the congregation after his marriage, he rarely attended the services at the synagogue. However, he did continue to participate in fundraising on behalf of the synagogue.
The earlier records were collected by Sol's grandfather, Rabbi Yosef Weinreb, or his father, Paul Edell. After their deaths, Sol maintained his membership in the congregation and continued to receive material from the synagogue.
Scope and Content
Series consists of records documenting the establishment, construction, membership and activities of the Shomrai Shabbos Synagogue. Included is correspondence, speeches, technical drawings, financial records, ledgers, a tribute book, legal records, flyers, bulletins, marriage certificate receipts, certificates, invitations, a photograph, and stationary.
In addition to his ongoing involvement with Clanton Park, the Canadian Jewish Congress Archives, the Aliyah Support Group, Jones Avenue Cemetery, Shomrai Shabbos and Adas Israel, Sol Edell undertook special projects on behalf of a wide array of Jewish organizations. These include cultural (Toronto Cantorial Scholarship Fund), educational (Netivot Hatorah and Yeshivat Or Chaim Ulpanat Orot), religious (Union of Jewish Orthodox Congregations), social welfare (Association of Jewish Seniors and Co-Ordinated Services to the Jewish Elderly) and Zionist (Canadian Friends of Yeshivat Hakotel and State of Israel Bonds) organizations.
Scope and Content
Series consists of records documenting Sol Edell's involvement with a wide variety of Jewish educational, social and religious organizations and institutions in Canada, the United States, and Israel. Included are meeting minutes, publications, reports, photographs, correspondence, invitations, programmes, financial records, an architectural drawing, and a sound recording. While many of these organizations such as Eitz Chaim, Or Chaim Ulpanat Orot (educational), Mizrachi Organization of Canada, Emunah Women (Zionist) and Beth Jacob V’Anshe Drildz (synagogue) are orthodox, others such as Associated Hebrew Day Schools (educational), State of Israel Bonds (Zionist) and Co-ordinated Services to the Jewish Elderly (social welfare) have no religious affiliation.
Physical description note: includes 26 photographs, 1 audio cassette, and 1 architectural drawing.
Sol Edell had a large family and a large circle of friends and aquaintenances. Consequently, he was invited to many circumcisions, weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. He also set up several memorial funds in memory of his sister and wives.There are also documents in this sub-series that relate to family members.
Scope and Content
Sub-series consists of correspondence, receipts, diplomas, photographs and films documenting various family celebrations, vacations and home life. There is a selection of invitations, cards and benchers sent by the Edell, Weinstock and Hoffman families as well as ones that they received from family and friends. In addition, there are newspaper clippings and notices of the deaths of Edell family members and friends as well as correspondence and receipts relating to memorial funds set up in their memory. The sub-series also contains films of family and friends taken at home, on vacation and at family celebrations.
Physical description note: includes 10 photographs, 7 film reels, and 1 audio reel.
During his lifetime Sol Edell regularly attended or maintained membership in a number of different synagogues. As a child Sol Edell’s family were members of Shomrai Shabbos. After he married he became a founding member of Clanton Park. His second wife Celia was a member of Adas Israel prior to their marriage. The Edell’s also had a cottage in Belle Ewart and they attended the synagogue which the Jewish cottagers had established for the summer.
Scope and Content
Sub-series consists of correspondence, receipts and newspaper clippings relating to the religious activities of the Edell family. This includes dues and donations to Adas Israel, Clanton Park and Shomrai Shabbos synagogues. As well there are newspaper clippings about the synagogue in Belle Ewart. Also included are contracts for the sale of chametz for Passover.