13 photographs : b&w ; 19 x 23 cm mounted on board 30 x 34 cm or smaller
The Workmen's Circle (Arbeiter Ring) is a radical left Jewish fraternal organization founded in 1900. It was originally established to protect the rights of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who were entering the North American labour force. The Workmen's Circle's main purpose was to promote the labour movement and ensure economic justice for its members. It also promoted secular Yiddish culture, and ran many schools and summer camps across North America, such as Camp Yungvelt in Pickering.
The I.L. Peretz School began as the Toronto Yiddish National-Radical School in 1911. It was founded by Socialist-Territorialist members Isaac Matenko, Abraham Rhinewine, Paul Frumhartz, Aaron Bromberg, H. Rigelhaupt, L. Goldman, and Louis Koldovsky in order to promote Yiddish culture and language. By 1916, it had been taken over by the Workmen’s Circle and renamed the I.L. Peretz School. The founders overcame many obstacles to establish the school, including opposition from religious groups (which preferred Hebrew over Yiddish); a lack of support from the Jewish community; and a serious lack of funds.
The school began in a rented room in the Zionist Institute on Simcoe St., with about forty students. By the following school year, the number had increased to 330, due to cheap tuition and a good reputation. The growing number of students necessitated several moves to larger spaces, among them 260 Richmond St. W. and 194 Beverley St. Later, other branches and other levels (kindergarten to mittelshul) were established on Maria St., Bellwoods Ave., and St. Clair Ave. The school flourished for about 50 years before its decline and ultimate closure.
Scope and Content
Series consists of records documenting Isaac Matenko's involvement in the Workmen's Circle and the affiliated I.L. Peretz School and Camp Yungvelt. Included are photographs, programmes, certificates, a yearbook, a songbook, and newsclippings.
File consists of newsclippings and a programme book commemmorating Matenko's 80th birthday celebration, organized for him by the Workmen's Circle Peretz Schools. Also included are English translations for some of the articles published in the programme book.