Ida Lewis Siegel (1885-1982) was instrumental in the founding and development of several prominent Jewish organizations, such as the Daughters of Zion, Hadassah-Wizo Organization of Canada, the Hebrew Ladies' Maternity Aid Society and the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. She was also particularly active in the educational sector and in campaigning for the rights of female educators. She was internationally known for her devotion to Jewish learning and for her contributions to the development of the Toronto Jewish community.
Ida was born to Samuel Lewis (b. 1859) and Hannah Ruth (Ticktin) Lewis (b. 1864) on 14 February 1885 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was the first child to be born in the United States after her parents immigrated from Lithuania. She had two brothers, Abe Lewis (b. 1880) and Charles S. Lewis (b. 1883). She attended elementary school in Pittsburgh, and in 1894, she and her family moved to Toronto.
On 14 February 1905, Ida married Isidore Hirsch Siegel at the Elm Street Synagogue. Isidore was a travelling peddler, and later, owner of a store in Cochrane, Ontario. Together, they had six children: Rohama Lee (1905-?), Leah Gittel (Labovitz) (1907-2004), David Isar (1909-2004), Sarah (Sontag) (1912-1942), Avrom Fichel (1916-2010), and Rivka Hadassah (Gurau) (1923-2001).
Ida is credited with helping to found a large number of Jewish philanthropic and social organizations including the Daughters of Zion, the first ladies' Zionist society in Canada (1899); the Herzl Girls' Club (1904); Hadassah-Wizo Organization of Canada (1916); the Hebrew Ladies' Sewing Circle, which developed into the Hebrew Ladies' Maternity Aid Society (1907); the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. (1919); the Women’s League of the United Synagogues of America in Toronto (192-); the Goel Tzedec Sunday School (1914); and the Goel Tzedec Sisterhood (192-). She was also named honorary president of the Beth Tzedec Sisterhood in 1953. With the help of her brother Abe, Ida formed the first free Jewish Dispensary in Toronto, located on Elizabeth Street in the Ward, which was the forerunner to the Mount Sinai Hospital.
Ida also helped form a unified fundraising body for the Jewish community known as the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies (1917), which would become the current UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. However, Ida was denied a seat on the executive after campaigning for a female representative.
Always involved in the field of education, Ida was one of the original founders of the Home and School Association in 1919. In 1930, she became the first Jewish woman to be elected to the Toronto Board of Education, a post which she held for six years. She was later named honorary secretary of the Toronto Board of Jewish Education. In 1937, she ran unsuccessfully for alderman in Toronto, but remained politically active with the Association of Women's Electors. She was active in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom from 1915 onward and was an outspoken opponent of both world wars. Throughout her lifetime, Ida held the position of national vice-president of the Zionist Organization of Canada, sat on the executive board of the Canadian Jewish Congress and was a member of the Jewish Historical Society.
Her religious affiliations were with Goel Tzedec, Beth Tzedec, Shaar Shomayim and the Beach Hebrew Institute.
The records were created by Ida Siegel and were in her possession until 1982. After her death, her son Avrom and daughter Rivka took possession of the records until they were donated to the archives in 1998 and 2004.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of the records created and accumulated by Ida Siegel, documenting her personal and professional life, along with her philanthropic work. The types of records include personal reminiscences, diaries and memoirs, family correspondence, professional correspondence, speeches, scrapbooks, newsclippings, oral histories and photographs.
Includes 30 photographs, 2 scrapbooks, 13 audio cassettes and 7 audio reels.
Siegel, Ida Lewis, 1885-1982
Siegel, Isidore Hirsch
Siegel, Leah Gittel (Labovitz) (Sadker)
Siegel, Rohama Lee
Siegel, David Isar
Siegel, Sarah (Sontag)
Siegel, Avrom Fichel
Siegel, Rivka Hadassah (Gurau)
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
National Council of Jewish Women fonds 38
Records had previously been placed in acid free boxes and file folders and labeled according to their contents.