447 photographs : b&w and col. (392 negatives) ; 26 x 21 cm or smaller
The Negev dinners were established in 1948, coinciding with the creation of the State of Israel, as an annual fundraising dinner. The Jewish National Fund hosted these annual dinners in honour of a leading Canadian citizen, and the proceeds from the dinners were used to establish JNF projects in Israel in the name of the honouree. The JNF projects have, and continue to do so today, raised money to purchase land in Israel's Negev desert and for re-forestation efforts.
The annual dinner was dedicated to a member of the Toronto Jewish community, who had demonstrated outstanding support and commitment to the Community and to the State of Israel. In honour of this individual's contributions, the secured land in Negev was named after them. The honourary guests were presented with awards of appreciation from members of the Canadian and International Jewish community, often including delegates from Israel. The dinners were attended by prominent members of Toronto's Jewish community, including politicians, business men, and philanthropists.
Each subsequent dinner became larger and more successful in its aim to raise funds for Israel, as a result this event soon became the most significant Jewish event in Toronto. As well, it was also the largest annual kosher meal served in Toronto.
The JNF produced an annual Negev Dinner yearbook, commemorating the event, and documenting both the lives of the honouree's family and the current activities of the JNF. As well, the names of individuals who donated money for the JNF projects were recorded in the Souvenir books under patrons and sponsors of the dinners.
Scope and Content
Series consists of negatives taken by Al Gilbert documenting eight Negev Dinners hosted by the Jewish National Fund. The images depict the various activities undertaken at these dinners including: the procession and introduction of the head table guests, the presentation of awards, speeches, toasts, presentation of flowers to the honouree or the wife of the honouree, and the entertainment. The majority of the negatives are portraits taken of the guests posing with the honouree and his or her family. One dinner in this series was dedicated to the Toronto Jewish Community (1956) on the year of its centenary, while the others are in honour of one significant member of the community.
There were Negev dinners held across Canada; however, the dinners in this series were all held in Toronto and were primarily attended by members of the Toronto Jewish community. The honourees documented in this series include: 1956, Toronto Jewish Community; 1966, Bert Godfrey; 1967, Nathan Silver; 1968, Phil Givens; 1970, Leon E. Weinstein; 1973, Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker; 1974, Phil Granovsky; 1978, Eric and Esther Exton.
Selection for this series reflects the various activities of the Negev dinners, including: speeches, toasts, award presentations, dinner tables, introductions, honourees, entertainment and presentation of flowers. In addition, we selected a sample of images documenting the dinner tables and guests who were not part of the evening's programme, and therefore, would not be captured in the aforementioned criteria.
Jewish National Fund
Weinstein, Leon E.
Diefenbaker, Rt. Hon. John G.
Dinners and dining
Series has been arranged into files representing each annual dinner.