The Toronto Midrasha L'Morim (Toronto Jewish Teachers' Seminary) was founded in 1953, a joint effort of the Bureau of Jewish Education and the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) Central Region. The Midrasha provided interested day school graduates with the opportunity to pursue a career in Jewish education without having to leave Toronto for training. It also provided those already in the field with the opportunity to improve their qualifications. The Midrasha was created to meet the anticipated shortage of teachers in the late 1950s, as enrollment in Toronto's Jewish schools increased.
J. Irving Oelbaum, chair of the CJC Central Region in the early 1950s and a well-known advocate for Jewish education, was named the founder of the Midrasha. The Midrasha was governed by a board of governors, appointed jointly by CJC-Central Region and the UJWF. The BJE Executive Director served as dean of the seminary, and the position of registrar was held by the BJE senior school consultant, Dr. S.B Ullman, until the late 1960s, when this responsibility was transferred to the BJE Associate Director. Funding of the Midrasha was shared by the BJE and CJC Central Region until the late 1970s, when the teachers seminary became solely the responsibility of the BJE and its parent organization, the Toronto Jewish Congress (TJC). During the 1950s and early 1960s, however, the bulk of the funding for the Midrasha came from the CJC, with the BJE responsible for the seminary's daily operations and administration.
The Midrasha opened on 3 October 1953, with classes held at Community House, 44 St. George Street, Toronto, which was owned by the National Council of Jewish Women. Initial enrollment was 23 students divided into 2 classes by age group. The first class, aged 16-18, was enrolled in a four year program; the second class, aged 18-23, was in a two year program. Six teachers were employed, teaching courses in Hebrew literature, Torah, prophets, post-Biblical texts, Yiddish, and educational methodology & psychology. Subsequently, the four-year program became standard for the Midrasha. Locations for classes varied over the years, typically making use of classrooms in the Jewish day schools after school hours. The first class graduated in 1955 and was composed mainly of Toronto-born, female students. In the late fifties and early sixties, an increasing percentage of the students were recent immigrants from Israel. Graduates of the program helped to relieve the shortage of Hebrew teachers at day and supplementary schools in Toronto and across Ontario. The four-year program of study was extended to five years in 1970, divided into a two-year preparatory program and a three-year teacher training course.
In 1967, the CJC Central Region conducted a review of the Midrasha L'Morim which led to the introduction of post-graduate and part-time programs. This study was soon followed by the UJWF Study on Jewish Education, one section of which dealt with the Midrasha and teacher training. In the 1975 report, the Study Committee on Jewish Education recommended the development of a degree-granting program in Jewish teacher education at York University, and this was established soon after. The Midrasha continued to operate alongside the York program, providing supplementary and specialized training. As of 2006, the Midrasha L'Morim continues to operate, offering teacher certification upon completion of the program. It includes evening, Sunday, and summer courses, conducted primarily in Hebrew, on a variety of Judaic subjects
Scope and Content
The series documents the work of the Midrasha board of governors and staff in guiding the operation of the Midrasha and responding to enquiries and reports from Midrasha study committees. The series also documents the work of the Midrasha registrar -- the BJE Associate Director -- in assisting students and organizing the Midrasha curriculum. The series consists of minutes of board meetings, reports and minutes of Midrahsa study committees, course outlines and course calendars, and records relating to the faculty, teacher seminars, student enrollment, graduation exercises and Midrasha budgets.