Rabbi Yehuda Leib Graubart (1862-1937) was chief rabbi to Toronto's Polish Jews, director of Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah, and a leading spokesman for Orthodox Jewry during the 1920s and 1930s. Rabbi Graubart was born in Poland, the descendant of a prominent rabbinical family. He was a noted rabbi and posek (legal decisor) in Poland, St. Louis (USA), and later, Toronto. In Poland, he served in Stashov, the district from which most of Toronto's Polish Jews had emigrated. He was renowned for his religious knowledge and published works and for his efforts in creating rabbinical associations throughout Poland and Russia. He was also an enthusiastic Zionist.
On August 18th, 1920, Rabbi Graubart became the communal rabbi of Toronto's Polish Jews, succeeding Rabbi Judah Rosenberg. He soon took charge of the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah, and in 1922, he formed a yeshivah called Shaarei Torah. He was the recognized authority for Polish Jewish congregations on the supervision of kosher food production, which involved him in ongoing disputes with other Toronto rabbis of the time, including Rabbi Jacob Gordon and Rabbi Joseph Weinreb.
Rabbi Graubart developed the first communal Eruv in Toronto, enabling Jews to carry or move items outdoors on the Sabbath. He launched a campaign against Sabbath violation, publishing notices and holding open-air sermons in Kensington Market, urging Jewish workers and manufacturers not to work on Saturday. He also approached unions urging them to let their employees off for holy days. He was also a spokesman for Mizrachi, the movement of religious Zionists.
Toward the end of his life, Rabbi Graubart withdrew from communal work and concentrated almost exclusively on his writings and the study of rabbinic literature. He was renown internationally as a scholar and authority in his field. He wrote an autobiography entitled Book of memoirs. Rabbi Graubart was married to Esther (née Liebschuetz) and they had three children: David, Hinda, and Deborah.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of Rabbi Graubart's marriage registers and certificates, personal and professional correspondence, articles, speeches, sermons, photographs, copies of the introductions to "Chavalim Ba-Ne'Imim" in Hebrew and English, and other personal and family documents.
Graubart, Yehuda Leib, 1862-1937
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
Copyright may not be held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission prior to use.
Many of the records are in very fragile condition.
See also Photo #3413 and the Ontario Jewish Archives' news clippings file under "Graubart, Rabbi Yehuda Leib"
ca. 180 photographs : col. and b&w (ca. 165 col. negatives) ; 21 x 26 cm or smaller
Established in 1949 as the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Board of Jewish Education (BJE) is the central Jewish agency in Toronto whose mandate is to preserve, enrich, and promote Jewish education in the Greater Toronto area. Its primary tasks are to coordinate and provide leadership in teacher training and professional development, curriculum development, school administration, and inter-school activities, and also to allocate funds to affiliated Jewish schools raised through the annual UJA Federation fundraising campaign.
The BJE was established following the recommendations of a 1948 study of Jewish education in Toronto undertaken by Dr. Uriah Z. Engelman of the American Association for Jewish Education, and sponsored by the United Jewish Welfare Fund (UJWF; now, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto) and the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), Central Region. In its constitution, the bureau was described as having the dual characteristics of being an autonomous agency of the UJWF and also as acting for the UJWF in the field of Jewish education. The bureau was governed by a board of governors with representatives from affiliated schools, the UJWF, CJC Central Region, and from the community at large. The inaugural meeting of the board took place on 20 March 1950.
The organizational structure of the Bureau of Jewish Education mirrored that of the UJWF, with a board of directors and executive committee, standing comittees, and a professional staff. Samuel Posluns was the first president of the BJE and Dr. Joseph Diamond was its first executive director, serving in this position for 18 years. In the 1950s, the staff consisted of the executive director, an administrative assistant, and a school consultant. Over time, the staff was expanded to meet the increased demand for BJE services as the number of affiliated schools grew. For example, the position of director of school finances was created in 1976 to oversee school budgets, monitor tuition fees and teacher salary profiles, and perform other duties relating to financial management.
The BJE's offices were located with those of the United Jewish Welfare Fund, first on Spadina Avenue and then on Beverley Street, until the 1960s, when the board moved to offices in the Jewish Public Library on Glen Park Avenue. The board remained there until 1983, when the BJE moved into the newly built Lipa Green Building, on Bathurst Street, along with the other departments of the Toronto Jewish Congress, as the UJWF was renamed in 1976.
During the 1950s and early 1960s, the BJE sponsored adult education programs in Toronto through the Institute for Jewish Studies, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) and CJC. The BJE also provided assistance and advice to the CJC in support of Jewish education in the smaller Jewish communities in Ontario. The BJE's role in adult education diminished significantly after its reorganization in 1968, but this again became a responsibility for the BJE in the late 1990s.
The BJE has gone through several periods of reorganization since it was founded: in 1968, when the bureau became the Board of Jewish Education and its board was reduced in size significantly; in the late 1970s, with the implementation of recommendations of the 1975 UJWF Study Committee on Jewish Education; in the early 1990s, following the development of a strategic plan for the BJE; and in the late 1990s, following the recommendations of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto Commission on Jewish Education (1996). The 1968 reorganization was the most significant of these, with the BJE Board of Directors reduced from over 80 members to just 20 members approved by the UJWF, and the number of standing committees was reduced to two. Stephen Berger was appointed as first chairman of the Board of Jewish Education in 1968, and in 1969, Rabbi Irwin E. Witty became the second executive director of the BJE. Later reorganizations typically involved alterations to the number and responsibilities of BJE committees.
Although its primary function is to support existing educational institutions, the BJE has also participated in establishing several new instititions in Toronto. In 1953, to meet the need for qualified teachers in affiliated schools, the BJE and CJC Central Region founded a Jewish teachers' seminary (Midrasha L'Morim) in Toronto, which was jointly funded by the BJE and CJC for many years. In 1960, the BJE and UJWF sponsored the establishment of a non-denominational Jewish high school, the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT), with the BJE Executive Director as its director. In 1978, the Orah School for Jewish Children from the Soviet Union was established by the BJE, to meet the special needs of the large numbers of recent immigrants from the Soviet Union.
At its founding, the BJE served a total of 21 day and supplementary schools. When it ceased functioning in 2012, the BJE served more than 70 day and supplementary schools in the Greater Toronto area, with the position of chair held by Baila Lubek and the position of executive director held by Dr. Seymour Epstein. The Board was replaced by the Mercaz and later, the Centre for Jewish Education.
The BJE records in accession 1995-8-2 were in the possession of Harvey Raben, formerly a school consultant with the BJE, for several years prior to his donation in 1995, while Raben worked on his Doctor of Education thesis on the history of the BJE.
Scope and Content
The fonds documents the interactions of the BJE with affiliated schools, the UJWF and its successors -- the Toronto Jewish Congress (TJC), Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto (JFGT) and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto -- and the community in its work of facilitating and financing Jewish education in Toronto. The bulk of the records consist of the files of the executive director, associate director and director of school finances, and minutes of the BJE Board of Directors and its committees. As well as meeting minutes, these records include memoranda, correspondence, committee reports, budget and financial statements, and a small number of photographs of individuals and of BJE events.
The fonds is arranged into eighteen series defined by the BJE's organizational units, projects and programs, institutions established by the BJE or its officers, and by record form. These series are as follows: Board of directors and executive committee, Executive director, Director of school finances, Subject files, School files, Chronological correspondence and memoranda, Newsletters and other publications, Midrasha L'Morim, Bible contests, Canada-Israel Secondary School Program, Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto, Orah School for Russian Jewish Children, Dr. Abraham Shore She'arim Hebrew Day School, Toronto Jewish Media Centre, Meyer W. Gasner Memorial Scholarship Fund, Principals councils, Association of Jewish Day School Administrators, and Parents Council of Hebrew Day Schools
Board of Jewish Education
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
The records of the Educational and Cultural Committee in the Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region fonds document the CJC's involvement in the establishment of the BJE and the operation and funding of the Midrasha L'Morim. The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto fonds, accessions 2002-10-54, 2004-6-4 and 2004-6-9 contain records on the establishment of the Bureau of Jewish Education, the appointment of UJWF representatives to its board, the reorganization of the bureau as the Board of Jewish Education in 1968, the various studies conducted of the BJE, and the annual review and approval of allotments for Jewish education in Toronto by UJA Federation and its predecessors. Accession 2004-6-4 also contains records on the funding of Jewish education in Toronto by the UJWF in the late 1930s and the 1940s, prior to the establishment of the BJE.
Files at the BJE were typically organized alphabetically by subject with no clear division by function or program. While some files were kept in a central filing system maintained by an administrative assistant and shared by all professional staff, staff members also kept their own series of alphabetical subject files. Since staff responsibilities for programs and support of board committees shifted over time, records relating to these programs and activities became dispersed across several sets of files. The archivist has extracted files relating to programs, committees, and areas of activity from these various sets of subject files and defined series according to these activities, programs and functions. The remaining alphabetical subject files have been integrated into one subject file series. File titles have been edited to bring together records relating to similar topics, events and activities within this series.
The other two common filing methods employed at the BJE were to store correspondence, memoranda and committee minutes chronologically (often in 3-ring binders), and in series of "School files" -- files organized alphabetically by school name, containing correspondence and other records relating to the school. The school files have been brought together into one school file series. The chronological series have been left in their original order.
By 1919 the plight of post-war eastern European Jewry and the need for a united community voice for Canadian Jewry led to the creation of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Its founding meeting was held on March 16, 1919 in Montreal. Though it briefly maintained a tiny regional office in Toronto, the CJC remained inactive until 1933, when it fully reconvened by opening offices in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Toronto. Egmont L. Frankel was the first president of the new central division in Toronto. While the national office in Montreal focused on the overarching issues of the social and economic rights of European Jewry, assistance for Jewish immigrants, and combating prejudice in Canada, the Toronto office dealt with local, violent anti-Jewish demonstrations as well as continuing discrimination both in employment and in access to public recreational facilities. The structure was based on regular national biennial plenary conferences, at which policies were delineated and national and regional executives were elected. Between plenary sessions, national and regional councils were in charge. These were augmented by the following standing committees: administrative, officers, fersonnel, financial, publications, and educational and cultural. Special committees were created to deal with issues such as: youth, community loans, kashruth, fundraising, Israel, Russian Jewry, and various emergency issues such as refugees, immigration, and housing.
During the 1930s the central division office moved several times and occupied offices in the following locations: Yonge Street, the Bond Street Synagogue, Scheuer House, the Zionist Building, and its long-term home at 150-152 Beverley Street, where it remained until its July 1983 move to the Lipa Green Building in North York.
The CJC's activities expanded to include taking responsibility for Jewish educational standards, but by 1941 its main efforts shifted to support for Canada’s war effort. Immediately after the end of the war, the focus again shifted to Jewish immigration projects and the maintenance of Jewish identity in small communities. By 1950, the CJC’s use of the title “division” was changed to “region” to accommodate internal operational divisions within each region. Also, by then, the central region was busy expanding its programs for all Ontario Jewish communities, creating a province-wide council of youth groups, and working with the newly-created Bureau of Jewish Education (later Board of Jewish Education, now Mercaz). Standardization of kashruth rules in Ontario was implemented. As well, regular educational conferences and cultural events were held throughout the province, while province-wide fundraising efforts in support of Moess Chittin for relief projects in Israel and for local Congress activities were expanded. Many of its educational and cultural responsibilities necessitated working with other Jewish organizations such as the United Jewish Welfare Fund, Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), Hadassah, the Canadian Legion, B’nai Brith, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress, and the many landsmenshaften (Jewish mutual benefit societies, each formed by immigrants originating from the same Eastern European community).
During the 1960s, the central region began sending Moess Chittin relief shipments to Cuban Jews unable to acquire kosher foods for Passover. Its lobbying efforts included participation in the Royal Commissions on Hate Propaganda, and its greatest success came with the introduction and implementation of Ontario’s fair employment and fair accommodation practices legislation, an achievement in which Congress played a pivotal role.
From 1971 to 1989 the major focus became international and national lobbying for, and providing support to, Soviet Jewry. Virtually all local and Canadian efforts to assist the Soviet Jewish “refusniks” were organized and coordinated in Toronto by the Ontario region office, which provided staff and funding for the many lobbying activities and public demonstrations that characterized this successful effort.
As of November 1975, the central region’s responsibilities in Toronto were radically altered. To improve cost efficiency in Toronto, CJC educational and social service program activities were merged with similar programs already provided by Toronto’s United Jewish Appeal. The UJA assumed sole responsibility for these amalgamated programs in Toronto and was renamed Toronto Jewish Congress. The central region still retained province-wide responsibilities for Ontario’s smaller Jewish communities, and its office remained in Toronto. Also, following this reorganization, its name was changed to Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region. Although CJC no longer provided direct social and educational programs to Toronto, the TJC’s senior executive was, at the time, still obliged to continue to keep it notified about developments concerning previous Congress responsibilities.
From 1983, the Ontario Region's offices were located in the Lipa Green Building at 4600 Bathurst Street. It continued its work of financially supporting various Israeli institutions and fostering Canada-Israel relations. It also spearheaded the movement to support and protect Jews in Arab lands, especially in Syria. Funding for the CJC came from the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy, which restributed a portion of the funds raised by the local Jewish federations across Canada.
The CJC dissolved in 2011. Today, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) acts as the Jewish community's primary lobby group.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of the records of the Ontario Region office of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Of primary importance in documenting this organization’s history are its minutes of the Executive and Administrative Committees and the various standing, and short-term committees such as Community Organization, Finance, Fund Raising, Educational and Cultural, Research, Immigration, War Efforts, and Jewish Education. Most of these records are still managed all together within Fonds 17, Series 1.
Fonds 17, Series 2 contains the general subject and correspondence files of these committees. Records in both series require further processing.
Records now found in Series 3 document the efforts of the Committee for Soviet Jewry in coordinating the activities of the many Toronto and Ontario organizations involved in assisting Soviet Jewry during the 1971 to 1989 period.
Series 4 consists of administrative and committee records of the United Jewish Refugee and War Relief Agencies in Toronto from 1938 through 1967. These document its work rescuing the survivors of European Jewish communities, settling as many as possible in Ontario, and providing assistance to those attempting to obtain restitution payments.
Series 5 consists of the records of the Community Relations Committee (1938-1976). Responding to depression-era anti-Semitism in Canada, the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith together established in 1938 a new joint committee. Since then this Committee has documented racist threats in Canada; initiated advocacy activities to work for improved civil rights; promoted legislation combating hate; worked to ensure equality of access to employment, education and accommodation; and investigated specific incidents of discrimination. The Committee, for example, played a key role in achieving the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1944, and the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1951, key steps leading to Canada’s current Human Rights Code. Although originally named Joint Public Relations Committee in 1938, a series of name changes later occurred; s follows: Joint Community Relations Committee, Central Region (1962-1978), Joint Community Relations Committee, CJC, Ontario Region (ca. 1978-ca. 1991) Community Relations Committee, CJC, Ontario Region (ca. 1991-present) Records in this series were reorganized into 5 sub-series and a further 9 sub-sub-series during the 2009 to 2011 period. For further details please view the database records for Fonds 17, Series 5. Although this series will eventually hold all CRC records up to 1992, only those prior to 1979 are currently fully processed.
Physical description note: Includes 1839 photographs, 89 audio cassettes, 11 videocassettes, 4 drawings, and 6 microfilm reels (16 mm).
Processing note: Processing of this fonds is ongoing. Additional descriptive entries will be added in future.
Canadian Jewish Congress. Ontario Region
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the Archivist prior to accessing some of the records
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the Archivist prior to accessing some of the records.
Canadian Jewish Congress. Ontario Region (1919-2011)
1.2 m of textual records (2 v.) and other material
Joseph Baruch Salsberg (1902-1998) was a labour leader, political activist, politician, insurance salesman, and journalist. He was also active in various Jewish organizations, including the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, and the New Fraternal Jewish Association. He is well-remembered by contemporaries, such as Sam Lipshitz, as a “champion of the people," committed to social justice, the plight of the working class, and the preservation of Jewish culture.
J. B. was born in Lagov, Poland on November 5, 1902 to Abraham and Sarah-Gittel Salsberg. Abraham immigrated to Toronto in 1910 and J. B. followed with his mother and two younger sisters in 1913. They settled at 73 Cecil Street. Abraham and Sarah-Gittel had additional children in Canada: Nathan (b. 1915), Reuven (Bob or Robert, b. 1917), Betty, and Thelma. Abraham worked as a peddler in Toronto.
J. B. briefly attended Landsdowne Public School, but dropped out around 1915, against his parents' wishes, and took a job in a leather goods factory to contribute to his family’s income. J. B.’s parents had hoped he would become a rabbi and, despite his full-time employment, J.B. continued to study Torah with scholars at the synagogue on Centre Avenue.
In 1917, J. B. decided to pursue the ideas of Zionism and socialism and, abandoning his plans to become a rabbi, became involved in establishing the Young Poale Zion organization, a Labour Zionist youth group dedicated to secular aims. Around 1922, J. B. was made secretary general of the Young Poale Zion of America in New York, where he worked for one year. Shortly after returning to Toronto, he became the organizer for the Hat, Cap, and Millinery Workers Union of North America in Chicago. J. B. married Dora Wilensky in 1927.
In 1926, J. B. joined the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). He was an active member of the CPC for 30 years, serving as the head of its Trade Union Department for two decades. In 1929 he was suspended from the party for one year as a dissenter. In 1932, he became the Southern Ontario District union organizer for the Communist Workers' Unity League.
It was as a member of the CPC that J. B. entered electoral politics. After a series of failed bids in municipal and provincial elections between 1935 and 1937, J. B. was elected alderman of Ward 4 in Toronto in 1938. He only held the position for one year. In 1943, J. B. was elected to the Ontario Legislature as the representative for the St. Andrew riding. J. B. sat as member of provincial parliament for the Labor-Progressive Party (the provincial wing of the CPC) for 12 years. For several years, he was the only elected Communist in North America. As MPP, he helped create legislation banning discrimination in public places and introduced a bill that would ensure fair employment practices in the province. He lost his seat to Allan Grossman in 1955 and unsuccessfully ran in the federal election later that year. Remembered by journalist Gordon Sinclair as “one of the best debaters in the house," J. B. was well-respected by members of all political parties. Out of admiration for J. B., Conservative Premier Leslie Frost named Salsberg Township in Northern Ontario in his honour.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, J. B. had grown increasingly concerned about reports of Soviet antisemitism and privately urged party leaders to pursue the issue. In 1956, when Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev exposed the transgressions of Stalin’s regime, J. B. went to Moscow as part of a CPC delegation. After meeting with Khrushchev himself, it became clear to J. B. that antisemitism was indeed a problem in the USSR and that his efforts to probe the situation were being stonewalled.
J. B. publicly expressed his concerns about Soviet antisemitism in a series of articles published in the Vochenblatt from October 25, 1956 to December 13, 1956. He finally left the Communist Party in 1957. However, he remained a member of the United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO), a Communist Jewish fraternal organization.
Entering the business world, J. B. established the Model Insurance Agency Limited in 1957, where he served as president for several years. In 1959 J. B.’s wife, Dora, passed away. Around this time J. B. also resigned from the UJPO, along with other members who felt the organization needed to be more critical of the Soviet Union. They founded an alternative, non-Communist, left-wing Jewish organization, the New Fraternal Jewish Association, where J. B. served as president for several terms and edited its publication, Fraternally Yours.
In his later life, J. B. was active as an executive member of organizations, such as the CJC and the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. He was the first chairman for the CJC Ontario Region’s Soviet Jewry Committee and the Committee for Yiddish. He also began writing an award-winning weekly column for the Canadian Jewish News. J. B. was awarded the CJC’s Samuel Bronfman Medal for distinguished service, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto’s Ben Sadowski Award of Merit. A strong supporter of Israel, he was involved in the creation of two Israeli medical centres that are named in his honour. He also helped establish the J. B. and Dora Salsberg Fund and the J. B. Salsberg Fund for Yiddish at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto. J. B. passed away in 1998.
The records were donated to the OJA in a series of accessions. Material from accessions 1991-5-4 and 1992-9-4 were donated by J. B. Salsberg. The remaining material was donated by his estate after his death.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting J. B. Salsberg's personal, professional and Jewish communal activities. The bulk of the records are textual and relate to his membership in the CPC (later LPP), election campaigns, and Jewish communal work. Included is correspondence; photographs; reports; political writings; certificates; agendas; pamphlets; brochures; booklets; flyers; campaign literature; campaign notes; posters; newspaper clippings; press releases; articles; transcripts; speeches; telegrams; political platforms, briefs and submissions; statements; constitutions; resolutions; newspapers; meeting minutes; bulletins; periodicals; notebooks; notes; course guides and outlines; medallions; pins; plaques; donation receipts; event invitations and programmes; lists; blank employment applications; a school test; a study; a coin; a drawing; a sketch; an audio cassette; and a delegate card.
Records are arranged into the following five series: 1. Personal ; 2. Labour Zionism and union activities ; 3. Political career ; and, 4. Jewish community involvement. There are also four files and one item attached directly to the fonds.
Physical Description Note: Includes 53 photographs, 7 medallions, 11 pins, 4 posters, 2 plaques, 1 sketch, 1 drawing, 1 audio cassette, 1 desk name plate, and 1 coin.
Physical Extent Note: Fonds was reduced from approximately 7 metres to 1.5 metres. The culled material consisted primarily of published books, periodicals and pamphlets that had been collected by J. B. Salsberg. For further details about what was culled please view the accession records.
Associated Material Note: Queen's University Archive also has a J. B. Salsberg fonds, 14 hours of interview tapes with J. B. Salsberg and records of the UJPO are held by the Multicultural Historical Society of Ontario (MHSO).
Salsberg, J. B. (Joseph B.), ca. 1903-1998
For additional records in OJA's holdings, see: Ben Kayfetz fonds 62, series 8, file 2 ; accession 2008-11-2 ; accession 2004-1-4 ; and oral histories AC 71 and AC 226.
11 cm of textual records (1 v.) and other material
Scope and Content
Series consists of records documenting J.B. Salsberg's involvement with various Jewish organizations, including: the I.L. Peretz School, the Canadian Jewish Congress, UJA Federation, the New Fraternal Jewish Association, the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care and the Canadian Zionist Federation. Included are medallions, pins, a coin, a poster, certificates, photographs, meeting minutes, a test, booklets, event programmes, a transcript, bulletins, notes, newspaper clippings, articles, reports, newsletters, a brochure, and a flyer.
Physical description note: includes 17 photographs, 4 pins, 4 medallions, 1 coin, 1 poster, and 1 certificate.
For other records documenting the CJC's Committee for Soviet Jewry see also fonds 17, series 3.
For other NFJA records see MG 2B-1P and MG9 ("Fraternally Yours" publications).
10 photographs : b&w and col. ; 21 x 26 cm or smaller
David Vanek (1915-2008) was born on a farm in Whitchurch Township, York County, Ontario in 1915. He was the sixth of seven children born to Jacob and Jesse Vanek, Jewish-Russian immigrants from the Ukraine who immigrated to Canada in 1913. The family lived in the Newmarket-Oak Ridges area, where they owned a farm and the Vanek Grocery and Confectionary Store in Oak Ridges. The family also owned Cedarholm Park in Lake Wilcox, which had a bandstand and cottages and sold refreshments. They opened the park specifically for Jews who were being excluded from other nearby social venues. The family also lived in Toronto.
Vanek completed his elementary school education at Annette Street Public School and attended Richmond Hill High School and Harbord Collegiate. He was admitted to the honour law course at the University of Toronto. In 1936, he graduated with a bachelor of arts in honour law and went on to law school at Osgoode Hall. While in law school he worked for Carswell’s Canadian Law Abridgement and was editor of the Obiter Dicta student publication at Osgoode Hall. He received his LLB in 1939.
During the Second World War Vanek served in the Canadian Intelligence Corps and Field Security in England from 1943 to 1945. Following his military service he returned to Toronto where he tried private practice briefly before beginning a new career as a lecturer in the newly created Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. He taught a variety of subjects, including legal bibliography, real property, and public international law.
A community activist, Vanek was the founder of the Lawrence Manor Ratepayers Association. In 1963, he ran for the Ontario Provincial Legislature as a Conservative candidate, but failed to win the seat. He was the founder of the Credit Counselling Service of Metropolitan Toronto, which was established in 1965. Vanek was also actively involved in the new Reform congregation Temple Sinai and served as its third president.
In September 1968, Vanek was appointed to the magistrates' court. A few months later, the Provincial Courts Act came into being and he became a judge of the provincial court, criminal division. Vanek presided over and wrote judgements in many significant cases including Weightman and Cunningham, involving the residual power of a trial judge to stop unfair prosecution, and Squires, involving the lawful exclusion of cameras from the courtroom. His best known case was that of Susan Nelles, a nurse who was charged with the death of four babies at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children in the early 1980s. He also served as president of the Ontario Provincial Judges' Association. In 1989, after twenty-one years on the bench, David Vanek retired. A decade later he published his autobiography, Fulfilment : Memoirs of a Criminal Court Judge, which documents his life and career.
David Vanek married Joyce Lester in 1942 and the couple had three children. Vanek died in 2008.
The records were donated to the Ontario Jewish Archives by David Vanek in July 2000. The records were used to help with the researching of his autobiography.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of textual records and graphic material that document Vanek's family history and career as a prominent lawyer and provincial court judge in Ontario. The fonds includes family records from Russia, newspaper articles, correspondence and documentation relating to his military service during the Second World War, and press clippings and photographs of his family and community activities. The fonds has been arranged into the following series: Personal records, Military service records, Occupational records, and Community organizations.
Heinz Kassel (1912-2009) (later changed to Henry Cassel) was a German refugee during the Second World War who was classified as an enemy alien by the British government. He spent two years in an internment camp for prisoners of war (POWs) in Quebec. He later became a naturalized Canadian citizen and enlisted in the Canadian military.
Heinz was born on October 25, 1912 in Aschaffenburg, Germany to Adolf and Olga Kassel. Adolf owned a successful banking business which he had inherited from his father. The family resided above the bank and lived a comfortable life during these early years. They moved to Frankfurt around 1920 after Adolf sold his business to buy a partnership in a bank there.
Heinz’s parents had hoped that he would one day become a corporate lawyer. In 1931, in preparation for his future career, he began studying law and economics at Frankfurt University. He enjoyed his initial university years. However, after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, he became alarmed when his non-Jewish university friends began ignoring him and when the German government passed laws forbidding Jews from practicing law in court. Determined to leave Germany and seek out a better life elsewhere, he begged his parents to immigrate with him to the United States. They refused to go, unwilling to leave behind the life they had worked so hard to build. In accordance with his parents’ wishes, Heinz relocated to nearby Italy instead of the US in 1934. He learned Italian and eventually secured a job with an engineering firm.
Sensing that the political climate in Italy was becoming dangerous for Jewish people, Heinz applied for immigration to the US in early 1939. Eager to leave Italy, he relocated to London to await the approval of his US visa. He left just in time: Britain declared war on Germany less than a week after his arrival. His parents, in turn, managed to escape to Holland. Soon after Britain’s declaration, all immigrants from enemy countries were considered enemy aliens and suspected of being spies.
On May 12, 1940, the British military arrested Heinz and interned him with other German immigrants and POWs. He believed his detainment was only a precautionary measure and that he would be cleared within a few days. However, the British shipped him to the Isle of Man where he remained for several months. Fearing an invasion, the British shipped 3,000 of the POWs, including Kassel, to Quebec, where he was briefly interned at a POW camp set up at the Plains of Abraham. In October 1940, he was moved with 736 other refugees to an abandoned railway yard (later known as “Camp N”) in Newington, near Sherbrooke, Quebec. While there, he confronted a great deal of antisemitism from the guards.
While he was interned in Quebec, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) interviewed him and other Jewish prisoners in order to lobby for their release. Realizing that the internees were not POWs, the Canadian government declared the camp a refugee camp in 1941. By October 1942, the CJC was successful in helping Heinz secure employment with Benjamin Pape & Company in Toronto.
Heinz met Reta Freeman in Toronto and they were married in November 1944. Reta was born and raised in Toronto. After their nuptials, they were both briefly classified as enemy aliens and had to report to the RCMP on a regular basis. Shortly thereafter, Heinz enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army and was sent to basic training in Manitoba. On January 21, 1946 he was granted landed immigrant status, and in April of that year, he became a citizen.
After the war, Heinz learned that his parents as well as other relatives had been transported to concentration camps and had not survived. He was certainly one of the few fortunate ones to leave the country, despite the circumstances of his removal. He resented being interned for so long, but did not blame the British for rounding him up with other Germans based on their initial fears regarding enemy aliens. His feelings about Canada's treatment of him during that time, however, were not as sympathetic.
The couple lived their lives in Toronto. They first resided at 2346 Yonge Street. Heinz legally changed his name to Henry Cassel. He worked as an accountant and later was a controller for the United Jewish Welfare Fund. The couple had two children: Andrew (b. 1947) and Richard (b. 1951). Reta passed away in August 1962 and Henry later remarried Esther Cassel. He passed away at the age of 96 on February 15, 2009.
Records were created and accumulated by Henry Cassel. His sons donated them to the OJA after his death.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting the life of Henry Cassel, particularly his attempt to emigrate from Europe prior to the Second World War and his internment in Canada as a German prisoner of war (POW). Included is personal correspondence between Cassel and his parents; correspondence written by Cassel to potential employers and Canadian Jewish agencies; legal documents and certificates, such as Cassel's birth certificate and passport; family photo albums documenting the family and lives of Henry Cassel and his wife Reta; Cassel's autobiography; a journal and notebook written by Cassel during his internment; and, other internment records, such as government forms and poems and songs written by internees. Also included are newspaper clippings, articles, financial statements, genealogical research, and antisemitic ephemera collected by Cassel. Of particular note are newsletters that were produced during the 1990s by ex-internees who had kept in touch over the years. Records are arranged into 16 files.
Textual records in the fonds were reduced from ca. 20 cm to 8 cm. Please see accession record for further details about the culled material.
Associated material notes: for related records at other archives, please see: the UJRA case files at the National CJC Archive in Montreal and the holdings at Library and Archives Canada (such as, the Directorate of Internment Operations series in the Department of National Defense fonds R112-0-2-E)
Cassel, Henry, 1912-2009
Europe--Emigration and immigration
Prisoners of war
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
See: Canadian Jewish Congress case files in RG 282 and accession #2005-10-1.
File consists of correspondence and legal records documenting Henry Cassel's emigration from Germany and attempt to immigrate to the United States of America. Included is Henry's passport, nationality identification card, birth certificates, driving certificates, USA immigration sponsorship application, correspondence regarding his application to enter the USA, criminal background checks, a citizenship visa for Italy, and a registration card indicating Henry's place of employment. Also included are newspaper clippings that were collected by Henry regarding the Jewish community of Ferrara, Italy (a region that Henry had travelled through).
Photocopies of some Italian and German records with translated titles are attached to the accession record.
Closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing the records.