Canada’s third chapter of Hadassah was organized in Brantford on January 2, 1918 by Mrs. Anna Selig (m. Raginsky) and sponsored by Mrs. Leah Lazarus primarily to assist with Canada’s war effort. In 1919, it joined with other Canadian chapters to form the Hadassah Organization of Canada. By 1921, Hadassah Canada had merged with the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and changed its name to Hadassah-WIZO. In 1929, the Brantford chapter adopted the name Rose of Sharon, but abbreviated it to the Sharon Chapter of Hadassah.
As a member of Hadassah-WIZO, the Sharon Chapter shared its mandate of financially and socially supporting the peoples of Israel and promoting Jewish culture and ideals in Canada. Following the national organization’s mandate, its administration consisted of two levels: a general membership and an executive committee. The general membership voted on all issues and activities, while the executive committee ensured all tasks were completed. Although the chapter initially only elected one president, it began electing three presidents in 1943.
Mrs. Sam Fox served as the chapter’s first president over the charter membership of 30 women. Membership initially remained fairly constant, but grew to 92 members by 1962. All members paid annual dues, of which a small portion was used to pay the chapter’s expenses with the remainder being forwarded to the regional Hadassah council to pay administrative costs and donations.
Some of the fundraising activities Sharon Chapter organized include an annual birthday party (started in 1925), an annual bazaar (started in 1952), sewing circles, pot lucks, tea and garden parties, rummage and auction sales, and showers. The funds and other goods accumulated from these events were forwarded to the regional Hadassah council to support various Hadassah-WIZO projects, such as Youth Aliyah and the Acco Baby Creche. The Sharon Chapter also supported local projects, such as, assisting new immigrants, and entertaining servicemen at the local canteen during the Second World War.
The population of Brantford’s Jewish community began declining after the 1960s as younger generations moved to larger cities and were followed by their parents after retirement. By 1999, the Sharon Chapter’s membership had fallen to 24 women and meetings were being held only once a year. The Sharon Chapter likely closed around 2001; the same year that dwindling resources and membership forced the closure of Brantford’s synagogue, Congregation Beth David.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting the activities, finances, special programs and fundraising events of Brantford’s Sharon Chapter of Hadassah-WIZO. Included are meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, ledgers, annual budgets, remittance forms, financial bulletins, financial statements, certificates, invitations, lists, notebooks, programmes, reports, recipes, speeches, news clippings, an auditorium lease, a contract, a theatrical script, and pledge cards.
Fonds has been arranged into five series: 1. Meetings; 2. Special projects and events; 3. Annual Bazaar; 4. Finance and accounting; and, 5. Administration. One item and one file are attached to the fonds-level.
Physical extent note: fonds was reduced from ca. 50 cm to 22 cm. See accession 2001-10-3 for further information about the culled material.
For additional OJA records documenting the Sharon Chapter, see Sadie Stren fonds 78 and the Congregation Beth David fonds 88.
For additional OJA Hadassah-WIZO records, see Toronto Hadassah fonds 71, accessions 1996-11-1, 2008-3-3, and 2009-8-6.
For additional OJA records related to Brantford families and other Jewish organizations, such as the B'nai Brith lodge, please see accession #2001-10-3; #2009-7-1, 1978-11-4, 1977-8-16, 1992-8-3, 1980-1-14, 1978-1-2, 2008-7-1, photo# 109, photo# 755, and photo #758.
See also the Hadassah-WIZO Organization of Canada fonds at Library and Archives Canada, reference #R3454-0-7-E.