An annual Jewish Book Week had been considered for several years before the completion of the new Jewish Community Centre (formerly the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A) in 1977 made it feasible. After considerable research, and communication with other communities which had sponsored similar programs (such as Detroit), it was agreed that the success of of the projected Fair would be dependent upon the ability to achieve total community sponsorship. An approach to the Federation of Jewish Women's Organization led to their agreement to serve as co-sponsors; they in turn were followed by the Jewish Cultural Council of the Toronto Jewish Congress and the Jewish Public Library. These four organizations were the initial sponsors, and provided the first representatives to the newly formed Board of Directors.
The first Jewish Book Fair was held in 1977 and featured a large book mart with books of Jewish relevance as well as programming for children and adults.
The Canadian Jewish Book Awards was founded in 1988 by Adam Fuerstenberg whose ambition was to celebrate excellence in Canadian Jewish writing. The Koffler Centre of the Arts was approached to manage the Awards in 1994 and has been administering the Awards program ever since. The name was eventually changed to the Canadian Jewish Book Awards and then again in 2004 to the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards following a 10-year donation from Lillian and Norman Glowinsky. In 2015, the Koffler Centre of the Arts put the Awards on hiatus for one year in order to reframe the program. It was relaunched in 2016 as The Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature.
In 2012, the annual event evolved into Toronto Jewish Book Festival, combining the Book Fair and the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards into one week-long event. In 2013 its name was changed to the Toronto Jewish Literary Festival.
Scope and Content
Series consists of records documenting the Jewish Book Fair. Included in the files are meeting minutes, correspondence, press releases, award ceremony program guides, book award submissions and award winner lists, jury citations, financial statements, committee member lists, sales reports, book evaluation and submission criteria, mission statement, the 25th anniversary tribute book, an architectural drawing of the Lipa Green building, a letter from the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association addressing the participation of Edward Greenspan, lawyer for Ernst Zundel, at the Jewish Book Fair and a contract letter outlining the details of the donation made by Mr. and Mrs. Norman Glowinsky to the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto and the subsequent renaming of the Canadian Jewish Book Awards to the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book awards for a period of ten years commencing May 2005-June 2014.