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.
Between 1949 and 1968, the board was comprised of representatives from each of the affiliated schools, the United Jewish Welfare Fund, Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region, and members representing the community at large. The BJE Board of Directors was responsible for managing the affairs of the bureau, although the UJWF had final say over budgetary matters and changes to the BJE constitution required the approval of its sponsoring organizations, the UJWF and CJC Central Region. Standing committees were formed to oversee the activities and programs of the bureau. These included the Public Relations Committee, Planning and Capital Repairs Committee, Constitution Committee, Adult Education Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Publications Committee, Personnel Committee, Youth Education Committee, and School Committee. Given the size of the board of directors, much of the board's routine work -- such as receiving reports from committees and reviewing requests and inquiries from schools -- was delegated to an executive committee comprised of the officers of the board, chairmen of the standing committees, the executive director, and several other members of the board appointed by the committee.
By the mid-1960s, the board had grown to more than 80 members, including the representatives of all affiliated schools. There was a growing perception in the community and within the UJWF that the BJE was no longer an effective body, and had become primarily an agent for the schools (whose representatives might outnumber the representatives of other constituencies in board meetings) and their special interests, rather than an arms-length body representing both the schools and the UJWF. Following an informal review by the UJWF and representatives of the CJC Central Region of the workings of the BJE, the Bureau of Jewish Eeducation was reorganized and renamed the Board of Jewish Education in 1968.
The board was reduced in size to twenty members, appointed by the UJWF, with no less than ten members from the UJWF Board of Directors, including the BJE Chairman and Vice-Chairman. The standing committees of the bureau were eliminated -- including the executive committee -- and were replaced by two permanent committees: the Committee on Pedagogic Matters and the Committee on Fiscal Matters. The Committee on Pedagogic Matters was concerned with issues such as teacher training, teacher certification standards, inter-school programs, and other matters. The Committee on Fiscal Matters was concerned with reviewing school budgets, establishing guidelines for the assessment of tuition fees, and regulating and enforcing a uniform salary scale for teachers in subsidized schools. These committees had the authority to establish sub-committees to carry out some of their responsibilities.
Following the 1975 report of the UJWF Study Committee on Jewish Education, this committee structure was altered to allow for more standing committees reporting directly to the board. An informal executive committee, the BJE Steering Committee, was established by the chairman of the board in the early 1970s, to assist the chairman between meetings of the full board, and to review matters considered by the chairman and executive director to be too sensitive for the full board. This committee became a formal committee of the BJE in 1976, its size and role were expanded in 1978, and in the early 1990s again became the BJE Executive Committee.
In the mid- to late-1990s, following the reports of the BJE Strategic Planning Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto Commission on Jewish Education, the board returned to a committee structure similar to that established in 1968, with a Fiscal Committee and Educational Services Committee as the two primary committees and sub-committees reporting to these committees. The number of board members has been increased on several occasions after 1968, with twenty-four active community volunteers sitting on the BJE Board as of 1999. The chair of the BJE Board is appointed by the President of UJA Federation for a two year term. The members of the board are appointed by the chair of the board of the BJE, upon the recommendation of a BJE nominations committee.
The board of directors currently holds at least seven meetings annually, in addition to an annual general meeting and special meetings as required. As of 2006, the major committees on the board include the Fiscal Committee, Educational Services Committee, Education Research Committee, Marketing Committee, Financial Services Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Tuition Fee Subsidy Guidelines Committee, Affiliation and Compliance Committee, Supplementary School Committee, High School Funding Committee, and Tikun Chaim Committee.
Scope and Content
The series documents the work of the BJE Board of Directors and its executive committee in setting policy for the BJE and overseeing its operations, providing guidance and coordination for Jewish education in Toronto, in allocating funds to schools and monitoring the financial performance of these schools, and in representing the interests of affiliated schools within the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and its predecessors, the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, the Toronto Jewish Congress, and the United Jewish Welfare Fund.
The series contains six sub-series of records relating to the work of the following committees: the Fiscal Committee, Educational Services Committee, the Affiliation Requirements Committee and other committees reviewing affiliation requirements, Guidance and Counselling Steering Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the Board of License and Review.
The series also includes meeting minutes of the board of directors and the executive committee, which were often interfiled, and files of committee minutes and other records whose volume did not warrant establishing separate sub-series -- for example, the Teacher Recruitment Committee, a short-lived ad-hoc committee of the board.