Benjamin Gershon Kayfetz was born on December 24, 1916 in Toronto, graduating from the University of Toronto in 1939, with a B.A. in modern languages. Between the years 1941 and 1943, he worked as a high school teacher in Huntsville and Niagara Falls. In 1943, he joined the war effort, working for the Department of National Defense in Postal Censorship and was responsible for reviewing prisoner of war mail. After the war, Kayfetz traveled to British Occupied Germany where he worked as a censor of telecommunications with the Control Commission until 1947.
Upon returning to Toronto, he was hired as the National Director of Community Relations by the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), and as the Executive (National) Director of the Joint Community Relations Committee (JCRC), a CJC - B'nai B'rith cooperative organization. He also served as the Central Region Executive Director of the CJC between 1973 and 1978. During his tenure, he worked with various churches, unions and minority groups to develop anti-discrimination laws and for the protection of minority and religious rights. Kayfetz was also actively involved in promoting the welfare of Jewish Communities worldwide, and made visits to Cuba in 1962 and 1965, and Russia in 1985, to study and report on the state of these Jewish Communities. After his retirement in 1985, he was awarded the Samuel Bronfman Medal by the Canadian Jewish Congress. In recognition of his efforts to promote Human Rights, he was also awarded the Order of Canada in 1986.
In addition to his professional activities, Kayfetz wrote articles for various Jewish publications under both his own name and the pseudonym, Gershon B. Newman, and gave a weekly radio address on CHIN radio addressing various contemporary Jewish issues. He was also actively involved in the Toronto Jewish Historical Society (serving as its president), Canadian Jewish Historical Society and Yiddish Luncheon Circle. Ben Kayfetz died in 2002.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of materials produced or acquired by Ben Kayfetz in both his personal and professional capacity. It includes biographical materials, minutes, correspondence, recorded CJC and JCRC meetings, memorabilia, transcripts and recorded versions of CHIN radio broadcasts he delivered, as well as various interviews, speeches, articles, book reviews and works he composed. Fonds also consists of minutes, agendas and other records of various Yiddish and historical associations Mr. Kayfetz was involved in.
Physical Description note: includes 20 photographs, 107 audio cassettes, 1 Beta video cassette and 1 object.