Dr. Alexander Brown (1909-1984) was a leader in the field of Jewish education in Toronto. He held various positions with Toronto’s Board of Jewish Education (BJE) and the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, and was actively involved with other Jewish organizations, such as the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and the United Jewish Welfare Fund (UJWF).
Brown was born in the Ukraine on 14 February 1909 to Louis and Bessie Brown. The family immigrated to Canada in 1920. Brown attended the Simcoe Street Talmud Torah and studied under Rabbi Jacob Gordon. He continued his education at the Hebrew Theological College of Chicago and returned to Toronto in 1933. Between 1934 and 1936 Brown served as the first executive secretary of the CJC, Central Region. From 1936 to 1937 he was an announcer for the Jewish Radio Hour, where he read the News of the Week. In 1945 he graduated from the University of Toronto with a BA and then again in 1948 with an MA in Oriental languages. Brown was married to Dorothy Mercovitch (1912-2009) of London, Ontario, and together they had two children: Martin and Paul.
Brown entered the field of Jewish education as the principal of Shaarei Shomayim Hebrew School from 1942 to 1948, as a principal of the AHS of Toronto and as dean of the Midrasha L'Morim. From 1957 to 1964 he worked as a consultant with the BJE in Toronto and then became the BJE's associate director until the early 1980s. He also was a member of the UJWF’s Study Committee on Jewish Education, the National Council of Jewish Education, the Toronto Zionist Council, and the Educational and Cultural Committee of the CJC. In 1969, he received an honourary doctorate in Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois.
Dr. Brown died on 15 September 1984 at the age of 75.
Records were in the possession of Paul Brown, Dr. Brown's son, until their donation to the OJA.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of textual and graphic material documenting the professional activities of Dr. Alexander Brown. The bulk of the material relates to his involvement with the BJE and the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto. Included are meeting notices, agendas, and minutes, reports, studies, speeches, proposals, constitutions, correspondence, financial records, publications, questionnaires, photographs, booklets, articles, biographies, press releases, newspaper clippings, programmes, invitations, flyers, lists, applications, statistics, and a directory.
Records have been arranged into the following four series: 1. Board of Jewish Education; 2. Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto; 3. United Jewish Welfare Fund Study Committee on Jewish Education; and, 4. Jewish communal activities. Two files are attached directly to the fonds level. Records are described to the file level with a selection of item level descriptions.
Fonds was reduced from approximately 1.2 metres to 0.74 metres. Records that were culled include duplicate or damaged photographs, duplicate graduation programmes and invitations, duplicate UJWF Study Committee Interim reports that are located elsewhere in OJA's holdings, and other duplicated material. Also removed were American and other non-Canadian booklets.
Photographers and photography studios are identified on the photographs.
Brown, Alexander, 1909-1984
Gordon, Jacob, Rabbi
Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto
Board of Jewish Education (Toronto, Ont.)
United Jewish Welfare Fund (Toronto, Ont.)
The photographs are in poor condition. They have begun to curl and have become stiff from being stored in a dry environment. They should be flattened through humidification and encapsulated in mylar to prevent re-curling.
See: Oral history interview with Dr. Brown (AC 140), Board of Jewish Education fonds 48, United Jewish Welfare Fund fonds 67, AHS of Toronto MG2 G-1E, accession 1981-11-4, United Synagogue Day School accession 1990-5-2, accession 1991-12-5, and accession 1988-11-3. For photographs of Jewish schools see Gordon Mendly fonds 18, series 3.
Arrangement has been created by the archivist since there was no discernable original order.