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, b'nai mitzvah. Dwindling resources and membership forced the congregation to close around 2001. Throughout its existence, over 30 rabbis 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.
12 drawings: blueline and pencil: 111 x 77cm or smaller
1 folder of textual material
Scope and Content
This accession consists of the original architectural plans of the Kiever Synagogue in Kensington Market as well as plans drawn by Martin Mendelow for the Synagogue's restoration in the early 1980s. Also included is a Mendelow drawing of the Minsk Synagogue and textual materials relating to the Kiever
Materials were kept by Martin Mendelow
Martin Mendelow is a well known architect working in the Toronto area. His professional association with the Kiever Synagogue began when he was hired as architect of the Synagogue's restoration, which was completed in the early 1980s
Accession consists of materials documenting Congregation Iyr Hamelich, the Reform synagogue in Kingston. The records include the constitution, Sunday school minutes and policy documents, synagogue bulletins, correspondence and "Welcome to our Congregation" booklets.
19 photographs : b&w and col. (1 negative) ; 37 x 24 cm or smaller
Scope and Content
This accession consists of records documenting the lives of Harry and Anne Tulchinsky as well as their son Gerry Tulchinsky from Brantford, Ontario. They include letters and postcards, autograph books, programs and invitations, photographs, Judaea newspapers, school yearbooks and a scrapbook. The records relate to the family's general involvement with the Brantford Jewish community, the Beth David Congregation, the Sharon chapter of Hadassah-Wizo and Gerry's service with the Royal Canadian Navy.
The records were in the possession of the donor before being donated to the Archives on July 7, 2007.
Dr. Gerald Tulchinsky was Professor Emeritus at Queen's University, Department of History, and author of several books on the history of Canadian Jewry and labour issues in Canada. His books include: Shtetl on the Grand (2015); Joe Salsberg: A Life of Commitment (2013); Canada's Jews: A People's Journey (2008); Branching Out: The Transformation of the Canadian Jewish Community (1998); Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community (1992); and The River Barons: Montreal Businessmen and the Growth of Industry and Transportation, 1837-53 (1977).
Tulchinsky was born in Brantford, Ontario in 1933 to Harry and Anne Tulchinsky. He resided in Kingston, Ontario until his death on 13 Dec. 2017.
Related material note: see accessions 1976-6-9, 1976-6-13, 1978-11-3, 1978-11-4, 1981-12-2, 1992-8-3, 2001-10-3, 2004-5-71, 2005-11-10, 2006-12-1, and the Gerald Tulchinsky fonds at the Queen's University Archives.
The records consist of material produced by Rabbi Saul Gringorten and his son I.M. Gringorten. They include certificates and identification for Rabbi Gringorten and his wife, along with his son I.M. Gringorten. In addition, the accession includes a great deal of correspondence in both English and Yiddish from the father and son during the 1940s, particularly during the period when the rabbi resided in the United States. Some material also documents I.M. Gringorten's involvement in the United Zionists organization during the 1940s. Finally, this accession includes a chupa (marriage canopy) that was first used in 1910 by Saul Wolf Gringorten in Brantford, Ont.. The chupa is made out of a tallis with embellishments sewn into the centre. The chupa was subsequently used by various members of the Gringorten family.
Saul Wolf Gringorten and his wife Rachel (nee Melnick) were born in Poland in 1876 and 1881 respectively. They moved to Canada in 1910 with their eldest child Morris. They subsequently had five more after their arrival. Their children included: Israel Morris (I.M.), Jennie, Jacob, Esther, Louis and Isaac.
Rabbi Gringorten served as spiritual leader, teacher, shochet and mohel for the Brantford Jewish community after his arrival for thirteen years. He would also be on call in northern and western Ontario where the communities were too small to support a rabbi. He then moved to Toronto during the early 1920s and became the principal of a Jewish school. The family lived at 26 Cecil Street at that time and then moved to 393 Markham Street during the late 1920s or early 1930s. He became active in the Jewish community, serving as Vice-President of the Sons of Jacob, a board member of the Folks Farein and the first Trustee of the Old Folks Home.
Rabbi Gringorten and his wife moved to California during the mid-1940s in order to live in a climate that was better for their health. Rachel passed away in 1947 and the Rabbi followed in 1959.
Their oldest son, Israel Morris Gringorten, was born in Poland in 1904. He was educated in Brantford and later graduated from the University of Toronto. He served during the Second World War from 1943 until 1945. After his discharge, he spent his career working as an auto parts manufacturer with Canada Motor Products Ltd. He was an ardent Zionist who served as president of the United Zionists - Revisionists of America during the 1940s. He and his wife had four children.
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.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
LANGUAGE NOTE: Records are in Yiddish and English.
ACCESSION RESTRICTION NOTE: One file contains medical information and is closed.