The Brantford Hebrew Association, Congregation Beth David’s precursor, was founded in 1907 when Rabbi Backer officiated Brantford’s first public Jewish religious service in an upper hall on George Street. Services had previously taken place in the homes of Jewish families, who had begun settling in the area around the turn of the century. By 1911, services had moved to the old Conservative Hall at Dalhousie and King Street. In 1915, the Congregation purchased a building at 33 Palace Street and remodeled it into a synagogue. This building was also used as a community centre and for the Congregation’s Hebrew School.
On October 13th, 1911 the Congregation was incorporated, and the following year it purchased land for a cemetery in the northeast corner of Mount Hope Cemetery. Due to increasing membership, a new synagogue was built at 50 Waterloo Street in 1948. In January 1950, the Congregation changed its name to Beth David in honour of member David Axler, who died during the Second World War while training as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Congregation was at its peak in the 1960s with 150 member families. However, membership drastically fell after the children of this generation moved to larger cities and their parents followed after retirement. By 1999, only 28 families remained as members and services were reduced to being held on the High Holidays and special occasions, such as, Bah Mitzvah’s. Dwindling resources and membership forced the Congregation to close around 2001. Throughout its existence, over 30 rabbi's served the Congregation, including Rabbi Saul Wolfe Gringorten (ca. 1910-1923). Its cemetery continues to be looked after by Allan Norris, a past president of the Congregation.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting the acitivities, religious programs and services, membership, and finances of Congregation Beth David, as well as the recognition and honours awarded by and to Brantford's Jewish community. Included are meeting minutes, photographs, plaques, a key, a marriage register, general ledgers, ledgers and lists of membership dues and receipts, audited financial statements, budgets, correspondece, bulletins, office stationary, newsclippings, certificates, library book cards, bookplates, Rabbi contracts, and surveys.
Fonds has been arranged into the following six series: 1. Meetings ; 2. Religious programs and services; 3. Finances & accounting ; 4. Administrative functions ; 5. Bulletins ; and, 6. Events.
Includes 10 microfiches of textual records, 5 architectural drawings, 11 photographs (4 negatives), 3 plaques, 1 mounted letter and 1 key.
Fonds was reduced from ca. 1 metre to ca. 45 cm. See accession 2001-10-3 for further information about the culled material.
Congregation Beth David (Brantford, Ont.)
The binding on some of the general ledgers is fragile and coming apart. They have been stored flat to reduce any strain.
The architectural drawings have some tears and should be flattened.
Please see the Sadie Stren fonds 78 for other records documenting Brantford's Jewish community and the Beth David Congregation, including the synagogue's original letters of incorporation.
For records related to Beth David's namesake, David Axler, and photographs of its cemetery, please see accession #2004-5-71.
For records of Rabbi Gringorten, see accession #2009-2-5 and 2008-11-3
For additional records related to Brantford families and other Jewish organizations, such as the Hadassah chapter and B'nai Brith lodge, please see accession #2001-10-3; MG 2J29a, #2009-7-1, 1978-11-4, 1977-8-16, 1992-8-3, 1980-1-14, 1978-1-2, 2008-7-1, photo# 109, photo# 755, and photo #758.
Fonds is arranged to the file-level, but only described to the series-level. Three file-level descriptions exist for files attached directly to the fonds. Photographs with existing item-level descriptions were also attached to the fonds.
264 photographs (98 negatives) : b&w and col. ; 28 x 35 cm or smaller
2 folders of textual records
William (Bill) I. Stern (1921-2007) was born Izick Stern in Toronto on 24 February, 1921, to Moishe (Morris) Shternshis (ca. 1893-1976) and Fanny Rumianek (ca. 1896-1991). He was an active and respected member of both the Toronto and Hamilton Jewish communities.
Bill began his education in Toronto at Grace Street and Givens Street elementary schools. He later attended the Central Technical Institute for chemistry. In the late 1930s, Bill left Central Tech to work for his father, but eventually returned to school until the start of the Second World War. At this time, Bill enlisted in the Royal Canadian Airforce and served as a Leading Aircraftsman for three years in France, Belgium and Germany. At the end of the war, he returned to Central Tech and completed his junior matriculation (grade 12) in January of 1946. In December 1946, Bill married his first wife, Toronto-born Laura Rubinstein (1923-1963). The couple had two children, Hershel (1953-) and Sheila (1957-1996).
From 1946 to 1951, Bill studied social work at the University of Toronto through a government sponsored program for war veterans. When he graduated, he practiced social work at several community institutions such as the Children's Aid Society, the University Settlement House and St. Christopher House, in Toronto. In 1956, he was offered a position as director of activities for the Hamilton Jewish Community Centre (JCC). He remained in Hamilton at this post until 1960 and then returned to Toronto as a divisional director of the United Jewish Welfare Fund, where he initiated the fund's Social Planning Department. In 1963, upon the death of his wife Laura, Bill returned to Hamilton as the director of the JCC, and later the executive director of the Hamilton Council of Jewish Organizations (CJO), a position which he held for nine years from 1964 until 1973.
After two years with the United Jewish Welfare Fund of Buffalo, Bill returned to Toronto in 1975 and briefly served two years as the executive director of the Canadian Zionist Federation, Central Region. He then returned to private practice, working as a community consultant and later as a job placement coach at the University of Toronto's School of Social Work.
Bill was an active supporter of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and the author of "You Don't Have to Be Jewish", a book on Jewish film. He held several positions with philanthropic organizations such as the United Jewish Welfare Fund, the Jewish Home for the Aged and Baycrest, and the Canadian Society for the Weizmann Institute of Science. He was also a volunteer at the Ontario Jewish Archives. Bill lived in Toronto with his second wife of more than thirty years, Elizabeth Uptegrove (1952-), until his passing on 18 April 2007.
Records were in the possession of Bill Stern until they were donated to the Archives.
Scope and Content
This fonds consists of photographs documenting the Stern and Rumianek families, individuals and organizations from the Hamilton and Toronto Jewish communities, as well as Bill Stern and his fellow servicemen during the Second World War.
The fonds has been arranged into the following series: Family photographs; Military photographs; Hamilton Jewish community photographs; Toronto Jewish community photographs; and Camp photographs. The photographs have been described at the item level and have been arranged chronologically. The textual material consists of two files containing records related to Bill Stern's professional and philanthropic career, as well as some family invitations.