The Ajalon Lodge was first organized on 10 March 1929 as the Ajalon Club of Young Judaea. The founding members were Abe Bohnen, Hyman Cohen, Isaac Gringorten, George (Hamell) Himmelstein and Lou Hochman. The group met at the Zionist Institute at 206 Beverley Street in Toronto. The name was selected by Abe Bohnen and Mark Zimmerman, the Young Judaea supervisor, from a map of Palestine which hung in the Young Judaea library.
The first leader of the club was Morris Kertzer followed by Al Zimmerman. In 1930 the lodge began to record its activities in scrapbooks, which it later named the Ajalon Archives. The archivists over the years included Max Schwadron, Ben Marks, Myer Bromberg, and Willie Zimmerman.
The club was actively involved in Young Judaea literary, social, and fundraising activities. In 1935, the club graduated from the Young Judaea movement and become a lodge of the Zionist Order Habonim. By 1939 however, the Ajalon, Balfour, Bialik, and Jaffa lodges merged into the Toronto Habonim Lodge due the waning membership as many men went off to war. After the war, the four lodges returned to their original state. In 1940, the lodge acquired club rooms on the third floor of the Zionist Building and in 1944 several wives of lodge members organized the Ajalon Ladies Auxiliary. By 1953, Habonim became the Zionist Men’s Association of Canada, an affiliate organization of the Zionist Organization of Canada and by the 1960s, Ajalon Lodge became directly affiliated with ZOC. Over the course of its existence membership in the lodge has been between 40 and 90 members.
Ajalon Lodge participated in many fundraising campaigns for Jewish organizations in Toronto, such as the Jewish National Fund and the United Palestine Appeal. Many of its members also served on the board of directors for organizations such as the Toronto Zionist Council and Young Judaea. The lodge was involved in several fundraising initiatives, including the establishment of a kindergarten in Ashkelon, Israel in 1972. In later years the Ajalon Lodge was affiliated with the Zionist Organization of Canada.
The records were in the custody of both Willie Zimmerman and Meyer Bromberg before they were donated to the Archives in 1984, 1988, and 1994.
Scope and Content
This fonds primarily consists of the records collected and created by the Ajalon Archives Committee, under the direction of Max Schwadron, Ben Marks, Myer Bromberg, and Willie Zimmerman. The archives are organized into scrapbooks by year and relate first to activities of Ajalon Club as a chapter of Young Judaea and then to Ajalon Lodge as a chapter of the Zionist Order Habonim. Later scrapbooks represent the lodge’s activities as part of the broader Zionist network affiliated with the Zionist Organization of Canada. The scrapbooks consist of photographs, event invitations, pamphlets and flyers, correspondence, editorial writings, newsletters, newsclippings, meeting minutes, activity reports, and ephemera. They begin in 1929 and run to 1983.
Also included in the fonds are the meeting minutes, financial reports and general correspondence files of the lodge, as well as several artifacts collected by Meyer Bromberg while he was the acting archivist.
Ajalon Lodge (Toronto, Ont.)
Some of the early scrapbooks are in poor condition. The pages are brittle and are crumbling along the edges. As well, the scrapbooks require tissue-paper linings between the pages to separate the various media contained within and to prevent any further degredation, particularly of the photographs. Many of the photos in the later scrapbooks require rehousing in acid-free melanex.
Related material can be found in the Zionist Organization of Canada fonds 28, the Meyer Bromberg fonds, the Maurice Berg fonds and the Willie Zimmerman fonds 41.