Benjamin Gershon Kayfetz was born in Toronto on 24 December 1916, the son of Max and Leah Kayfetz. He graduated with a B.A. in modern languages from the University of Toronto in 1939, and a B.E.D. from the Ontario College of Education in 1940. In 1955, he married Eva (née Silver) and had three daughters: Zena (Tanenbaum), Tamara (Kingston) and Rebecca (Hamill).
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 the national executive 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. 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 was a prolific writer, and wrote articles for various Jewish publications under both his own name and the pseudonym, Gershon B. Newman, and gave a weekly radio address on various contemporary Jewish issues on CHIN radio. He was also actively involved in the Toronto Jewish Historical Society, serving as its president, the Canadian Jewish Historical Society and the Yiddish Luncheon Circle. Ben Kayfetz died on 15 February 2002, at the age of 85.
Scope and Content
Item is a portrait of Ben Kayfetz.
Kayfetz, Benjamin, 1916-2002
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