Julius Irving (J. I.) Oelbaum (1899-1966) was a dedicated community leader, whose tireless work with fraternal, educational and philanthropic organizations included an extensive list of Toronto's prominent Jewish organizations. He was born in New York City on 11 October, 1899 to Moishe and Miriam (nee Jacoby) Oelbaum. He had four brothers, Charles, Sidney, Abraham (Babe) and Cuppel (Jack). In 1906, the family moved to Toronto, where Oelbaum received his education. In 1923, he married Sadie (nee Margulies) and had two daughters, Dorothy Koven and Helen Simpson. Oelbaum was a social worker by profession, but in 1932, he went into business with his brothers and became president of the Acme Paper Products Company Limited.
J. I. Oelbaum devoted a lifetime to Jewish communal service, beginning in 1923, when he was hired as the executive director of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto, a post which he retained for five years. Incredibly, during the same period he was also the executive director of the Toronto Hebrew Free Loan Association and the Toronto Hebrew Free School. Oelbaum held executive lay leadership positions with numerous organizations including: District Grand Lodge No. 1, B'nai Brith, United Jewish Welfare Fund, Jewish Family Welfare Bureau, Yeshiva Torath Chaim, Zionist Organization of Canada, Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region, Joint Public Relations Committee, Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Canada, Jewish Camp Council of Toronto, United Jewish Refugee and War Relief Agencies, Toronto Jewish Old Folks' Home, Mount Sinai Hospital, Canadian Conference of Christians and Jews, Congregation Goel Tzedec, and the Y.M.H.A.
In 1954, Oelbaum was honoured at a Jewish National Fund Negev dinner, which over 1400 people attended. He also received the Queen's Coronation Medal in 1952 and the Canadian Council of Christian and Jews Human Relations award in 1953. J. Irving Oelbaum died on 2 October 1966 after a lengthy illness.
The records in accession 1985-5-15 were in the possession of Oelbaum's daughters, Helen Simpson and the late Dorothy Koven, before they were donated to the Archives on May 29, 1985. The photograph from accession 2004-5-31 was donated to the Archives by Oelbaum's niece, Annette Cohen.
Scope and Content
This fonds consists of records documenting J. I. Oelbaum's family and his work with Toronto Jewish organizations. The records include photographs, correspondence, event booklets and invitations, newsclippings, Oelbaum's certificate of marriage and wedding invitation, a miniature silver shovel from the turning of the sod ceremony at Baycrest Hospital, and two scrapbooks.
The photographs include portraits of Oelbaum as well as his parents, and snapshots of famous individuals attending events in Toronto, such as David Ben Gurion, Eleanor Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and Bob Hope.
A large amount of the loose newsclippings were removed from the fonds, photocopied and added to the J. I. Oelbaum clipping file.