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8 records – page 1 of 1.
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Level
Fonds
ID
Fonds 89
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Level
Fonds
Fonds
89
Material Format
graphic material
textual record
Date
1911-1971, predominant 1911-1935
Physical Description
6 cm of textual records
17 photographs
Admin History/Bio
Isaac Matenko (1874-1960) was a founder, teacher, and principal of the I.L. Peretz School. He worked tirelessly to preserve and promote secular Jewish culture and the Yiddish language in Toronto. He was also a prominent member of local Jewish organizations, such as the Socialist-Territorialist Club and the Yiddish Kultur Gesellshaft.
Isaac was born on February 1, 1874 in the town of Makarov, Kiev, Ukraine. He married Elke Yelia Moshkevitch (1878-November 19, 1953) on August 4, 1900 in Yakatreneslav. They immigrated from tsarist Russia to Toronto in 1906, passing first through New York with their two children, Percy (June 30, 1901-May 1987) and Theodore (1903-1906, died of measles at Ellis Island), and Yelia’s three sisters, Dvora, Bracha, and Celia, and Isaac’s younger half-brother, Paul Frumhartz. They had two more children after arriving: Abraham (August 14, 1908-October 24, 1989) and Shoshana (Sue) (1911-2001). Although he had been a teacher in Russia, Isaac worked as an operator in a cloak factory in Toronto, where he was instrumental in forming the union (likely the Cloakmakers’ Union of Toronto, which later affiliated with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union).
As a child, Isaac received a traditional Jewish education. This, combined with his self-taught secular education and the teachings of Yiddish nationalist Dr. Chaim Zhitlovski, informed his future career and philosophies. He was described as an idealist by his friends, whose dedication to Yiddish culture and language motivated him to bring this knowledge to a younger generation.
On July 11, 1911, Isaac and his fellow Socialist-Territorialist members established the Toronto Yiddish National-Radical School. By 1916, it had been taken over by the Workmen’s Circle and renamed the I.L. Peretz School, after the well-known Yiddish author and playwright. The school began in a rented room at the Zionist Institute on Simcoe Street, moving to larger locations on Richmond Street West, then Beverley Street as it grew. Eventually, several more branches opened, such as the Maria Street school that Isaac was affiliated with. He taught at the school for free in the evenings after working during the day in a shop. His brother Paul was also a founding teacher at the school.
Isaac was described by family, friends, and community members as a passionate teacher with an iron will. He was well-versed in Jewish knowledge, with a desire to pass it on to a younger generation and his fellow union members. He remained involved in the school and in teaching, even after retirement. He died on June 2, 1960 at the age of 86.
Custodial History
These records were donated to the OJA by Sue Levy, daughter of Isaac Matenko.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting Isaac Matenko's involvement with the Workmen's Circle and other Jewish organizations. Included are photographs, programmes, certificates, I.L. Peretz School jubilee books, a songbook, a yearbook, articles, and newsclippings.
Fonds has been arranged into one series for the Workmen's Circle. There are also two files attached to the fonds-level. The records are described at the series and file-level, with some item-level descriptions.
Name Access
Arbeiter Ring
Arbeiter Ring Schools
Arbeter Ring
Camp Yungvelt
Frumhartz, Paul
I.L. Peretz
Matenko, Isaac, 1874-1960
Matenko, Percy
National Radical School
Peretz Shule
Workman's Circle
Workmen's Circle
Subjects
Schools
Teachers
Yiddish language
Related Material
For additional Workmen's Circle records, see: accessions 1979-4-4, 1980-2-2, 1983-6-3, 1984-10-1, 1986-4-1, 1992-1-2, 1997-2-1, 1998-3-32, 2004-5-41, 2004-5-105, and fonds 30.
For additional Camp Yungvelt records, see: accessions 1979-4-4, 1986-4-1, 1991-12-4, 1993-6-6, 1999-5-1, 2004-5-37, 2005-6-4, 2006-12-3, photographs # 2964, # 4014, # 6021, MG2N1K, Benjamin Brown fonds 49, and Dorothy Dworkin Fonds 10 (item 14).
Creator
Matenko, Isaac, 1874-1960
Accession Number
1987-11-4
1991-4-2
2007-5-3
2007-6-28
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Level
File
ID
Fonds 89; File 1
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Level
File
Fonds
89
File
1
Material Format
textual record
Date
12 May 1960-16 July 1961
Physical Description
1 folder of textual records
Scope and Content
File consists of biographical sketches of Isaac Matenko. The bulk of these sketches were written just after Isaac's death in 1960 and were originally published in various newspapers, including; The Vochenblat, Der Yiddisher Zhurnal, and On the Threshold. The Yiddish articles are accompanied by English translations.
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
Series
ID
Fonds 89; Series 1
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
Series
Fonds
89
Series
1
Material Format
graphic material
textual record
Date
1911-1971
Physical Description
5 folders of textual records
13 photographs : b&w ; 19 x 23 cm mounted on board 30 x 34 cm or smaller
Admin History/Bio
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.
Name Access
Arbeòter-ring Y.L. Perets-Shuln
Workmen's Circle (Toronto, Ont.)
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
ID
Fonds 89; Series 1; File 1
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
Fonds
89
Series
1
File
1
Material Format
textual record
Date
16 Oct. 1936, 17 Oct. 1971
Physical Description
1 folder of textual records
Scope and Content
File consists of two programmes commemorating the 25th and 60th jubilees of the I.L. Peretz School.
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
ID
Fonds 89; Series 1; File 2
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
Fonds
89
Series
1
File
2
Material Format
textual record
Date
1926, Mar. 1928
Physical Description
1 folder of textual records
Scope and Content
File consists of an I.L. Peretz School graduation certificate (class of 1926) and graduation yearbook (class of 1928).
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
ID
Fonds 89; Series 1; File 4
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
Fonds
89
Series
1
File
4
Material Format
textual record
Date
1941-1942
Physical Description
1 folder of textual records
Scope and Content
File consists of a Yiddish songbook, which was compiled by Michel Gelbart to be used in the I.L. Peretz School.
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
ID
Fonds 89; Series 1; File 5
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
Fonds
89
Series
1
File
5
Material Format
textual record
Date
Apr. 1955
Physical Description
1 folder of textual records
Scope and Content
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.
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
ID
Fonds 89; Series 1; File 6
Source
Archival Descriptions
Part Of
Isaac Matenko fonds
Workmen's Circle series
Level
File
Fonds
89
Series
1
File
6
Material Format
textual record
Date
[between 1911 and 1918]
Physical Description
1 file of textual records
Scope and Content
File consists of one certificate for a subscription of two shares to raise money for the Workmen's Circle Home, taken out by A. Nissnevitch.
Source
Archival Descriptions
8 records – page 1 of 1.

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