The Schwartz-Reisman Jewish Community Centre, the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre (formerly the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre or BJCC) and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) in Toronto are the current incarnations of what began, in 1919, as the Hebrew Association of Young Men's and Young Women's Clubs, later known as the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association of Toronto (Y.M.-Y.W.H.A.). The Y.M.-Y.W.H.A., in turn, began as a merger between several other small athletic clubs operating in the city. The original mandate was strictly athletic, but soon broadened to include other areas of interest, in order to provide a sense of Jewish identity and camaraderie through physical, educational, cultural and community based programming. During the 1920s, the 'Y' became known simply as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (Y.M.H.A.) – the name under which it was incorporated in 1930.
For close to two decades, the ‘Y’ had rented rooms in the Brunswick Avenue and College Street area, including the basement facilities of the Brunswick Avenue Talmud Torah. By the mid-1930s, these facilities were overcrowded and unable to support the growing membership, particularly when the young women’s programming was reintroduced in 1936.
As a result, in 1937, the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. constructed its own athletic building at 15 Brunswick Avenue, next door to the Talmud Torah, to ease the overcrowding. However, the ‘Y’ still had to make use of five scattered buildings to meet its needs, including the Central Y.M.C.A. gym for its basketball teams. The early ‘Y’ was staffed by volunteers who were granted free memberships in exchange for their time and expertise.
On 3 February 1953, a new Jewish Community Centre was dedicated at the corner of Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue. By the end of the 1950s, the ‘Y’ was providing services for all ages, ranging from a nursery school to their Good Age Club for seniors.
As the Jewish community moved northward, so too did the ‘Y’, with the dedication of a new northern branch on 1 May 1961. This new branch, located at Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue, was created in order to address the athletic, educational, cultural and community needs of the expanding Jewish community in the north end of the city. Fourteen years later, an improved cultural and physical education wing was added as part of the completion campaign. This included the addition of the Leah Posluns Theatre and the Murray Koffler Centre of the Arts. In 1978, the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. changed its name to the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto, in order to better reflect its broader role in the community. A new Northeast Valley branch was also established in Thornhill in the early 1980s and later closed in the late 1990s.
In 1994, the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto took over the operation of the northern branch, due to financial difficulties. At this point, all three branches became independent of one another and were no longer constituted as the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto. They each had independent boards of directors, while still receiving some of their operating funds from the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto.
Scope and Content
This fonds consists of the records created and accumulated by the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto -- which included the Bloor branch and the northern Bathurst Jewish Community Centre -- and its predecessor, the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. The records include textual records maintained by the office of the executive director, financial reports, architectural plans, Y-Times newsletters, program material, photographs and oral histories.
The records have been arranged into the following series: Executive director, Jewish Community Centre Archives Committee, Publication Committee, Communications Department, Sports Celebrity Dinner, and Combined Building Campaign Committee.
Includes 2539 photographs, 42 drawings, 13 sound recordings, 4 artifacts and 2 posters.
2.66 m of textual records (12 v.) and other material
The role of the executive director was to oversee the administrative operations of the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A., including staffing and personnel, budgetary activities, maintenance, programming, special events and festival celebrations, membership, community outreach and fundraising activities.
Although a staff position, the executive director was also a member of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, as acting secretary. As such, the executive director was responsible for attending and taking the minutes at all committee meetings, and for the collection and maintenance of all official files documenting the activities of the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A., and later, the Jewish Community Centres. The executive director also acted as executive director of the Jewish Camp Council, which operated out of the Bloor and Spadina Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. building.
In the late 1940s, George Horrowitz was the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A.'s executive director, and in 1952, David Andrews succeeded him. Andrews served as executive director until 1976, at which point he became executive vice-president and Martin Park, his former assistant, succeeded him as executive director. Sid Brail became the executive director in 1979.
Scope and Content
This series consists of the records created and collected by the office of the executive director of the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. and the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto. The records include operating files, correspondence, financial records, program material, reports, photographs, course registration ledgers and architectural drawings.
The records are organized alphabetically as subject files, which reflects the original arrangement of the records. The exceptions are the financial reports, the course registration ledgers and the architectural plans, which were maintained separately.
The records have been arranged into the following sub-series: subject files, financial reports, architectural drawings and Y-Arts Council registration ledgers.
Includes 142 photographs, 41 drawings, 2 artifacts and 2 posters.
As the executive director oversaw operations at both the Bloor and Spadina branch and the northern branch of the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A., the records relating to both branches were filed together. There has been no attempt made to separate the records of the individual branches.