Accession consists of records documenting the personal and professional activities of Ben Kayfetz. Personal records include correspondence with family and friends, including letters home while serving overseas, Kayfetz's marriage and high school certificates, Kayfetz's memoirs, tributes and obituaries written about Kayfetz, as well as a portrait of him. Personal records also include audio cassettes of Yiddish music by Toronto musicians Honey Novick and Faye Kellerstein.
Professional records include articles, book reviews and newspaper clippings written by Kayfetz, event invitations, correspondence, lecture notes, and speeches. Professional records also include an Order of Canada membership book and event programme, meeting minutes for various organizations Kayfetz was involved in, such as, the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies, photographs of Kayfetz receiving various awards, and photographs of various Canadian Jewish Congress and B'Nai Zion Club events. Finally, professional records include sound recordings of interviews, lectures given at various events, and the meeting minutes of various organizations, such as, CJC, JCRC and the Yiddish Dialects in Toronto.
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 and is survived by his wife Eva.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
Physical description note: includes ca. 20 audio cassettes, 1 audio reel, and ca. 25 photographs (4 negatives)