The Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT) was founded in 1960 as a co-educational Jewish high school, sponsored and funded by the United Jewish Welfare Fund. The UJWF's original intention was that CHAT would be the only BJE-affiliated and community-funded Jewish high school in Toronto. This goal was subsequently abandoned in the 1970s, as the increasing size and diversity of the Toronto Jewish community led to a demand for new high schools meeting the distinct needs within the community.
CHAT was incorporated in 1964 as the Jewish Community Day School of Toronto. The school is governed by a board of directors appointed by the UJWF and its successors, with an executive committee delegated to conduct the routine work of the board between meetings. Committees of the board include Budget and Finance, Education, Development, Personnel, Tuition, Health and Safety, and Building Committees. From 1960 to 1980, the executive director of the BJE held the position of Director of CHAT. While the responsibilities of this position were never explicitly defined, the executive director served as a professional resource person and consultant with CHAT, working with the principals on enrolment campaigns, Hebrew staff recruitment, curriculum design, and policy matters. The executive director is also allowed to attend meetings of the CHAT Board of Directors. This ex officio position of the BJE Executive Director was eliminated in 1980, with Rabbi Witty retaining the title of Director Emeritus until his retirement.
For many years, the school's professional staff consisted of a headmaster, a principal of general studies, and a director of guidance. As of 2006, CHAT is managed by a professional staff consisting of a director of education, director of Jewish studies, and executive director/CFO. The two campuses of the school are each headed by a principal, an assistant principal of general studies, and a vice-principal of Jewish studies.
For its first 19 years, CHAT was housed at the Neptune Drive branch of the Associated Hebrew Schools, and in 1979, moved to a former Toronto District School Board public school building at 200 Wilmington Avenue in Downsview. In 1998-1999, enrollment at the school increased dramatically from approximately five hundred students to just over 900. Due to this increase, and with the help of a major gift from Mrs. Anne Tanenbaum, a major renovation and extension project took place and the site was renamed the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Education Centre. Enrolment continued to increase after 2000, with many of the new students living in the north of the city. In 2004-2005, CHAT's total enrolment was just over 1,400 students. In September 2000, CHAT opened a Richmond Hill branch at 51 Wright Street, with an initial enrolment of approximately 150 students. This branch is scheduled to move in September 2007 to the new Vaughan Region community centre being developed by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Scope and Content
The series documents the work of the CHAT Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Education Committee, the involvement of the BJE Executive Director in these committees, and CHAT's interactions with the BJE, the UJWF and its successors. The series consists of meeting minutes and reports, correspondence and memoranda, and records relating to UJWF and TJC committees which studied the operations of CHAT between 1970-1972 and 1979-1981. Files in the series are arranged alphabetically.