The Schwartz-Reisman Jewish Community Centre, the Prosserman Jewish Community Centre (formerly the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre or BJCC) and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) in Toronto are the current incarnations of what began, in 1919, as the Hebrew Association of Young Men's and Young Women's Clubs, later known as the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association of Toronto (Y.M.-Y.W.H.A.). The Y.M.-Y.W.H.A., in turn, began as a merger between several other small athletic clubs operating in the city. The original mandate was strictly athletic, but soon broadened to include other areas of interest, in order to provide a sense of Jewish identity and camaraderie through physical, educational, cultural and community based programming. During the 1920s, the 'Y' became known simply as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (Y.M.H.A.) – the name under which it was incorporated in 1930.
For close to two decades, the ‘Y’ had rented rooms in the Brunswick Avenue and College Street area, including the basement facilities of the Brunswick Avenue Talmud Torah. By the mid-1930s, these facilities were overcrowded and unable to support the growing membership, particularly when the young women’s programming was reintroduced in 1936.
As a result, in 1937, the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. constructed its own athletic building at 15 Brunswick Avenue, next door to the Talmud Torah, to ease the overcrowding. However, the ‘Y’ still had to make use of five scattered buildings to meet its needs, including the Central Y.M.C.A. gym for its basketball teams. The early ‘Y’ was staffed by volunteers who were granted free memberships in exchange for their time and expertise.
On 3 February 1953, a new Jewish Community Centre was dedicated at the corner of Bloor Street and Spadina Avenue. By the end of the 1950s, the ‘Y’ was providing services for all ages, ranging from a nursery school to their Good Age Club for seniors.
As the Jewish community moved northward, so too did the ‘Y’, with the dedication of a new northern branch on 1 May 1961. This new branch, located at Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue, was created in order to address the athletic, educational, cultural and community needs of the expanding Jewish community in the north end of the city. Fourteen years later, an improved cultural and physical education wing was added as part of the completion campaign. This included the addition of the Leah Posluns Theatre and the Murray Koffler Centre of the Arts. In 1978, the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. changed its name to the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto, in order to better reflect its broader role in the community. A new Northeast Valley branch was also established in Thornhill in the early 1980s and later closed in the late 1990s.
In 1994, the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto took over the operation of the northern branch, due to financial difficulties. At this point, all three branches became independent of one another and were no longer constituted as the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto. They each had independent boards of directors, while still receiving some of their operating funds from the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto.
Scope and Content
This fonds consists of the records created and accumulated by the Jewish Community Centre of Toronto -- which included the Bloor branch and the northern Bathurst Jewish Community Centre -- and its predecessor, the Y.M.-Y.W.H.A. The records include textual records maintained by the office of the executive director, financial reports, architectural plans, Y-Times newsletters, program material, photographs and oral histories.
The records have been arranged into the following series: Executive director, Jewish Community Centre Archives Committee, Publication Committee, Communications Department, Sports Celebrity Dinner, and Combined Building Campaign Committee.
Includes 2539 photographs, 42 drawings, 13 sound recordings, 4 artifacts and 2 posters.